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Kenya Country Guide

  1. CountryFacts
  2. Health
  3. Media
  1. Intro
  2. Geography
  3. People
  4. Travel
  5. Embassies & Visas
  6. Finance
  7. Cities/Regions

Quick Facts

Region: Africa
Full Name: Republic of Kenya
Capital City: Nairobi
Language Spoken: English (official), Kiswahili (official), numerous indigenous languages

Kenya Travel Insurance

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Geographic data

1 00 N, 38 00 E

Elevation Extremes

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m highest point: Mount Kenya 5,199 m

Land boundaries

total: 3,477 km border countries: Ethiopia 861 km, Somalia 682 km, Sudan 232 km, Tanzania 769 km, Uganda 933 km

Natural hazards

recurring drought; flooding during rainy seasons

Natural resources

limestone, soda ash, salt, gemstones, fluorspar, zinc, diatomite, gypsum, wildlife, hydropower

Land use

arable land: 8.01% permanent crops: 0.97% other: 91.02% (2005)

Environmental current issues

water pollution from urban and industrial wastes; degradation of water quality from increased use of pesticides and fertilizers; water hyacinth infestation in Lake Victoria; deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; poaching

Climate

The coastal areas are tropical, but tempered by monsoon winds. The lowlands are hot but mainly dry, while the highlands are more temperate with four seasons. Nairobi has a very pleasant climate throughout the year due to its altitude. Near Lake Victoria, the temperatures are much higher and rainfall can be heavy. Required clothing Lightweight cottons and linens with rainwear are advised for the coast and lakeside. Warmer clothing is needed in June and July and for the cooler mornings on the coast. Lightweights are needed for much of the year in the highlands. Rainwear is advisable between March and June and October and December.

Time difference

time difference: UTC+3

Population

34,707,817 note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2006 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 42.6% (male 7,454,765/female 7,322,130) 15-64 years: 55.1% (male 9,631,488/female 9,508,068) 65 years and over: 2.3% (male 359,354/female 432,012) (2006 est.)

Median age

total: 18.2 years male: 18.1 years female: 18.3 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate

2.57% (2006 est.)

Birth rate

39.72 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate

14.02 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population note: according to the UNHCR, by the end of 2005 Kenya was host to 233,778 refugees from neighboring countries, including Somalia 153,627, Sudan 67,556, Ethiopia 12,595 (2006 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 48.93 years male: 49.78 years female: 48.07 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate

4.91 children born/woman (2006 est.)

Business Practices

Lightweight suits are recommended for all occasions. Prior appointments are necessary. Although Swahili is the national language, English is the official language and is widely spoken. In general, Kenya business executives are relatively informal and open. The use of first names at an early stage of a business relationship is acceptable. Friendship and mutual trust are highly valued, and once trust has been earned, a productive working relationship can usually be expected. Local distributors/representatives should serve as a good source of local market requirement information and as appraisers of product market acceptance. In most instances, mail, fax or telephone communications is sufficient, but the understanding developed through periodic personal visits is the best way to keep distributors appraised of new developments and to resolve problems quickly. Prompt acknowledgment of correspondence by airmail or fax is recommended. Office hours are 0800-1300 and 1400-1700 Monday to Friday. Banking hours are from 9:00 am to 3:00 PM. In Mombasa, offices usually open and close half an hour earlier.

Crime

There is a high rate of street crime in downtown Nairobi, Mombasa and at coastal beach resorts. Reports of attacks against tourists by groups of two or more armed assailants continue. Pickpockets and thieves also carry out "snatch and run" crimes near crowds. Visitors have found it safer not to carry valuables, but rather to store them in hotel safety deposit boxes or safe rooms. Thieves routinely snatch jewelry and other objects from open vehicle windows while motorists are either stopped at traffic lights or in heavy traffic. Armed vehicle hijackings are common in Nairobi, but can occur anywhere in the country. Armed robbers in the capital steal some four or five vehicles every day. Although these attacks are often violent, victims are generally injured only if they resist. There is also a high incidence of residential break-ins. Thieves and con artists have been known to impersonate hotel employees, police officers or government officials. Thieves on buses and trains may steal valuables from inattentive passengers. Passengers on intercity buses should not accept food or drink from a new acquaintance, even a child, as such food or drink may contain narcotics used to incapacitate a victim and facilitate a robbery. Highway banditry is common in much of North Eastern Province, significant portions of Eastern Province, the northern part of Coast Province, and the northern part of the Rift Valley Province--areas that are remote and sparsely populated. Incidents also occur occasionally on Kenya's main highways, particularly after dark. Air travel is the safest means of transportation when visiting any of the coastal resorts north of Malindi. Walking alone or at night in public parks, along footpaths or beaches and in poorly lit areas can be dangerous. There have been recent attacks on ships in the vicinity of Kenyan waters, in particular near the Kenya-Somalia border. Mariners should be vigilant. The Kenyan mail system can be unreliable, and monetary instruments (credit cards, checks, etc.) are frequently stolen. International couriers have proven to be the safest means of shipping envelopes and packages. Scams against unsuspecting tourists and foreign-looking residents on foot, are prevalent in and around the city of Nairobi. Many of these involve persons impersonating police officers and using fake police ID badges and other credentials. In one of the latest scams, a tourist was stopped by someone who appeared to be a beggar telling a "sob story." The tourist agreed to purchase a cup of coffee for the beggar. The tourist was then approached by "police officers" who told him that he was seen talking with a drug dealer/counterfeit suspect and demand money from the victim. Con artists may park their cars on the side of a road, pretending that they broke down, and rob persons who stop to offer assistance.

