Kenya is an exciting tourist destination in East Africa. Do you want to know more about this place filled with beautiful Savannah? Here are 18 or more interesting facts about Kenya.
Telecommunication is the largest sector in Kenya’s economy comprising 62% of Kenya’s total GDP. Agriculture is second providing 22% of the GDP while over 75% of Kenya’s citizens are employed in this sector.
Kenya’s main exports include herbs, flowers, tea and of course coffee. Though coffee is the biggest income generator, Kenyans do not drink it considering just an export product. They also have recently been producing a substantial amount of oil, but most of it is used in the country or exported to some of the neighbouring countries. Kenya’s main imports include machinery, vehicles, plastics, and transport equipment.
Instead of coffee, Kenyans' drink lots of chai tea. In Swahili the word "chai" means tea . . . so when you order a chai tea you are actually saying tea tea. Kenyans also drink warm beer. In fact, all of their beverages are served either hot or at room temperature. There are no cool drinks in Kenya.
The second main income generator in Kenya is tourism. The main reason for this is the many national parks and wildlife reserves that provide safaris to visitors. Many of these beautiful parks include Tsavo Game Reserve, Nairobi National Park, Maasai Mara Game Reserve, and Amboseli National Park. They cover thousands of acres of lands, allowing the animals to freely roam in peace as hunting is illegal in Kenya.
The “Big Five” animals being the lions, buffalo, leopards, elephants and rhinoceros can all be seen in Kenya. Zebras, cheetahs, giraffes, wildebeests and gazelles are also worth seeing in Kenya’s Savannah. But aside from the Savannah, Kenya's ecosystems also include swamps, deserts, mountains, and forests. Each has their own flora and fauna. Kenya's forests are home to many unique animals that can be found nowhere else in the world including the rarest snake and butterfly species in the world as 100s of different bat and bird types.
When it comes to sleep, people sleep under a mosquito tent due to there being copious amounts of mosquitos and this specific netting prevent those nasty bugs from biting you.
Photo credit: KilaKabila via Wikimedia Commons
One very exciting site to see in Kenya is the Crying Stone in Kakamega. This seven-foot stone produces a streak of water that makes it looks like it is crying. What’s odd is that scientists have no idea where the water comes from before coming out of the rock or how it is made.
Photo Credit: By The original uploader Zeljko at Croatian Wikipedia (Transferred from hr.wikipedia to Commons.)
Kenya has six UNESCO world heritage sites. These include Fort Jesus on Mombasa Island (pictured above), the Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests and Lama Old Town: The oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa.
Polygamy is legal in Kenya. This means that Kenyan men can have more than one wife if they want. The groom’s parents must pay a dowry to the bride’s family in order for the marriage to happen. The usual gift is 10 cows. As far as parenting goes, children are generally raised by the community as well as the parents as community is more important than family. This makes the children develop feelings of concern and helping out everyone even strangers.
This possibly explains why Kenyans are known for their kind nature. They offer a heart-warming personality that bring tourists back repeatedly. Kenyans are also conservative and reserved yet still diversified. They also plan meeting times five or ten minutes before the actual time e.g. if work starts at 9 am they say be in for 8 50 am so everyone can be in on time.
The main food that Kenya offers is a delicacy known as “ugali.” This is a meal made from cornmeal, millet flour or sorghum flour cooked in boiling liquid until it forms into a stiff dough . Ugali is normally accompanied by stew, meat, fish, vegetables, and in rare cases, chicken. Many visiting tourists enjoy this Kenyan meal including Barack Obama when he visited Kenya tracing back his roots.
Kenyans are very well-dressed people. They mostly wear Western clothes, yet they do have their own style. The majority of Kenyans wear a “Maasai Shuka” around their shoulders/waists/necks. The person pictured is wearing one of these. In terms of footwear, Sahara Boots and sandals are the most commonly worn shoes around the country.
The most common ways locals entertain themselves include music, storytelling, poems, traditional dancing, and bullfighting to express their beliefs and culture. On weekends, most Kenyan youths enjoy playing sports, including football, basketball, rugby, and other athletics endeavours. In terms of sports, Kenya is also well known for their long distance running which was the field they won most of their 31 Olympic Gold Medals.
Monkeys may seem cute yet in Kenya they can be a menace. In 2016, a monkey fell off a roof onto a transformer resulting in the nation having a complete blackout for four hours. Kenya relies on five major stations by the Tana River to provide most of the power as most of their electricity is created via hydroelectricity. One disruption from one station and the rest cut out as well. In 2007, up to 300 monkeys did much worse constantly annoying the village of Nachu by eating all the villagers’ food and groping the female villagers despite trying to disguise themselves as men at one point.
There are many origins for Kenya’s name. It is believed that the word Kenya originates from the Kikuyu, Embu, and Kamba names for Mount Kenya, Kirinyaga, Kirinyaa and Kiinyaa. All of which mean God's resting place. There’s another story that Russia and Ancient English made up the name which translates to innocent or harmless. Another theory is the Hebrews gave the country a name meaning animal horn. No matter the origin, the British keep mispronouncing the name (it's pronounced Keenya). Also, the official name in Swahili is Jamhuri y Kenya meaning The Republic of Kenya.
Kenya has 1.8 million donkeys with most of them found in semi-arid areas where women use them to transport water and firewood. Others are used in urban areas for transporting commercial goods and in agricultural areas to transport farm produce to markets and households. There is even a National Donkey Day celebrated on 17 May every year in Kenya to highlight the importance of donkeys to how best to take care of these local creatures.
Donkeys aside, Kenya doesn’t have a public transport system! The closest thing Kenya has to it is what’s called a matatu. This is a large van that holds up to 13 people and are privatised. The best thing to do is have a vehicle of your own. Then you can enjoy the “open road” policy allowing you freedom to drive on Kenya and its neighbouring countries’ roads.
As mentioned Obama did visit Kenya, but did you know he became the first Sitting American President to visit there. Another important visit came from then Princess Elizabeth. The reason for this is because she had become Queen while on holiday in Kenya in 1952. While staying at the Tree Top Hotel, the 26-year princess found out her father George VI had died so she left Kenya Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and the Commonwealth (which meant she was also the Queen of Kenya until 1964).
Written by: Diarmuid Crowley from StayPlanet