About Kenya Country

The Republic of Kenya lies astride the Equator on the eastern coast of Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia and Sudan to the north, Uganda to the west, Tanzania to the south and the Indian Ocean and Somalia to the east. The coastline, about 550 km long, faces the Indian Ocean.

Country:Kenya

Government: Republic

Independence

Date: December 12, 1963

Capital City:Nairobi

Total Area:586,600 km2

Area under water:10,700 sq km's

Time: UTC/GMT +3 hours

Population: 43,013,341 as by July 2012

Languages: English (official), Kiswahili (official), numerous indigenous languages

Religions: Roman Catholics 33%, Protestant 45%, Muslims 10%, indigenous beliefs 10%, others 2%

Average Altitude: 1,798 m above sea level

Average Temperature: 17.7° C

Climate

The climate of Kenya varies by location; from mostly cool every day, to always warm/hot. The climate along the coast is tropical. This means rainfall and temperatures are higher throughout the year. At the coastal city of Mombasa, the air changes from cool to hot, almost every day. The further inside Kenya, the more arid the climate becomes. An arid climate is nearly devoid of rainfall, and temperature swings widely according to the general time of the day/night. For many areas of Kenya, the daytime temperature rises about 12 C (corresponding to a rise of about 22F), almost every day.

Elevation is the major factor in temperature levels, with the higher areas, on average, as 11°C (20°F) cooler, day or night. The many mile-high cities have temperature swings from roughly 50–79 °F (10–26.1 °C). Nairobi, at 1,798 m (5,899 ft) or 1.798 km (1.12 mi), ranges from 49–80 °F (9.4–26.7 °C), and Kitale at 1,825 m (5,988 ft) or 1.825 km (1.13 mi), ranges from 51–82 °F (10.6–27.8 °C). At night in the highlands, temperatures drop to about 50–54 °F (10–12.2 °C) every night.

At lower altitudes, the increased temperature is like day and night, literally: like starting the morning at the highland daytime high, and then adding the heat of the day, again. Hence, the overnight low temperatures near sea level are nearly the same as the high temperatures of the elevated Kenyan highlands. However, locations along the Indian Ocean have more moderate temperatures, as a few degrees cooler in the daytime, such as at Mombasa.
There are slight seasonal variations in temperature, of 4 °C or 7.20 °F, cooler in the winter months. Although Kenya is centered at the equator, it shares the seasons of the southern hemisphere: warmest summer months in February-March and the coolest winter months in July-August, although only a few degrees cooler.
On the high mountains, such as Mount Kenya, Mount Elgon and Kilimanjaro, the weather can become bitterly cold for most of the year. Some snowfall has occurred on the highest mountains.

Kenya has tremendous topographical diversity, including glaciated mountains with snow-capped peaks, the Rift Valley with its scarps and volcanoes, ancient granitic mountains, flat desert landscapes and coral reefs and islets. However, the basic configuration is simple. Coastal plains give way to an inland plateau that rises gradually to the central highlands, the result of relatively recent volcanic activity associated with the formation of the rift valley. To the west the land drops again to the Nyanza plateau that surrounds the Kenyan sector of Lake Victoria. The coastline is broken and composed of beaches, coral cliffs and reefs, creeks and numerous offshore coral islands.

nland, a mainly level but narrow coastal plain lies on sedimentary rocks, with some igneous intrusions such as Dzombo and Mrima. Beyond low rolling hills lies the Nyika plateau, mainly on sedimentary rocks. This is largely a thorn-bush plain with seasonal drainage lines and a few isolated rocky hills. This landscape covers almost the entire north-eastern sector of the country, on a very gradually sloping plain. The Great Rift Valley, with its associated escarpments and mountains, is a major feature. It runs the length of the country from Lake Turkana in the north to Lake Natron on the southern border with Tanzania. The central portion of the rift is raised, with the Aberdare Mountains and Mount Kenya to the east and the Mau Escarpment and Cherangani Hills to the west. The northern and southern most sectors of the rift are the region west of the central highlands is characterized by Precambrian metamorphic rocks. Mount Elgon, an old, eroded volcano, intrudes through the ancient shield on the Uganda border.

The Lake Victoria basin generally has a gently sloping landscape and an eroded surface that exposes granitic outcrops. Isolated hills and mountains, such as Mount Kulal, Mount Nyiro and Mount Marsabit, are scattered to the north and east of the central highlands. The Taita Hills, rising from the south-eastern plateau, are an ancient fault block formation, the northernmost of a chain of isolated peaks (the ‘eastern arc’) that stretches south to Malawi through eastern and southern Tanzania. They sit almost cheek-by-jowl with one of the region’s most recent volcanic ranges, the Chyulu Hills.

All Kenya’s major rivers drain from the central highlands, divided by the rift into those flowing westwards into Lake Victoria and those flowing eastwards towards the Indian Ocean.

There are five major drainage basins: Lake Victoria, the Rift Valley, the Athi-Galana-Sabaki river (and coastal areas to its south), the Tana River and the northern Ewaso Ngiro river. The Rift Valley contains several basins of internal drainage, forming a chain of endorheic lakes from Lake Natron on the Tanzanian border, through Lakes Magadi, Naivasha, Elmenteita, Nakuru, Bogoria, Baringo and Turkana.