Hotels

Many of Nairobi's hotels are up to top international standards, and some of them are very much in the colonial style. Cheaper hotels are also available. Hotel bills must be paid in foreign currency, or in Kenyan Shillings drawn from an external, shipping or an airline account. Accommodation in Kenya is divided into groups by Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers & Caterers: town hotels, vacation hotels, lodges and country hotels. Within each group, grading is according to amenities and variety of facilities. The rating is subject to the fulfilment of strict requirements concerning technical equipment, comfort, services, sanitation and security.

Communications

Telephone: IDD service is available to the main cities. The country code is 254 (followed by 2 for Nairobi, 11 for Mombassa and 37 for Nakuru). The outgoing international code is 000. Fax services are available to the public at the Main Post Office and the Kenyatta International Conference Center in Nairobi, and at some major hotels in Nairobi and Mombassa. Post offices are open 0800-1700 Monday to Friday and 0800-1300 Saturday.

Electricity

: 220/240 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are UK-type round 2-pin or flat 3-pin. Bayonet-type light sockets exist in Kenya. Electricity 220/240 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are UK-type square three-pin. Bayonet-type light sockets exist in Kenya.

Plug Types

G

Food And Dining

Kenya's national dishes appear on most hotel menus. The country's beef, chicken, lamb and pork are outstandingly good, as is the wide variety of tropical fruits. Local trout, Nile perch and lobster, shrimps and Mombasa oysters are included on menus in season. Indian and Middle Eastern food is available in most areas. There is a wide range of restaurants in Nairobi and Mombasa, otherwise hotels in smaller towns offer restaurant service.
National specialties:
? Some game-park lodges serve game, including buffalo steaks marinated in local liqueurs and berries, often garnished with wild honey and cream.
? Nyma Choma literally means roasted meat, and is one of Kenya's best known specialties.
? Most Kenyans eat maize, beans and maize meal.
? At the small 'hotelis', chai (tea boiled with milk and sugar) and mandazi (doughnuts) are popular. National drinks:
? Locally brewed beer (Tusker and White Cap) and bottled sodas may be found throughout the country.
? Kenya Cane (spirit distilled from sugar cane).
? Kenya Gold (a coffee liqueur).
? Traditional beer made with honey (uki).
? Locally made spirit distilled from maize (changaa) may sometimes be found.
Tipping:
This is not required. Most hotels include a 10 per cent service charge to the bill. If the service charge has not been included, a KES20 tip is usual, although the amount is entirely at the visitor's discretion.
Nightlife
Most of the major hotels in Nairobi and the tourist resorts have dancing with live bands or discos each evening. There are also a few nightclubs. There is a large selection of cinemas in Nairobi which show mainly British, European and US films. Theater is popular in Nairobi. There is a National Theater and several small groups of dramatic companies, probably the best known are the Phoenix Players.

Entry departure requirements

Visa immigration information

Passports

Passport valid for three months from date of entry required by all.

Visas

Required by all except nationals of the following:
(a) nationals of Commonwealth countries for stays of up to three months except those nationals listed in the chart above, and nationals of Bangladesh, Cameroon, Dominica, Guyana, India, Mozambique, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and St Kitts & Nevis who do require a visa;
(b) nationals of Ethiopia, San Marino, Turkey, Uruguay and Zimbabwe;
(c) nationals of Malaysia if staying less than 30 days;
(d) all holders of a re-entry pass to Kenya;
(e) transit passengers continuing their journey by the same or first connecting aircraft provided holding valid onward or return documentation and not leaving the airport.

