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Founding president and liberation struggle icon Jomo KENYATTA led Kenya from independence in 1963 until his death in 1978, when President Daniel Toroitich arap MOI took power in a constitutional succession. The country was a de facto one-party state from 1969 until 1982 when the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) made itself the sole legal party in Kenya. MOI acceded to internal and external pressure for political liberalization in late 1991. The ethnically fractured opposition failed to dislodge KANU from power in elections in 1992 and 1997, which were marred by violence and fraud, but were viewed as having generally reflected the will of the Kenyan people. President MOI stepped down in December 2002 following fair and peaceful elections. Mwai KIBAKI, running as the candidate of the multiethnic, united opposition group, the National Rainbow Coalition, defeated KANU candidate Uhuru KENYATTA and assumed the presidency following a campaign centered on an anticorruption platform.


Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Somalia and Tanzania

Geographic coordinates:

1 00 N, 38 00 E


total: 582,650 sq km
land: 569,250 sq km
water: 13,400 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 3,477 km
border countries: Ethiopia 861 km, Somalia 682 km, Sudan 232 km, Tanzania 769 km, Uganda 933 km


536 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation


varies from tropical along coast to arid in interior


low plains rise to central highlands bisected by Great Rift Valley; fertile plateau in west

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Kenya 5,199 m

Natural resources:

limestone, soda ash, salt, gemstones, fluorspar, zinc, diatomite, gypsum, wildlife, hydropower

Land use:

arable land: 8.01%
permanent crops: 0.97%
other: 91.02% (2005)

Irrigated land:

1,030 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

recurring drought; flooding during rainy seasons

Environment - current issues:

water pollution from urban and industrial wastes; degradation of water quality from increased use of pesticides and fertilizers; water hyacinth infestation in Lake Victoria; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; poaching

Geography - note:

the Kenyan Highlands comprise one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa; glaciers are found on Mount Kenya, Africa's second highest peak; unique physiography supports abundant and varied wildlife of scientific and economic value


note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 42.6% (male 7,454,765/female 7,322,130)
15-64 years: 55.1% (male 9,631,488/female 9,508,068)
65 years and over: 2.3% (male 359,354/female 432,012) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 18.2 years
male: 18.1 years
female: 18.3 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.57% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

39.72 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

14.02 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: according to the UNHCR, by the end of 2005 Kenya was host to 233,778 refugees from neighbouring countries, including Somalia 153,627, Sudan 67,556, Ethiopia 12,595 (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 59.26 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 61.92 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 56.54 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 48.93 years
male: 49.78 years
female: 48.07 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

4.91 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

6.7% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

1.2 million (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

150,000 (2003 est.)

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria is a high risk in some locations
water contact disease: schistosomiasis (2005)


noun: Kenyan(s)
adjective: Kenyan

Ethnic groups:

Kikuyu 22%, Luhya 14%, Luo 13%, Kalenjin 12%, Kamba 11%, Kisii 6%, Meru 6%, other African 15%, non-African (Asian, European, and Arab) 1%


Protestant 45%, Roman Catholic 33%, indigenous beliefs 10%, Muslim 10%, other 2%
note: a large majority of Kenyans are Christian, but estimates for the percentage of the population that adheres to Islam or indigenous beliefs vary widely


English (official), Kiswahili (official), numerous indigenous languages


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85.1%
male: 90.6%
female: 79.7% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Kenya
conventional short form: Kenya
former: British East Africa

Government type:




Administrative divisions:

7 provinces and 1 area*; Central, Coast, Eastern, Nairobi Area*, North Eastern, Nyanza, Rift Valley, Western


12 December 1963 (from UK)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 12 December (1963)


12 December 1963; amended as a republic 1964; reissued with amendments 1979, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1997, 2001

Legal system:

based on Kenyan statutory law, Kenyan and English common law, tribal law, and Islamic law; judicial review in High Court; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations; constitutional amendment of 1982 making Kenya a de jure one-party state repealed in 1991


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch:

unicameral National Assembly or Bunge (224 seats; 210 members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms, 12 so-called "nominated" members who are appointed by the president but selected by the parties in proportion to their parliamentary vote totals, 2 ex-officio members)
elections: last held 27 December 2002 (next to be held by early 2007)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NARC 125, KANU 64, FORD-P 14, other 7; ex-officio 2; seats appointed by the president - NARC 7, KANU 4, FORD-P 1

Judicial branch:

Court of Appeal (chief justice is appointed by the president); High Court

Economy - overview:

The regional hub for trade and finance in East Africa, Kenya has been hampered by corruption and by reliance upon several primary goods whose prices have remained low. In 1997, the IMF suspended Kenya's Enhanced Structural Adjustment Program due to the government's failure to maintain reforms and curb corruption. A severe drought from 1999 to 2000 compounded Kenya's problems, causing water and energy rationing and reducing agricultural output. As a result, GDP contracted by 0.2% in 2000. The IMF, which had resumed loans in 2000 to help Kenya through the drought, again halted lending in 2001 when the government failed to institute several anticorruption measures. Despite the return of strong rains in 2001, weak commodity prices, endemic corruption, and low investment limited Kenya's economic growth to 1.2%. Growth lagged at 1.1% in 2002 because of erratic rains, low investor confidence, meager donor support, and political infighting up to the elections. In the key December 2002 elections, Daniel Arap MOI's 24-year-old reign ended, and a new opposition government took on the formidable economic problems facing the nation. In 2003, progress was made in rooting out corruption and encouraging donor support. GDP grew more than 5% in 2005.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$39.6 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$16.25 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

5.2% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$1,200 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 16.3%
industry: 18.8%
services: 65.1% (2004 est.)

Labor force:

11.85 million (2005 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 75%
industry and services: 25% (2003 est.)

Unemployment rate:

40% (2001 est.)

Population below poverty line:

50% (2000 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 37.2% (2000)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

44.5 (1997)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

12% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

17.2% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $3.715 billion
expenditures: $3.88 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2005 est.)

Public debt:

67.4% of GDP (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

tea, coffee, corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruit, vegetables; dairy products, beef, pork, poultry, eggs


small-scale consumer goods (plastic, furniture, batteries, textiles, soap, cigarettes, flour), agricultural products, oil refining; aluminum, steel, lead; cement, commercial ship repair, tourism

Industrial production growth rate:

4.6% (2005 est.)

Electricity - production:

4.342 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

4.238 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - imports:

200 million kWh (2003)

Oil - consumption:

52,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Current account balance:

-$694 million (2005 est.)


$3.173 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

tea, horticultural products, coffee, petroleum products, fish, cement

Exports - partners:

Uganda 13.2%, UK 11.3%, US 10.5%, Netherlands 8.1%, Egypt 4.8%, Tanzania 4.4%, Pakistan 4.3% (2004)


$5.126 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery and transportation equipment, petroleum products, motor vehicles, iron and steel, resins and plastics

Imports - partners:

UAE 12.5%, Saudi Arabia 9.1%, South Africa 8.7%, US 7.7%, India 7.2%, UK 6.7%, China 6.4%, Japan 5% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$1.67 billion (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$7.349 billion (2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$453 million (1997)

Currency (code):

Kenyan shilling (KES)

Fiscal year:

1 July - 30 June

Telephones - main lines in use:

299,300 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

2,546,200 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: unreliable; little attempt to modernize except for service to business
domestic: trunks are primarily microwave radio relay; business data commonly transferred by a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) system
international: country code - 254; satellite earth stations - 4 Intelsat

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 24, FM 18, shortwave 6 (2001)

Television broadcast stations:

8 (2002)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

11,645 (2005)

Internet users:

1.5 million (2005)


224 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 15
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 1 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 209
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 114
under 914 m: 84 (2005)


refined products 752 km (2004)


total: 2,778 km
narrow gauge: 2,778 km 1.000-m gauge (2004)


total: 63,942 km
paved: 7,737 km
unpaved: 56,205 km (2000)


part of Lake Victoria system is within boundaries of Kenya (2003)

Merchant marine:

total: 3 ships (1000 GRT or over) 6,049 GRT/7,082 DWT
by type: cargo 2, petroleum tanker 1
registered in other countries: 6 (The Bahamas 1, Comoros 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 3, unknown 1) (2005)

Ports and terminals:


Military branches:

Army, Navy, Air Force

Disputes - international:

Kenya served as an important mediator in brokering Sudan's north-south separation in February 2005; Kenya provides shelter to approximately a quarter of a million refugees including Ugandans who flee across the border periodically to seek protection from Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels; the Kenya-Somalia border is open to pastoralists and is susceptible to cross-border clan insurgencies; Kenya's administrative limits extend beyond the treaty border into the Sudan, creating the Ilemi Triangle

Refugees and internally displaced persons:

refugees (country of origin): 153,627 (Somalia) 12,595 (Ethiopia) 67,556 (Sudan)
IDPs: 360,000 (KANU attacks on opposition tribal groups in 1990s) (2005)

Illicit drugs:

widespread harvesting of small plots of marijuana; transit country for South Asian heroin destined for Europe and North America; Indian methaqualone also transits on way to South Africa; significant potential for money-laundering activity given the country's status as a regional financial center; massive corruption, and relatively high levels of narcotics-associated activities