Kenya

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Posted by r2d2 02/28/2009 @ 07:03

Tags : kenya, africa, world

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Kenya Railways Corporation

Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC), also Kenya Railways (KR) is the national railway of Kenya. Established in 1977, KR is a state corporation.

The original Uganda Railway was transformed into the East African Railways and Harbours Corporation (EARC) after World War I. The EARC managed the railways of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanganyika until the collapse of the East African Community in 1977. Subsequently KR took over the Kenyan part of the EARC.

Like the other members of the EAC Kenya utilizes the narrow gauge track gauge of 1,000 mm (3 ft 3⅜ in). The reason was that when the British started the railroad construction at the end of the nineteenth century they utilized material and workers from India. The Indian gauge and rolling stock was 1,000 mm.

The mainline of the KR is based on the original Uganda Railway. Its 930 km main track connected the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa to the port of Kisumu at Lake Victoria. Half way is the capital of Nairobi that was founded as a rail depot of the UR. The British added several branch lines as well as a link to Tanzania and a link to Uganda - the total system eventually had 2,778 km of track.

As of 2006 much of the overall railway system has been neglected or is in disrepair. Nevertheless the mainline from Mombasa to Kisumu is operative. For passengers, the “Jumbo Kenya Deluxe” connects Nairobi and Mombasa. The fourteen hour overnight trip runs three times a week either eastbound or westbound on the single lane track. The “Port Florence Express” connects Nairobi with Kisumu.

KR also operates the Kenyan ferry system on Lake Victoria.

The KR has suffered from inefficient management, has a bloated work force, and has run deficit operations in spite of its potential. For several years there had been plans to privatize and revitalize the system. In 2005, Rift Valley Railways Consortium (RVRC) from South Africa won the concession to run KR and Uganda Railways Corporation. RVRC was to take over operations on August 1, 2006 and intends to stream line operations, reduce the work force, and make major investments to upgrade the system.. On July 28, 2006 the East African Standard reported that the planned take-over was postponed to November 1, 2006. This operational take-over took place in November and is scheduled to last for 25 years.

On October 9, 2008, Toll Holdings of Australia announced that it has entered into a contract to manage the Kenya-Uganda railway, replacing the management by Rift Valley Railways Consortium. The consortium has been criticized for falling freight traffic in the two years since taking control, while RVR alleges the drop is due to the poor condition of the railway infrastructure and the damage done by protesters during the 2007–2008 Kenyan crisis. Officers from Toll subsidiary Patrick Defence Logistics were to manage the railway after the transition.

Towards the end of 2008, after just a few months in charge, Toll pulled out of its management obligations after disagreements with the owners and the Toll appointed MD resigned, mirroring a similar reversal of appetite that occured when Toll took over the New Zealand railway in 2003.

During the riots of the 2007–2008 Kenyan crisis sections of railway were destroyed. As a result shipments to Uganda were suspended.

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Kenya

Flag of Kenya

The Republic of Kenya is a country in East Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the northeast, 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 and the second among the highest mountain peaks of Africa, and both were originally usually pronounced /ˈkiːnjə/ in English although the native pronunciation and the one intended by the original transcription Kenia was . During the presidency of Jomo Kenyatta in the 1960s, the current pronunciation /ˈkɛnjə/ became widespread in English because his name was pronounced according to the original native pronunciation. Before 1920, the area now known as Kenya was known as the British East Africa Protectorate and so there was no need to mention mount when referring to the mountain.

Giant crocodile fossils have been discovered in Kenya, dating from the Mesozoic Era, over 200 million years ago. The fossils were found in an excavation conducted by a team from the University of Utah and the National Museums of Kenya in July–August 2004 at Lokitaung Gorge, near Lake Turkana.

Fossils found in East Africa suggest that primates roamed the area more than 20 million years ago. Recent finds near Kenya's Lake Turkana indicate that hominids such as Homo habilis (1.8 and 2.5 million years ago) and Homo erectus (1.8 million to 350 000 years ago) are possible direct ancestors of modern Homo sapiens and lived in Kenya during the Pleistocene epoch. In 1984 one particular discovery made at Lake Turkana by famous palaeoanthropologist Richard Leakey and Kamoya Kimeu was the skeleton of a Turkana boy belonging to Homo erectus from 1.6 million years ago. Previous research on early hominids is particularly identified with Mary Leakey and Louis Leakey, who were responsible for the preliminary archaeological research at Olorgesailie and Hyrax Hill. Later work at the former was undertaken by Glynn Isaac.

In the centuries preceding colonisation, the Swahili coast of Kenya was part of the east African region which traded with the Arab world and India especially for ivory and slaves (the Ameru tribe is said to have originated from slaves escaping from Arab lands some time around the year 1700. Initially these traders came mainly from Arab states, but later many also came from Zanzibar (such as Tippu Tip).

Swahili, a Bantu language with Arabic, Persian and other Middle Eastern and South Asian loan words, later developed as a lingua franca for trade between the different peoples.

The Luo of Kenya descend from early agricultural and herding communities from western Kenya's early pre-colonial history. The Luo along with other tribes associated with the Nilotic language group, are known to have originated from the north of Kenya, probably the northern regions of modern Sudan. The Nilots as they are known, are an anthropological group that originated from the northeastern regions of Africa. They may have moved south due to the wars that characterized the growth of territories such as Kush and Egypt. In Kenya, this group comprises the Luo, Kalenjin, the Turkana and the Maasai as the main groups. This is clearly evidenced by the presence of similar dialects among certain tribes in modern day Sudan. These tribes, include the Acoli and Lwo (not same as Luo) who occupy modern Darfur region.

There are also other tribes belonging to this group in Uganda and Tanzania. This is attributed mainly to the Luo's affinity to Lake Victoria, which they have stuck to throughout the three countries (Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya). In Uganda, they are known to have established the Buganda Kingdom and the Toro Kingdom. The Luo in Kenya are known to have fought numerous wars with their neighbors, notably the Kalenjin, for control of the lake.

Throughout the centuries, the Kenyan Coast has played host to many merchants and explorers. Among the cities that line the Kenyan coast is the City of Malindi. It has remained an important Swahili settlement since the 14th century and once rivaled Mombasa for dominance in this part of East Africa. Malindi has traditionally been a friendly port city for foreign powers. In 1414, the Arab Sultan of Malindi initiated diplomatic relations with Ming Dynasty China during the voyages of the explorer Zheng He. Malindi authorities welcomed the great Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, in 1498.

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to explore the region of current-day Kenya, Vasco da Gama having visited Mombasa in 1498. Gama's voyage was successful in reaching India and this permitted the Portuguese to trade with the Far East directly by sea, thus challenging older trading networks of mixed land and sea routes, such as the Spice trade routes that utilized the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and caravans to reach the eastern Mediterranean. The Republic of Venice had gained control over much of the trade routes between Europe and Asia. After traditional land routes to India had been closed by the Ottoman Turks, Portugal hoped to use the sea route pioneered by Gama to break the once Venetian trading monopoly. Portuguese rule in East Africa focused mainly on a coastal strip centred in Mombasa. The Portuguese presence in East Africa officially began after 1505, when flagships under the command of Don Francisco de Almeida conquered Kilwa, an island located in what is now southern Tanzania.

The Portuguese presence in East Africa served the purpose of control trade within the Indian Ocean and secure the sea routes linking Europe to Asia. Portuguese naval vessels were very disruptive to the commerce of Portugal's enemies within the western Indian Ocean and were able to demand high tariffs on items transported through the sea due to their strategic control of ports and shipping lanes. The construction of Fort Jesus in Mombasa in 1593 was meant to solidify Portuguese hegemony in the region, but their influence was clipped by the British, Dutch Omani Arab incursions into the region during the 17th century. The Omani Arabs posed the most direct challenge to Portuguese influence in East Africa and besieged Portuguese fortresses, openly attacked naval vessels and expelled the remaining Portuguese from the Kenyan and Tanzanian coasts by 1730. By this time the Portuguese Empire had already lost its interest on the spice trade sea route due to the decreasing profitability of that business.

