About Kenya

Kenya's Data & Key Info At A Glance

Origin of the name 'Kenya'

Kenya is named after a mountain of the same name

Kenya is named after a mountain of the same name. The Kikuyu people who lived around present-day Mt Kenya referred to it as Kirinyaga or Kerenyaga, meaning ‘mountain of whiteness’ because of its snow-capped peak. Mt Kirinyaga which was the main landmark became synonymous with the territory the British later claimed as their colony. However, the name Kenya arose out of the inability of the British to pronounce Kirinyaga correctly. The Kamba people had a slightly easier pronunciation of the same mountain (Ki Nyaa).

Mount Kenya is an extinct stratovolcano and the second-highest peak in Africa. Its  highest peaks are Batian (5,199 m), Nelion (5,188 m) and Point Lenana (4,985 m).

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The Kenyan Flag

About the Kenyan flag

The Kenyan flag was adopted on 12th December, 1963 as the country’s flag. The color black represents the people of the Republic of Kenya, red for the blood shed during the fight for independence, green for the country’s landscape and the white fimbriation was added later to symbolize peace and honesty.

The Kenyan flag has four colours. Black, Red, Green and White.

It’s common in Kenya to find Kenyans wearing this bead bracelet of the Kenyan flag.

Kenyan Geography

Kenya is located in East Africa

The Geography of Kenya is diverse, varying amongst its 47 counties. Kenya has a coastline on the Indian Ocean, which contains swamps of East African mangroves. Inland are broad plains and numerous hills. Kenya borders South Sudan to the northwest, Uganda to the west, Somalia to the east, Tanzania to the south, and Ethiopia to the north. Read more >>


East Africa

Eastern Africa on the Indian Ocean coast between Somalia, Ethiopia and Tanzania. Geographic coordinates: 1°00′N 38°00′E


Total: 582,650.2 km2 (224,962.5 sq mi)

Land: 569,140 km2 (219,750 sq mi)
Water: 11,227 km2 (4,335 sq mi)


Total: 3,457 km (2,148 mi)

Border countries: Ethiopia 867 km (539 mi), Somalia 684 km (425 mi), South Sudan 317 km (197 mi), Tanzania 775 km (482 mi), Uganda 814 km (506 mi)

Kenyan Counties

Kenya has a total of 47 counties

The Counties of Kenya (Swahili: Kaunti za Kenya) are geographical units created by the 2010 Constitution of Kenya as the new units of devolved government. They replaced the previous provincial system. The establishment and executive powers of the counties is provided in Chapter Eleven of the Constitution on devolved government, the Constitution’s Fourth Schedule and any other legislation passed by the Senate of Kenya concerning counties. The counties are also single-member constituencies which elect members of the Senate, and special woman members to the National Assembly.

As of 2022, there are 47 counties whose size and boundaries are based on 1992 districts. Following the re-organization of Kenya’s national administration, counties were integrated into a new national administration with the national government posting a county commissioner to each county to serve as a collaborative link with county government. Learn more >>

Arial photo of Kenya’s coast taken in Watamu located in Kilifi County, Kenya.

List of Kenyan Counties

CodeCountyFormer ProvinceArea (KM Squared)Population (2009 Census)Population (2019 Census)CapitalPostal Abbreviations
4Tana RiverCoast35,375.8240,075315,943HolaTRV
7GarissaNorth Eastern45,720.2623,060841,353GarissaGRS
8WajirNorth Eastern55,840.6661,941781,263WajirWJR
9ManderaNorth Eastern25,797.71,025,756867,457ManderaMDR
18NyandaruaCentral3,107.7596,268638,289Ol KalouNDR
23TurkanaRift Valley98,597.81,100,3991,504,976LodwarTRK
24West PokotRift Valley8,418.2512,690621,241KapenguriaWPK
25SamburuRift Valley20,182.5223,947310,327MaralalSBR
26Trans-NzoiaRift Valley2,469.9818,757990,341KitaleTNZ
27Uasin GishuRift Valley2,955.3894,1791,163,186EldoretUGS
28Elgeyo-MarakwetRift Valley3,049.7369,998454,480ItenEMK
29NandiRift Valley2,884.5752,965885,711KapsabetNDI
30BaringoRift Valley11,075.3555,561666,763KabarnetBRG
31LaikipiaRift Valley8,696.1399,227518,560RumurutiLKP
32NakuruRift Valley7,509.51,603,3252,162,202Nakuru[8][9]NKR
33NarokRift Valley17,921.2850,9201,157,873NarokNRK
34KajiadoRift Valley21,292.7687,3121,117,840KajiadoKJD
35KerichoRift Valley2,454.5752,396901,777KerichoKRC
36BometRift Valley1,997.9730,129875,689BometBMT
43Homa BayNyanza3,154.7963,7941,131,950Homa BayHBY

