Located on the equator on the east coast of Africa, Kenya has been described as “the cradle of humanity”.
In the Great Rift Valley, paleontologists have uncovered some of the earliest evidence of human ancestry.
Today, Kenya’s ethnic diversity has produced a vibrant culture, but it is also a source of conflict.
The Islamist militant Al-Shabab movement, active in Somalia, has also carried out a growing number of attacks in Kenya, including the 2013 Westgate shopping center in Nairobi and the 2015 attack on Garissa University College in northwestern Kenya.
Other pressing challenges include high unemployment, crime and poverty. Droughts often endanger millions of people.
Population: 55 million
Area: 580,367 square kilometers
Main languages: Swahili, English
Major Religion: Christianity
Life expectancy: 64 years (men) 69 years (women)
Chairman: William Ruto
In August 2022, Vice President William Ruto narrowly won the presidential election. He received 50.5% of the vote. His main rival, Raila Odinga, received 48.8% of the vote
Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta was ineligible for a third term under the Kenyan constitution.
On August 22, Odinga petitioned the Kenyan Supreme Court to challenge the results, but on September 5, the Kenyan Supreme Court rejected the challenge and upheld Ruto’s victory.
William Ruto had a childhood that epitomizes the lives of many poor TUSEN. He went to primary school barefoot and wore his first pair of shoes at age 15.
Ruto ran his campaign under the flag of Kenya Kwanza, Swahili for Kenya First, promising to grow the economy.
Kenya’s official unemployment rate for 18-34 year olds is close to 40%, and the economy is not creating enough jobs to accommodate the 800,000 young people entering the workforce each year.
Ruto has promised a bottom-up approach to the economy, saying it will benefit the poor most affected by the cost-of-living crisis that has hit the world following the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
A handful of large commercial companies dominate the media industry and operate alongside the state-owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC).
TV is the main source of news in urban areas. Internet usage is high by regional standards, driven by the use of mobile devices.
The competitive press scene is the most sophisticated in the region. Newspapers are free to criticize politicians and the government.
Read the full media profile
Some key dates in Kenya’s history:
c 3.3 million BC – Evidence of some of the earliest human tools have been found in Kenya, suggesting it was the cradle of humanity from which descendants departed to populate the world.
1895 – Formation of British East African Protectorate, which becomes Crown Colony of Kenya – administered by a British Governor – in 1920.
1944 – Kenya African Union (KAU) established to campaign for African independence. First African appointment to Legislative Council.
1963 – Kenya becomes independent. Opposition groups are suppressed and the country survives ethnic tensions and an attempted coup.
1991 – Kenya moves to a multi-party system after 26 years of one-party rule.
1998 – Al-Qaeda operatives bomb the US Embassy in Nairobi, killing 224 and injuring thousands.
2007 – Disputed general elections are followed by deadly violence.
2009 – Kenya says at least 10 million people, or a third of the population, need food aid. The government is mobilizing the army to distribute food, water and medicine to the areas worst hit by drought.
2011 – Kenya intervenes in the conflict in Somalia and subsequently faces several apparent retaliatory attacks, including the 2013 massacre at Westgate shopping center in Nairobi and the 2015 attack on Garissa University College in the north west.