These lakes vary in alkalinity, from freshwater Lake Naivasha to the intensely alkaline Lake Magadi.

Lake Turkana is notable as a major volume of (more or less) fresh water in an otherwise arid and barren part of the country, while a number of rivers, including the Turkwel, Kerio, Athi-Galana, Tana and Northern and Southern Ewaso Ngiro, flow for long distances through dry parts of the country. Here they may often be the only permanent source of water.

Kenya is generally a dry country; over 75% of its area is classed as arid or semi-arid and only around 20% is viable for agriculture. Inland, rainfall and temperature are closely related to altitude changes, with variations induced by local topography.

Kenya is the home of the Safari. For over a hundred years Kenya has attracted adventurers and romantics from all over the globe. This has been the setting of some of history’s greatest adventure tales. This is the home of Out of Africa, a place where setting out on an adventure into the wilderness became an age old tradition.

The spirit of the Safari lives on today. The romance of sundown drinks, of evenings around a campfire and nights under canvas with the distant roar of a lion in the African night can still be found in Kenya.

The variety of birdlife is enhanced by its visibility. Vibrant Sunbirds flit from tree-to-tree, Weavers build their incredible variety of nests in the open, the Starlings shine, resplendent Widowbirds dance in the air, and bright Turacos are strangely camouflaged in the trees. Kingfishers, Rollers, Bee-eaters, Hornbills, Barbets and Woodpeckers are present in many varieties, and for a greater challenge, the Cisticolas and Greenbuls provide just that. Overhead, the sky is alive with a variety of Swifts and Swallows, and raptors are plentiful. Ground birds include several Bustards, Larks, Pipits and Game birds, and the cast is not complete without the wonderful sight of tens of thousands of Lesser Flamingoes on the soda lakes, and the world's largest bird, the Ostrich.

Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei)

Mountain gorillas are the largest living primates and the world's most endangered apes with a population of less than 800 individuals world over- none in zoos. They are found in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

They share 97% DNA with human beings! They are our closest living cousins after the Chimpanzee, They have up to 25 vocalization for communication

Mountain Gorillas are shy, social and very active during day. They live in families of 8-25 members with one leading male (The Silver Back).

Gorillas have a lifespan of 50 years in the wild. They reproduce at a very slow speed with a gestation period of approximately 8.5 months and an interval of four years to the next birth.

Diet: Mainly herbivores eating fruits, herbs, leaves, stems, roots and shoots. Sometimes ingest small insects like ants and termites.

Mountain Gorilla Hamerkop (Scopus umbretta)

This sedentary medium-sized wading bird of 56 cm long, weighing 470 gm is know to occur from Africa to coastal southwest Arabia wetlands.

Hamerkops feed during the day, the main diet consists of amphibians and fish. Sometimes, they eat shrimp, insects and rodents. They walk in shallow water looking for prey, shuffling one foot at a time on the bottom or suddenly opening their wings to flush prey out of hiding.

Hamerkops, of all birds make the biggest nest in the trees, sometimes more than 1.5 m across, comprising perhaps 10,000 sticks and strong enough to support a man's weight. A mud-plastered entrance 13 to 18 cm wide in the bottom leads through a tunnel up to 60 cm long to a nesting chamber big enough for the parents and young.

They lay 3 to 7 eggs that start white but soon become stained. Both sexes incubate for 28 to 30 days. The chicks leave the nest at 44 to 50 days.

In culture, the bird is associated to bad omen; Some cultures in Uganda believe, when the bird patches on ones house then they are likely to be struck by lightening. In some places, when it calls over the house, people know that someone close to them has died. The Kalahari Bushmen believe that the inimical god Khauna would not like anyone to kill a Hamerkop. According to an old Malagasy belief, anyone who destroys its nest will get leprosy, and a Malagasy poem calls it an "evil bird". Such beliefs have given the bird some protection.

Grauer's Broadbill (Pseudocalyptomena graueri)

Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Aves, Family: Eurylaimidae, Genus: Pseudocalyptomena, Species: Pseudocalyptomena graueri

The Grauer's Broadbill or African Green Broadbill (Pseudocalyptomena graueri) is an actual broadbill, one of only a few African representatives of a primarily Asian family. It is bright green with a blue throat and vent and a small bill, quite unlike those of the other broadbills. It is endemic to the Albertine Rift Mountains of Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montane forests where it forages in canopies.

It is one of the African Big Five bird species, highly sought after by ornithologists but very elusive.

The species is both globally endangered and endangered according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Blue-breasted Bee-eater (Merops variegatus)

Kingdom: Amimalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Aves, Order: Coraciiformes, Family: Meropidae, Genus: Merops

The Blue-breasted Bee-eater is endemic to Africa and just as the name suggests, predominantly eats flying insects, especially bees and wasps, which are caught in the air by sallies from an open perch. While pursue any type of flying insect, honey bees predominate in their diet. Hymenoptera (ants, bees and wasps) comprise from 20% to 96% of all insects eaten, with honey bees comprising approximately one-third of the Hymenoptera.

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