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AU Nairobi | About Kenya

Mountainous landscape of Kenya

Kenya is one of the most diverse countries in Africa. Its geography extends from the warm coastal waters of the Indian Ocean to volcanic mountains in the Great Rift Valley to the lacustrine highlands near the largest freshwater lake on the continent. In Kenya you will have opportunities to view early hominid bones at the National Museum, experience some rural life, and observe the growth of modern and cosmopolitan cities. Many languages, religions, and cultural traditions converge in Kenya making it a dynamic and vibrant place to visit and experience.

A group of Kenyans milling about

The population of Kenya exceeds 40 million and is distributed in several linguistic groupings. For the last several hundred years the Bantu communities have occupied the highlands practicing agriculture. Some Nilotic groups have been pastoralists on plain lands to the south and the Rift Valley. Other Nilotic groups also settled near Lake Victoria as fisherman. On its northeastern arid and semiarid fringes live more pastoralists who migrated from the Ethiopian highlands and further afield Somalia. At the coast, there has been a long history of Bantu-based Swahili trading with and intermingling with Portuguese, Arabs, Indians and later British for control of trading ports. In all, there are more than 40 ethnic groups residing in Kenya.

Kenyan Samburu men in their traditional colorful costumes.

Kenya’s cultural heritage, as well as its history as a settler colony of Great Britain, is partly the reason for its position as a powerhouse in the region. The country has a vibrant manufacturing industry that produces the basic daily goods needed by Kenyans and more recently, has been exporting some of these products to the neighboring countries. Tourism, fueled by beautiful coastal beaches and game parks, is an important industry that provides service jobs and much needed foreign capital. There are not many mineral riches to be found in Kenya, but its agricultural exports of coffee, tea, and flowers more than compensate. Recent investments in energy, technology and communications have also proven to have big economic potential for Kenya’s growth.

Kenyans of Note

A student holding the Kenyan flag over his head.
Do you know what the colors and symbols on the Kenyan flag mean?