Types of visa and cost

Entry: US$52 (single-entry); US$103 (multiple-entry). Transit: US$17
Note: If the application is referred to Immigration in Nairobi, an additional US$12 will be payable. Nationals of Rwanda will receive visas gratis.

Validity

Single-entry: up to three months from date of issue; Multiple-entry: up to 12 months from date of issue. Renewals (up to six months) or extensions can be made at Immigration in Nyayo House, Uhuru Highway, Nairobi or at Kisumu and Mombasa. The period of stay in Kenya can be given at the port of entry (maximum three months).

Note

Multiple-entry visas may only be issued to nationals of the United Kingdom.

Application to

Consulate (or Consular section at Embassy or High Commission); see Passport/Visa Information.

Application requirements

(a) Valid passport with at least one blank page. (b) Completed application form. (c) One recent passport-size photo. (d) Fee, payable by postal order or bank cheque if applying by post, or cash if applying in person. (e) Holiday itinerary or business letter. (f) For postal applications, include a self-addressed stamped, registered envelope for return of passport and daytime telephone number.

Working days required

Three (applying in person) or one week from date of receipt (postal applications). If the visa has to be referred to Nairobi it will take at least eight weeks.

Note

The following nationals will automatically be referred to the Principal Immigration Officer in Nairobi before a visa can be granted: nationals of Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Iraq, Jordan, Korea (Dem Rep), Lebanon, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, the Syrian Arab Republic and Tadjkistan.

Temporary residence

Apply to Principal Immigration Officer, PO Box 30191, Nairobi.

HIV entry requirements

No Test Required

Departure tax

None

Embassies

Kenya High Commission in the UK

45 Portland Place, London W1B 1AS, UK
Tel: (020) 7636 2371/5.
Website: http://kenyahighcom.org.uk/
Opening hours: Mon-Fri: applications 0930-1400, collections 1400-1530.

Kenya Embassy in the USA

2249 R Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA
Tel: (202) 387 6101.
Website: www.kenyaembassy.com
Kenya shares with neighboring countries a high threat from terrorism. Previous attacks have been against civilian or visibly Western targets where foreigners have been present. These have included bomb attacks on a hotel and a western Embassy, both of which resulted in significant loss of life, and an unsuccessful attempt to bring down a civilian airliner in Mombasa.
Recently there have been skirmishes and inter-clan fighting in the North Eastern Province, along the Somalia border. People have been killed. Travel in the northeast should only be undertaken with care and after consulting the police.
There have been a number of violent attacks and murders of non-indigenous residents in recent years. Muggings and armed attacks are also prevalent, particularly in Nairobi and Mombasa.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organizations for the latest travel advice:

British Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Website: www.fco.gov.uk

US Department of State

Website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html

 

Currency

Kenyan Shilling (KES) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of KES1000, 500, 200, 100 and 50. Coins are in denominations of KES20, 10 and 5.

Currency restrictions

There is no restriction on the import and export of local or foreign currency. However, authorization from the Central Bank is required for amounts of 500,000 KES and above.

Banking hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1500; 0900-1100 on the first and last Saturday of each month. National and international banks have branches in Mombasa, Nairobi, Kisumu, Thika, Eldoret, Kericho, Nyeri and in most other major towns. Banks in Mombasa and the coastal areas open and close half an hour earlier. Many of the banks and bureaux de change at the international airports open 24 hours every day.

Currency exchange

Currency can be exchanged at the major banks, bureaux de change or authorized hotels. The bank at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Moi International Airport have 24 hour exchange services. The easiest currencies to exchange are US Dollars, Pounds Sterling and Euros. There are over 140 ATMs.

Credit cards

American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are all widely accepted. Major hotels now also accept payment by credit card, as do major safari companies, travel agencies and restaurants. Check with your credit or debit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.

Travellers cheques

These can be changed at banks, and are widely accepted. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travelers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling.