Omani Arab colonization of the Kenyan and Tanzanian coasts brought the once independent city-states under closer foreign scrutiny and domination than was experienced during the Portuguese period. Like their predecessors, the Omani Arabs were primarily able only to control the coastal areas, not the interior. However, the creation of clove plantations, intensification of the slave trade and relocation of the Omani capital to Zanzibar in 1839 by Seyyid Said had the effect of consolidating the Omani power in the region. Arab governance of all the major ports along the East African coast continued until British interests aimed particularly at ending the slave trade and creation of a wage-labour system began to put pressure on Omani rule. By the late nineteenth century, the slave trade on the open seas had been completely outlawed by the British and the Omani Arabs had little ability to resist the Royal Navy's ability to enforce the directive. The Omani presence continued in Zanzibar and Pemba until the 1964 revolution, but the official Omani Arab presence in Kenya was checked by German and British seizure of key ports and creation of crucial trade alliances with influential local leaders in the 1880s. However, the Omani Arab legacy in East Africa is currently found through their numerous descendants found along the coast that can directly trace ancestry to Oman and are typically the wealthiest and most politically influential members of the Kenyan coastal community.

However, most historians consider that the colonial history of Kenya dates from the establishment of a German protectorate over the Sultan of Zanzibar's coastal possessions in 1885, followed by the arrival of the Imperial British East Africa Company in 1888. Incipient imperial rivalry was forestalled when Germany handed its coastal holdings to Britain in 1890. This followed the building of the Kenya-Uganda railway passing through the country. This was resisted by some tribes — notably the Nandi led by Orkoiyot Koitalel Arap Samoei for ten years from 1895 to 1905 — still the British eventually built the railway. It is believed that the Nandi were the first tribe to be put in a native reserve to stop them from disrupting the building of the railway. During the railway construction era, there was a significant inflow of Indian peoples who provided the bulk of the skilled manpower required for construction. It was during this time, while building the railroad through the Tsavo National Park, that a number of the Indian railway workers and local African labourers were attacked by two lions known as the Tsavo maneaters. They and most of their descendants later remained in Kenya and formed the core of several distinct Indian communities such as the Ismaili Muslim and Sikh communities.

At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the governors of British East Africa (as the Protectorate was generally known) and German East Africa agreed a truce in an attempt to keep the young colonies out of direct hostilities. However Lt Col Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck took command of the German military forces, determined to tie down as many British resources as possible. Completely cut off from Germany by the Royal Navy, von Lettow conducted an effective guerilla warfare campaign, living off the land, capturing British supplies, and remaining undefeated. He eventually surrendered in Zambia eleven days after the Armistice was signed in 1918. To chase von Lettow the British deployed Indian Army troops from India and then needed large numbers of porters to overcome the formidable logistics of transporting supplies far into the interior by foot. The Carrier Corps was formed and ultimately mobilised over 400,000 Africans, contributing to their long-term politicisation.

During the early part of the 20th century, the interior central highlands were settled by British and other European farmers, who became wealthy farming coffee and tea. By the 1930s, approximately 30 000 white settlers lived in the area and were offered undue political powers because of their effects on the economy. The area was already home to over a million members of the Kikuyu tribe, most of whom had no land claims in European terms (but the land belonged to the ethnic group), and lived as itinerant farmers. To protect their interests, the settlers banned the growing of coffee, introduced a hut tax, and the landless were granted less and less land in exchange for their labour. A massive exodus to the cities ensued as their ability to provide a living from the land dwindled.

In 1951, Sir Horace Hector Hearne became Chief Justice in Kenya (coming from Ceylon, where he had also been Chief Justice) and sat in the Supreme Court in Nairobi. He held that position until 1954 when he became an Appeal Justice of the West African Court of Appeal. On the night of the death of King George VI, 5 February 1952, Hearne escorted The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, as she then was, to a state dinner at the Treetops Hotel, which is now a very popular tourist retreat. It was there that she "went up a princess and came down a Queen". She returned immediately to England, accompanied by Hearne.

From October 1952 to December 1959, Kenya was under a state of emergency arising from the Mau Mau rebellion against British rule. The governor requested and obtained British and African troops, including the King's African Rifles. In January 1953, Major General Hinde was appointed as director of counter-insurgency operations. The situation did not improve for lack of intelligence, so General Sir George Erskine was appointed commander-in-chief of the colony's armed forces in May 1953, with the personal backing of Winston Churchill.

The capture of Warũhiũ Itote (aka General China) on 15 January 1954, and the subsequent interrogation led to a better understanding of the Mau Mau command structure. Operation Anvil opened on 24 April 1954, after weeks of planning by the army with the approval of the War Council. The operation effectively placed Nairobi under military siege, and the occupants were screened and the Mau Mau supporters moved to detention camps. May 1953 also saw the Home Guard officially recognized as a branch of the Security Forces. The Home Guard formed the core of the government's anti-Mau Mau strategy as it was composed of loyalist Africans, not foreign forces like the British Army and King's African Rifles. By the end of the emergency the Home Guard had killed 4686 Mau Mau, amounting to 42% of the total insurgents. The capture of Dedan Kimathi on 21 October 1956, in Nyeri signified the ultimate defeat of the Mau Mau and essentially ended the military offensive.

The first direct elections for Africans to the Legislative Council took place in 1957. Despite British hopes of handing power to "moderate" African rivals, it was the Kenya African National Union (KANU) of Jomo Kenyatta that formed a government shortly before Kenya became independent on 12 December 1963. During the same year, the Kenyan army fought the Shifta War against ethnic Somalis determined to see the NFD join with the Republic of Somalia. The Shiftas inflicted heavy casualties on the Kenyan armed forces but were defeated in 1967.

Kenya, fearing an invasion from militarily stronger Somalia, in 1969 signed a defence pact with Ethiopia which is still in effect. Suffering from droughts and floods, NFD is the least developed region in Kenya. However, since the 1990s, Somali refugees-turned-wealthy businessmen have managed to transform the one-time slum of Eastleigh into the most prosperous commercial centre of Eastlands and increasingly much of Nairobi.

In 1964, Kenyatta became Kenya's first president. At Kenyatta's death in 1978, Daniel arap Moi became President. Daniel arap Moi retained the Presidency, being unopposed in elections held in 1979, 1983 (snap elections) and 1988, all of which were held under the single party constitution. The 1983 elections were held a year early, and were a direct result of an abortive military coup attempt on 1 August 1982.

The abortive coup was masterminded by a lowly ranked Air Force serviceman, Senior Private Hezekiah Ochuka and was staged mainly by enlisted men in the Air Force. The attempt was quickly suppressed by Loyalist forces led by the Army, the General Service Unit (GSU) — a paramilitary wing of the police — and later the regular police, but not without civilian casualties. This event led to the disbanding of the entire Air Force and a large number of its former members were either dismissed or court-martialled.

The election held in 1988 saw the advent of the mlolongo (queuing) system, where voters were supposed to line up behind their favoured candidates instead of a secret ballot. This was seen as the climax of a very undemocratic regime and it led to widespread agitation for constitutional reform. Several contentious clauses, including one that allowed for only one political party were changed in the following years. In democratic, multiparty elections in 1992 and 1997, Daniel arap Moi won re-election. In 2002, Moi was constitutionally barred from running, and Mwai Kǐbakǐ, running for the opposition coalition "National Rainbow Coalition" — NARC, was elected President. The elections, judged free and fair by local and international observers, marked a turning point in Kenya's democratic evolution.

