Kenya Geography


Before the European penetration, the territory of Kenya was divided into two distinct population areas. On the coast there were populations who had known contact with the Arab world, which already at the end of the century. X had set up some of his commercial bases, such as Lamu, Malindi, Mombasa, enriched with the drainage of gold and slaves from the fabled kingdom of Monomotapa. In inland areas, in the Highlands in particular, the most ancient Khoisanid peoples (whose current descendants seem to be the Dorobo) had progressively overlapped the Bantu peoples, who in the century. XVI experienced the penetration of Nilo-Hamitic groups, such as the Masai. These, still represented in the southernmost part of the country (they are 2.2%) and especially in neighboring Tanzania, were the main protagonists, with the Bantu group of Kikuyu, of the more recent history of the highlands. Pastoral peoples the former, farmers the latter, they were always divided among themselves, and fought over the fertile highlands. But between the two groups experienced greater expansion, especially in recent times, that of the Kikuyu, who gradually drove the Masai back into the steppe areas, imposing themselves and prospering in agricultural and productive lands: the British colonization contributed to it, which of the Kikuyu, made use of for consolidate their conquest on the highlands, soon called White Highlands, the “white plateaus”, dotted with beautiful farms. The construction of the railway further activated the economy of the region and definitively marginalized the Masai, a people who still remained anchored to their original ways of life, and insensitive to any call of modern life. The Kikuyu, on the other hand, interpreted the country’s modernization and independence itself. They still constitute the largest and most representative group (with 17.2%) of Kenya, which however hosts a large number of different tribal groups in the territory. After the Kikuyu, another consistent group is that of the Luo (10.5%), a people of Nilotic roots who live on the shores of Lake Victoria (Kavirondo Gulf) practicing agriculture and livestock. The luhya (13.8%), i kamba (10.1%), the mijikenda (5.1%) and the kisii (5.7%), allotted around Lake Victoria, the meru (4.3%). Minor Bantu groups live in the lower basin of the Tana river and near the coast (pokomo, ghiryama, nyika, etc.), while the groups living in the northern areas, such as the Turkana (2.6%), are of Nilo-Hamitic origin. nandi, the souks, the kalenjin (12.9%) and the samburu. Finally, numerous Hamitic tribes (Somalis, etc.) inhabit the arid northeastern Kenya. In total, the other ethnic groups make up 15.6% of the population. There are also non-African minorities: the largest is that of the Indo-Pakistanis followed by Europeans and Arabs.


The population grows annually at a high average rate. The average density is 70 residents / km², but the distribution of the population, essentially linked to the variety of climatic conditions, is very unequal. The greatest density occurs in the fertile and well cultivated Highlands, above 1500 m: it is high in the Western Province (Western) and in the Nyanza Province, overlooking Lake Victoria, and is even greater in the Central Province (Central). The density of the Nairobi area is very high (4439 residents / km2), while, with only 19 residents / km2, the North-Eastern province is the least populated. The rest of the residents live in villages. A typical example is that of the Masai, whose villages (manyatta) have a circular plan that develops around the space reserved for livestock (kraal). In the Highlands, agricultural populations such as the Kikuyu live in scattered huts, next to the small corn or millet field and the corral for the cattle. Numerous, however, are the large villages established in relation to modern activities that are part of the numerous centers and towns that arose in the colonial era, mostly with commercial functions, as well as offices for public services. The urban population lives mainly in the two major cities, Nairobi and Mombasa, leaders of the territorial organization, which has its axis in the railway, built as a typical element of colonial penetration. Mombasa is the port center and main pole of the coastal strip, Nairobi is the urban hub of the Highlands, as well as the capital of the country. It is a modern, European-style city, full of traffic, with various commercial and financial activities initiated by Europeans and Indians. At the beginning of the century. XX was only a base camp of the railway construction company, but it has become one of the most modern and vibrant African capitals. Other important centers are Nakuru, the capital of the Rift Valley province; it rises in a place made pleasant by the proximity of the Menegai crater and the waters of Lake Nakuru; Kisumu, for its port activity on Lake Victoria, Malindi, for its role in international tourism, Nyeri and Eldoret, an important railway center towards Uganda.


Kenya has an extraordinary biodiversity, which reflects the variety of the different climatic and morphological conditions of its territory. The ancient equatorial forest survives in some strips of the coastal strip and along the rivers, where it takes on the appearance of a gallery forest; in many places it has given way to a secondary forest made up of bushes, heather, tree ferns, ficus, bamboos, lianas and epiphytes. Along the coast there are forests of palm trees, mangroves, teak and sandalwood, while the marshy areas of Lake Victoria are the kingdom of reeds, papyrus and large acacias. The mountains have upward a spectacular succession of vegetable bands: at an altitude of 2500 m the humid forest and extremely vigorous gradually thins out, passing in the savannah and then in grasslands fat where impose themselves groundsel, lobelia and giant etc.; higher up you reach the alpine type prairie and finally you have the passage towards the snowy environment. On the highlands and in the plains the wooded savannah predominates with euphorbias, baobabs and acacias. Where the rains are more abundant, the savannah-park grows, while in the less rainy areas there is a grassy steppe. Finally, the NE part is semi-desert: here only acacias, thorny bushes and a few dum palm trees grow. There are numerous animals that populate this land, from large predators such as lions, leopards and cheetahs, to herbivores such as elephants, zebras, antelopes, gazelles and giraffes, but also necrophages such as jackals, hyenas and vultures and a rich winged fauna such as storks, cranes, pink flamingos, herons and avocets. The protected areas are 11.6% of the territory and include 20 national parks, among which two have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO: the Natural Parks of Lake Turkana (1997-2001) and the National Park of Mount Kenya (1997). In 2011, the Rift Valley Lake System was also declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Visit for Kenya amboseli ol pejeta masai mara.

Kenya Geography