The name Kenya comes from the highest mountain in the country. From 1895, Kenya was known as the British East African Protectorate before becoming Kenya colony in 1920. At independence, in 1963, Jomo Kenyatta was elected as the first prime minister, with Kenya African National Union (KANU) as the ruling party. He led Kenya from 1963 until his death in 1978, when President Daniel Toroitich arap Moi succeeded him. The country was a de facto one-party state from 1969 until 1982 when the constitution was changed to legalise this. President Moi led the country till December 2002. The current president, Mwai Kibaki has been at the helm since then.

General Information on Kenya


Kenya straddles the equator on the eastern coast of Africa; covering an area of about 586,600km sq. of which 10,700km sq. consists of water bodies. It is bordered by Somalia and Ethiopia to the north the Indian Ocean to the east, Sudan to the northwest, Uganda to the west and Tanzania to the south. It has a 550km long coastline.
Kenya has topographical diversity ranging snow-capped peaked mountains, the Rift Valley with its escarpments and volcanoes, ancient granite hills, flat desolate pains, coral reefs and islets.

Kenya’s Climate

Kenya is generally a dry country; over75% of its area is classed as arid of semi-arid with only around 20% arable. Inland, the climate is influenced by altitude, with topography accounting for slight variations. It is generally warm and humid at the coast, cool and humid in the central highlands, and hot and dry in the north and east.  There are two rainy seasons, from March-May and September-November.

Kenya’s Water resources

All Kenya’s major river drain from the central highlands, separated by the Rift valley into those flowing westwards into Lake Victoria and those flowing eastwards towards the Indian Ocean.
There are five major drainage basins: Lake Victoria, the Rift Valley, the Athi-Galana-Sabaki River (and Coastal areas to its south), the Tana River and the northern Ewaso Ng’iro.
The Rift Valley contains several basins of internal drainage, forming a chain of endorheic lakes from Lake Natron on the Tanzanian border, through Lakes Magadi, Naivasha, Turkana, Elementaita, Nakuru, Bogoria and Baringo with varying degrees of salinity from the fresh water Naivasha to the viscous Lake Magadi.


Kenya’s natural vegetation is equally diverse. Afro-alpine moorland occur above c. 3,000 m, on Mt Kenya and Mt Elgon, the Cheranganis and the Aberdare Mountains. Highland grassland occurs above c.2,400 m on either side of the central Rift Valley. Highland moist forests are found between c.1, 500 m and 3,000m in areas that receive rainfall of more than 1,200 mm per year.
Relicts of Guineo-Congolian rainforest that once extended across equatorial Africa occur in western Kenya, in and around Kakamega Forest. Typical tree species include Celtis, Aningeria, croton, Fagara and Manikara. The North and South Nandi Forests are transitional between the Guinea-Congolian and Montane forest forest types.

Coastal evergreen bushland also occurs, in a mosaic with cultivated land. Coastal palmstands, often in tall grassland, are a rare vegetation type covering less than 3.1% of the land area.

Thorn bushland and woodland are the most extensive vegetation types in Kenya, running from Amboseli in the south through the Tsavo parks to north-east and north-west Kenya. Characteristic tree species are Acacia, Commiphora ssp., while grasses include species of Hyparrhenia, Digitaria and Themeda.

The north-central and northwestern parts of the country are covered by semi-desert with characteristic shrubby thornbush species, mainly Acacia.
Papyrus swamps, consisting largely of stands of cyperus papyrus, are found patchily around the shores of Lake Victoria, mainly along river inflows.
On sandy shorelines are often beds of sea grass (some twelve species are recorded), beyond the littoral zone or in deeper channels within it. Coral reefs and islands make up some 59,000 ha, or 0.1% of the land area. Human-modified habitats, created at the expense of the natural vegetation, occur throughout the country but especially in the highlands.

These include cultivated land under a wide variety of crops, plantations of exotic trees, secondary thicket and scrub, eroded and de-vegetated woodland and bushland, and overgrazed pastureland.