Kenya sits on Eastern Africa’s Indian Ocean border, between Somalia and Tanzania, and its Highlands represent one of the most successful agricultural regions in Africa. It has a population of over 45 million people. Youths (age 15-24) make up 18.7% of the population, and young children (age 0-14) make up over 42% of the population. Excess mortality due to AIDS has resulted in an age distribution that is not typical.
There are several major ethnic groups in Kenya, including Kikuyu (22%), Luhya (14%), Luo (13%), Kalenjin (12%), Kamba (11%), Kisii (6%), Meru (6%), as well as other African ethnicities (15%). Non-Africans only comprise 1% of the population. English and Swahili are both recognized as official languages, and there are numerous indigenous languages also spoken. Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, represent about 82.5% of the population, and Muslims represent about 11% of the population. There are also some who adhere to traditional African religion.
Kenya is home to an estimated 580,000 refugees, including many displaced because of ethnic and political violence in neighboring areas of Uganda, Somalia, and Sudan. In 2005, Kenya was an important part of the mediation for Sudan’s north-south separation.
The Kenyan government is a republic and has come under significant constitutional reform in recent years. A new constitution, with added checks and balances to executive power as well as delegation of more power and authority to Kenya’s 47 counties, was adopted by national referendum in 2010. This transition came after a struggle within government leaders and parties since Kenya’s independence in 1963.
Kenya’s economy has suffered under corruption and a reliance on several low-priced goods. There are added pressures of chronic budget deficits, inflation, currency depreciation, and a high unemployment rate (40%). Over 43% of the population lives below the poverty line, although this rate is slowly declining. Poverty is distributed unevenly, with higher rates along the poorly-resourced coast and in the arid regions, which make up 80% of the land and 20% of the population. Recent terrorism in Kenya and surrounding areas has also threatened its tourism industry. In spite of this, Kenya has long had the largest economy in East Africa and ranks highest in the region on the Human Development Index.
Although improvements are gradually occurring, there is still a significant need for clean drinking water in rural areas and an even more significant need for proper sanitation. There are high risks for major infectious diseases, including food/waterborne bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever; malaria, dengue fever, and Rift Valley fever; schistosomiasis from water contact; and rabies.
Kenya has been majorly affected by HIV/AIDS. Approximately 6% of the adult population was estimated to be infected as of 2013 (the 12th highest prevalence rate in the world), and Kenya had the fourth highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in 2013, with over 1.5 million persons living with the disease. The ravaging affects of AIDS have led to a population with many children and not enough adults. The median age of the population is a young 19.1 years old. This will be a continuing concern as Kenya continues to move forward in the 21st century.
Population: 45,010,056 (July 2014 estimate)
0-14 years: 42.1%
15-24 years: 18.7%
25-54 years: 32.8%
55-64 years: 3.7%
65 years and over: 2.8%
Male to Female Ratio: 1 male per 1 female
Birth Rate: 28.27 births per 1,000 population
Average Life Expectancy at Birth: 63.52 years (Male: 62.06 years; Female: 65.01 years)
Infant Mortality Rate: 40.71 deaths per 1,000 live births
Central Intelligence Agency. “Kenya.” The World Factbook.