46 Interesting Facts About Kenya

Last updated on May 15th, 2023

Kenya, officially the Republic of Kenya, is a country in Africa with 47 semiautonomous counties governed by elected governors. It has an area of 580,367 square km. Nairobi is its capital and largest city. English and Swahili are its official languages. Kenyan shilling (KES) is its official currency. The abbreviation for Kenya is KY. Its five land bordering countries are Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

About geography and history

1. A part of the Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest freshwater lake, flows through Kenya. The country shares the lake with Tanzania and Uganda. Lake Superior in North America is the largest of all the freshwater lakes in the world.[1]

2. Kenya is named after Mt Kenya, the tallest mountain in the country and the second-highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro. The highest peak of the mountain is Batian – 5,199 m.[2]

Mt. Kilimanjaro, Kenya
Mt. Kilimanjaro, Kenya

3. Between 1920 and 1963, Kenya was a colony of the United Kingdom.[3]

4. Interestingly, Kenya could possibly be the birthplace of humans. This assumption is supported by the fact that the bones of one of the earliest human ancestors ever found were discovered in Kenya.[3]

5. Because of its geographic position, Kenya was also the regional hub for trade and finance in East Africa.

Flag of Kenya

Flag of Kenya
Flag of Kenya. Image credit – CIA

6. And then there are the coastal towns of Mombasa, Malindi, and Kilifi, which harbor some of the most interesting views in the world. Mombasa is an old town first developed by the Portuguese during the 19th century. Perhaps the oldest and most unique building is the famous Fort Jesus, a sanctuary used by the Portuguese for protection during the siege.

7. Some of the forests, especially Kakamega, have some of the rarest breeds of butterflies and snakes that cannot be found in many other places.[8]

8. A good portion of land in Kenya is covered by a mass of water. Apart from the Indian Ocean at the coast, Kenya has several lakes, both freshwater and salty. Some of these lakes include Lake Victoria, Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha and Lake Bogoria, among others. The country also has many rivers, making it possible for visitors to travel by boats instead of cars.

9. According to the CIA, Kenya has a coastline of 536 km along the Indian Ocean.[19]

10. Some of the most frequently visited parks include the Nairobi National Park, Tsavo Game Reserve, Maasai Mara Game Reserve, and Amboseli National Park, among others.

11. Anybody visiting Kenya will surely notice some unique scenes and places. Among them are places like the Fourteen Falls in Thika, which is ranked among the longest and steepest falls in East Africa.

Fourteen-Falls Thika
Fourteen-Falls Thika.

12. Mombasa is surrounded by the Indian Ocean, making it one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The city is normally frequented by many visitors, not just because of its beauty but also for business opportunities.

13. Lamu Island is the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the country. The town was founded in 1370. Interestingly, more than 6,000 donkeys are used for transporting goods and people through the town. The streets of the town are narrow. Believe it or not, there are just two cars on the island and one of these is an ambulance for the donkeys.[23]

14. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA or NBO) located in Kenya is one of the largest airports in the East African region, and the 9th busiest in Africa.

Kenya on the map


About Kenyan people and their culture

15. Dr. Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, was born in Kenya in 1940. Unfortunately, she died of cancer in 2011. She was known as a fearless social activist and an environmental crusader. She started the movement to reforest the country by paying the country’s women a few shillings.[4]

16. It should not be forgotten that Kenya is also popular across the world for producing some stunning and famous long-distance runners. Kenyan Wilson Kipsang is one such runner. Interestingly, all these runners are actually from the same tribe of Kenyans known as “the Kalenjin”.[14]

17. Iten, a town in Kenya, with miles of hilly dirty roads and perfect altitude for long distance running, attracts elite athletes from all over the country and the world to train. Here runners train for between 20 to 30 miles per day.[25]

18. On August 9, 2012, at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, David Rudisha led from start to finish winning gold in what was called “The Greatest 800 Meter Race Ever.” In doing so, he became the first and, so far, the only runner to break the 1:41 barrier for the 800 m race.[15]

David Rudisha, 2012 Gold medalist at Summer Olympics. Image source

19. According to the World Bank, the population density in Kenya reached a maximum value of 85.15 in 2016 and a minimum value of 14.69 in 1961.[18]

20. Freedom of religion is one of the constitutional rights of the Kenyans. The majority of the population of the country is Christian. Other religious groups include Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs.

21. Kenya is home of the father of Barack Obama, the former president of the United States of America. He recently visited the country to promote the opening of a sports and training center that his half-sister, Auma Obama, founded through her charitable foundation, The Associated Press reported.[21]

22. Kenyans are group-orientated rather than individualistic. Unlike most other places in the world, where people are normally unconcerned about others, social life in this country is tied to companionship, hospitality, kindness and a willingness to help. This is, perhaps, what makes visitors want to come back again and again.[9,20]

23. The kind nature of the Kenyan people might be attributed to the setting and structures of families and communities. In Kenya, a child is brought up by the community and the society at large, and not just the family members alone. This makes it easy for people to develop feelings of concern and helpfulness towards others, strangers or not.[9]

24. The Kenyan people can compromise some of their daily routines and beliefs just to accommodate people from other cultural backgrounds. However, visitors must also acknowledge and respect the locals’ way of life for good coexistence.

25. Greetings in Kenya are a fabric of their social and cultural life. Whenever people meet, irrespective of whether they are acquaintances, they must greet each other, either through a raised hand or thumbs up. The most common greeting is “Jambo?” (“How are you?”), which is generally said immediately prior to the handshake. Greetings often include inquiries about health and family members.[9,20]

26. When it comes to food, the staple meal in Kenya is a delicacy known as “ugali.” This is a meal made from flour; it can be maize, sorghum or even millet. The delicacy is normally accompanied by stew and is enjoyed by many visitors, including President Obama during his visit to the country.[10]

27. Although it is very common to find Kenyans wearing Western clothes, their own way of dressing is distinct. When visiting this country, one cannot fail to notice a red/pink/maroon piece of clothing commonly referred to as “Maasai’s Shuka” around people’s shoulders/waists/necks.[11]

Maasai’s Shuka from Kenya . Kenya fact file

28. Inasmuch as there is no uniform footwear among the Kenyan people, there is no doubt that Sahara Boots and sandals, for both men and women, are the most commonly worn shoes around the country.

About education, languages used, and sports activities

29. With a population comprising of at least 40 ethnic groups, more than 60 languages are spoken in Kenya.[3]

30. English and Swahili are the two official languages of Kenya as well as Tanzania.

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