Until 1920 the area that is now Kenya was called the British East African Protectorate. In 1920 Kenya Colony was formed, named after its highest peak, and pronounced /ˈkiːnjə/.

At independence, in 1963, Jomo Kenyatta was elected as the first president. He had previously assumed this name to reflect his commitment to freeing his country and his pronunciation of his name resulted in the pronunciation of Kenya in English changing back to an approximation of the original native pronunciation, pronounced /ˈkɛnjə/.

Kenya is a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President was both the head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. However, there was growing concern especially during former president Daniel arap Moi's tenure that the executive was increasingly meddling with the affairs of the judiciary.

Until the unrest occasioned by the disputed election results of December 2007, Kenya had hitherto maintained remarkable stability despite changes in its political system and crises in neighbouring countries. A cross-party parliamentary reform initiative in the fall of 1997 revised some oppressive laws inherited from the colonial era that had been used to limit freedom of speech and assembly. This improved public freedoms and contributed to generally credible national elections in December 1997.

In December 2002, Kenyans held democratic and open elections, most of which were judged free and fair by international observers. The 2002 elections marked an important turning point in Kenya's democratic evolution in that power was transferred peacefully from the Kenya African Union (KANU), which had ruled the country since independence to the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc), a coalition of political parties.

Under the presidency of Mwai Kibaki, the new ruling coalition promised to focus its efforts on generating economic growth, combating corruption, improving education, and rewriting its constitution. A few of these promises have been met. There is free primary education. In 2007 the government issued a statement declaring that from 2008, secondary education would be heavily subsidised, with the government footing all tuition fees.

The last general elections were held on December 27, 2007. In them, President Kibaki under the Party of National Unity ran for re-election against the main opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). The elections were largely believed to have been flawed with international observers saying that they did not meet regional or international standards, with observers stating that the tallying process was rigged in favor of president Mwai Kibaki. After a split which would take a crucial 8% of the votes away from the ODM to the newly formed Orange Democratic Movement-Kenya (ODM-K)'s candidate, Kalonzo Musyoka, the race tightened between ODM candidate Raila Odinga and Kibaki. As the count came in to the Kenyan Election Commission, Odinga was shown to have a slight, and then substantial lead. However, as the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) continued to count the votes, Kibaki closed the gap and then overtook his opponent by a substantial margin amid largely substantiated claims of rigging from both sides of the political divide (notably by the EU Observers). This led to protests and riots, open discrediting of the ECK for complicity and to Odinga declaring himself the "people's president" and calling for a recount and Kibaki to resign.

The protests escalated into unprecedented violence and destruction of property, leading to Odinga claiming up to 1000 deaths as a result. The government claimed nearly 700 deaths and the internal displacement of around 260,000 people. A group of eminent persons of Africa, led by former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, was called in to broker a peaceful solution to the political stalemate. This group enjoyed the backing of the UN, European Union, African Union and United States governments, as well as those of various other notable countries across the world. More information is available in clashes in Kenya (2007–present).

Annan requested mediation support for his team on the Panel Secretariat from the Swiss based conflict mediation organisation, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.

On 28 February 2008, Kibaki and Odinga signed an agreement on the formation of a coalition government in which Odinga would become Kenya's second prime Minister. Under the deal, the president would also appoint cabinet ministers from both PNU and ODM camps depending on each party's strength in Parliament. The agreement stipulated that the cabinet would also include a vice-president and two deputy Prime Ministers. After being debated and passed by Parliament, the coalition would hold until the end of the current Parliament or if either of the parties withdraws from the deal before then.

The new office of the PM will have power and authority to co-ordinate and supervise the functions of the Government and will be occupied by an elected MP who will also be the leader of the party or coalition with majority members in Parliament. The world watched Annan and his UN-backed panel and African Union chairman Jakaya Kikwete as they brought together the erstwhile rivals to the signing ceremony, beamed live on national TV from the steps of Nairobi's Harambee House. On February 29, 2008, representatives of PNU and ODM began working on the finer details of the power-sharing agreement. Kenyan lawmakers unanimously approved a power-sharing deal March 18, 2008, aimed at salvaging a country once seen as one of the most stable and prosperous in Africa. The deal brought Kibaki's PNU and Odinga's ODM together and heralded the formation of the Grand Coalition, in which the two political parties would share power equally.

According to a report published by the Independent Review Commission (IREC) on the 2007 elections chaired by Justice Johann Kriegler, there were too many electoral malpractices from grassroot regions of all parties involved to conclusively establish which candidate won the December 2007 Presidential elections. Such malpractices included widespread bribery, vote buying, intimidation and ballot-stuffing as well as incompetence from the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK). The commission exonerated the ECK from tampering with the vote tallying at the ECK's Voter Tallying headquarters. This was contrary to the claims of rigging by the ECK at the voter tallying headquarters.

On April 13, 2008, President Kibaki named a Grand coalition cabinet of 41 Ministers- including the prime minister and his two deputies - after weeks of tension and uncertainty that had gripped the country following the failure of the president and prime minister designate, Raila Odinga, to agree on how some of the ministries should be shared. The cabinet, which also included 50 Assistant Ministers, was sworn in at the State House in Nairobi on Thursday, April 17, 2008 in the presence of Dr. Kofi Annan and other invited dignitaries.

Local governance in Kenya is practised through local authorities. Many urban centres host city, municipal or town councils. Local authorities in rural areas are known as county councils. Local councillors are elected by civic elections, held alongside general elections.

Constituencies are an electoral subdivision. There are 210 Constituencies in Kenya.

At 224,961 square miles (582,646 km²), Kenya is the world's forty-seventh largest country (after Madagascar). From the coast on the Indian Ocean the Low plains rise to central highlands. The highlands are bisected by the Great Rift Valley; a fertile plateau in the east. The Kenyan Highlands comprise one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa. The highlands are the site of the highest point in Kenya (and the second highest in Africa): Mount Kenya, which reaches 5,199 metres (17,057 ft) and is also the site of glaciers. Climate varies from tropical along the coast to arid in the interior. Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895m - 19,341 ft) can be seen from Kenya to the South of the Tanzanian border.

Kenya has considerable land area of wildlife habitat, including the Masai Mara, where Blue Wildebeest and other bovids participate in a large scale annual migration. Up to 250,000 blue wildebeest perish each year in the long and arduous movement to find forage in the dry season. The "Big Five" animals of Africa can also be found in Kenya: the lion, leopard, buffalo, rhinoceros and elephant. A significant population of other wild animals, reptiles and birds can be found in the national parks and game reserves in the country. The environment of Kenya is threatened by high population growth and its side effects.

Kenya has a tropical climate. It is hot and humid at the coast, temperate inland and very dry in the north and northeast parts of the country. There is however a lot of rain between March and May, and moderate rain in October and November. The temperature remains high throughout these months.

The country receives a great deal of sunshine all the year round and summer clothes are worn throughout the year. However, it is usually cool at night and early in the morning.

The long rain season occurs from April to June. The short rain season occurs from October to December. The rainfall is sometimes heavy and often falls in the afternoons and evenings. The hottest period is from February to March and coldest in July to August.

The annual animal migration - especially migration of the wildebeest - occurs between June and September with millions of animals taking part. It has been a popular event for filmmakers to capture.

After independence, Kenya promoted rapid economic growth through public investment, encouragement of smallholder agricultural production, and incentives for private (often foreign) industrial investment. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an annual average of 6.6% from 1963 to 1973. Agricultural production grew by 4.7% annually during the same period, stimulated by redistributing estates, diffusing new crop strains, and opening new areas to cultivation.

Between 1974 and 1990, however, Kenya's economic performance declined. Inappropriate agricultural policies, inadequate credit, and poor international terms of trade contributed to the decline in agriculture.

