Facts about Kenya

Here are some interesting facts about Kenya for kids which were chosen and researched by kids especially for kids.

Facts about Kenya: Zebras in Nairobi National Park and Jumping Maasai (iSelena/shutterstock)

Kenya Facts for Kids 

  • Population: about 50 million people live in Kenya (2020)
  • Capital city: Nairobi with 4.5 million people
  • Name: Republic of Kenya
Kenya FlagKenya Flag
  • Government: presidential republic
  • Languages: 2 official languages: Kiswahili (also referred to as Swahili) and English
  • Religion: mainly Christians (83%), Muslims (mainly living in the coastal regions), Hindu, Jews and other faiths
  • Currency: 1 Kenyan Shilling (KES) = 100 Cents
  • History: Kenya became independent in 1963.
  • National Animal: lion
  • National Colours: black, red, green and white
  • President: Uhuru Kenyatta
  • National Day: Jamhuri Day 12 December (Independence Day)
  • National Anthem: "Oh God of All Creation" is based on a traditional folk song in Kenya
  • History: Bantu tribes settle in the region about 500 BC. European explorers and Arab traders visited and settled mainly in the coastal regions around Mombasa, which is Kenya's oldest city. From 1895 the country was part of the East Africa Protectorate and controlled by the British Empire. From 1920 the country was referred to as British Kenya. Kenya gained independence from Britain in 1963.

Facts about Kenya | Kenya Geography

Kenya is located in East Africa and borders the Indian Ocean. The country lies on the Equator. 

Kenya borders five countries: Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Uganda and Somalia. The longest border is shared with Ethiopia (867km).

Map of KenyaMap of Kenya

The country is slightly smaller in size than the state of Texas/USA and slightly bigger than France in Europe. A flight from London/England takes 8 hours and from New York/USA it takes 14 hours to get to Nairobi/Kenya.

Kenya's name come from Mount Kenya but the word originates probably from the Kikuyu and Kamba languages meaning 'God's resting place'

Mount Kenya - image by David PatekMount Kenya - image by David Patek

Kenya has a tropical climate along the coast and an arid climate in the highlands. In the interior of the country, you will find the Great Rift Valley and a fertile high plateau in the western parts of the country. About 50% of the country is used for agriculture.

The Great Rift Valley cuts through the country from north to south. Lake Turkana is located in the north of the Great Rift Valley.

Great Rift Valley in KenyaGreat Rift Valley in Kenya

 Facts about Kenya | Geography Superlatives

  • The longest river in Kenya is the Tana River which  from South Africa.
  • Kenya's highest mountain is Mount Kenya with 5,199 m/ 17,058 ft. This extinct volcano is also the second highest peak on the African continent - after Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
  • The largest city in Kenya is the capital city Nairobi. 
Nairobi is the largest city in Kenya
  • The largest national park in the country is Tsavo National Park at the border to Tanzania.
  • Lake Victoria is the world's largest tropical lake. This lake is shared with Uganda and Tanzania and is also the second largest freshwater lake in the world.
  • Lake Turkana is Kenya's largest lake and also the world's largest desert lake, is known for the huge pink flamingo population and unspoilt nature. This lake is also known as the largest alkaline lake in the world.
Flamingoes at Lake TurkanaFlamingoes at Lake Turkana

Facts about Kenya
Attractions in Kenya

  • Nairobi: The city's name comes from the Maasai word for 'cool waters' as a stream once flowed through the area. Nairobi is not only known for its buzzing city life and many historic monuments, but also for Nairobi National Park which is the only national park in the world that borders a capital city.
Zebras in Nairobi National Park with Nairobi City Skyline
  • Mombasa, with 1.2 million people the second largest city in Kenya, is main coastal city and the biggest sea port of the country. The city's 16th-century Fort Jesus is a famous World Heritage site. The city's main landmark Mombasa Tusks on Moi Avenue were built in 1952 to commemorate a visit of Queen Elizabeth II. The aluminium tusks mark today the entrance to the commercial city centre.
Mombasa tusks - image by tourpics_net / Shutterstock.comMombasa Tusks - image by tourpics_net
  • Watamu: This small town south of Malinda is known its marine national park, clear turquoise waters and amazing beaches. The coral reef is close to the shore and snorkelling is easy. The marine park is also known as an egg-lying site for the endangered green sea turtles.
Watamu's Turtle Beach
  • Lamu: Lamu Old Town is one of six UNESCO world heritage sites and great for cultural trips to explore the regions history. The influence of the Arab traders and Portuguese explorers can be seen when visiting the island's fort and colonial buildings. Read more here.
Lamu
  • Kenya has over 50 national parks which are great to visit. Here the native wildlife is protected against hunters and poachers. Maasai Mara National Park in the country's western region is a popular safari destination of the country. 
  • Amboseli National Park offers spectacular views of Africa's highest peak Mount Kilimanjaro which is located in neighbouring Tanzania.
Giraffes in Amboseli National Park Kenya
  • Gede Ruins: This archeological site features the remains of an old Swahili town dating back to the 12th century. The Gede ruins can be explored near Watamu in southern Kenya. Other famous ruins north of Mombasa are the Jumba La Mtwana ruins, Mnarani ruins and Takwa ruins.
Gede Ruins

Facts about Kenya for Kids: Wildlife and Animals

Wildlife in Kenya is abundant. There are many species of mammals and birds. If you go on safari you can see many other animals like lions, elephants, zebras, giraffes, antelopes and monkeys. The "Big Five" can be found countrywide in the national parks and game reserves. The big Five animals are lion, leopard, rhinoceros, buffalo and elephant.

