During its relatively short history, reportedly 52 years after attaining independence from the British colonialists, Kenya has become a global icon, seeing that its name is universally renowned. Kenya has a too broad and comprehensive profile, perhaps, only vividly comprehended by the Kenyan indigenous people. The goal of this paper is to explore Kenya as a country with the objective of presenting its profile in various areas. The sections to be covered include Kenya’s biophysical overview, historical and settlement characteristics, and its population characteristics. Others are Kenya’s economic and resource characteristics and the major internal issues affecting it such as environmental crisis and conflicts. Finally, the paper will examine Kenya’s role in the international space on matters of political and economic involvement and provision of aid.
Kenya’s Biophysical Overview
Kenya, officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is located exactly over the equator. Kenya is found in East Africa on the eastern coast of Africa. Kenya is a neighbor to various countries, and these are Somalia to the East, Ethiopia to the North, Uganda to the West, Tanzania to the South, and South Sudan to the North West Kenya also borders the Indian Ocean to the South East. And capital city is Nairobi. Its climate is generally tropical since it’s located over the equator, but dry and hot in the north because of the desert area. Kenya has an approximate area of 582,643 square kilometers, where the majority of its land is mass, which harbors natural forests and grasslands, plains, highlands, and deserts, and only small parts of its territory are water bodies.
Kenya’s Historical and Settlement Characteristics
Kenya has been a migratory path for various tribes from Africa and the Middle East. Kenya harbors three linguistics groups namely the Bantus, the Nilots, and the Cushites. These originated from different regions and settled in different parts of Kenya.
Firstly is the Bantu linguistic group, which is the largest of the three groups. It comprises the Kikuyu, Meru, Kisii, Embu, Kamba, Giriama, and the Luhya. They originated from the Congo basin at the beginning of the 18th century. All groups, except for the Luhya, entered Kenya through the southern border with Tanzania. The Luhya entered Kenya through the western border with Uganda. They established informal settlements in the Kenya highlands regions where they mainly practice crop and animal production.
Secondly is the Nilotic linguistic group, which comprises tribes such as the Luo, Maasai, Turkana, Samburu, and the Kalenjin. These are believed to have originated from the Nile region of Sudan in the 15th century and established settlements in different areas. For instance, the Luo settled in the Western Plateau Region around Lake Victoria where they practiced fishing and farming. The Maasai, Samburu, and the Turkana settled in the Northern Plains’ grasslands and low-lying plains where the practiced pastoralism. The Kalenjin settled in the Rift Valley highlands where they practiced agriculture. Because of their pastoralist way of life, most Nilots lived in temporary shanties.
Finally are the Cushitic speakers, who consist of a marginalized Kenya’s population. The group encompasses the tribes such as the Daholo, Somali, Yaaka, El Molo, Boni, Boran, Gabbra, Sakuye, Wata, and Rendile among others. They originated from the Horn of Africa and established informal settlements in the Northern Plains of Kenya in the North Eastern Province and the northern part of Eastern Province. They practiced pastoralism.
Civilization and Modern Settlements
Over the years, especially with the arrival of explorers and colonialists, Kenya has gradually civilized and changed from informal to formal settlements such as towns and cities. Among the most influencing people were the Arabs, Portuguese, and the British. They influenced the development of present Kenyan towns and formal settlements in the coastal region of Kenya.
In early 19th century, the British arrived in Kenya as colonialists. Their presence helped to open up Kenya through the construction of the Kenya-Uganda Railway that operates to date (Kenya’s documentary). They influenced the development of towns on the railway route. With the civilization progression, traditional settlements disappear and are being replaced by modern westernized lifestyles.
Kenya’s Population Characteristics
Population Numbers and Demographics
Over the years, Kenya’s population has seen significant growth. Between 1975 and 1997, the population numbers increased by more than double from 13.7 million to 28.4 million people. Kenya’s population reached 30.3 million in 2000, and 45 million in 2014. Kenya’s annual population growth rate was estimated to be 2.11% in 2014. “The birth rate was approximately 29.35 births per 1000 persons, while the death rate was approximately 14.08 deaths per 1000 persons in 2014”.
Kenya Population by Ethnicity
Kenya has a heterogeneous population. Its ethnic groups by numbers include the Kikuyu (22 %), Luhya (14%), Luo (13 %), the Kalenjin (12 %), the Kamba (11 %), the Kisii (6%) and the Meru (6%), while other ethnic groups share the remaining proportion. Kenya also hosts other Africa communities and Arabs, Asians, and Europeans. Although Kenya is a home to many indigenous languages, Swahili and English are the two used official languages. Swahili, which is a common language in the East African region, was largely influenced by the Arabs through intermarriages.