From 1991 to 1993, Kenya had its worst economic performance since independence. Growth in GDP stagnated, and agricultural production shrank at an annual rate of 3.9%. Inflation reached a record 100% in August 1993, and the government's budget deficit was over 10% of GDP. As a result of these combined problems, bilateral and multilateral donors suspended programme aid to Kenya in 1991.

In 1993, the Government of Kenya began a major programme of economic reform and liberalization. A new minister of finance and a new governor of the Central Bank of Kenya undertook a series of economic measures with the assistance of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). As part of this programme, the government eliminated price controls and import licensing, removed foreign exchange controls, privatised a range of publicly owned companies, reduced the number of civil servants, and introduced conservative fiscal and monetary policies. From 1994 to 1996, Kenya's real GDP growth rate averaged just over 4% a year.

In 1997, however, the economy entered a period of slowing or stagnant growth, due in part to adverse weather conditions and reduced economic activity prior to general elections in December 1997. In 2000, GDP growth was negative, but improved slightly in 2001 as rainfall returned closer to normal levels. Economic growth continued to improve slightly in 2002 and reached 1.4% in 2003. it was 4.3% in 2004 and 5.8% in 2005.

In July 1997, the Government of Kenya refused to meet commitments made earlier to the IMF on governance reforms. As a result, the IMF suspended lending for 3 years, and the World Bank also put a $90-million structural adjustment credit on hold. Although many economic reforms put in place in 1993-94 remained, conservative economists believe that Kenya needs further reforms, particularly in governance, in order to increase GDP growth and combat the poverty that afflicts more than 57% of its population.

The Government of Kenya took some positive steps on reform, including the 1999 establishment of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority (KACA), and measures to improve the transparency of government procurements and reduce the government payroll. In July 2000, the IMF signed a $150 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF), and the World Bank followed suit shortly after with a $157 million Economic and Public Sector Reform credit. The Anti-Corruption Authority was declared unconstitutional in December 2000, and other parts of the reform effort faltered in 2001. The IMF and World Bank again suspended their programmes. Various efforts to restart the programme through mid-2002 were unsuccessful.

Under the leadership of President Kibaki, who took over on December 30, 2002, the Government of Kenya began an ambitious economic reform programme and has resumed its cooperation with the World Bank and the IMF. The new National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) government enacted the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act and Public Officers Ethics Act in May 2003 aimed at fighting graft in public offices. Other reforms especially in the judiciary, public procurement etc., have led to the unlocking of donor aid and a renewed hope at economic revival. In November 2003, following the adoption of key anti-corruption laws and other reforms by the new government, donors reengaged as the IMF approved a three-year $250 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility and donors committed $4.2 billion in support over 4 years. The renewal of donor involvement has provided a much-needed boost to investor confidence.

The Privatisation Bill has been enacted although the setting up of a privatisation commission is yet to be finalised, civil service reform has been implemented and in 2007 the country won the UN Public Service reform award. However a lot of work needs to be done to make the country catch up with the rest of economic giants especially the Far East. The main challenges include taking candid action on corruption, enacting anti-terrorism and money laundering laws, bridging budget deficits, rehabilitating and building infrastructure. This hopefully will help in maintaining sound macroeconomic policies, and speed up the rapidly accelerating economic growth, which is projected to grow to 7.2% in 2007.

In 2007, the Kenyan government unveiled Vision 2030, which is a very ambitious economic blueprint and which, if implemented in its entirety, has the potential of putting the country in the same league as the Asian Economic Tigers. However all these economic projections now hang in the balance following the political uncertainty occasioned by the aftermath of the 2007 disputed Presidential polls, which left the country economically dented.

Nairobi continues to be the primary communication and financial hub of East Africa. It enjoys the region's best transportation linkages, communications infrastructure, and trained personnel, although these advantages are less prominent than in past years. A wide range of foreign firms maintain regional branch or representative offices in the city. In March 1996, the Presidents of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda re-established the East African Community (EAC). The EAC's objectives include harmonizing tariffs and customs regimes, free movement of people, and improving regional infrastructures. In March 2004, the three East African countries signed a Customs Union Agreement.

There also exists a large, informal economy that is never counted as part of the official GDP figures.

Early in 2006 Chinese President Hu Jintao signed an oil exploration contract with Kenya; the latest in a series of deals designed to keep Africa's natural resources flowing to China's rapidly-expanding economy.

The deal allowed for China's state-controlled offshore oil and gas company, CNOOC Ltd, to prospect for oil in Kenya, which is just beginning to drill its first exploratory wells on the borders of Sudan and Somalia and in coastal waters. No oil has been produced yet, and there has been no formal estimate of the possible reserves.

Kenya is a country of great ethnic diversity. Most Kenyans are bilingual in English and Swahili, also a large percentage speak the mother tongue of their ethnic tribe.

The vast majority of Kenyans are Christian with 45% regarding themselves as Protestant and 33% as Roman Catholic. Sizeable minorities of other faiths do exist (Muslim 10%, indigenous beliefs 10%) but estimates for the percentage of the population that adheres to Islam or indigenous beliefs vary widely. For example, according to some sources, estimates for the percentage of Muslims in Kenya range from 20% to as high as constituting 45% of the total population.

Sixty percent of the Muslim population lives in Coast Province, comprising 50 percent of the total population there. Western areas of Coast Province are mostly Christian. The upper part of Eastern Province is home to 10 percent of the country's Muslims, where they are the majority religious group and apart from a small ethnic Somali population in Nairobi, the rest of the country is largely Christian.

Kenya's education system consists of early childhood education, primary, secondary and college. Early childhood education takes at least three years, primary eight years, secondary four and university four or six years depending on the course. Preschooling, which targets children from age three to five, is an integral component of the education system and is a key requirement for admission to Standard One (First Grade). At the end of primary education, pupils sit the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE), which determines those who proceed to secondary school or vocational training. Primary school age is 6/7-13/14 years. For those who proceed to secondary level, there is a national examination at the end of Form Four – the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE), which determines those proceeding to the universities, other professional training or employment. The Joint Admission Board (JAB) is responsible for selecting students joining the public universities. Other than the public schools, there are many private schools in the country, mainly in urban areas. Similarly, there are a number of international schools catering for various overseas educational systems.

Kenya is a diverse country, with many different cultures represented. Notable cultures include the Swahili on the coast, pastoralist communities in the north, and several different communities in the central and western regions. Today, the Maasai culture is well known, due to its heavy exposure from tourism, however, Maasai make up a relatively minor percentage of the Kenyan population. The Maasai are known for their elaborate upper body adornment and jewelry.

Kenya has an extensive music, television and theatre scene.

Kenya is active in several sports, among them cricket, rallying, football (soccer), rugby union and boxing. But the country is known chiefly for its dominance in Middle-distance and long-distance athletics. Kenya has regularly produced Olympic and Commonwealth Games champions in various distance events, especially in 800 m, 1,500 m, 3,000 m steeplechase, 5,000 m, 10,000 m and the marathons. Kenyan athletes (particularly Kalenjin) continue to dominate the world of distance running, although competition from Morocco and Ethiopia has reduced this supremacy. Kenya's best-known athletes included the four-time women's Boston Marathon winner and two-time world champion Catherine Ndereba, former Marathon world record-holder Paul Tergat, and John Ngugi.

Retired Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion Kipchoge Keino helped usher in Kenya's ongoing distance dynasty 1970s and was followed by Commonwealth Champion Henry Rono's spectacular string of world record performances.

Lately, there has been controversy in Kenyan athletics circles, with the defection of a number of Kenyan athletes to represent other countries, chiefly Bahrain and Qatar. The Kenyan Ministry of Sports has tried to stop the defections, but they have continued anyway, with Bernard Lagat the latest, choosing to represent the United States. Most of these defections occur due to economic or financial factors however some elite Kenyan runners who can't qualify for their country's strong national team also find it easier to qualify by running for other countries.

