Republic of Kenya
Jamhuri ya Kenya



Located in east Africa, Kenya has a total area of 582,650 square kilometers (224,962 square miles), rendering it slightly larger than twice the size of Nevada. With a coastline of 536 kilometers (333 miles), Kenya borders the Indian Ocean to the east, Somalia to the northeast, Ethiopia to the north, Sudan to the northwest, Uganda to the west, and Tanzania to the south. Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is situated slightly south of the center point of the country.


Between 1975 and 1997, the population of Kenya, which more than doubled from 13.7 million to 28.4 million, increased at an exceedingly high average growth rate of 3.4 percent. In July 2000, the CIA World Factbook estimated that the population stood at 30,339,770. With a current annual growth rate of 1.6 percent, it is expected that this figure will increase to approximately 37.6 million by 2015. The birth rate in Kenya is 29.35 births per 1,000 persons, while the death rate is 14.08 deaths per 1,000 persons. In terms of age structure, the population of Kenya is relatively young, with 43 percent of all Kenyans aged between 0 to 14 years, 54 percent aged between 15 to 64 years, and only 3 percent aged 65 years and over. In 1997, only 30.4 percent of the population lived in urban areas, though this figure is expected to expand to 44.5 percent by 2015.

The population of Kenya is highly heterogeneous (diverse). Some of the major ethnic groups include the Kikuyu (comprising 22 percent of the population), the Luhya (14 percent), the Luo (13 percent), the Kalenjin (12 percent), the Kanmba (11 percent), the Kisii (6 percent), and the Meru (6 percent). There are also several other African groups (15 percent), in addition to a small population of Arabs, Asians, and Europeans. With 38 percent of Kenyans adhering to one denomination or another of Protestantism, and 28 percent practicing Roman Catholicism, the majority of Kenyans are Christian. An additional 26 percent of the population follow an indigenous religious system unique to east Africa, while another 7 percent are devoted to Islam. A plethora (a large amount) of indigenous languages are spoken in Kenya, though the only 2 official languages are English and Kiswahili. The latter, which acts as the lingua franca (common language) in east Africa, is a Bantu-based language with strong Arabic influences.

Like many sub-Saharan African nations, Kenya currently confronts an HIV/AIDS epidemic of massive proportions. At the end of 1997, conservative estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) placed the total population living with HIV/AIDS at approximately 1,600,000. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) argues that HIV/AIDS is inextricably interrelated to issues of poverty. Poor women in urban areas, for example, are often forced out of economic necessity to engage in prostitution in order to survive. Prostitution, in turn, exposes sexual workers and their clients to high risks of HIV contraction. As such, any effective HIV/AIDS strategy on the part of the Kenyan government will have to address the dynamics of poverty in addition to gender inequality.


With its beautiful coastal beaches, wildlife, unique scenery, and history of relative stability, Kenya is the tourist hub of east Africa. Indeed, tourism is the country's second-largest foreign exchange earner, next to the agricultural sector as a whole. In 1995, Kenya received an estimated 785,000 tourists with earnings of about US$486 million, a slight decline from the US$501 million in earnings and 807,600 tourists of the previous year. Earnings from tourism further declined to US$448 million in 1996, though this figure still equaled about 65 percent of the combined revenues from tea and coffee exports. Europeans account for more than 50 percent of Kenya's tourists, while Americans account for less than 10 percent.

According to the U.S. Department of State Country Commercial Guide 2000, the relative decline in Kenya's tourism sector can be attributed to a high level of crime, disintegrating infrastructure, the eruption of ethnic violence in the early 1990s, and growing competition from neighboring countries. Reassuringly, political stability has returned and the government has offered various fiscal incentives to firms operating in the tourism sector, thereby counterbalancing the negative trends. Several multinational corporations are involved in the tourist sector in Kenya, including the Hilton International (British), the Intercontinental Hotel (Japanese), and Safari Park Hotel (South Korean).


The financial sector has grown considerably in importance throughout the 1990s, increasing its value contribution to the economy from KSh7,069 million in 1991 to KSh9,843 million in 1996. In terms of GDP contribution, the financial sector accounted for 8.2 percent of GDP in 1991 and 10.1 percent in 1996. In the same year, approximately 81,000 Kenyans worked in the financial sector.

As of the beginning of 1998, the highly diversified financial sector in Kenya consisted of the Central Bank of Kenya, 53 domestic-and foreign-owned commercial banks, 15 non-bank financial institutions, 2 mortgage finance companies, 4 building societies, and numerous insurance companies and other specialized financial institutions. The banking sector is dominated by 4 large banks, which aggregately control 50 percent of all bank assets and 52 percent of bank deposits. The largest bank, the state-owned Kenya Commercial Bank, accounts for 17 percent of bank assets and 18 percent of bank deposits. The multinational Barclays Bank, with 16 percent of bank assets and 15 percent of bank deposits, is next in line, followed by the state-owned National Bank of Kenya and the multinational Standard Chartered Bank, each respectively boasting 8 percent of bank assets and 9 percent of bank deposits.

The Nairobi Stock Exchange, which handles 61 listed firms, was established in 1954. In January 1995, the stock market, including stock-brokerage, was opened up for foreign direct participation, although there is a 40 percent limit on foreign ownership. Market capitalization has recently manifested considerable growth, increasing from US$1.89 billion in 1995 to US$2.08 billion in 1998.


Kenya has no territories or colonies.


Himbara, David. Kenyan Capitalists, the State, and Development. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1994.

International Monetary Fund. IMF Staff Country Report, Kenya: Statistical Appendix: 1998. <> . Accessed May 2001.

Khapoya, Vincent B. The African Experience. New Jersey:Prentice Hall, 1998.

Miller, Norman, and Roger Yeager. Kenya: The Quest for Prosperity. Boulder: Westview Press, 1994.

United Nations Development Programme. Human Development Report 2000. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook 2000: Kenya. <> . Accessed May 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Kenya: 1998. < bgn.html> . Accessed May 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 1999 Country Commercial Guide: Kenya: 1999. <> . Accessed May 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Kenya Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998. <> . Accessed May 2001.

World Bank Group. Kenya: Competitiveness Indicators. <> . Accessed May 2001.

Neil Burron




Kenyan shilling (KSh). There are 100 cents in KSh1. The Kenyan shilling includes denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200.


Tea, coffee, horticultural products, and petroleum products.


Machinery and transportation equipment, petroleum products, iron, and steel.


US$45.1 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).


Exports: US$2.2 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.). Imports: US$3.3 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.).

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May 10, 2010 @ 11:11 am
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May 2, 2011 @ 7:19 pm
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May 5, 2011 @ 2:14 pm
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Jun 3, 2011 @ 2:02 am
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