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Kenya: deserts, mountains, lakes and savannahs

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Kenya (Jamhuri ya Kenya/Republic of Kenya) is a presidential republic of East Africa. The country is located in the south-east on the Indian Ocean and bordered to the south by Tanzania, to the west by Uganda, to the north-west by the South Sudan, to the north by Ethiopia and to the north-east by Somalia.


Kenya presents several natural regions. Along the coast of the Indian Ocean is an area of low plains and in the north between Lake Turkana and Somalia is a steppe and desert plateau with an average elevation of 800 meters.

Further south is the great depression of the Rift Valley and the volcanic highlands of the central region. The average altitude of the highlands is more than 2,000 meters culminating in the 5,199 m of Mount Kenya, the highest mountain of Kenya, and the highest mountain of Africa after Mount Kilimanjaro.

The Rift Valley extends to the north of the country forming the depression of Lake Turkana with 7,100 sq km, while it continues southward with the lakes Baringo, Hannington, Nakuru, Magadi and Natron.

Around the great depression of the Rift Valley rises the Mau Escarpment with 3,099 meters and the Aberdare range, a mountain range located west of Mount Kenya in central Kenya with Mount Lesatima as its highest peak with an altitude of 3,995 meters.

To the north-east of Lake Victoria along the border with Uganda the volcanic cone of Elgon with 4,321 meters is to be found. At the border of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania lies Lake Victoria at an elevation of more than 1,100 meters with an area of 69,490 sq km, being the largest lake of Africa. The country’s major rivers include the Tana and Galana, which flow into the Indian Ocean.


Kenya’s economy is mainly based on agriculture. Tea, tobacco, pyrethrum, maize, wheat, the sisal agava, coffee, cassava, cotton, bananas, sugar cane and pineapples are cultivated. The breeding of cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and poultry and the exploitation of timber are important. There are only some mining resources.

The industrial activities are mainly related to the processing of agricultural products and livestock: breweries, tobacco manufacturing, oil mills on the one hand and steel, chemical and petrochemical industry on the other hand.

Considerable importance is attributed to the tourism sector thanks to the presence of beautiful beaches along the coast of the Indian Ocean and the many national parks offering the viewing of wild animals.

Official page of the Government of Kenya.

English text correction by Dietrich Köster. 

  • Area: 582,646 sq km: arable land 7,8%, pastures 36,7%, forests and bushland 28,9%, uncultivated and unproductive land 26,6%
  • Population: 47,500,000 (as of 2019): Kikuyu 22%, Luhya 14%, Luo 13%, Kalenjin 12%, Kamba 11%, Kisii 6%, Meru 6%, other black Africans 15%; Asians, Europeans and Arabs 1%.
  • State Capital: Nairobi.
  • Official Languages: The official languages are Kiswahili and English. Numerous indigenous languages are also spoken.
  • Religion: Christians 84% (Protestants 47%, Roman Catholics 23%), Muslims 10%, traditional religions 2%.
  • Currency: Kenyan shilling (KES)
  • Time Zone: UTC+3 hours.

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