Kenya has also been a dominant force in ladies' volleyball within Africa, with both the clubs and the national team winning various continental championships in the past decade. The womens' team has also competed at the Olympics and World Championships but without any notable success.

Cricket is another popular and the most successful team sport. Kenya has competed in the Cricket World Cup since 1996. They upset some of the World's best teams and reached semi-finals of the 2003 tournament. They also won the inaugural World Cricket League Division 1 hosted in Nairobi and participated in the World T20. Their current captain is Steve Tikolo.

Kenya is making a name for itself in rugby union. It is popular in Kenya especially with the annual Safari Sevens tournament. Kenya sevens team ranked 9th in IRB Sevens World Series for the 2006 season.

Kenya was a regional power in soccer but its dominance has been eroded by wrangles within the Kenya Football Federation. This has led to a suspension by FIFA which was lifted in March, 2007.

In the motor rallying arena, Kenya is home to the world famous Safari Rally, commonly acknowledged as one of the toughest rallies in the world, and a part of the World Rally Championship for many years until its exclusion after the 2002 event due to financial difficulties. Some of the best rally drivers in the world have taken part in and won the rally, such as Bjorn Waldegaard, Hannu Mikkola, Tommi Makinen, Shekhar Mehta, Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae. Though the rally still runs annually as part of the Africa rally championship, the organisers are hoping to be allowed to rejoin the World Rally championship in the next couple of years.

Ngugi wa Thiong'o is one of the best known writers of Kenya. His book, Weep Not, Child is an illustration of life in Kenya during the British occupation. This is a story about the effects of the Mau Mau on the lives of black Kenyans. Its combination of themes - colonialism, education, and love - help to make it one of the best-known novels in Africa.

M.G. Vassanji's 2003 novel The In-Between World of Vikram Lall won the Giller Prize in 2003. It is the fictional memoir of a Kenyan of Indian heritage and his family as they adjust to the changing political climates in colonial and post-colonial Kenya.

Since 2003, the literary journal Kwani? has been publishing Kenyan contemporary literature.

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Mount Kenya

Mount Kenya is located in Kenya

Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya, and the second highest in Africa (after Mount Kilimanjaro). The highest peaks of the mountain are Batian (5,199 m - 17,058 ft), Nelion (5,188 m - 17,022 ft) and Lenana (4,985 m - 16,355 ft). Mount Kenya is located in central Kenya, just south of the equator, around 150 km (95 miles) north-northeast of Nairobi. The area around the mountain is protected in the Mount Kenya National Park, which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The National Park is around 620 km² (240 square miles), and receives up to 15,000 visitors every year.

The mountain is an extinct volcano standing alone, which last erupted between 2.6 and 3.1 million years ago. Its slopes include several different biomes; the lowest parts are dry upland forest, changing to montane forest of juniper and podocarpus at about 2,000 metres (6,600 ft), with a belt of bamboo at 2,500 m (about 8,000 ft) that changes to an upper forest of smaller trees covered with moss and "goat's beard" lichen. Above a distinct timberline at about 3,500 m (11,500 ft), there is an afroalpine zone, with its characteristic giant rosette plants. Twelve small glaciers may be found scattered among the complex of peaks, of which Batian and Nelion are the highest.

The missionary Johann Ludwig Krapf was the first European to report a sighting of Mount Kenya, in 1849. The first recorded ascent of Mount Kenya was made by Halford John Mackinder, Cesar Ollier and Josef Brocherel on 13 September 1899. The highest point (Batian) is a technical climb; the classic Diamond Couloir climbing route is a Grade IV of about 20 pitches, up to YDS 5.9 in difficulty. Nelion was first climbed by Eric Shipton in 1929, and Shipton and Bill Tilman completed the traverse of the ridge between the two highest peaks. Point Lenana, at 4,985 m (16,355 ft), can be reached by a hiking trail. Mount Kenya is best climbed in January or February on the south side and August or September on the north side.

Mount Kenya is home to one of the Global Atmosphere Watch's atmospheric monitoring stations.

On July 19, 2003, a South African registered aircraft, carrying 12 passengers and two crew, crashed into Mount Kenya at Point Lenana: nobody survived. This was not the first aircraft lost on the mountain; there is also the wreckage of at least one helicopter that crashed before 1972.

Mount Kenya was the second of the three highest peaks in Africa to be seen for the first time by European explorers. The first European to see it was Dr Johann Ludwig Krapf, a German missionary, from Kitui, a town 160 km (100 miles) away from the mountain. The discovery was made on 3 December 1849, a year after the discovery of Kilimanjaro.

Dr Krapf was told by people of the Embu tribe that lived around the mountain that they did not ascend high on the mountain because of the intense cold and the white matter that rolled down the mountains with a loud noise. This led him to infer that glaciers existed on the mountain. The Kikuyu confirmed these happenings.

Dr Krapf also noted that the rivers flowing from Mt Kenya, and other mountains in the area, were continuously flowing. This was very different from the other rivers in the area, which swelled up in the wet season and completely dried up after the rainy season had ended. As the streams flowed even in the driest seasons he concluded that there must be a source of water up on the mountain, in the form of glaciers. He believed the mountain to be the source of the White Nile.

In 1851 Krapf returned to Kitui. He travelled 40 miles closer to the mountain, but did not see it again. In 1877 Hildebrandt was in the Kitui area and heard stories about the mountain, but also did not see it. Since there were no confirmations to back up Krapf's claim people began to be suspicious.

Eventually, in 1883, Joseph Thomson passed close by the west side of the mountain and confirmed Krapf's claim. He diverted his expedition and reached 2743 m (9,000 ft) up the slopes of the mountain but had to retreat because of trouble with local people. However, the first true European exploration of the mountain was achieved in 1887 by Count Samuel Teleki and Ludwig von Höhnel. He managed to reach 4350 m (14,270 ft) on the south western slopes. On this expedition they believed they had found the crater of a volcano.

In 1892, Teleki and von Höhnel returned to the eastern side, but were unable to get through the forest.

Finally, in 1893, an expedition managed to ascend Mount Kenya as far as the glaciers. This expedition was travelling from the coast to Lake Baringo in the Rift Valley, and was led by Dr John W Gregory, a British geologist. They managed to ascend the mountain to around 4730 m (15,520 ft), and spent several hours on the Lewis Glacier with their guide. On his return to Britain, Gregory published papers and a narrative account of his achievements.

George Kolb, a German physician, made expeditions in 1894 and 1896 and was the first to reach the moorlands on the east side of the mountain. However, far more exploration was achieved after 1899 when the railway was completed as far as the site of Nairobi. Access to the mountain was far easier from here than from Mombasa on the coast.

On 28 July 1899, Sir Halford John Mackinder set out from the site of Nairobi on an expedition to Mt Kenya. The members of the expedition consisted of 6 Europeans, 66 Swahilis, 2 tall Maasai guides and 96 Kikuyu (Gĩkũyũ). The Europeans were Campbell B. Hausberg, second in command and photographer, Douglas Saunders, botanist, C F Camburn, taxidermist, Cesar Ollier, guide, and Josef Brocherel, guide and porter.

The expedition made it as far as the mountain, but encountered many difficulties on the way. The country they passed through was full of plague and famine. Many Kikuyu porters tried to desert with women from the villages, others stole from the villages which made the chiefs very hostile towards the expedition. When they reached the base camp on 18 August, they couldn't find any food, had two of their party killed by the local people, and eventually had to send Saunders to Naivasha to get help from Captain Gorges, the Government Officer there.

Mackinder pushed on up the mountain, and established a camp at 3142 m (10,310 ft) in the Höhnel Valley. He made his first attempt on the summit on 30 August with Ollier and Brocherel up the south east face, but they had to retreat when they were within 100 m (yds) of the summit of Nelion due to nightfall.

