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Kenya Overview

KENYA

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Kenya boasts an incredible natural environment (especially the wildlife) and it's cultural heritage which is almost unmatched in Africa. The country’s other draw card is the Indian Ocean coastline, with its historic background which was influenced by the Arab world, white-sand beaches covering miles of coast. The hub of this resort type scene is Mombasa with many other, more peaceful coves. Step back into this history with visits to Swahili villages and mangrove islands which provide a unique opportunity. Mountain climbs to Mt Kenya with jagged peaks, which captivate your imagination of prehistoric times. Another option would be Mt Elgon which is on the Ugandan border. Camel treks through Kenya's arid north also attract a steady stream of hardy souls.

Principal food crops are maize, sorghum, cassava, beans and fruit, while the main cash crops are coffee, tea, cotton, sisal, pyrethrum and tobacco. Tourism was once the mainstay of Kenya's economy but has also suffered in recent years due to the embassy bombings of 1998 when many companies cancelled all trips here. By 2002 visitor numbers had reached about 500,000 a year but was impacted once again by the terrorist attacks in Mobasa in November that year. Kenya’s somewhat well developed industrial base (accounting for some 13% of GDP) is slumped by it’s poor infrastructure, high taxation and rampant corruption. Principal products include processed food, beer, vehicles and accessories, construction materials, textiles, glass and chemicals. Because the Kenyan budget relies on at least US$300 million a year in foreign aid it is imperative to get donors back on their side. Inflation which is currently running at about 7%, GDP per capita is US$360.

Kenya’s main tourist attractions are their national parks and reserves. Wildlife viewing is probably the best and most accessible in Africa. The Masai Mara National Reserve, Amboseli and Samburu provide great viewing. Bird-watchers will not be disappointed after a visit to Kkamega Forest Reserve, Saiwa Swamp National Park, or the Rift Valley lakes. The country’s rich tribal heritage which is the way of life for many has not changed much over the last few thousand years. With tribal people everywhere, you will have to make an effort by getting off the tourist routes and really experience these intriguing cultures. Kenya's beaches is another draw card with tourism being highly developed, with marine parks offering the water 'babies' excellent snorkeling and scuba diving. Kenya also offer the really adventurous the opportunity to climb the snowy heights of Mt Kenya which is an experience in itself and fortunately does not require any specialized equipment. Rock climbing, caving, camel safaris, white-water rafting, hiking, sailing trips and ballooning over the savanna are other options which could be enjoyed here. Trout fishing and deep-sea fishing is rated as among the best in the world.

Kenya Quick Facts
 
Location: Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Somalia and Tanzania
Area: 582,650 km
Border countries: Ethiopia 861 km, Somalia 682 km, Sudan 232 km, Tanzania 769 km, Uganda 933 km
Population: 32 million
People: Kikuyu 22%, Luhya 14%, Luo 13%, Kalenjin 12%, Kamba 11%, Kisii 6%, Meru 6%, other African 15%, non-African (Asian, European, and Arab) 1%
Language: English (official), Kiswahili (official)
Religion: Protestant 45%, Roman Catholic 33%, indigenous beliefs 10%, Muslim 10%, other 2%
Independence: 12 December 1963 (from UK)
Head of State: President Mwai KIBAKI
Capital: Nairobi
   
Currency: Kenyan shilling (KES) - Exchange Rate(link popup window)
Export Commodities: tea, horticultural products, coffee, petroleum products, fish, cement
Agriculture - products: tea, coffee, corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruit, vegetables; dairy products, beef, pork, poultry, eggs
GDP growth: 1.7% (2003 est.)
GDP per capita: $1,000 (2003 est.)
 
 
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