The geography of Kenya

The geography of Kenya


The following material is owned by Fabrizio Cinus, as it comes from the master thesis titled “La questione di Mandera fra Kenya e Somalia”, A.A. 2009-2010, Faculty of Political Science, University of Cagliari.

Kenya is an East African state, crossed by the equator. It borders North in the with Ethiopia and for a short stretch in the North West with Sudan; in the West it borders with Uganda and in the South with Tanzania; in the South East with the Indian Ocean and in the East with Somalia. The surface, with its 580,000 km2, is almost twice that of Italy (and around 2.40 times that of United Kingdom). Inside, the landscapes are the most varied, from the forest to the sand desert, from the jungle to the desert of rocks and even a salt desert. The Kikuyu sacred mountain, Mount Kenya (5199 m), is located near the equator line and its perennial glaciers guarantee the presence of water; the two largest lakes are the Turkana Lake, which is partly located in Ethiopia [1], and the Lake Victoria (or Nyanza), in “co-ownership” with Uganda and Tanzania. Inside Kenya there are about 50 tribes, each with their own language. The official languages are Swahili and English. Religions in the country are Christianity which count many confessions, Islam, Hinduism and animism [2].

According to the latest census carried out in Kenya in 2009, the population is over 38 million people, almost equally distributed among male and female population (there is a female prevalence of just around 200,000 people). Compared to the previous census of 1999, the population grew by 10 million people in ten years. The distribution of the eight provinces, given the geographical characteristics, is clearly not fair: in the North Eastern Province there are about 2 million and 300,000 people living on 126852.3 km2, while more than 3 million people live in Nairobi Province On a territory of just 695.1 km2, and in the Rift Valley Province live more than 10 million people, almost a third of the total, over an area of ​​183383.2 km2. The difference lies in the different hospitality and resources that the territory offers, where a Central Province where much of the land is arable counteracts a nearly completely deserted North Eastern Province. The most populated county is the capital of Nairobi, which exceeds three million people, while the least populated is Lamu County, with a population of just over 100,000 people. Two-thirds of the population lives in the countryside, and only one third is urbanized, and a quarter of this third lives in the capital. [3]

[1] The Ethiopian side of the Turkana Lake is visibly drained (as can be noted flying over the area), also due to the Ethiopian water exploitation of the Omo River, which feeds the above-mentioned lake. S. Li, E. M., Gibe III, già in cantiere la nuova opera-killer,

[2] According to government data, 38 percent of the population is Protestant, 25 percent belongs to Catholicism, 7 percent is Muslim, and 1 percent is Hinduist. The rest of the population looks at traditional indigenous religions or other confessions related to Christianity. Africa South of the Sahara 2010, Routledge, London 2009, Kenya section, p. 647.

[3] Kenya National Bureau Of Statistics (KNBS), Kenya Census 2009.

Kenya map