• Full name: The Republic of Kenya
  • Population: 32.8 million
  • Capital: Nairobi
  • Area: 582,646 sq km (224,961 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Swahili, English
  • Major religions: Protestant 45%, Roman Catholic 33%, indigenous beliefs 10%, Muslim 10%, other 2%
  • Monetary unit: 1 Kenya shilling = 100 cents
  • Independence: 1963
  • People: Kenyans are divided into more than 40 ethnic groups belonging to three linguistic families: the Bantu, the Cushitic, and the Nilotic. Language traditionally has been the primary characteristic of ethnic identity in Kenya. Also, the pattern of ethnically based settlement has persisted in Kenya since it became independent, even though economic and political development has increased mobility and urbanization among the countryÙs inhabitants.

Reading Suggestions for Kenya:

Reading good books about the areas you’re visiting tends to make your trip much fuller and more rewarding. As weight on light aircraft is limited, you might consider reading the thickest books before you leave for your trip!

The major country-specific guidebooks (i.e., Lonely Planet, Rough Guide) tend to offer a good overview of the country’s history. One of the best resources for travel books is Longitude Books. They organize books by country/region, which makes it easy to see what is available.

Many books will give you insight into Kenya. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Longitude Site
  • I Dreamed of Africa by Kuki Gallmann. A memoir of an Italian woman’s experiences in Kenya. Highly personal, filled with tragedy and magic. Beautifully written descriptions of the Kenyan landscape. It has been made into a movie.
  • Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen. Arriving in Kenya in 1914, Karen Blixen shares her experiences over nearly 20 years in East Africa. It’s a classic read and was made into a wonderful movie.
  • West with the Night by Beryl Markham. A beautifully written autobiography of her life in Kenya in the early 1900s. Highly recommended.