What Kenya is known for

Breath Taking Safaris, Greatest Runners and Much More

Kenya is renowned worldwide for its breathtaking natural beauty and diverse landscapes. The iconic Maasai Mara National Reserve, which hosts the annual Great Migration of wildebeests and zebras, offering some of the most spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities on the planet. Kenya’s stunning national parks and reserves are teeming with a wide variety of wildlife, including the Big Five (elephants, lions, leopards, buffalos, and rhinos), making it a top destination for safaris and wildlife enthusiasts. Moreover, Kenya boasts an incredible array of geographical features, from the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kenya to the pristine beaches along the Indian Ocean coast, attracting adventure seekers, hikers, and beach lovers alike.

In addition to its natural wonders, Kenya has made a global mark for its long-distance runners, who dominate international track and field events. Kenyan athletes, with their remarkable endurance and speed, consistently excel in marathons and middle- to long-distance races, earning Kenya a reputation as a powerhouse in the world of athletics. Beyond sports and nature, Kenya is known for its rich cultural diversity, with over 40 different ethnic groups, each contributing to the country’s vibrant traditions, music, dance, and cuisine. Visitors to Kenya have the opportunity to immerse themselves in this colorful tapestry of cultures, making it a truly unique and unforgettable destination that continues to captivate people worldwide.

History was made when Eliud Kipchoge became the first human to break the two-hour marathon barrier in Vienna. Click here to read more. Eliud also holds the world marathon record at 2:01:09 set in the Berlin marathon in 2022.

The home of the world's greatest long-distance runners

Kenya’s long-distance running success is attributed to factors like high-altitude training, genetics, diet, and lifestyle. Renowned Kenyan runners include Tegla Loroupe, Catherine Ndereba, Joyciline Jepkosgei, Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon, Eliud Kipchoge, and Wilson Kipsang, all of whom have achieved remarkable feats and contributed to Kenya’s legacy in the sport.

The home of the world's best safaris and breathtaking wildlife

Kenya’s extraordinary biodiversity is celebrated as the ultimate destination for safaris and awe-inspiring wildlife experiences. Its national parks and reserves, home to the “Big Five” and diverse animal species, offer exceptional safari adventures. Kenya’s breathtaking landscapes, including the Great Rift Valley and Mount Kenya, add to its allure, making it a top choice for nature enthusiasts seeking an unforgettable wildlife and natural beauty encounter.

The first woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize

Remember the name Wangari Muta Maathai. This inspirational woman was a Kenyan environmental, social, and political activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace. Throughout her life, Wangari Maathai was an outspoken advocate for social and environmental justice, and she played a vital role in raising awareness about the interconnectedness of environmental issues and human rights.

The Safari Rally

The renowned motorsport event is known for its challenging terrain and stunning scenery, attracting participants and spectators worldwide. With a rich history dating back to 1953, it was part of the World Rally Championship (WRC). The Safari Classic Rally is a biennial classic car event that covers approximately 4,000 kilometres of scenic Kenyan routes and attracts classic car enthusiasts worldwide.

Some of the worlds best tea and coffee

Did you know that Kenya’s coffee beans are handpicked? Each bean is carefully selected by hand, ensuring only the best beans are used for production. Kenya is renowned for its high-quality black tea, with the country supplying 27% of global tea sales in 2016, surpassing both China and India by 8% and 15%, respectively. Kenya is also among the top exporter of flowers globally with Europe as its major market.

President Obama's Roots

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, has roots in Kenya. His father, Barack Hussein Obama, was a Kenyan born and raised in Kogelo, a village in Siaya County’s Alego constituency. He was awarded a scholarship and moved to the US. Barack Obama has visited Kenya and his father’s village to visit his paternal grandmother, Sarah Obama.

MPesa Mobile Money

M-Pesa began as a SIM toolkit service solely used to send and receive money. It was introduced in Kenya by Safaricom in 2007 and is a mobile money service revolutionizing financial transactions, particularly in rural areas where traditional banking services are scarce. This success has prompted its adoption in other countries, such as Tanzania, Mozambique, India, Egypt, and Romania, highlighting its global significance in promoting accessible and convenient financial services.

Kenyan Barbecue: Nyama Choma

“Nyama choma” translates to “roasted meat” in Swahili. It Symbolizes communal bonding and shared moments in Kenyan culture, making it a quintessential part of the country’s culinary traditions. This dish typically consists of grilled or roasted meat, often skewered or cooked over an open flame, typically using charcoal or wood. It is often served with accompaniments such as kachumbari (a fresh tomato and onion salad), ugali (cooked sifted maize), and sometimes a spicy dipping sauce.