On 5 September, Hausberg, Ollier and Brocherel made a circuit of the main peaks looking for an easier route to the summit. They could not find one. On 11 September Ollier and Brocherel made an ascent of the Darwin Glacier, but were forced to retreat due to a blizzard.

When Saunders returned from Naivasha with the relief party, Mackinder had another attempt at the summit with Ollier and Brocherel. They traversed the Lewis Glacier and climbed the south east face of Nelion. They spent the night near the gendarme, and traversed the snowfield at the head of the Darwin Glacier at dawn before cutting steps up the Diamond Glacier. They reached the summit of Batian at noon on 13th September, and descended by the same route.

After the first ascent of Mt Kenya there were fewer expeditions there for a while. The majority of the exploration until after the First World War was by settlers in Kenya, who were not on scientific expeditions. A Church of Scotland mission was set up in Chogoria, and several Scottish missionaries ascended to the peaks, including Rev Dr J W Arthur, G Dennis and A R Barlow. There were other ascents, but none succeeded in summitting Batian or Nelion.

New approach routes were cleared through the forest, which made access to the peaks area far easier. In 1920, Arthur and Sir Fowell Buxton tried to cut a route in from the south, and other routes came in from Nanyuki in the north, but the most commonly used was the route from the Chogoria mission in the east, built by Ernest Carr. Carr is also credited with building Urumandi and Top Huts.

On 6 January 1929 the first ascent of Nelion was made by Percy Wyn-Harris and Eric Shipton. They climbed the Normal Route, then descended to the Gate of Mists before ascending Batian. On the 8 January they reascended, this time with G A Sommerfelt, and in December Shipton made another ascent with R E G Russell. They also made the first ascent of Point John. During this year the Mountain Club of East Africa was formed.

At the end of July 1930, Shipton and Bill Tilman made the first traverse of the peaks. They ascended by the West Ridge of Batian, traversed the Gate of Mists to Nelion, and descended the Normal Route. During this trip, Shipton and Tilman made first ascents of several other peaks, including Point Peter, Point Dutton, Midget Peak, Point Pigott and either Terere or Sendeyo.

In the early 1930s there were several visits to the moorlands around Mt Kenya, with fewer as far as the peaks. Raymond Hook and Humphrey Slade ascended to map the mountain, and stocked several of the streams with trout. By 1938 there had been several more ascents of Nelion. In February Miss C Carol and Mtu Muthara became the first woman and African respectively to ascend Nelion, in an expedition with Noel Symington, author of The Night Climbers of Cambridge, and on 5 March Miss Una Cameron became the first woman to ascent Batian.

During the Second World War there was another drop in ascents of the mountain. Perhaps the most notable of this period is that of three Italian Prisoners of War, who were being held in Nanyuki, and escaped to climb the mountain before returning to the camp and "escaping" back in. No Picnic on Mount Kenya tells the story of the prisoners' exploit.

In 1949 the Mountain Club of Kenya split from the Mountain Club of East Africa, and the area above 3,400 m (11,150 ft) was designated a National Park. A road was built from Naro Moru to the moorlands allowing easier access.

Many new routes were climbed on Batian and Nelion in the next three decades, and in October 1959 the Mountain Club of Kenya produced their first guide to Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro. In the early 1970s the Mount Kenya National Park Mountain Rescue Team was formed, and by the end of the 1970s all major routes on the peaks had been climbed.

In 1997 Mount Kenya was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The main tribes living around Mount Kenya are Gĩkũyũ, Meru, Embu and Maasai. They all see the mountain as an important aspect of their cultures.

The Gĩkũyũ live on the southern and western sides of the mountain. They are agriculturalists, and make use of the highly fertile volcanic soil on the lower slopes. The Gĩkũyũ people believe that their God, Ngai lived on Mount Kenya when he came down from the sky. They believe that the mountain is Ngai's throne on earth. It is the place where Gĩkũyũ, the father of the tribe, used to meet with their God, Ngai. They used to build their houses with the doors facing the mountain. The Gĩkũyũ name for Mount Kenya is 'Kĩrĩ Nyaga' (Kirinyaga), which literally translates to 'the shining mountain'. God's name in Kikuyu is also 'Mwene Nyaga' meaning 'owner of the ostriches'. It can also be construed to mean ' possessor of light/brightness' in reference to the light reflected from the white glaciers on the mountain.

The Embu people believe that Mount Kenya is the home of their God, Ngai. The mountain is sacred, and they build their houses with the doors facing towards it. The Embu name for Mount Kenya is Kirenia, which means mountain of whiteness. The Embu people are closely related to the Mbeere people. They are more of like the same. They are the settlers of the windward side of the Mountain. This is a rocky semi dry area.

God bless our children, let them be like the olive tree of Morintat, let them grow and expand, let them be like Ngong Hills like Mt. Kenya, like Mt. Kilimanjaro and multiply in number.

The Ameru occupy the East and North of the Mountain. They are generally agricultural and also keep livestock and occupy what is among the most fertile land in Kenya. The Meru name for Mt. Kenya is Kirimara (That which has white stuff or snow). Some Meru songs refer to 'Kirimara no makengi' (The mountain is all speckles.) Other poem like songs imply that the mountain belongs to various sub-groups of the community. The Meru God murungu was from the skies.

The first Europeans to visit Mount Kenya often brought members of other tribes as guides and porters. Many of these people had never experienced the cold, or seen snow and ice before. Their reactions were often fearful and suspicious.

Another trait of the Zanzibari character was shown at the same camp. In the morning the men came to tell me that the water they had left in the cooking-pots was all bewitched. They said it was white, and would not shake; the adventurous Fundi had even hit it with a stick, which would not go in. They begged me to look at it, and I told them to bring it to me. They declined, however, to touch it, and implored me to go to it. The water of course had frozen solid. I put one of the pots on the fire, and predicted that it would soon turn again into water. The men sat round and anxiously watched it; when it had melted they joyfully told me that the demon was expelled, and I told them they could now use this water; but as soon as my back was turned they poured it away, and refilled their pots from an adjoining brook.

Mackinder's expedition of 1899 met some men from the Wadorobo tribe. They were at about 3,600 m (12,000 ft), and are an example of a tribe that use the mountain for normal purposes.

The glaciers on Mount Kenya are retreating rapidly. The Mountain Club of Kenya in Nairobi has photographs showing the mountain when it was first climbed in 1899, and again more recently, and the retreat of the glaciers is very evident. Descriptions of ascents of several of the peaks advise on the use of crampons, but now there is no ice to be found. There is no new snow to be found, even on the Lewis Glacier (the largest of them) in winter, so no new ice will be formed. It is predicted to be less than 30 years before there will no longer be ice on Mount Kenya.

The area of glaciers on the mountain was measured in the 1980s, and recorded as about 0.7 km² (0.25 square miles). This is far smaller than the first observations, made in the 1890s.

The flora and fauna of Mount Kenya is very diverse, due to the differences in altitude, rainfall, aspect and temperature. The mountain slopes are often split up into zones, with each zone having different dominant plant species. Most plants on Mount Kenya do not have common English names. Wet weather on the mountain comes from the Indian Ocean, to the east and south-east. Consequently these slopes are wettest.

The area surrounding the mountain is around 1000 m (3,250 ft) in height. It is very hot and dry, and mainly covered with grasslands and thorny scrub.

The lower slopes of the mountain have a huge potential for cultivation. The soils are moist and very fertile due to volcanic activity. The slopes below 1,800 m (5,900 ft) are intensively farmed, producing tea, coffee, beans, maize, bananas, potatoes and vegetables. A few large scale farms have been set up, where wheat and barley are grown. Livestock are also kept in less productive areas, particularly cows for their milk.

