Key Facts About Kenya
Kenya is a country in East Africa with coastline on the Indian Ocean. It encompasses savannah, lakelands, the dramatic Great Rift Valley and mountain highlands. It’s also home to wildlife like lions, elephants and rhinos. From Nairobi, the capital, safaris visit the Maasai Mara Reserve, known for its annual wildebeest migrations, and Amboseli National Park, offering views of Tanzania’s 5,895m Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Located in the continent of Africa, Kenya covers 569,140 square kilometers of land and 11,227 square kilometers of water, making it the 49th largest nation in the world with a total area of 580,367 square kilometers.
Kenya became an independent state in 1963, after gaining its sovereignty from The United Kingdom. The population of Kenya is 43,013,341 (2012) and the nation has a density of 76 people per square kilometer.
The currency of Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling (KES). As well, the people of Kenya are refered to as Kenyan.
The dialing code for the country is 254 and the top level internet domain for Kenyan sites is .ke.
To learn more, visit our detailed Kenya section.
- The current population of Kenya is 51,023,449 as of Friday, July 27, 2018, based on the latest United Nations estimates.
- Kenya population is equivalent to 0.67% of the total world population.
- Kenya ranks number 28 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population.
- The population density in Kenya is 90 per Km2 (232 people per mi2).
- The total land area is 569,140 Km2 (219,746 sq. miles)
- 26.7 % of the population is urban (13,580,934 people in 2018)
- The median age in Kenya is 19.2 years.
There are two dominant influences on the climate in Kenya: the onshore monsoon winds from the Indian Ocean, and altitude. The winds determine the onset of Kenya’s two rainy seasons, with the hot northeast monsoon or kaskazi blowing dry air in from the Persian Gulf from November to March/April and the warm, moist kusi monsoon blowing in from the southeast from April/May to October. It’s the slightly cooler kusi that normally delivers the heaviest rain, a season known as the ‘long rains’, in late-April, May and early June. The relatively cool season, from late-June to October, gets much less rain. There’s a second rainy season, the ‘short rains’, for a few weeks in November and December, followed roughly from mid-December to March by a dry season of hot, usually rainless, weather.
Although prolonged rainfall isn’t that uncommon, the typical pattern is for rain to fall as a torrential downpour, lasting perhaps half an hour to an hour, with the sun then coming out and drying the wet ground in minutes. Camps and lodges always provide umbrellas, though your footwear will get muddy and you are still likely to get wet if you happen to be outside. There’s little point in bringing waterproofs.
The theory of Kenya’s climate is one thing: predicting the actual weather for specific dates is increasingly difficult as climate change impacts more and more, bringing floods and droughts, unseasonably cool and unseasonably hot weather. These impacts can be more than inconvenient: a dramatic flash flood swept the seasonally dry course of the Ewaso Nyiro in March 2010, destroying the bridge linking Samburu and Buffalo Springs national reserves and badly damaging several camps and lodges. Although the bridge was repaired, the same thing happened again in 2011 and the bridge was only reopened in 2015.
Two other points to bear in mind about the weather in Kenya: firstly, swimming pools are rarely heated, and only those on the coast are guaranteed to be warm; and secondly, although people sometimes talk about Kenya’s “winter” – and Kenyans themselves tend to make a big fuss about temperatures that most visitors would consider quite warm – they’re simply referring to a slightly cooler time of year, not the sort of precipitate drop in the mercury that we experience at higher latitudes.
The geography of Kenya is diverse, varying amongst Kenya’s 47 Counties. Kenya has a coastline on the Indian Ocean, which contains swamps of East African mangroves. Inland are broad plains and numerous hills.
Central and Western Kenya is characterised by the Kenyan Rift Valley home to Kenya’s highest mountain, Mount Kenya and Mount Elgon on the border between Kenya and Uganda. The Kakamega Forest in western Kenya is a relic of an East African rainforest. Much bigger is Mau Forest, the largest forest complex in East Africa.