Kenya straddles the equator. It has an area of approximately 582,650km². The country shares borders with five nations: Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. Variations in altitude are extreme, from sea level to 5,180 meters, producing extraordinary topological diversity and corresponding contrasts in climate.
There are four distinct geophysical features. The Rift Valley, a 5,000km fracture in the earth’s crust filled with lakes, extinct volcanoes and geothermal activity, carves across the country. The Central and Western Highlands are rich agricultural lands blanketing striking mountain ranges, which produce coffee, tea, vegetables, fruits and flowers. The vast, semi-arid area that covers the rugged north and east of the country is home only to resilient nomadic peoples. And Kenya’s coastline, a long stretch of attractive beaches and hot humidity, is fringed by coral reef.
Although the climate varies widely across the country, four main seasons can be noted. The hot, dry season covers December to March. The long rains come in April and May. The cool season covers June to October. And the short rains come in November.
There are three cities in Kenya: Nairobi, the capital, Mombasa, on the east coast, and Kisumu, on Lake Victoria.
Kenya has a population of about 40 million, of which almost 4 million live in Nairobi. Although the categorisation of tribes is disputed, it’s usually estimated that there are 42. Although each tribe has its own language, there are three main linguistic groups. The Bantu-speaking tribes are the most numerous and live in the lush south of the country. These include the Kikuyu, Akamba, Meru, Embu, Tharaka, Mbere, Gussi, Kuria, Luhya, Mikikenda, Swahili, Pokomo, Segeju, Taveta and Taita. The Nilotic-speaking tribes, living in the west of the country, include the Maasai, Samburu, Teso, Turkana, Elmolo, Njemps, Kalenjin, Marakwet, Tugen, Pokot, Elkony, Kipsigis and Luo. The Cushitic-speaking tribes, many of which are nomadic, live in the arid northeast and include Rendille, Somali, Boran, Gabbra, Orma and Boni.
There are three other racial groups of Kenyan nationality. The Kenyan Arabs are predominantly descended from the Yemeni, Omani and Persian traders who established early trading posts on the Kenyan coast. The Kenyan Asians are predominantly descended from the Indian labourers brought to Kenya by the British to build the railway. Kenyans of British origin are predominantly descended from the British who came during the Colonial Administration and took Kenyan nationality at independence.
The official languages of Kenya are Swahili and English.