The Republic of Kenya is a country in Eastern Africa. It lies on the equator and is bordered by Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the east, Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, and Sudan to the northwest, with the Indian Ocean running along the southeast border.
The country is named after Mount Kenya, a very significant landmark. Before 1920, the area now known as Kenya was known as the British East Africa Protectorate.
Kenya is slightly smaller than the American state of Texas, but larger than France. It’s 582,646 sq km contains most of the world’s major climatic conditions. Kenya’s topography is a study of contrasts. Features range from deserts to snow capped mountains, sandy coastlines to freshwater lakes, savannah grasslands to fertile agricultural plantations, extinct volcanoes to coral reefs. The eastern half of the country slopes gently downward towards sea level while to the west, the land patterns resemble a flight of stairs as a series of hills and plateaus alternate upward to the Rift Valley. On the western side of the Rift Valley the land again gently slopes downward towards Lake Victoria. Moving from east to west, a traveller experiences the white beaches of the Indian Ocean to the mile-high plateau of Nairobi, climbs higher still to the snow-capped summit of Mount Kenya, then drops across the Great Rift Valley to Lake Victoria. The Kenyan countryside boasts jagged, forested mountains, fertile red-soil agricultural belts surrounding Lake Turkana and sandy, dusty desert savannah regions.
Kenya has twenty mountains, six of which rise to over 3,000 meters (9,900 feet). The Tana River, largest in the country, supports river traffic in its lower regions. Most of Kenya’s rivers and small lakes dry up during the dry season making perennial water shortages an ongoing problem. Before the formation of the Rift Valley, Kenya’s climate and vegetation could best be characterized as tropical. The great geological changes that created the Rift triggered extreme climatic changes as well. After millions of years of evolution, Kenya’s climates now range from semi-arid to tropical, temperate to alpine, and also include artic.