Greatest Economy in East Africa

Dubbed the “Silicon Savannah.”Kenya has established itself as one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies. The country’s economy has been growing at an average rate of 5.9% between 2010 and 2018, making it one of the fastest-growing economies in East Africa. Kenya’s tech hub, Konza, is set to become Africa’s Silicon Valley. The city will be built in partnership with South Korea and will be called the African Silicon Valley.

Kenya: A Green Energy Giant in Africa

Kenya is a leader in renewable energy production in Africa, with nearly 90 percent of its electricity coming from hydro, geothermal, wind, solar and biomass sources.  Kenya has the largest geothermal power capacity in Africa and the ninth largest in the world. It also has abundant natural resources that enable it to generate clean and cheap electricity.

Kenya’s renewable energy success story is driven by a combination of factors, such as supportive policies and regulations, public-private partnerships, innovative financing mechanisms, community involvement and regional cooperation. Kenya has also invested heavily in developing its transmission and distribution infrastructure, as well as integrating variable renewable energy sources into the grid. Kenya aims to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 and become a net exporter of electricity to its neighbors.

The Kenyan Economy

The Kenyan economy is the largest in East Africa

The Kenyan economy is the largest in East Africa. After independence, Kenya promoted rapid economic growth through public investment, encouraged smallholder agricultural production and provided incentives for private (often foreign) industrial investment. Additionally, Kenya is a regional transportation and financial hub.

Kenya has experienced continued growth in GDP over the last few years, supported by ongoing public infrastructure projects, strong public and private sector investment and appropriate economic and fiscal policies, reflecting the broad-based and diversified nature of the Kenyan economy.

Kenya’s financial sector is vibrant, well developed and diversified in the region and has highest financial inclusion in the region and globally. Banking sector is well capitalized, profitable with capital adequacy and liquidity ratios above the recommended thresholds.

Macroeconomic stability has been preserved over the last few years with inflation, interest rates and exchange rates remaining largely stable, thanks to the prudent monetary and fiscal policies.

GDP growth rate:

7.5% annual change (2021)

Gross domestic product:

110.3 billion USD (2021)

GDP per capita:

2,081.80 USD (2021)

Gross national income:

272.1 billion PPP dollars (2021)

GNI per capita:

5,130 PPP dollars (2021)

Internet users:

29.5% of the population (2020)


Kenyan Shilling

Major Sectors of Kenya's Economy

Major industries include agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, manufacturing, energy, tourism and financial services.

The agricultural sector is the backbone of the economy, contributing approximately 33 percent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The agriculture sector employs more than 40 percent of the total population and 70 percent of the rural population.


The agricultural sector is the backbone of the economy, contributing approximately 33 percent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The agriculture sector employs more than 40 percent of the total population and 70 percent of the rural population.

Forestry and fishing

Resource degradation has reduced output from forestry. In 2004, roundwood removals came to 22,162,000 cubic meters. Fisheries are of local importance around Lake Victoria and have potential at Lake Turkana.

Mining and minerals

Kenya has no significant mineral endowment. The mining and quarrying sector makes a negligible contribution to the economy, accounting for less than 1% of GDP. The majority of this is contributed by the soda ash operation at Lake Magadi in south-central Kenya.

Industry and manufacturing

Although Kenya is the most industrially developed country in East Africa, manufacturing still accounts for only 14% of GDP. This represents only a slight increase since independence.


The largest segment of Kenya’s electricity supply comes from hydroelectric stations at dams along the upper Tana River, as well as the Turkwel Gorge Dam in the west. A petroleum-fired plant on the coast, geothermal facilities at Olkaria, and electricity imported from Uganda make up the balance.


Tourism is one of Kenya’s leading foreign exchange earners and the third largest contributor to the GDP after agriculture and manufacturing. The sector has been growing fast as a result of various factors such as liberalization, personification of tourist markets and continued Government support.

Financial services

Kenya is East Africa’s hub for financial services. The Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) is ranked 4th in Africa in terms of market capitalisation. The banking sector in Kenya is regulated by The Central Bank Of Kenya. Kenya’s banking sector is mainly dominated by local commercial banks.

Finance & Investment

The Kenyan economy is the largest in East Africa

Kenya presents itself as a promising investment destination, driven by strong economic growth, a strategic East African location, and diverse sectors such as agriculture, technology, and manufacturing. Infrastructure development and a burgeoning tech ecosystem in Nairobi add to its appeal. Kenya’s investment landscape offers potential rewards for those who are well-prepared to manage its unique opportunities and risks.