The crops grown around the mountain differ, as the amount of rainfall between the northern and southern slopes is very different. The southern slopes are much wetter, so are ideal for growing tea and coffee, whereas the northern slopes are too dry for these crops. A system of irrigation has been developed which has increased productivity. However, as so many people in Kenya are dependent on the rainfall on the mountain, this is reducing the amount of water that gets to more distant areas and causing drought there.

Between 1,800 and 2,500 m (5,900-8,200 ft) there is sub-montane forest, which is exploited by the local people. There are many forest based industries, such as sawmills, furniture and construction, based around these slopes.

The lower limit of the forest is between 2,000 and 2,500 m (6,550-8,200 ft). Here again, there are differences in the vegetation on different aspects of the mountain. On the south-east slopes the dominant species is Ocotea usambarensis, which can grow up to 45 m (150 ft). Mosses, lichens and ferns also grow here.

On the northern slopes the dominant species is the East African juniper Juniperus procera. This can be over 30 m (100 ft) tall and is used as softwood timber. Also used as timber is Podo, Podocarpus milanjianus, which can grow to 45 m (150 ft). The African Olive Olea africana is common in drier forest and at lower elevations. Schefflera is similar to strangler figs, where it starts as an epiphyte and kills the host tree. Common shrubs are elderberry Sambucus africanus, and raspberry. Herbs are common in the forest. Most common are clover (Trifolium), Shamrock pea (Parochetus communis), sunflecks (Guizotia reptans), balsams (Impatiens spp.), mints (Leonotis spp.and Plectranthus spp.) and stinging nettles (Urtica massaica).

Many species of animals live in the montane forest. Some are residents, and others visit from the surrounding land. Various species of monkeys, several antelopes, tree hyrax and some larger animals such as elephant and buffalo all live in the forest. Zebra are only found on the northern slopes, where the forest belt is narrowest. Some rare species, such as the giant forest hog, suni, and mountain bongo are found here. Predators include hyena and leopard, and occasionally lion. Many bird species are also found here, including turacos, francolins and hornbills. Various types of sunbirds, parrots, swallows and mountain buzzards are common. At the Met Station, on the Naro Moru route, the Green ibis (Mesembrinibis cayennensis) and Abyssinian ground-thrush are found, both of which are rare. Also on the Naro Moru route buffalo have been observed digging the soil with their horns and eating it. This is probably because of the iron in the soil, which is necessary for adaptation to altitude.

The bamboo zone is found in the middle of the forest zone. It is entirely natural, and not the result of deforestation. Bamboo is very dependent on rainfall. For this reason it is very sparse in the north, and in some places absent entirely. In the west the bamboo can grow up to 9 m (30 ft), and in the wetter south-eastern slopes it can grow as high as 15 m (50 ft). Bamboo suppresses other vegetation, but there are scattered trees in this zone, including juniper, podocarpus, and witch-hazel, plus varieties of flowers, ferns and mosses.

As bamboo is not palatable to most animals, there is very little resident fauna here. However, there are many tracks through the bamboo made by large animals such as buffalo and elephant on their way between the forests and the moorland higher up the mountain.

The timberline forest is usually found between 3,000 and 3,500 m (9,850-11,500 ft), although it extends to lower altitudes on the drier slopes. Smaller trees dominate in the timberline forest, and the characteristic trees are African rosewood (Hagenia abyssinica) and Giant St John's Wort (Hypericum). The common flowers are red-hot poker (Kniphofia thomsonii), giant forest lobelia (Lobelia bambuseti) and violets (Viola spp.).

Heathland and chaparral are found between 3,200 and 3,800 m (10,500-12,500 ft). Heathland is found in the wetter areas, and chaparral is found in the drier ones. Most of the plants in these areas are shrubs with small leaves. The dominant plants in the heathland areas are Erica, which can grow to over 10 m tall. In chaparral the plants are often shrubbier and more aromatic, such as African sage (Artemisia afra) and sugarbush (Protea kilimanjaro).

Herbs found in the heathland and chaparral zone are gentians (Swertia spp.) and sedges (Carex spp.), with alpine species living higher up in the zone.

Animals in this zone are a mixture of forest and alpine species. There are few resident large animals in this zone, but rats, mice and voles live at this altitude, and their predators, the eagles, buzzards and kites, are present. Herds of eland are sometimes found, and occasional lions, but there are no longer rhino on Mount Kenya.

The Afro-alpine zone starts at about 3,800 m (12,500 ft). It is characterised by thin dry air and a huge temperature fluctuation.

Plants are subject to solifluction, where needle-ice is produced every night. This ice uproots seedlings and can damage roots. Some plants have evolved to live without roots, such as lichens and moss-balls. Giant groundsel (Senecio keniodendron) and Lobelia keniensis have spongy areas between the cells in their leaves where water can freeze every night without damaging the plants. When these plants are subjected to temperatures above 15°C (59°F), photosynthesis is considerably reduced.

There are three kinds of giant rosette plants; Carduus, Senecio and Lobelia. Carduus keniensis, the giant thistle, is endemic to Mount Kenya and the Aberdares. Giant groundsels, Senecio spp. (or "Dendrosenecio"), are only found on East African mountains. They have leaves up to 1 m (3 ft) long, and some species have arborescent (treelike) stems.

Senecio keniodendron is endemic to Mount Kenya. It is a giant rosette plant, and can grow up to 6 m (20 ft) tall. It tends to grow in dense groups of even-sized plants, and flowers every 5-20 years, often in synchrony across the population.

Two species, Senecio keniodendron and Senecio keniensis are separated by altitude and topography. S. keniodendron occurs more frequently with increasing elevation above 3,900 m (12,800 ft) and up to 4,500 m (14,750 ft), whereas S. keniensis occurs mainly below 4,000 m (13,000 ft) and very rarely above 4,200 m (13,750 ft). At intermediate elevations, S. brassica occurs mainly on the wetter valley bottoms, and S. keniodendron mostly on the drier slopes. Where the two species come in close proximity, hybrids are not uncommon.

Also present are Carex monostachya, Agrostis trachyphylla, Carduus platyplyllus, Arabis alpina, Senecio keniophytum and Lobelia telekii.

There are giant grass tussocks - Festuca pilgeri in wetter areas and Pentaschistis minor in drier areas.

Senecio keniensis, Lobelia keniensis and tussock grasses are dominant in the wetter areas. The Alchemilla species A. cyclophylla, A. argyrophylla and A. johnstonii are dominant in the drier areas.

There are over 100 species of wildflowers in the Afro-alpine zone including everlastings (Helichrysum spp.), buttercups (Ranunculus orephytes), sunburst (Haplocarpha rupellii) and African gladiola (Gladiolus thomsoni). Because of variation in flowering times, some species are in flower at all times of year.

On the alpine slopes there are plenty of birds. Many species of sunbirds live here, as well as alpine chats, starlings, wagtails and birds of prey such as auger buzzard, lammergeier, Mackinders's eagle owl, and Verreaux's eagle (which specializes on hunting rock hyrax). Birds pollinate Lobelia species.

There are also butterflies, but there are not bees, wasps, fleas or mosquitoes. Trout have been introduced to the streams and tarns and are now found all around the mountain.

Smaller mammal species live in the Afro-alpine zone, including the groove-toothed rat, giant mole-rats, various African dormice and rock hyrax. Few large mammals are found at this altitude. Eland and zebra are found in dry areas, and common duiker are found throughout the alpine zone. Buffalo, elephant and hyena are also visitors.

The only common large mammalian carnivore in the Afro-alpine zone is the leopard, although leopard, lion and hyena have all been seen on Point Lenana.

The nival zone is the area above most vegetation. On Mount Kenya this area is usually above 4,500 m (14,750 ft). There are still scattered giant groundsels, Helichrysum and Lobelia, as well as a few other plant species. Buffalo, elephant, leopard and hyena have all been seen in this zone, although very infrequently.

