Kenya Essay Research Paper Kenya is a

Kenya Essay, Research Paper Kenya is a republic in Africa and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is bordered on the north by Sudan and Ethiopia, on the east by Somalia and the Indian

Kenya Essay, Research Paper

Kenya is a republic in Africa and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is

bordered on the north by Sudan and Ethiopia, on the east by Somalia and the Indian

Ocean, on the south by Tanzania, and on the west by Lake Victoria and Uganda. Kenya

has an area of 224,960 miles. Nairobi is its capital and largest city.

Kenya falls into several well-defined topographical zones extending from the

Indian Ocean coast upward to lofty mountain ranges that reach elevations of more than

10,000 ft above sea level. From a low coastal strip the terrain rises gradually to a broad,

arid plateau that covers the largest portion of the country. The region west of the plateau

contains great volcanic mountain chains, of which the principal peak is Mount Kenya.

The southern and southeastern portions of the country are heavily forested, and in the

west, the immense depression of the Great Rift Valley is demarcated by a succession of

steep cliffs. The chief rivers of Kenya are the Tana and Galana. Besides a small portion of

Lake Victoria, Kenya contains almost all of Lake Turkana.

Kenya is divided into two equal parts by the equator. The region north of the

equator is hot and receives comparatively little rain. The southern region falls into three

meteorological zones: the coast is humid, the highlands are relatively temperate, and the

Lake Victoria region is tropical. The main resource of Kenya is its land, of which about

11 percent is suitable for agriculture. About 1/3 of that total is used to grow crops; the

remainder is used mainly for grazing. The northern 2/3s of Kenya is mostly desert or


The great majority of Kenya s population is black African. The country has also

small numbers of Asians, Europeans, and Arabs. The black Africans are divided into

more than 30 ethnic groups belonging to four linguistic families-Bantu, Nilotic,

Paranilotic, and Cushitic. The largest ethnic groups are the Bantu-speaking Kikuyu,

Luhya, and Kamba; the Nilotic-speaking Luo; and the Paranilotic-speaking Kalenjin. The

population of Kenya is about 27,885,000(1995 estimate). The overall population density

is about 123 per sq. mi. The population was increasing at a rate of 3.2 % annually in the

early 1990s, among the fastest rates in the world. About 75% of the people live in rural

areas. Kenya is divided into seven administrative provinces-Central, Coast, Eastern,

North-Eastern, Nyanza, Great Rift Valley, and Western-as well as the Nairobi capital

district. Local government matters are handled by provincial advisory councils, whose

members are appointed by the presidents. Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya.

The major seaport is Mombasa, built mostly on an offshore island of the same name.

Other cities are Kisumu, a port city on Lake Victoria, Nakuru, the capital of Rift Valley

Province, and Eldoret, a rail center northeast of Kisumu. The population of Kenya is

estimated to be about 40 % Protestant, 30 % Roman Catholic, and 6% Muslim. The

remaining 24% are largely followers of various traditional religions. Nearly all the

African ethnic groups in Kenya have their own distinct languages, some of which are

closely related. Since the early 20th century Swahili has become a major African tongue,

and it is the official language of Kenya; Kikuyu, Luo, and English are also widely used.

Education is not compulsory in Kenya, but the first eight years of primary school are

provided free by the government. Kenya has four universities: the University of Nairobi

and Kenyatta University, both in Nairobi; Egerton University, in Nakuru; and Moi

University, in Eldoret. Specialized colleges include Mombasa Polytechnic; and the Kenya

Conservatoire of Music, Kenya Polytechnic, and Strathmore College in Nairobi.

Many of Kenya s foremost cultural institutions are in either Nairobi or Mombasa.

In Nairobi are the National Museums of Kenya, which include exhibits on natural history

and geology; the Kenya National Archives; and the McMillan Memorial Library, with a

special collection of Africana. Agriculture is the chief source of income, accounting for

26% of the gross domestic product in the early 1990s. Mining activity takes place on

relatively small scale, but the growing manufacturing industry is more important in Kenya

than in many black African nations. After World War II Kenya experienced one of the

highest rates of economic growth in the world because of the large-scale foreign

investments and the influx of European management and technical personnel. The

government adopted the policy that the growth of the economy should be left to private

enterprise and that the government aid should be restricted to emergencies. Although only

about 4% of the country is made up of arable land, the Kenyan agricultural system is

highly diversified, producing almost every basic foodstuff. Sugarcane, corn, cassava,

pineapples, sisal, cotton, and cashew nuts are grown on the coast and in the lowlands;

potatoes, coffee, tea, cotton, cereal grains, beans, peanuts, and tobacco are grown in the

highlands, the main producing area. Stockbreeding and dairy farming are important to the

Kenyan economy also. Kenya produces mostly hardwoods and some softwoods. Wattle

bark, used in Tanning, is an important item. The annual Lumber output was 36.9 million

cu. m. in the early 1990s. Commercial fishing, primarily on inland waterways and lakes,

is sufficient to satisfy the local market. Kenya has few developed mineral resources, and

mining plays only a small role in its economy. Mineral production in Kenya includes soda

ash, salt, fluorspar, gold, garnets, and limestone. Large deposits of lead and silver have

been discovered near Mombasa. Although expanding, most industry in Kenya is still on a

small scale and consists mainly of food and raw material processing for local

consumption. Kenya is governed under the constitution of 1963, as amended.

Amendments enacted in 1964 made the county a republic within the

Commonwealth of Nations. It has a modified parliamentary form of government.

Executive authority in Kenya is exercised by a president, elected for a five-year term by

popular vote. A vice president and a cabinet are appointed by the president from members

of the National Assembly, the legislative branch of government. The assembly consists of

188 directly elected members, the attorney general, the speaker, and 10 members who are

nominated by the president. The Kenyan judicial system consists of two major courts and

several lesser tribunals. The major courts are the Kenya Court of Appeal, with a chief

justice and five associate judges; and the High Court of Kenya, with seven judges. The

lesser tribunals include the resident magistrates courts; the district magistrates courts;

and the qadi courts, which determine questions of Muslim law. Kenya is divided into

seven provinces, which are broken down into some 40 districts, all of which have local

councils with administrative functions. The higher local authorities are divided into two

categories, municipalities, and county councils. Below these are various urban councils,

township authorities, area councils and local councils. Although all these groups are

responsible to the central government, considerable local autonomy is encouraged within

the groups. Many of the councils raise their own revenues to finance public health

measures, road and construction projects, and social welfare schemes. They also

contribute revenue to local education costs. The Nairobi area is not included in any other

district or province but has a special status of its own.9