Kenyan Banking Sector

Kenyan banks form a vital part of the country’s financial sector, offering a range of services and contributing to its growing economy, with notable institutions such as Equity Bank, KCB Group, and Co-operative Bank playing prominent roles in the sector.

The Kenyan Shilling

The Kenyan shilling (KES) is the official currency of Kenya, symbolized as “Ksh,” and is managed by the Central Bank of Kenya.

Exchange Rates

The Central Bank of Kenya’s website is one of the most reliable sources for up-to-date Kenyan exchange rates. View the exchange rate of Kenya shilling against major global currencies such as the US Dollar and the GB Pound. Click here >>

Interest Rates

The Central Bank of Kenya’s website is also among the most reliable sources for up-to-date Kenyan interest rates. Click here >>

Leadership & Government

Kenya's government structure is a presidential system with a multi-party democracy

The President serves as both the head of state and government, with executive authority, and is elected through a popular vote.

His Excellency Dr. William Samoei Ruto, C.G.H.,
President of the Republic of Kenya and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces.

His Excellency Dr William Samoei Ruto was sworn in on September 13, 2022, after winning the Presidential election.

Before ascending to be President, Dr Ruto served as the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya from April 3, 2013 to September 12, 2022.

Learn more >>

About the Kenyan Parliament

The Kenyan Parliament, a bicameral legislature, consists of the National Assembly (lower house) and the Senate (upper house). The National Assembly is composed of elected representatives, while the Senate represents counties. Kenya is divided into 47 counties, each with its own government led by a governor and county assembly. This devolved system was established to promote local governance and development. Additionally, the judiciary is independent and plays a critical role in upholding the rule of law in the country.

Arms of Government in Kenya

The National Executive

The national executive of the Republic comprises the President, the Deputy President and the rest of the Cabinet (Attorney General and 14-22 Cabinet Secretaries).

The Legislature

The National Assembly and the Senate make up Kenya’s legislature (or parliament).

The National Assembly comprises 290 members elected to represent constituencies, 47 county women representatives, 12 nominated members and the speaker as an ex officio member.

The Senate comprises 47 members elected to represent the counties, 20 nominated members and the speaker as an ex officio member.

The Judiciary

The Judiciary consists of the judges of the superior courts, magistrates, other judicial officers and staff.

County Executive

The county executive committee consists of the county governor, deputy county governor and other county executive committee members.

County Assembly

The County Assembly comprises elected members (Ward Representatives), nominated members and the speaker as an ex officio member.

The Kenyan Constitution

The new Kenyan Constitution was promulgated in 2010

The Kenyan Constitution, promulgated in 2010, is the supreme law of the country and establishes Kenya as a democratic republic. It is known for its emphasis on devolution, enshrining a system of 47 counties with their own governments. The constitution upholds fundamental rights and freedoms, including equality, the rule of law, and social justice. It also outlines the separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. Amendments to the constitution require a rigorous process, ensuring its stability and significance in shaping Kenya’s governance and society.

Tourism in Kenya

Tourism is one of Kenya's greatest foreign exchange earners

Tourism in Kenya is a vibrant and integral part of the country’s economy, celebrated for its breathtaking natural beauty and diverse wildlife. Kenya is best known for its iconic safaris, where visitors can embark on thrilling adventures to witness the “Big Five” (elephants, lions, leopards, buffalos, and rhinos) in their natural habitats. The Maasai Mara National Reserve is a highlight, hosting the spectacular Great Migration of wildebeests and zebras, drawing travelers from around the world.

Apart from safaris, Kenya’s tourism extends to its picturesque coastline along the Indian Ocean, offering pristine beaches, water sports, and coral reefs for snorkeling and diving. Visitors can explore the cultural richness of Kenya by engaging with indigenous tribes like the Maasai and Samburu, and they can also trek to the summit of Mount Kenya, Africa’s second-highest peak. Kenya’s tourism sector continues to evolve, offering a diverse range of experiences for nature enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and culture aficionados.

This photo was taken at the Lake Nakuru National Park. An elephant walks by the shore of the lake surrounded by elegant flamingos. Lake Nakuru sits inside the Great Rift Valley.

Immigration in Kenya

Regulated by the Department of Immigration Services

Immigration in Kenya is regulated by the Department of Immigration Services, responsible for issuing visas and permits for foreign nationals visiting or residing in Kenya. Kenya has various visa categories, including tourist, business, work, and student visas, each with specific requirements. Kenya has established policies to attract skilled workers and investors, such as the issuance of work permits and investor permits. Additionally, Kenya is a member of the East African Community, allowing for the free movement of citizens among member states. Immigration policies are subject to change, so it’s essential for travelers and expatriates to check the latest requirements and regulations before planning their visit or relocation to Kenya.