There are eight walking routes up to the main peaks. Starting clockwise from the north these are the: Meru, Chogoria, Kamweti, Naro Moru, Burguret, Sirimon and Timau Routes. Of these Chogoria, Naro Moru and Sirimon and used most frequently and therefore have staffed gates. The other routes require special permission from the Kenya Wildlife Service to use.

This route leads from Katheri, south of Meru, to Lake Rotundu following the Kathita Munyi river. It does not lead to the peaks, but up onto the alpine moorland on the slopes of the mountain.

This route leads from Chogoria town up to the peaks circuit. The 32 km (20 miles) from the forest gate to the park gate are often done by vehicle, but it is also possible to walk. There is much wildlife in the forest, with safari ant columns crossing the track, monkeys in the trees, and the potential for seeing elephant, buffalo and leopard. The road is not in good condition, and requires careful driving and walking. Near the park gate the bamboo zone starts, with grasses growing to 12 m high (40 ft).

Once in the park the track passes through rosewood forests, with lichens hanging from the branches. At one point the path splits, with the smaller track leading to a path up the nearby Mugi Hill and across to Lake Ellis.

Near the trackhead a small bridge crosses the Nithi stream. Following the stream downriver a few hundred metres (yards) leads to The Gates Waterfall. The path heads up a ridge above the Gorges Valley, with views to the peaks, Lake Michaelson, The Temple, and across the valley to Delamere and Macmillan Peaks. Hall Tarns are situated right on the path and above a 200 m (700 ft) cliff directly above Lake Michaelson.

As the path carries on it crosses the flat head of the Nithi River and then the slope steepens. The path splits, heading west to Simba Col, and south west to Square Tarn. These are both on the Peak Circuit Route.

This route follows the Nyamindi West River. The route is restricted, if it still exists. It is not mentioned in the official guidebook published by the Kenya Wildlife Service, so it may no longer be passable.

This route is taken by many of the trekkers who try to reach Point Lenana. It can be ascended in only 3 days and has bunkhouses at each camp so a tent is not necessary. The terrain is usually good, although one section is called the Vertical Bog.

The track starts in Naro Moru town and heads past the Park Headquarters up the ridge between the Northern and Southern Naro Moru Rivers. At the roadhead is the Meteorological Station, to which it is possible to drive in the dry season. The route drops down into the Northern Naro Moru Valley to Mackinder's Camp on the Peak Circuit Path.

This route has restricted access. It starts in Gathiuru, and mainly follows the North Burguret River, then continues up to Hut Tarn on the Peak Circuit Path.

This route starts 15 km (9 miles) east around the Mount Kenya Ring Road from Nanyuki. The gate is 10 km (6 miles) further along the track, which can be walked or driven by two-wheel drives.

The track climbs up through the forest. On the north side of the mountain there is no bamboo zone, so the forest gradually turns into moorland covered with giant heather. The track ends at Old Moses Hut and becomes a path. This continues up the hill before splitting into two routes. To the left, the least used path goes around the side of the Barrow, to Liki North Hut. The vegetation becomes more sparse, with giant lobelia and groundsels dotted around. The path climbs over a ridge, before rejoining the main path ascending the Mackinder Valley. Shipton's Cave can be found in the rock wall to the left of the steep path just before reaching Shipton's Camp.

From Shipton's Camp, it is possible to ascend the ridge directly in front of the camp to the site of Kami Hut, which no longer exists, or follow the river up to Lower Simba Tarn and eventually to Simba Col. These are both on the Peak Circuit Path.

This is a path around the main peaks, with a distance of about 10 km (6 miles) a height gain and loss of over 2000 m (6,600 ft). It can be walked in one day, but more commonly takes two or three. It can also be used to join different ascent and descent routes. The route does not require technical climbing.

Most of the peaks on Mount Kenya have been summited. The majority of these involve rock climbing as the easiest route. The grades given are UIAA alpine climbing grades.

Caretakers are present at most huts, but not all. The huts range from very basic (Liki North) with little more than a roof, to luxurious with log fires and running water (Meru Mt Kenya Lodge). Most huts have no heat or light, but spacious with dormitories and communal areas. They also offer separate accommodation for porters and guides. The communal areas of the huts can be used by campers wishing to retreat from the weather or to store food away from the hyaena and hyraxes.

Mount Kenya received its current name by Krapf who sighted it in 1849 although the spelling has changed from Kenia to Kenya. It is unclear what native word of which tribe Krapf recorded. Various tribes have different names for the mountain. The Kĩkũyũ call it Kirinyaga, which means white or bright mountain. The Embu call it Kirenia, or mountain of whiteness. The Maasai call it Ol Donyo Eibor or Ol Donyo Egere, which mean the White mountain or the speckled mountain respectively. The Wakamba call it Kiinyaa, or the mountain of the ostrich. The male ostrich has speckled tail feathers, which look similar to the speckled rock and ice on the mountain.

Krapf was staying in a Wakamba village when he first saw the mountain. Krapf however recorded the name as both Kenia and Kegnia. According to some sources, this is a corruption of the Wakamba Kiinyaa. Others however say that this was on the contrary a very precise notation of a native word pronounced ˈkenia. Nevertheless, the name was usually pronounced /ˈkiːnjə/ in English.

It is important to note that at the time this referred to the mountain without having to include mountain in the name. The current name Mount Kenya was used by some as early as 1894, but this was not a regular occurrence until 1920 when Kenya Colony was established. Before 1920 the area now known as Kenya was known as the British East Africa Protectorate and so there was no need to mention mount when referring to the mountain. Mount Kenya was not the only English name for the mountain as shown in Dutton's 1929 book Kenya Mountain. By the 1930s Kenya was becoming the dominant spelling, but Kenia was occasionally used. At this time both were still pronounced ˈkiːnjə in English.

Kenya achieved independence in 1963, and Jomo Kenyatta was elected as the first president. He had previously assumed this name to reflect his commitment to freeing his country and his pronunciation of his name resulted in the pronunciation of Kenya in English changing back to an approximation of the original native pronunciation, the current ˈkɛnjə. So the country was named after the colony, which in turn was named after the mountain as it is a very significant landmark. To distinguish easily between the country and the mountain, the mountain became known as Mount Kenya with the current pronunciation ˈkɛnjə.

The peaks of Mount Kenya have been given names from three different sources. Firstly, several Maasai chieftains have been commemorated, with names such as Batian, Nelion and Lenana. These names were suggested by Mackinder, on the suggestion of Hinde, who was the resident officer in Maasailand at the time of Mackinder's expedition. They commemorate Mbatian, a Maasai Laibon (Medicine Man), Nelieng, his brother, and Lenana and Sendeyo, his sons. Terere is named after another Maasai headman.

The second type of names that were given to peaks are after climbers and explorers. Some examples of this are Shipton, Sommerfelt, Tilman, Dutton and Arthur. Shipton made the first ascent of Nelion, and Sommerfelt accompanied Shipton on the second ascent. Tilman made many first ascents of peaks with Shipton in 1930. Dutton and Arthur explored the mountain between 1910 and 1930. Arthur Firmin, who made many first ascents, has been remembered in Firmin's Col. Humphrey Slade, of Pt Slade, explored the moorland areas of the mountain in the 1930s, and possibly made the first ascent of Sendeyo.

The remaining names are after well-known Kenyan personalities, with the exception of John and Peter, which were named by the missionary Arthur after two disciples. Pigott was the Acting Administrator of Imperial British East Africa at the time of Gregory's expedition, and there is a group of four peaks to the east of the main peaks named after governors of Kenya and early settlers; Coryndon, Grigg, Delamere and McMillan.

The majority of the names were given by Melhuish and Dutton, with the exception of the Maasai names and Peter and John. Interestingly Pt Thomson is not named after Joseph Thomson, who confirmed the mountain's existence, but after another J Thomson who was an official Royal Geographical Society photographer.

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Source : Wikipedia