Other CitiesMombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu, Eldoret, Nyeri, Machakos, Meru
Official languagesSwahili, English
AreaTotal 580,367 km2
Country Profile: Kenya
The Republic of Kenya is a country in East Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the northeast, Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, and Sudan to the northwest, with the Indian Ocean running along the southeast border. The country is named after Mount Kenya, a very significant landmark and the second among the highest mountain peaks of Africa.
Geography and Environment
From the coast on the Indian Ocean the Low plains rise to central highlands. The highlands are bisected by the Great Rift Valley, a fertile plateau in the east. The Kenyan Highlands comprise one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa. The highlands are the site of the highest point in Kenya (and the second highest in Africa): Mount Kenya, which reaches 5,199 metres (17,057 ft) and is also the site of glaciers. Climate varies from tropical along the coast to arid in the interior. Mount Kilimanjaro can be seen from Kenya to the South of the Tanzanian border.
After independence, Kenya promoted rapid economic growth through public investment, encouragement of small-holder agricultural production, and incentives for private industrial investment. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an annual average of 6.6% from 1963 to 1973. Agricultural production grew by 4.7% annually during the same period, stimulated by redistributing estates, diffusing new crop strains, and opening new areas to cultivation. The wealth of Kenya continues to be the vast amount of natural resources, particularly its agricultural industry.
Early in 2006 Chinese President Hu Jintao signed an oil exploration contract with Kenya,the latest in a series of deals designed to keep Africa's natural resources flowing to China's rapidly-expanding economy. This will have a mutual benefit for both China and Kenya, who are both looking to keep their economies expanding on the wealth of natural resources, especially oil. The deal allowed for China's state-controlled offshore oil and gas company, CNOOC Ltd, to prospect for oil in Kenya, which is just beginning to drill its first exploratory wells on the borders of Sudan and Somalia and in coastal waters.
Kenya is a diverse country, with many different cultures represented. Notable cultures include the Swahili on the coast, pastoralist communities in the north, and several different communities in the central and western regions. Today, the Maasai culture is well known, due to its heavy exposure from tourism, however, Maasai make up a relatively minor percentage of the Kenyan population. The Maasai are known for their elaborate upper body adornment and jewelry. Furthermore, Kenya has an extensive music, television and theatre scene.
In the near future, Kenya seeks to expand its economy based on its wealth of natural resources, particularly oil. Also, Kenya has begun to research other forms of energy for the future, such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power.
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