City/RegionCity/Area codeFollowed by
Bungoma(0)55+ 5 digit subscriber nr
Eldoret(0)53+ 5/6 digit subscriber nr
Embu(0)68+ 5 digit subscriber nr
Garissa(0)46+ 4/6 digit subscriber nr
Homa Bay(0)59+ 5 digit subscriber nr
Kajiado(0)45+ 5/6 digit subscriber nr
Kakamega(0)56+ 5/6 digit subscriber nr
Karuri(0)66+ 5 digit subscriber nr
Kericho(0)52+ 5/6 digit subscriber nr
Kisii(0)58+ 5/6 digit subscriber nr
Kisumu(0)57+ 5/6 digit subscriber nr
Kitale(0)54+ 5 digit subscriber nr
Kwale(0)40+ 4/7 digit subscriber nr
Machakos(0)44+ 5/6 digit subscriber nr
Malindi(0)42+ 5/6 digit subscriber nr
Marsabit(0)69+ 4/5 digit subscriber nr
Meru(0)64+ 5/7 digit subscriber nr
Mombasa(0)125+ 5 digit subscriber nr
Murang'A(0)60+ 5/6 digit subscriber nr
Nairobi(0)2+ 6/8 digit subscriber nr
Naivasha(0)50+ 4/5 digit subscriber nr
Nakuru(0)51+ 5/6 digit subscriber nr
Nanyuki(0)62+ 5 digit subscriber nr
Nyahururu(0)65+ 5 digit subscriber nr
Nyeri(0)61+ 4/5 digit subscriber nr
Thika(0)67+ 5/7 digit subscriber nr
Voi(0)43+ 4/7 digit subscriber nr
  1. Health Information
  2. Recent Disease Outbreak
  3. Hospital Database

Dental care

Reasonable dental care is available in Nairobi and also Mombassa for emergency care, avoid treatment elsewhere in Kenya as the standards of care and hygiene cannot be guaranteed

Medication Availability

Some international medication is available from the larger pharmacies and hospitals in the larger towns and cities.

Blood supplies

Although the testing of blood products generally follow international standards in the Aga Khan and Nairobi private hospital, it is recommended blood transfusions are avoided in Kenya

Medical facilities

Adequate medical services are available in Nairobi.

General caution

Recent medical and dental exams should ensure that the traveler is in good health. Carry appropriate health and accident insurance documents and copies of any important medical records. Bring an adequate supply of all prescription and other medications as well as any necessary personal hygiene items, including a spare pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses if necessary. Drink only bottled beverages (including water) or beverages made with boiled water. Do not use ice cubes or eat raw seafood, rare meat or dairy products. Eat well-cooked foods while they are still hot and fruits that can be peeled without contamination. Avoid roadside stands and street vendors. Swim only in well-maintained, chlorinated pools or ocean water known to be free from pollution; avoid freshwater lakes, streams and rivers. Wear clothing which reduces exposed skin and apply repellents containing DEET to remaining areas. Sleep in well-screened accommodations. Carry anti-diarrheal medication. Reduce problems related to sun exposure by using sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, sunscreen lotions and lip protection.

Specific concerns

AIDS occurs. Blood supply may not be adequately screened and/or single-use, disposable needles and syringes may be unavailable. When possible, travelers should defer medical treatment until reaching a facility where safety can be assured.

Immunization

Cholera: Although limited in effectiveness, vaccination may be appropriate for persons living and/or working in less than sanitary conditions for more than 3 months where medical facilities are unavailable. Vaccination may also be appropriate for travelers with impaired gastric defenses who are planning an extended visit or being exposed to unsanitary conditions. Vaccination is not advised for pregnant women, infants younger than 6 months old, or persons with a history of severe reaction to the vaccine. Hepatitis A: Consider active immunization with hepatitis A vaccine or passive immunization with immune globulin (IG) for all susceptible travelers. Especially consider choosing active immunization for persons planning to reside for a long period or for persons who take frequent short-term trips to risk areas. The importance of protection against hepatitis A increases as length of stay increases. It is particularly important for persons who will be living in or visiting rural areas, eating or drinking in settings of poor or uncertain sanitation, or who will have close contact with local persons (especially young children) in settings with poor sanitary conditions. Hepatitis B: Vaccination is advised for health care workers, persons anticipating direct contact with blood from or sexual contact with inhabitants, and persons planning extended stays of 6 months or greater (especially those who anticipate using local health care facilities, staying in rural areas, or having intimate contact with the local population). Polio: A one-time booster dose is recommended for travelers who have previously completed a standard course of polio immunization. Refer to CDC guidelines for vaccinating unimmunized or incompletely immunized persons. Pregnancy is a relative contraindication to vaccination; however, if protection is needed, either IPV or OPV may be used, depending on preference and time available. Rabies: Preexposure vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 30 days who are expected to be at risk to bites from domestic and/or wild animals (particularly dogs), or for persons engaged in high risk activities such as spelunking or animal handling. Need for vaccination is more important if potential exposure is in rural areas and if adequate postexposure care is not readily available. Typhoid: Vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 3 weeks, adventurous eaters, and those who will venture off the usual tourist routes into small cities, villages and rural areas. Importance of vaccination increases as access to reasonable medical care becomes limited. Contraindications depend on vaccine type. Yellow fever: Vaccination is recommended for travelers over 9 months of age going outside of urban areas. Note: All routine vaccines (such as DTP or Td, Hib, MMR, polio, varicella, influenza and pneumococcal) should be kept up-to-date as a matter of good health practice unrelated to travel.

