|General background: Founding president and
liberation struggle icon Jomo KENYATTA led Kenya from
independence until his death in 1978, when current President
Daniel Toroitich arap MOI took power in a constitutional
succession. The country was a de facto one-party state
from 1969 until 1982 when the ruling Kenya African National
Union (KANU) made itself the sole legal party in Kenya.
MOI acceded to internal and external pressure for political
liberalization in late 1991. The ethnically fractured
opposition failed to dislodge KANU from power in elections
in 1992 and 1997, which were marred by violence and
fraud, but are viewed as having generally reflected
the will of the Kenyan people. The country faces a period
of political uncertainty because MOI is constitutionally
required to step down at the next election that has
to be held by early 2003.
Slightly more than twice the size of Nevada.
Climate: Varies from tropical along coast
to arid in interior.
Terrain: Low plains
rise to central highlands bisected by Great Rift Valley;
fertile plateau in west.
Ethnic groups: Kikuyu 22%, Luhya 14%, Luo 13%, Kalenjin
12%, Kamba 11%, Kisii 6%, Meru 6%, other African 15%,
non-African (Asian, European, and Arab) 1%
Religions: Protestant 45%, Roman Catholic
33%, indigenous beliefs 10%, Muslim 10%, other 2%
Language: English (official), Kiswahili (official),
numerous indigenous languages
Government type: Republic
Legal system: Based on Kenyan statutory law,
Kenyan and English common law, tribal law, and Islamic
law; judicial review in High Court; accepts compulsory
ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations; constitutional
amendment of 1982 making Kenya a de jure one-party
state repealed in 1991.
Economic overview: Kenya, the regional hub
for trade and finance in East Africa, is hampered
by corruption and reliance upon several primary goods
whose prices continue to decline. Following strong
economic growth in 1995 and 1996, Kenya's economy
has stagnated, with GDP growth failing to keep up
with the rate of population growth. In 1997, the IMF
suspended Kenya's Enhanced Structural Adjustment Program
due to the government's failure to maintain reforms
and curb corruption. A severe drought from 1999 to
2000 compounded Kenya's problems, causing water and
energy rationing and reducing agricultural output.
As a result, GDP contracted by 0.3% in 2000. The IMF,
which had resumed loans in 2000 to help Kenya through
the drought, again halted lending in 2001 when the
government failed to institute several anticorruption
measures. Despite the return of strong rains in 2001,
weak commodity prices, endemic corruption, and low
investment limited Kenya's economic growth to 1%,
and Kenya is unlikely to see growth above 2% in 2002.
Substantial IMF and other foreign support is essential
to prevent a further decline in real per capita output.
Communication/Telephone system: Unreliable; little
attempt to modernize except for service to business.
Places of interest: Kenya is also the heart
of African safari country, boasting with some of the
most diverse collection of wild animals on the continent.
Travel tips: Mugging regularly takes place,
during the day or night.