Kenya country profile

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Map of Kenya

Located on the equator on the east coast of Africa, Kenya has been described as “the cradle of humanity”.

In the Great Rift Valley, paleontologists have uncovered some of the earliest evidence of human ancestry.

Today, Kenya’s ethnic diversity has produced a vibrant culture, but it is also a source of conflict.

The Islamist militant Al-Shabab movement, active in Somalia, has also carried out a growing number of attacks in Kenya, including the 2013 Westgate shopping center in Nairobi and the 2015 attack on Garissa University College in northwestern Kenya.

Other pressing challenges include high unemployment, crime and poverty. Droughts often endanger millions of people.

  • Capital: Nairobi

  • Population: 55 million

  • Area: 580,367 square kilometers

  • languages: Swahili, English

  • Life expectancy: 64 years (men) 69 years (women)

Chairman: William Ruto

Kenyan President William Ruto takes the oath of office at the Moi International Sports Center Kasarani in Nairobi, Kenya, on September 13, 2022

Kenyan President William Ruto takes the oath of office at the Moi International Sports Center Kasarani in Nairobi, Kenya, on September 13, 2022

In August 2022, Vice President William Ruto narrowly won the presidential election. He received 50.5% of the vote. His main rival, Raila Odinga, received 48.8% of the vote

Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta was ineligible for a third term under the Kenyan constitution.

On August 22, Odinga petitioned the Kenyan Supreme Court to challenge the results, but on September 5, the Kenyan Supreme Court rejected the challenge and upheld Ruto’s victory.

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William Ruto had a childhood that epitomizes the lives of many poor TBEN. He went to primary school barefoot and wore his first pair of shoes at age 15.

Ruto ran his campaign under the flag of Kenya Kwanza, Swahili for Kenya First, promising to grow the economy.

Kenya’s official unemployment rate for 18-34 year olds is close to 40%, and the economy is not creating enough jobs to accommodate the 800,000 young people entering the workforce each year.

Ruto has promised a bottom-up approach to the economy, saying it will benefit the poor most affected by the cost-of-living crisis that has hit the world following the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

Newspaper kiosk in Kenya

Newspaper kiosk in Kenya

A handful of large commercial companies dominate the media industry and operate alongside the state-owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC).

TV is the main source of news in urban areas. Internet usage is high by regional standards, driven by the use of mobile devices.

The competitive press scene is the most sophisticated in the region. Newspapers are free to criticize politicians and the government.

Some key dates in Kenya’s history:

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Jomo Kenyatta at his inauguration

Jomo Kenyatta was inaugurated as president after a bitter struggle for independence from Britain

c 3.3 million BC – Evidence of some of the earliest human tools have been found in Kenya, suggesting that it was the cradle of humanity from which descendants departed to populate the world.

600 – Arabs begin to settle coastal areas and develop trading stations over the centuries that facilitated contact with the Arab world, Persia and India.

1895 – Formation of British East African Protectorate.

1920 – East African protectorate becomes crown colony of Kenya – administered by a British governor.

1944 – Kenya African Union (KAU) established to campaign for African independence. First African appointment to Legislative Council.

1947 – Jomo Kenyatta becomes EEA leader.

1952-53 – Secret Kikuyu guerrilla group known as Mau Mau begins violent campaign against white settlers. State of emergency declared, Jomo Kenyatta imprisoned, EEE banned.

1956 – Mau Mau Rebellion crushed.

1960 – State of emergency ends. Britain announces plans to prepare Kenya for majority rule by Africa.

1961 – Jomo Kenyatta released from two years of house arrest.

1963 – Kenya becomes independent, with Mr. Kenyatta as Prime Minister.

1964 – Republic of Kenya formed. Jomo Kenyatta becomes president and Oginga Odinga becomes vice president.

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1978 – Kenyatta dies in office, succeeded by Daniel arap Moi.

1991 – Kenya moves to a multi-party system after 26 years of one-party rule.

1998 – Al-Qaeda operatives bomb the US Embassy in Nairobi, killing 224 and injuring thousands.

2002 – Al-Qaeda attack on Israeli-owned hotel near Mombasa kills 10 TBEN and wounds three Israelis. A simultaneous missile attack on an Israeli aircraft fails.

2002 – Mwai Kibaki scores a landslide victory, ending Daniel Arap Moi’s 24-year reign

2007 – Disputed general elections are followed by deadly violence.

2009 – Kenya says at least 10 million people, or a third of the population, need food aid. The government is mobilizing the army to distribute food, water and medicine to the areas worst hit by drought.

2010 – Kenya joins its neighbors in forming a new East African Common Market, designed to integrate the region’s economy.

2010 – New constitution designed to limit the president’s powers and transfer power to the regions approved in a referendum.

2011 – Kenya intervenes in the conflict in Somalia and subsequently faces several apparent retaliatory attacks, including the 2013 massacre at Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi and the 2015 attack on Garissa University College in the north west.

2014 – At least 48 people have been killed after al-Shabab militants attacked hotels and a police station in Mpeketoni, near the island resort of Lamu.

2017 – A multi-billion dollar railway linking Mombasa with the capital Nairobi is opening, it is Kenya’s largest infrastructure project since independence.

Cheetahs in Maasai Mara, Kenya

Cheetahs in the Maasai Mara game reserve in Kenya

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