Amboseli National Park - ElephantsAmboseli National Park - Elephants

During July and August the massive wildebeest migration can be observed here every year when the large wildebeest herds cross the Mara river and move into the Maasai Mara Nationalpark.

More than one million wildebeest cross the Mara River into Kenya every year

At the coast you can watch dolphins. The coastal towns near Mombasa and Malindi are great for spotting various dolphin species frolicking in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Sea turtles can be admired in Watamu.

More Facts about Kenya:
Kenyan People

Smiling Kenyan woman with flag: MarKord / Shutterstock.comSmiling Kenyan woman - image by MarKord

Most of the Kenyan people live in the capital city Nairobi, along the shores of Lake Victoria in the western region or along the eastern coastline. Less than 30% of the population live in cities and towns. The biggest cities are Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.

There are 42 ethnic groups in Kenya, all with different languages and different customs.

Maasai are famous for their high jumping skills - image by iSelenaMaasai people - image by iSelena

Among the largest tribes are the Kikuyu, Luhya, Kalejiin, Luo and the Kamba. The Maasai account for about a million people (in Kenya and Tanzania), but are probably the most known due to their high jumping skills and their red dress.

Kenyans love sports! Soccer is the most popular sport in Kenya, but many Kenyans also are fond of rugby. Kenyans are also known to be great athletes as almost 75% of all gold medal winners in long distance running come from Kenya.

Gilbert Kiplangat Kirui and Conseslus Kipruto - winners of 3000 Metres Steeplechase on IAAF World Junior Athletics Championships 2012- image by Denis Kuvaev/shutterstock.comGilbert Kiplangat Kirui and Conseslus Kipruto - winners of 3000 Metres Steeplechase

Facts about Kenya | Languages in Kenya

English and Kiswahili are the two official languages but there are many indigenous languages spoken in Kenya. Sheng, a Kiswahili slang, is spoken by many young people.

Some useful Kiswahili words are:

  • Jambo - Hi! Hello!
  • Habari - Good day! How are you?
  • Mimi ni...(John) - My name is... (John)
  • Asante - Thank You
  • Karibu - Welcome! You are welcome!
  • Hakuna Matata - No problem, no worries

Facts about Kenya | Economy

Kenyan tea plantation worker in Nandi Hills - image by Jen Watson/shutterstockKenyan tea plantation worker

Agriculture accounts for about one third of the country's national income. Roughly 75% of all Kenyans work in the agricultural sector. Tourism is the second biggest economic sector.

Kenya is the third largest tea producer in the world - after China and India. 

Coffee beans are ripe and get harvested when they are red.

One other main export crop is coffee. Fresh flowers, especially roses, are also among the main agricultural export produce in Kenya.

The main trading partners of Kenya are Uganda, Pakistan, the USA, China and India.

Facts about Kenya | Food in Kenya

Kenyan staple foods are cereals and pulses such as corn, millet, sorghum and beans as well as vegetables and fruit. 

Market in Kisumu/Kenya - image by Space Krill/shutterstock.comMarket in Kisumu - image by Space Krill

Although coffee is an important export crop, only a small amount of coffee is sold in Kenya itself, as the favourite drink of most Kenyans is tea! Chai masala, a sweetened tea with milk, is a popular drink.

Fresh fish and seafood is abundant in coastal regions of Kenya. The dishes on the eastern coastline are influenced mainly by Arabic and Indian cooking styles. 

Freshwater fish like tilapia is very popular and usually sourced from Lake Victoria

Typical food in Kenya:

  • Ugali: The traditional Kenyan maize meal cooked similar to a stiff porridge is usually eaten with vegetable or meat stew, mushy peas or sukuma wiki.
Ugali - maize meal porridge
  • Sukuma wiki: Leafy collard greens cooked with onions and a variety of spices
  • Nyama choma: Grilled meat usually served with sukumi wiki, roast potatoes, kachumbari salsa and chapati (flatbread)
Nyama Choma - image by Jen Watson
  • Kachumbari: Salsa made with chopped onions mixed with tomatoes and peppers 
  • Githeri: Vegetarian stew prepared with corn and kidney beans 
  • Vibibi: Coconut and rice pancakes are a delicious breakfast treat!
  • Pilau: Spicy rice dish eaten with goats meat or chicken 
  • Chapati: flatbread made with flour, oil, water and salt and fried in oil or grilled over open fire.

Read more about Kenyan traditional food here.

Facts about Kenya
Did you know that...?

… that in Kenya, cars drive on the left side of the road as they do in the UK and Australia? However, all distance and speed signs are in metres and kilometres and km/hour!

... that former U.S. president Barack Obama's father was from Kenya.

Obama and Maathai in Nairobi 2016 - image by Fredrick Onyango/wikicommonsObama and Maathai in 2016

... that the first African woman who won a Nobel Prize was Kenyan doctor? Wangari Muta Maathai (1940-2011)was a political and environmental activist and the founder of the Green Belt Movement, a foundation that worked in environmental conservation and women rights. She was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2004 for her outstanding work in “sustainable development, democracy and peace”. Maathai has studied and worked in Kenya, the USA and Germany.


We hope you enjoyed our Facts about Kenya. We will add more info about this stunning country soon. Now enjoy our other pages with facts about other African countries...

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Resources 
Facts about Kenya

  • Central Intelligence Agency. " Kenya". The World Factbook. Updated 15 January 2020. Accessed 20 January 2020.
  • Maasai Association. "Maasai People". Maasai Association. Accessed 21 January 2020
  • Maureen O’Hare. “Kenya's best food is a kaleidoscope of flavors”. CNN Travel. Updated 9 May 2019. Accessed 21 January 2020
  • Kenya Tourism Board. "Why I love Kenya". Magical Kenya. Accessed 21 January 2020


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