15 Intriguing Facts about Kenya

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Kenya, a land of diverse landscapes, vibrant culture, and unique wildlife, offers much more than meets the eye. While you might be familiar with the stunning safaris and breathtaking scenery, here are 15 fascinating facts about Kenya that add depth to the allure of the country.

Quick Facts:

  • Official Name: Republic of Kenya
  • Form of Government: Republic
  • Capital: Nairobi
  • Population: 48,397,527
  • Official Languages: Swahili, English
  • Currency: Kenyan Shilling
  • Area: 224,081 square miles (580,367 square kilometres)
  • Major Mountain Ranges: Aberdare Range, Mau Escarpment
  • Major Rivers: Athi/Galana, Tana

15 Intriguing Facts about Kenya:

1. Kenya is home to a remarkable array of 50 national parks and reserves.

Kenya is home to a remarkable 50 national parks and reserves, diligently managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service. This extensive network, comprised of 22 national parks and 28 national reserves, plays a vital role in safeguarding the country's native wildlife from potential threats.

2. The Great Rift Valley started forming more than 25 million years ago.

Great rift valley
The Great Rift Valley started forming 25 million years ago due to intense Earth crust movements. This colossal trench, measuring 6,500 kilometres in length and 60 kilometres in width, created an environment that led to the formation of numerous lakes and unique habitats for Kenya's wildlife.

3. Kenya is home to 62 spoken languages.

Despite Kenya's official languages being limited to Kiswahili (also known as Swahili) and English, the country boasts a rich linguistic tapestry of approximately 68 languages spoken nationwide.

For those embarking on Contiki's Kenyan Highlights trip, connecting with locals becomes more accessible with greetings like "Jambo" to say hello or "Habari" for "Good day, how are you?" in Kiswahili.

4. Kenya boasts the first female Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Wangari Maathai
Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmentalist, was the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contributions to sustainable development, democracy, and peace.

5. Mount Kenya holds the title of Africa's second-highest mountain.

Mount Kenya
Mount Kenya, standing at 5,199 meters, is Africa's second-highest mountain. It's a popular destination for nature lovers and adventurers in Kenya, known for its stunning scenery and rich biodiversity.

6. The national animal of Kenya is the East African Lion.

African Lion
The East African Lion, officially recognized as Kenya's national animal, plays a pivotal role in the country's wildlife heritage. These majestic creatures, part of the renowned Big Five, coexist with other iconic African species like leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhinoceros. The conservation of these lions is crucial, as they are currently categorized as "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

7. Lake Turkana is the world's biggest desert lake.

Lake Turkana
Lake Turkana, the world's largest desert lake, graces Kenya's northern region. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site with three national parks: Sibiloi, Central Island, and South Island. This ancient lake is not only huge but also a hub of archaeological discoveries, shedding light on early human history and the local wildlife.

8. Kenya's main export is coffee.

Kenya's coffee is famous globally. In March 2021, it was valued at over 4.56 billion Kenyan shillings (about 40.2 million U.S. dollars) when exported. Oddly, most Kenyans don't drink it; instead, it's cherished worldwide.

9. Kenya leads as the world's top safari destination.

Kenya is the world's top safari destination, winning the title seven years in a row. With its famous parks like Maasai Mara and Amboseli, it's a hub for incredible wildlife experiences, including the renowned Great Migration.

10. Kenya boasts the world's finest long-distance runners.

eliud kipchoge
Kenya is a dominant force in long-distance running, producing world-class athletes like Eliud Kipchoge, who holds the world record and Olympic gold medals. The country's runners, especially the Kalenjin people, have a remarkable track record of success, consistently outperforming their global counterparts.

11. The Great Wildebeest Migration has no specific beginning or ending point.

Great Migration
The Great Wildebeest Migration is an ongoing natural spectacle with no fixed starting or ending point. Every year, millions of wildebeests, zebras, and antelope move in a circular pattern between Kenya and Tanzania. This means there's no specific beginning or end to this incredible journey. Kenya's Masai Mara is a fantastic place to witness this phenomenon.

12. The United Kingdom is Kenya's largest importer of tea.

Kenyan Tea
Kenyan tea, known for its distinct flavour, colour, and aroma, has found a special place in British teacups. Each day, the nation consumes about 100 million cups of tea, and a significant portion of it is supplied by Kenya. The unique character of Kenyan tea, often a rich and robust brew, complements the British tea-drinking tradition.

13. Kenya boasts 536 kilometres of coastline along the Indian Ocean.

Diani Beach
Kenya is famous for its stunning beaches, like Diani Beach and Bamburi Beach, where you can enjoy clear blue waters and white sandy shores. This coastline is not just a tourist hotspot but also essential for fishing and trade, making it a valuable part of Kenya's identity.

14. Polygamy is practised by some Kenyan men.

In 2014, Kenya passed a law allowing men to have more than one wife, although it's less common in urban areas. Each wife may have her own home within the same compound, sharing household duties and childcare.

15. Education is provided for free in Kenya.

maasai kids
In Kenya, education is both free and compulsory at the primary level (ages 8-14). This means that all children are entitled to attend primary school without any fees. However, once they reach the age of 14 and enter secondary school, education is still free, but attendance is no longer mandatory.

To sum it up, Kenya's blend of natural beauty, diverse culture, and unique facts make it an intriguing country to discover. Whether you're drawn to its wildlife-rich national parks or its commitment to education, Kenya offers a range of experiences for travellers. It's a place where nature and culture come together to create a one-of-a-kind journey.

This post was published by Varsha Alva

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