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Kenya Fact File

Kenya Quick Reference Fact File

What’s the capital city?

Nairobi, and what a city it is. It’s relatively new, with virtually everything there having been built in the last 100 years. It does get a bit of bad press, but as long as you use your common sense like you would in any major city, there’s no reason you can’t explore the restaurants, cafés, shops and museums this buzzing, cosmopolitan city has to offer.

What’s the currency?

Kenyan Shilling. For more information see our money and currency section, and for current exchange rates check www.xe.com.

How big is the population?

About 38 million, and growing.

What’s the major religion?

Christianity, with a higher concentration of Muslim citizens in the coastal areas.

Who’s in charge?

President Mwai Kibaki, who has been in power since December 2002.

What’s the national dish?

Nyama choma – barbecued meat which can be prepared using goat, beef, chicken, or even ostrich or crocodile in more upmarket places. Check our Cuisine section for more information.

National bird?

Lilac breasted roller. About the size of a large raven (and a lot more beautiful), this colourful bird can be seen perching conspicuously on high treetops, scanning for an insect to eat. They look particularly stunning when in flight.

Which languages are spoken?

About 60! The official languages, however, are English and Swahili, with the latter being the most widely understood. It’s worth trying your hand at a bit of Swahili – you might miss out if you don’t! A couple of key phrases are “Habari” (ha-ba-ree, a standard greeting), “Asante” (a-san-tay, thank you), and of course “Unasema Kiingereza?” (oo-na-say-ma kee-een-gay-ray-za, do you speak English?)

Highest and lowest points?

The lowest is sea level, i.e. at the Indian Ocean, and the highest is the magnificent Mount Kenya, at 5,199 metres. The adventurous among you can even try hiking up this glorious mountain.

How’s the terrain?

Very diverse, with lowland plains on the tropical coast, gradually elevating into the highlands with its montane forests and moutain streams, and everything in between. The longest river is the Tana at 800 kilometres. There are various other rivers snaking through Kenya’s parks and reserves, such as the Mara in the Masai Mara and the Ewaso Ngiro in Samburu, providing much needed hydration for the many animals which dwell there.

And the climate?

Depends where you are. The coastal areas tend to be hot and humid year-round, though a lot of relief comes from the sea breeze and the long sunny days. In the northern plains the humidity is low and it is generally hot and dry. The highlands have more distinct “seasons”, with the cloudier months from June to September being “winter.” The higher mountain regions are much cooler still, and Mount Kenya even has a permanent cap of snow – very rare so close to the equator!

For a more detailed description of the climate go to our Kenya climate section.