Situated on the equator on Africa's east coast, Kenya has been
described as "the cradle of humanity".
areas of the Great Rift Valley, palaeontologists have discovered
some of the earliest evidence of man's ancestors.
the present day, Kenya's ethnic diversity has produced a vibrant
culture, but is also a source of conflict.
After independence from Britain in 1963, politics was dominated by
the charismatic Jomo Kenyatta. He was succeeded in 1978 by Daniel
arap Moi, who remained in power for 24 years. The ruling Kenya
African National Union, Kanu, was the country's only legal
political party for much of the 1980s.
Jacaranda trees add colour to the capital, Nairobi
Violent unrest - and international pressure - led to the
restoration of multi-party politics in the early 1990s. But it was
to be another decade before opposition candidate Mwai Kibaki ended
nearly 40 years of Kanu rule with his landslide victory in 2002's
Despite President Kibaki's pledge to tackle corruption, some
donors estimated that up to $1bn had been lost to graft between
2002 and 2005.
Other pressing challenges include high unemployment, crime and
poverty; most Kenyans live below the poverty level of $1 a day.
of Africa's more politically-stable countries, Kenya has been a
leading light in the Somali and Sudanese peace processes.
With its scenic beauty and abundant wildlife, Kenya is one of
Africa's major safari destinations. The lucrative tourist industry
has bounced back following the negative impact of bomb attacks in
Nairobi in 1998 and Mombasa in 2002.
Political veteran Mwai Kibaki won a landslide victory in the
December 2002 elections. The constitution barred his predecessor,
Daniel arap Moi, from standing for re-election. Mr Kibaki's
National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) won a parliamentary majority.
Mwai Kibaki came to power on promises to fight corruption
Kibaki said he would make the fight against corruption a priority
and promised to tackle Kenya's economic woes.
two years into his presidency, crime and corruption were
widespread and the economy remained weak. A poll suggested that
many Kenyans thought that life was worse under the Narc government
than under Mr Kibaki's predecessor.
president suffered a further blow when voters rejected a proposed
new constitution in late 2005. Mr Kibaki had urged Kenyans to
endorse the document, which he portrayed as a modernising measure.
The charter created bitter divisions, with critics saying it left
too much power in the hands of the president.
respected economist, Mwai Kibaki served as finance minister and
vice president in the 1970s and 1980s. He left Kanu in 1991 and
founded the Democratic Party.
victory marked the end of almost 40 years of uninterrupted rule by
Kanu, and it was third time lucky for Mr Kibaki, who lost two
elections in the 1990s.
Mwai Kibaki was born in 1931 and hails from Kenya's largest tribe,
the Kikuyu. He studied in Uganda and Britain, before joining the
push for Kenya's independence in the 1960s. He became an MP in
Foreign minister: Raphael Tuju
Finance minister: David Mwiraria
Kenya enjoys a more diverse media scene than many other African
countries, with a large middle class providing a base for
substantial advertising revenue.
There is a tradition of a relatively independent press, although
newspapers often had to practise self-censorship during the era of
Presidents Kenyatta and Moi. The print media is dominated by two
major publishing houses, the Nation and Standard, both of which
also have substantial broadcasting operations.
Most Kenyans rely on the broadcast media, particularly radio, for
news. Until recently the liberalisation of broadcasting had a
limited impact outside Nairobi but some private radio and TV
networks now have wide coverage of much of the country. TV viewing
is substantial, but few Kenyans are regular internet users, owing
to cost and access problems.
Kibaki government came to power promising further media
liberalisation, but some incidents since then have alarmed
observers. In late 2003 there was a crackdown on unregistered
"alternative" newspapers, using a controversial law passed by the
Months later, a court criticised the information minister for
harassing Kiss FM, the most popular private radio station, which
had gained a reputation for upsetting the government.
Full-time FM relays of the BBC World Service are on the air in
Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu, and some BBC programmes are also
rebroadcast by private Kameme FM. The Voice of America has an FM
relay in Nairobi and Radio France Internationale is relayed on FM
- published by the Nation Media Group, the paper claims to have
three quarters of the Kenyan newspaper market. It is widely
regarded as being independent and balanced
East African Standard
- privately-owned daily, and Kenya's oldest newspaper
- English-language weekly published by the Nation Media Group
Taifa Leo - Kenya's only Swahili-language daily, published by the
Nation Media Group
- Kanu party paper, daily
The People Daily - owned by veteran politician Kenneth Matiba
Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC)
- state-owned, channels in English and Swahili
- KBC-operated Nairobi station targeting younger viewers
Kenya Television Network - the first TV station to break the state
broadcasting monopoly; available in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru,
Nation TV - Nairobi-based station operated by the Nation Media
Citizen TV - privately-owned Nairobi-based station
Stella TV (STV) - privately-owned station
Family TV -