Kenya is an African country situated in the eastern parts of the continent, (East Africa), with its capital and largest city being Nairobi. The coastal city of Mombasa is however the oldest city in Kenya and it was the country’s first capital city.
Other notable urban centers in Kenya include; Nakuru and Eldoret plus Kisumu city, which is the country’s third largest after Nairobi and Mombasa and it is a critical inland port at Lake Victoria. Kenya is among the three African countries (Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda) through which Lake Victoria passes.
Lake Victoria is the largest freshwater lake in Africa and only next to Lake Superior (in USA) all over the world with its major fish species caught being Nile Perch, Tilapia, Cat fish, Sprats, and Silver fish among others.
Kenya’s territory is located on the equator and overlies the East African Rift covering a diverse and expansive terrain that extends roughly from Lake Victoria to Lake Turkana and further south-east to the Indian Ocean.
Kenya borders Tanzania to the south and south-west, Uganda to the west, South Sudan to the north-west, Ethiopia to the north, and Somalia to the north-east. Kenya covers 581,309 square kilometers (224,445 square miles) with a total population of approximately 48 million people.
Kenya received her independence from the Britain in December 1963 through the country’s former President ‘’Jomo Kenyatta’’ who was the father to the country’s current President ‘’Uhuru Kenyatta’’.
Kenya is among the African Great lakes region which has been inhabited by humans since the lower Paleolithic-period. Currently Kenya represents the most major ethno-linguistic groups in Africa with over 52 tribes in the country.
Bantu and Nilotic populations are the most dominant in the country constituting about 97% of Kenya’s total population.
During the first millennium C.E., the Bantu expansion had accessed the area from West-Central Africa and trade with the Arabs began in the first century C.E. thus paving way for the Islam and Arab culture to coastal regions and, the development of a distinct Swahili culture.
By the 19th century, the European exploration of the interior began with British Empire establishing a protectorate in 1895 and then followed by the Kenya colony in 1920.
Geographically Kenya experiences a variety of climates including a warm and humid coastline, temperate savannah grasslands in the interior, temperate and forested hilly areas in the west, arid and semi-arid areas near the Somali border and Lake Turkana, and an Equatorial climate around Lake Victoria.
Kenya subsequently supports an abundance of flora and fauna many of which are protected by wildlife reserves and national parks such as; Maasai Mara national reserve, Amboseli national park, Samburu national reserve, Tsavo East & West national park, Lake Nakuru National Park, Buffalo springs national reserve, among others and the country is the birthplace of the modern safari and hosts several World Heritage Sites such as Lamu.
Economically Kenya boosts the largest economy in east and central Africa with Nairobi serving as a major regional commercial hub and agriculture is the largest sector of which tea and coffee are traditional cash crops, while fresh flowers are a fast-growing export.
Kenya is a member of the East African community trade bloc though some international trade organizations categorize it as part of the Greater Horn of Africa. Africa is Kenya’s largest export market followed by the European Union.
Origin of Kenya’s name
Historically Kenya was named after its Mount Kenya. The earliest recorded version of the modern name was written by German explorer Johann Ludwig Krapf in the 19th century.
While traveling with a Kamba caravan led by the legendary long-distance trader Chief Kivoi, Krapf spotted the mountain peak and asked what it was called and Kivoi answered him that it was called “Ki-Nyaa” or “Kiima- Kiinyaa” probably because the pattern of black rock and white snow on its peaks reminded them of the feathers of the cock ostrich.
The Agikuyu who inhabit the slopes of Mt. Kenya locally call it Kirima Kirinyaga in Kikuyu well as the Embu call it “Kirenyaa’’ and all the three names have the same meaning.
Ludwig Krapf recorded the name as both Kenia and Kegnia.
An 1882 map drawn by Joseph Thompsons (a Scottish geologist and naturalist) indicated Mt. Kenya as Mt. Kenia. The mountain’s name was accepted, pars pro toto, as the name of the country.
It did not come into widespread official use during the early colonial period, when the country was instead referred to as the East African Protectorate. It was changed to the Colony of Kenya in 1920.