Full country name: Republic of Kenya
Area: 583,000 sq km
Capital city: Nairobi
People: 28% Kikuyu, 18% Luhya, 15% Luo, 12% Kalenjin, 11% Kamba, 6% Kisii, 6% Meru, 16% other
Languages: English, Swahili, indigenous.
Religion: 40% Protestant, 36% Roman Catholic, 16% Muslim, 6% Animist
Government: Republic (multiparty state)
President: Emilio Mwai Kibaki
GDP: US$42.4 billion
GDP per head: US$1525
Annual growth: 1.6%
Major industries: small-scale consumer goods (plastic, furniture, batteries, textiles, soap, cigarettes, flour), agricultural processing, oil refining, cement, tourism
Major trading partners: Uganda, Tanzania, UK, Germany, UAE, South Africa
Facts for the Traveler
Visas: All visitors require a visa except citizens of some Commonwealth countries and citizens of selected countries such as Denmark, Germany, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Norway, Spain, South Africa and Sweden. Apply well in advance for your visa – especially if doing it by mail.
Health risks: Malaria (except in Nairobi and high-altitude areas), cholera, hepatitis, meningitis, mugging, typhoid, schistosomisis, HIV, Rift Valley fever and yellow fever.
Time: GMT/UTC plus three hours
Weights & measures: Metric
Tourism: About 700,000 visitors per year
When to Go
The main tourist season is in January and February, since the hot, dry weather at this time of year is generally considered to be the most pleasant. It’s also when Kenya’s birdlife flocks to the Rift Valley lakes in the greatest numbers. June to September could be called the ‘shoulder season’ as the weather is still dry. The rains hit from March to May (and to a lesser extent from October to December). During these months things are much quieter – places tend to have rooms available and prices drop. The rains generally don’t affect travellers’ ability to get around.
Kenya’s most spectacular annual event is organised by an unlikely group – wildebeests. Literally millions of these ungainly antelopes move en masse in July and August from the Serengeti in search of lush grass. They head south again around October. The best place to see this phenomenon is at the Masai Mara National Reserve. Kenya’s more orthodox annual events include public holidays such as Kenyatta Day (20 October) and Independence Day (12 December).