Climate & Weather

Kenya's climate varies widely due to its diverse geography

Kenya’s climate varies widely due to its diverse geography. In the lowland coastal regions, the climate is tropical and humid, with temperatures averaging 27-31°C (81-88°F). Inland, the highlands experience a more temperate climate, with temperatures ranging from 10-26°C (50-79°F) depending on altitude. Kenya has two rainy seasons: the long rains from March to June and the short rains from October to December, with variations across regions. Nairobi, the capital, enjoys a moderate climate, with temperatures ranging from 10-26°C (50-79°F). The Great Rift Valley region has a semi-arid climate, while the northern parts of the country are arid and experience higher temperatures. Kenya’s climate diversity caters to a wide range of outdoor activities, from safaris in national parks to mountain trekking and coastal getaways.

FAQs About Kenya

Frequently Asked Questions About Kenya

The official languages of Kenya are Swahili and English.

The currency used throughout the country is the Kenyan shilling. Mastercard and Visa are accepted in most major tourist destinations. ATMs are common in the cities for dispensing local currency but are not available in wildlife parks.

Visitors to Kenya require valid passports, valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Kenya. A tourist visa is required for Canadian and American passport holders and this must be obtained online at http://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html prior to your arrival in Kenya. Visitors are advised to register well in advance as there may be a 10-day processing period.

The best time to visit Kenya depends on the region, but for wildlife viewing, it’s ideal to go between July and September during the dry season. Another good time is late December to mid-March when the bush is less dense, and animals gather around water sources, making spotting them easier.

Kenya is a wonderful destination for families who are on the adventurous side. It welcomes all travellers and has a special affection for family travel with children.

Visit your doctor at least a month before you set off on your trip. You may need to get the following vaccinses: COVID-19, Malaria, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Yellow Fever.

The standard time zone in Kenya is 3 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Nairobi, often referred to as the ‘Green City in the Sun,’ serves as Kenya’s capital and its largest metropolis. It also holds the status of being the capital of both Nairobi Province and Nairobi District.

Situated in the southern part of Kenya along the Nairobi River, Nairobi stands as East Africa’s most densely populated city, boasting an estimated population of approximately 4 million residents. In terms of size, Nairobi ranks as the fourth largest city on the African continent.

Tipping is not obligatory but is a gesture of appreciation, left entirely to your discretion. When it comes to porters at airports, hotels, or lodges, it is customary to offer a gratuity of approximately $2 for each piece of luggage.

In Kenya, purchasing prepaid (pay-as-you-go) SIM cards is both affordable and user-friendly. You can easily find top-up or refill vouchers at numerous locations, including hotels, newsagents, supermarkets, and various shops.

The majority of lodges, resorts, and hotels in Kenya provide internet access for their guests. Additionally, the country is serviced by reliable 3G/4G GSM connectivity.

The local electricity supply in Kenya operates at 220/240 volts AC, with a frequency of 50Hz, and uses 3-point square plugs. If you plan to bring electrical devices, it’s advisable to carry voltage and plug adaptors to ensure compatibility. Additionally, many major hotels can provide amenities like hairdryers, irons, and other electrical equipment upon request.

Apart from Kenya’s official languages, Swahili and English, which are spoken at our partner schools, there are 62 additional languages used by various ethnic groups throughout the country, including Bantu and Nilotic languages.

The Great Rift Valley, a geological marvel formed over 25 million years ago due to tension in the earth’s crust, spans approximately 6,500 kilometers in length.

Kenya’s export industry is heavily reliant on agricultural products, with horticultural and tea products holding paramount significance.

Christianity is the predominant religion in Kenya, followed by an estimated 85.5% of the total population. Islam is the second-largest religion in Kenya, practiced by approximately 10.9% of Kenyans.

You can get around almost every transaction with cash. However, mobile payment platforms like M-pesa are easily accepted.

The average household size in Kenya is 4 members per house.

The largest ethnic group in Kenya, the Kikuyu, comprises only 20% of the nation’s total population.

Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, is widely recognized as the country’s most developed urban center, boasting a higher level of infrastructure and economic activity compared to other towns and cities in Kenya.

Lamu Town, situated on Lamu Island, holds the distinction of being Kenya’s oldest continually inhabited town. It stands as one of the original Swahili settlements along the coastal region of East Africa and is believed to have been founded in the year 1370.

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