Facts & figures
Full name: The Republic of Kenya
Population: 42.7 million (UN, 2012)
Area: 582,646 sq km (224,961 sq miles)
Major languages: Swahili, English
Major religion: Christianity
Life expectancy: 57 years (men), 59 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Kenya shilling = 100 cents
Main exports: Tea, coffee, horticultural products, petroleum products
GNI per capital: US $820 (World Bank, 2011)
Internet domain: .ke
International dialling code: +254
Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's founding president, took up his father's mantle to become head of state in April 2013 despite facing charges of crimes against humanity over election violence five years earlier.
Visa & travel advice
- Visa application form 22
- Passport Valid for at least Six Months
- One Passport size Photos
- Visa fees:
- £30.00 -for single entry visa (Business or Tourism)
- £60.00 –Multiple entry visa
- £10.00–Transit visa.
- £5.00- administrative fee (for referral visas only)
- Travel itinerary
- Supporting letter e.g. letter from company or Invitation letter for business visits/family visits. or
- Hotel bookings/details about places to visit if going as tourist.
- Applications for referred visas to forward triplicate copies of all the documents
- Best period:
Geography plays a large part in helping tourists choose the best times for visiting Kenya.
Be aware of the risk of street crime. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and don’t wear expensive watches, jewellery or items of sentimental value. Leave your passport in the hotel safe and carry a photocopy for ID. Don’t accept food or drink from strangers as it may be drugged. Avoid walking around after dark, especially in isolated areas like empty beaches. If you’re attacked, don’t resist.
A part of Southeast Africa, the territory of what is now Kenya has seen human habitation since the beginning of the Lower Paleolithic. The Bantu expansion from a West African center of dispersal reached the area by the 1st millennium AD. With the borders of the modern state at the crossroads of the Bantu, Nilo-Saharan and Afro-Asiatic ethno-linguistic areas of Africa, Kenya is a truly multi-ethnic state.
European and Arab presence in Mombasa dates to the Early Modern period, but European exploration of the interior began only in the 19th century. The British Empire established the East Africa Protectorate in 1895, from 1920 known as the Kenya Colony.
The independent Republic of Kenya was formed in 1964. It was ruled as a de facto single-party state by the Kenya African National Union (KANU), an alliance led by Jomo Kenyatta during 1963 to 1978. Kenyatta was succeeded by Daniel arap Moi, who ruled until 2002. Moi attempted to transform the de facto single-party status of Kenya into a de jure status during the 1980s, but with the end of the Cold War, the practices of political repression and torture which had been "overlooked" by the Western powers as necessary evils in the effort to contain communism were no longer tolerated.
Moi came under pressure, notably by US ambassador Smith Hempstone, to restore a multi-party system, which he did by 1991. Moi won elections in 1992 and 1997, which were overshadowed by political killings on both sides. During the 1990s, evidence of Moi's involvement in human rights abuses and corruption (Goldenberg scandal) was uncovered. He was constitutionally barred from running in the 2002 election, which was won by Mwai Kibaki. Widely reported electoral fraud on Kibaki's side in the 2007 elections resulted in the 2007–2008 Kenyan crisis.
The music of Kenya is very diverse, with multiple types of folk music based on the variety over 40 regional languages.
Zanzibaran taarab music has also become popular, as has hip hop, reggae, soul, soukous, zouk, rock and roll, funk and Europop. Additionally, there is a growing western classical music scene and Kenya is home to a number of music colleges and schools.
The guitar is the most dominant instrument in Kenyan popular music. Guitar rhythms are very complex and include both native beats and imported ones, especially the Congolese cavacha rhythm; music usually involves the interplay of multiple parts and, more recently, showy guitar solos.
Lyrics are most often in Swahili or Lingala, but are also sometimes in one of the indigenous languages, though radio will generally not play music in one of the "tribal" languages.
Benga music has been popular since the late 1960s, especially around Lake Victoria. The word benga is occasionally used to refer to any kind of pop music: bass, guitar and percussion are the usual instruments.
