The Republic of Kenya is a former British colony that earned its independence more than 50 years ago, but has yet to see a fifth president taking office. That’s one interesting thing about this East African nation that you probably didn’t know, but not the only thing. There are plenty of intriguing facts about Kenya that most people aren’t aware of. Below, you’ll find 10 such facts.
1. Kenya is a hotbed of archaeological discoveries concerning human evolution
Some of the oldest traces of modern humans and their immediate ancestors have been found within the territory of Kenya. For instance, Turkana Boy, the most complete early human skeleton to be ever discovered, was unearthed near the country’s Lake Turkana. The particular Home Erectus youth, who passed away at an age of 7 to 11 years, is believed to have lived around 1.5 to 1.6 million years ago.
Kenya is also the place where the earliest footprints of upright-walking human ancestors and the oldest stone tools were found. Many paleontologists speculate that it could very well be the birthplace of modern humans.
2. It is Africa’s second-biggest refugee-hosting country
Kenya may not be the most peaceful country in the world, or for that matter, in Africa. But there’s a lot less violence taking place here than in many other African countries. To escape violence, nearly 500,000 foreign nationals have taken shelter in this country, making it the second-biggest refugee-hosting country in the continent, an interesting fact about Kenya. The majority of them reside at the refugee camps in Dadaab and Kakuma, while around 16 percent live in Nairobi and other urban areas.
3. The country is one of Africa’s top coffee producers, but its people don’t like consuming it
A fun fact about Kenya is that it ranks fourth in the production of coffee among all African countries. Its coffee industry, either directly or indirectly, provides employment to around 6 million of its citizens. However, a person enjoying a cup of coffee is a rare sight in this country – you’ll find people sipping tea instead. This is because Kenyans believe that selling coffee abroad is a wiser option than using it for their own consumption. They are some really smart people, aren’t they?
4. Kenya speaks more than 60 languages
Africa has a bunch of linguistically diverse nations, and Kenya is one of them. At least 68 different languages are spoken in this country. Most of them belong either to the Bantu branch of the Niger-Congo language family, or to the Nilotic branch of the Nilo-Saharan language family.
However, the country has only two official languages: English and Swahili. You’ll find more speakers of Swahili than English here, although the latter is widely used in commerce, schooling, and government. While urban Kenya is mostly multilingual, many people in its rural areas don’t speak anything other than their mother tongues.
5. It is home to more than 400 species of mammals
Kenya is one of the 13 African countries where each of the Big Five game animals – lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, and buffalo – can be spotted. But what’s more fascinating about the country’s wildlife is the fact that more than 400 species of mammals reside here. Some of them are endemic to the country, including critically-endangered animals like hirola, mountain bongo, and Tana River mangabey. In this country, you are also going to find as many 110 species of bats.
6. Hunting is illegal in this country since 1977
Unlike most other African nations, Kenya doesn’t receive trophy hunters with open arms. In 1977, it became the first country in the continent to impose an outright ban on hunting animals, a fun fact about Kenya. And even without receiving those hefty fees from trophy hunters, the country’s wildlife tourism industry is able to contribute around $800 million to its annual economy.
7. A tribe in Kenya produces some of the world’s greatest long-distance runners
For decades, men and women from Kenya and its East African neighbor Ethiopia have been dominating long-distance running. In an international marathon event, the winner is almost always either a Kenyan or an Ethiopian. An interesting fact about Kenya is that it’s also highly likely that a triumphant Kenyan athlete comes from the Kalenjin tribe.
More than two-thirds of all Kenyan gold medals at major international marathon events have been earned by members of this indigenous group from what was formerly known as the Rift Valley Province. What’s more fascinating is the fact that the Kalenjin people are a minority in the country, making up only around 12 percent of its population.
8. Kenyans don’t tend to drink cold beverages
Kenya is one of the 11 countries in the world through which the equator passes – so, it’s quite hot here. You would expect people from such a country to be fond of cold beverages. However, Kenyans in general aren’t a fan of cold beverages. Whatever the drink is, they usually prefer it hot, or at least at room temperature. That’s true even if the drink is beer.
9. They usually don’t give a hoot about personal space
Kenyans are known to be polite and friendly people who tend to avoid conflict or confrontation at almost any cost. But if there’s one thing about their communication style that many foreigners aren’t very comfortable with, it’s how they are inclined to violate personal space. During a conversation, people in this East African country usually stand within an arm’s length of the person they are talking to. If someone keeps a distance while talking, they are likely to be considered aloof, especially in the rural areas.
10. A village in the country is quite literally a no man’s land
In northern Kenya, there’s a small village named Umoja where you’ll find nearly 50 women and around 200 children, but no men. It was founded in 1990 by Rebecca Lolosoli and 14 other Samburu women as a sanctuary for female victims of sexual abuse and violence. Men can visit this all-female village, but are not allowed to spend the night, a fun Kenya fact. The only men who can sleep in this village are the ones who were raised here as children.
I hope that this article on Kenya facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Country Facts Page!