Country of the World Kenya

About the country Kenya, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: Straddling the equator on the east coast of Africa, Kenya is a land of great geographical variety. The steamy coastal strip with its white powdery beaches and tropical palms contrasts sharply with the undulating fields of wheat and corn growing in the temperate central highland region in the shadow of snowcapped Mt. Kenya. In between are the semiarid plains where many of the wild African animals, for which Kenya is so famous, dwell. In the north, a great desert extends into the territory of Kenya's northern neighbors, Ethiopia, Somalia, and the Sudan. In the west, Africa's largest lake, Lake Victoria, forms much of Kenya's border with Uganda. To the south are the Amboseli plains, teeming with game, and Africa's highest mountain, the magnificent Mt. Kilimanjaro. The flat-topped snow-covered mountain is bisected by Kenya's border with Tanzania, which runs from the coast of the Indian Ocean to Lake Victoria.

Size: 224,961 sq. mi. (582,646 sq. km.), about twice the size of New Mexico.

Population: 14.8 million.

Who Rules: A 172-member unicameral Parliament subject to the chief executive. Citizens vote for 158 members of Parliament every five years. The president appoints 12 M.P.s. The speaker of the house and the attorney general have permanent seats. M.P.s must belong to the KANU (Kenya African National Union) party, but in past elections the large slates of candidates have allowed people to show their displeasure with sitting M.P.s by not returning them to parliament. Over half the M.P.s in the 1974 election failed to win reelection, and four cabinet ministers were defeated.

Who REALLY Rules: Political power, particularly in the last few years, has increasingly been concentrated in the office of the chief executive. Members of Parliament opposing this trend have been harassed, a few have been imprisoned, and one has been murdered. Jomo Kenyatta ruled Kenya from its independence in 1963 until his death in August 1978. He was surrounded by a small group of mainly Kikuyu advisers, who were reported to make most of the major political decisions.

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