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Kenya Overview

About Kenya

Kenya shares borders with Ethiopia in the north, Sudan in the northwest, Uganda in the west, Tanzania in the south and Somalia in the northeast. To the east lies the Indian Ocean. The country is divided into four regions: the arid deserts of the north; the savannah lands of the south; the fertile lowlands along the coast and around the shores of Lake Victoria; and highlands in the west, where the capital Nairobi is situated. Northwest of Nairobi runs the Rift Valley, containing the town of Nakuru and Aberdare National Park, overlooked by Mount Kenya (5200m/17,000ft), which also has a national park. In the far northwest is Lake Turkana (formerly Lake Rudolph).

Kenya is a multicultural society; in the north live Somalis and the nomadic Hamitic peoples (Rendille, Samburu and Turkana), in the south and eastern lowlands are Kamba and Masai and the Luo live around Lake Victoria. The largest group is the Kikuyu who live in the central highlands and have traditionally been dominant in commerce and politics, although this is now changing. There are many other smaller groups and although Kenya emphasises nationalism, tribal and cultural identity is a factor. A small European settler population remains in the highlands, involved in farming and commerce.

Straddling the Equator on the east coast of Africa, Kenya is one of the most scenically diverse and beautiful countries on the continent, and home to the nomadic Masai and Samburu, the Kikuyu farmers and coastal Swahili tribal peoples. Kenya has two major cities, the high-altitude, colonial-built capital Nairobi, and the ancient Swahili trading port of Mombasa. But what really draws the tourists is the great outdoors. This is a place for sunbathing, hiking, climbing, diving or riding. Above all, it is a place for safaris.

The scenery is fabulous – from the indigo sea and white sand beaches to the grey-green rolling bushveld of Tsavo and Amboseli. The rippling golden grasslands of the Masai Mara contrast with the seismic scar of the Great Rift Valley and the desolate volcanic wastelands around northern Lake Turkana. And everywhere, the game-viewing is unsurpassed with elephants, lions, giraffe, rhino and a host of other animals joined by hundreds of species of glitter-winged birds.

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