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The Kenyan Geography Portal
This is a sister portal of the Kenya Portal

Geography of Kenya

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The geography of Kenya is diverse, varying amongst Kenya's 47 Counties. Kenya has a coastline on the Indian Ocean, which contains swamps of East African mangroves. Inland are broad plains and numerous hills.

Central and Western Kenya is characterised by the Kenyan Rift Valley and central province home to the highest mountain, Mount Kenya and Mount Elgon on the border between Kenya and Uganda. The Kakamega Forest in western Kenya is a relic of an East African rainforest. Much bigger is Mau Forest, the largest forest complex in East Africa.

Flag-map of Kenya.svg More about...Kenyan geography, its flora and fauna

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Central Island, Lake Turkana
Lake Turkana (/tɜːrˈkɑːnə, -ˈkænə/), formerly known as Lake Rudolf, is a lake in the Kenyan Rift Valley, with its far northern end crossing into Ethiopia. It is the world's largest permanent desert lake and the world's largest alkaline lake. By volume it is the world's fourth-largest salt lake after the Caspian Sea, Issyk-Kul, and Lake Van (passing the shrinking South Aral Sea), and among all lakes it ranks 24th. The water is potable, but not palatable. It supports a rich lacustrine wildlife. The climate is hot and very dry.

The rocks of the surrounding area are predominantly volcanic. Central Island is an active volcano, emitting vapour. Outcrops and rocky shores are found on the east and south shores of the lake, while dunes, spits and flats are on the west and north, at a lower elevation.

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Selected Fauna

Leopard in the Kenyan savanna.jpg
The African Leopard (Panthera pardus pardus) Swahili: Chui is a leopard subspecies occurring across most of sub-Saharan Africa. In 2008, the IUCN classified leopards as Near Threatened, stating that they may soon qualify for the Vulnerable status due to habitat loss and fragmentation. They are becoming increasingly rare outside protected areas. The trend of the population is decreasing.

African leopards exhibit great variation in coat colour, depending on location and habitat. Coat colour varies from pale yellow to deep gold or tawny, and sometimes black, and is patterned with black rosettes while the head, lower limbs and belly are spotted with solid black. Male leopards are larger, averaging 60 kg (130 lb) with 91 kg (201 lb) being the maximum weight attained by a male. Females weigh about 35 to 40 kg (77 to 88 lb) in average.

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Selected Region/Location

Ilemi triangle map.PNG
The Ilemi Triangle is an area of disputed land in East Africa. Arbitrarily defined, it measures between 10,320 and 14,000 square kilometers (3,985 and 5,405 sq mi). Named after Anuak chief Ilemi Akwon, the territory is claimed by South Sudan and Kenya and borders Ethiopia. Despite use and raids by tribes within Ethiopia, the Ethiopian government has never made an official claim on any of the Ilemi and in fact agreed that the land was all Sudanese in 1902, 1907, and 1972 treaties.

Kenya now has de facto control of the area. The dispute arose from unclear wording of a 1914 treaty which attempted to allow for the movements of the Turkana people—nomadic herders who had traditionally grazed the area. The perceived economic marginality of the land as well as decades of Sudanese conflicts are two factors that have delayed the resolution of the dispute.

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Selected National Park/Reserve

The Tsavo East National Park is one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya at 13,747 square kilometres. Situated in a semi-arid area previously known as the Taru Desert it opened in April 1948, it is located near the town of Voi in Taita-Taveta County. The park is divided into east and west sections by the A109 road and a railway. Named for the Tsavo River, which flows west to east through the national park, it borders the Chyulu Hills National Park.

The park can be accessed by three main gates, from Voi through the Manyani gate, from Mombasa through the Bachuma gate or from Malindi through the Sala gate. Inside the park, the Athi and Tsavo rivers converge to form the Galana River. Most of the park consists of semi-arid grasslands and savanna. It is considered one of the world's biodiversity strongholds, and its popularity is mostly due to the vast amounts of diverse wildlife that can be seen, including the famous 'big five' consisting of masai lion, black rhino, cape buffalo, elephant and leopard.

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Selected Flora

Lasianthus kilimandscharicus is a shrub or tree found in Kenya. It becomes 2–7 metres (6 ft 7 in–23 ft 0 in) tall; bark smooth, grey. Leaves (narrowly) elliptic, base cuneate, apex acuminate, 9–17 centimetres (3.5–6.7 in) by 2–6 cm (0.79–2.36 in), glabrous or nearly so. Flowers white or pale purple.

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Did you know?

  • ... As of March 2013 Kenya is officially divided into 47 semi autonomous counties.
  • ... Lake Turkana, in Kenya is the largest desert lake in the World.
  • ... Nairobi, the capital city, is the only city in the world with a major National Park in it. Kenya also has all of the Big five game i.e.: lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino.
  • ... Kenya borders Africa’s largest lake by area, Lake Victoria. It is the largest tropical lake in the world. It is also the world's 2nd largest freshwater lake at a surface area of 68,800 square kilometres (26,600 sq mi).
  • ... Mt Kenya is the second tallest Mountain in Africa. It is 5,199 metres (17,057 ft) tall.
  • ... A third of the flowers in the European Union come from Kenya.

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