Kenya is a country on the coast of the Indian ocean, lying across the equator in east-central Africa. It is bordered by Somalia to the east, Uganda to the West, Ethiopia to the north, and Tanzania to the south. The fertile Lake Victoria basin lies to the southwest, while part of the eastern depression of the Great Rift valley separates the coast from the western highlands. The north of Kenya, meanwhile, comprises arid land.
Kenya’s connection to the equator makes it a hot tropical country, although temperatures vary according to altitude, dropping by around 6ºC for very 1,000m climbed. In the daytime, the temperature ranges between 20ºC and 28ºC on average, though the coast is always a few degrees higher. Kenya’s dry season lasts from June to October, while the wet season runs from November to May.
Kenya is famed for its stunning landscapes, exotic wildlife and record-breaking runners, such as Bernard Lagat, Janeth Jepkosgei, and Isaac Kiprono Songok. Tourists flock to visit reserves such as the Masai Mara National Reserve, where the annual migration of zebras and wildebeests can be observed. Amboseli is another national park where visitors can get close to free-range elephants and other beautiful animals. Lake Nakuru in central Kenya, meanwhile, is known for its plentiful flocks of flamingos, which are sadly under danger owing to pollution. Lamu Island, with its soft sands and azure water, is an unspoiled haven for beach lovers, as is Malindi (where visitors can surf or snorkel amidst colourful coral reefs). Mount Kenya is the second highest mountain in Africa, after Kilimanjaro. Kenya is also famous for its Harambee culture; harambee means ‘to pull together’ and indeed, the Kenyans believe that much more can be accomplished by working together rather than individually. Kenya is a top exporter of tea, coffee and petroleum products.
Kenya’s history goes far back indeed, with fossil records indicating that the area was inhabited by primates some 20 million years ago, and then by hominids – the ancestors of homo sapiens. In around 1 A.D., Bantu farmers, who hailed from West Africa, inhabited the region. Since Kenya was so close to the Arabian peninsula, traders form this area began travelling to Kenya, eventually founding colonies there. In the late 15th century the Portuguese arrived, putting an end to Arabian rule and Islamism did not return until the 17th century. The British colonised Kenya in 1920 and the latter did not obtain its independence until 1963. Kenyatta was the Republic of Kenya’s first president.
The vegetation in Kenya is indicative of the variety of its topography and climate. Coconut trees abound in the coast, where mangrove swamps and rain forests can also be found. The hinterland and its plains are covered with grass and scrub, while the savanna contains thorn trees. The highlands is home to bamboo and timber forests, with camphor, pencil and the African olive holding sway. The wildlife in Kenya is plentiful and includes the elephant rhinoceros, lion, giraffe, buffalo, hippopotamus and wildebeest. Many species such as the white rhino, are in danger of extinction owing to poaching. Common Kenyan bird species include flamingos, ostriches and cranes.
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