Social Problems Faced by Kenyans
Kenya is faced with various social challenges with the leading being the HIV/AIDS pandemic. In 2015, close to 1.6 million people are infected. According to the United Nations Development Program, HIV/AIDS is inextricably interrelated to poverty. Poverty, practicing prostitution as well as misuse of medical equipment, are some reasons that have contributed in reaching to this high number of infected people. Other eminent issues include tropical diseases such as Malaria, high unemployment rates was around 40% in 2008, and pervasive rural and urban poverty that led to 87% literacy in 2010. Other problems are poor housing conditions, insecurity, and food shortage as a result of unreliable rainfall. Kenya’s Human Development Index stood at 0.535 in 2013.
The Kenya culture is a fascinating way of life that integrates the historical traditions of the African social evolution with the modern influences of the 20th century. The Kenya culture is expressed through different forms. These include people and their language, foods, clothing, marriage, dance, arts, artifacts and literature. Kikuyu for example is a traditional dance sometimes performed during wedding celebrations, where a man used to have up to 6 wives. These are coupled with other indigenous traditions, which show the lifestyles of the Kenyan people in a uniquely different way.
Kenya’s Economic and Resource Characteristics
Kenya boasts various natural resources and acts a hub to various industries, which support its economy. Kenya’s economy is dependent on numerous sectors that include agriculture, tourism, and industrialization.
Agriculture is considered the mainstay of the Kenyan economy. It contributes almost 30 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The main agricultural cash crops in Kenya mainly include tea, coffee, corn, wheat and fruits (Kenya’s documentary). Of these, Kenya exports tea, coffee, and horticultural products such as flowers.
The service industry contributes substantially to Kenya’s economy. The service sectors in Kenya include tourism, transport, banking and financial institutions, and shipping. Of these, tourism is ranked the second highest foreign exchange earner after agriculture, which records receiving US$486 million in 1995. Yet, this number declined because of the country insecurity.
Manufacturing and Processing Industries
Kenya is a home to various manufacturing industries. These include food and beverage processors, petroleum refineries, textile and fiber industries, and garments manufacturing. Others include cement manufacturing, paper manufacturing, fruit processing, and sugar manufacturing industries among others.
Government's Approach to Economic Growth
Currently, Kenya’s economy is considered the fastest growing one in the sub-Saharan region. The previous two governments ruled by President Mwai Kibaki and President Uhuru Kenya have facilitated institution of various developmental programs steered towards a sustainable economic developed. The government has relied on economic, social, and political pillars as defined in its Vision 2030. Above all, Kenya has a strong private sector supported by various economic development programmes offered by the Kenya government. This source doesn’t show anything that has been written.
The Future of Kenya’s Economy
Kenya remains an anchor economy in the Sub-Saharan Africa. It influences the economies of other countries such as South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burundi. Kenya acts as the export and importation route for these countries because of its geographical location. Kenya’s economy remains and will continue to be vibrant and it is expected to advance further after the discovery of oil, titanium, coal, and mineral sands Continued efforts by the government, evolving private sector, increased bilateral relations, and regional integration mean well for the future economic performance of Kenya.
Major Internal Issues Faced by Kenya
Kenya faces various internal issues both natural and man-made. First, it is the low quality of education. Kenya experiences various educational sector problems such as persistent teachers’ strikes and inadequate educational facilities and resources. Second, it is the food shortage and food insecurity. These are influenced by climate change and unpredictable climatic conditions. Some regions experience recurring droughts while others have unpredictable floods. These conditions place many rural families in abject poverty.
The third issue is insecurity. In the recent years, Kenya has been experiencing constant attacks from the Islamic extreme insurgents, the Al Shabab. They have contributed to the increased insecurity and fear in the country by practicing piracy and other barbaric practices. In addition, there are recurrent ethnic and tribal clashes influenced by land conflicts and cattle rustling among different ethnic groups. The fourth problem is corruption and poor leadership. Despite adequate natural resources, these aspects subject Kenyans to the unending poverty. Corruption has become a part of everyday life, while poor leadership continues to tear Kenya apart.
Kenya’s International Role
Kenya has a very important role both in East Africa and the world. Apparently, Kenya is the economic engine and the key driver of stability in the East Africa region. In the international space, on many occasions, Kenya has acted as a vital partner in tackling emerging threats to regional and international security in areas such as piracy, illicit drugs, and terrorism. Among the most apparent is the presence of the Kenya military in Somalia, where it helps to fight the Al Shabab, an Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist group. Furthermore, Kenya is involved in various diplomatic and peacekeeping efforts in countries such as Sierra Leone, and Somalia. Kenya has also acted as an international mediator in international conflicts such as between North and South Sudan. In times of natural disasters, Kenya has always been a heartfelt country evidenced through its cooperation with international humanitarian agencies such as the UN to deliver evacuation and humanitarian services.
The paper has explored Kenya and presented its profile in various areas. These are Kenya’s biophysical overview, historical and settlement characteristics, and Kenya’s population characteristics. Others are Kenya’s economic and resource characteristics and the major internal issues affecting it such as environmental crisis and conflicts. Finally, the paper has examined Kenya’s role in the international space on matters of political and economic involvement and provision of aid. The paper has found out that Kenya, which is renowned all over the world, remains influential in the matters of politics and economy both regionally and internationally. Kenya also has an important role in the international space.