Partially from 1994 and wholly from 2003 Kenyan popular music has been recognised through the Kisima Music Awards. A number of styles predominate in Kenya including Benga and Reggae have separate categories, and a multitude of Kenyan artists are awarded each year.
Kenyan literature describes literature which comes from the African country of Kenya. Kenya has a long oral and written literary tradition, primarily in English and Swahili, the two official languages of the country.
One of the best known pieces of Kenyan literature is Utendi wa Tambuka, which translates to The Story of Tambuka. Written by a man named Mwengo at the court of the Sultan of Pate, the epic poem is one of the earliest known documents in Swahili, being written in the year 1141 of the Islamic calendar, or 1728 AD.
- Film industry
Kenya is situated in of the most violent aera's in the world, East Africa. The country is poor, government priorities are not focussed on building a local film industry. Since independence in 1963 Kenyans have been producing films at the average rate of one feature film every four years. Despite the fact that there are many Kenyan film professionals, the development of this industry is hampered by four major problems: 1) Finance: film production is an expensive venture and there are no local investors who have shown interest in it. 2) Post-production: through filming equipment is generally available, Kenya does not have a film processing laboratory - the 16mm facility that exists at the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication has collapsed due to lack of spare parts and maintenance. 3) Lack of an enabling government film production policy. 4) Piracy - Kenya is a world black spot as far as this is concerned. During the past decades, Kenyan filmmakers have tried to break into the African cinematography market which is currently dominated by foremost American and french features.
Today over twenty film production companies in Kenya, working mostly on video and occasionally on film when the budgets allow. Legally film production is regulated by the government, in particular, through two Acts of Parliament: Cap 222; The Films and Stage Plays Act of Parliament and the Copyright Act. The goverment requires that private companies or individuals submit their applications through local agents who are accredited with the responsible Ministry. Crews wishing to film in Kenya have to meet filming requirements that are laid down by the Ministry. A government committee approves requests for feature films commercial films and documentary films. Notable local productions are: "Mlevi" (1968), So far, the only commercially viable Kenyan film production by Paul Singh. It starred popular former television personalities Mzee Pembe and the late Kipanga Athumani and singer Sal Davies, which was crowd puller in its days.
"The Bush Trackers" (early 1970s) by Gordon Parks, which starred Oliver Litondo and others. However, tragedy struck when Parks died in a freak plane crash at Nairobi Wilson Airports as he headed for filming location. His colleague Gary Strieker went ahead with the project but it was a box-office flop. Bush Trackers was the most ambitious undertaking in those years, by the late African-American film maker Gordon Parks (of the Shaft fame) who moved to Kenya in the early 1970s in the hope of developing. He believed Kenya had all the ingredients to become the African Hollywood .
- Famous places
Nairobi National Park is just a 10 minutes drive from the center of Nairobi with only a fence separating the park’s wildlife from the metropolis. Nairobi’s skyscrapers can be seen from the park. Despite its proximity to the city and the relative small size of the park, Nairobi National Park boasts a large and varied wildlife population. Migrating wildebeest and zebra gather in the park during the dry season, and it is one of Kenya’s most successful rhinoceros sanctuaries.
Malindi provides a very nice introduction to the coastal tourist attractions in Kenya with its extensive coral reefs and beautiful beaches. There are surfing, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing and other water sports. The Malindi Marine National Park is protected and has fine beaches clear water and very colorful fish. Malindi is served with a domestic airport and a highway between Mombasa and Lamu.
Built in 1959, and a National Monument, Kenyatta House commemorates the place where negotiation for the country's independence took place.
- Architecture history
In the cities, most people live in modern apartment buildings. In the countryside, typical housing styles vary from tribe to tribe. Zaramo houses are made of grass and rectangular in shape; rundi houses are beehive-like constructions of reed and bark; chagga houses are made from sticks; and nyamwezi are round huts with thatched roofs. Some rural people have adapted their houses to modern building materials, using bricks or cement blocks and corrugated iron or tin for roofs.