Disease risk summary

Standards of hygiene in Nairobi are good, although persons traveling to other areas may face some problems. Insect-borne diseases: are major causes of illness. Many diseases, including yellow fever, are endemic, with only scattered cases being reported and, from time to time, more extensive outbreaks. Dengue fever - occurs Filariasis - prevalent Leishmaniasis - occurs (both cutaneous and visceral types may be found, particularly in the drier areas) Malaria - prevalent Plague - occurs Relapsing fever - occurs Rift Valley fever - occurs Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) - occurs (human type - mainly in small, isolated areas - is reported) Typhus - occurs (louse-, flea-, and tick-borne types occur) Food-borne and water-borne illness: highly endemic. The dysenteries and diarrheal diseases, giardiasis, the typhoid fevers and viral hepatitis are widespread. Echinococcosis (hydatid disease) is widespread in animal-breeding areas. Cholera - occurs Dracunculiasis - occurs Helminthic (parasitic worm) infections - prevalent Schistosomiasis - common Other hazards: Diseases such as measles and diphtheria are commonly reported, and cases of polio still occur regularly. Influenza risk extends throughout the year. Meningococcal meningitis - occurs Marburg disease - occurs (this disease, also known as African hemorrhagic fever, is quite rare; while its reservoir is not known and its overall threat to travelers is small, it is apparently transmitted via direct contact with infected blood or other secretions, including semen) Rabies - occurs Trachoma - prevalent

Entry requirements

Cholera: None. (Contrary to its published requirement, however, the U.S. Embassy reports that cholera vaccination may occasionally, and without discernable pattern, be required for travelers arriving in Kenya from cholera-infected countries in Africa - if travelers have left the confines of the airport in the infected country.) Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travelers over 1 year of age coming from infected areas.

Recent disease outbreaks

No recent disease outbreaks

NameAddress
Acacia Medical Centre - RalphBunche Road General Accident House Ralph Bunche Road P.O. Box 61405 Nairobi
Acacia Medical Centre -Banda Street2nd Floor, ICEA Building Banda Street Nairobi
Aga Khan Hospital MombasaPO Box 83013 Mombasa
Aga Khan Hospital NairobiPO Box 30270 Third Avenue, Parklands Nairobi
Diani Beach HospitalP.O. Box 5074 Diani Beach
Gertrude's Garden Children's HospitalMuthaiga Road Nairobi
Gertrude's Garden Children's Hospital -Donholm Satellite Clinic Eastlands Nairobi
Gertrude's Garden Children's Hospital -Othaya Road Satellite Clinic 300 meters off Gitanga Road Othaya Road Lavington Nairobi
M. P. Shah HospitalShivachi Road Parklands Nairobi
Mombasa HospitalPO Box 90294 Mombasa
The Mater HospitalDunga Road PO Box 30325 Nairobi
The Nairobi HospitalArgings-Kodhek Road PO Box 30026 Nairobi
Upper Hill Medical CentreRalph Bunche Road P.O. Box 10619 - 00100 GPO Nairobi

Media

Kenya enjoys a more diverse media scene than many other African countries, although some media have been harrassed for upsetting the government. Most Kenyans rely on the broadcast media, particularly radio, for news. The print media is dominated by two publishing houses, the Nation Media Group and Standard, which also have broadcasting interests.
Press: The main dailies (all published in English) include Daily Nation, The East African Standard, Kenya Times and The People Daily. Taifo Leo is the only Swahili-language daily, published by the Nation Media Group. Nairobi is the main publishing center.
TV: State-owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) has channels in English and Swahili. Kenya Television Network was the first TV station to break the state broadcasting monopoly; it is available in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu. Nation TV is a Nairobi-based station operated by the Nation Media Group. Other private channels include: Nairobi-based station Citizen TV and Stella TV (STV).
Radio: Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) is state-owned, with language-based networks in English, Swahili and 15 other indigenous languages. Metro FM is a national music-based station operated by KBC. Coro FM is a KBC-operated Kikuyu-language station in Nairobi. Capital FM and Kiss FM are music stations. Radio Citizen is a private station with wide coverage which also operates Kikuyu-language Inooro FM and Luo-language. Full-time FM relays of the BBC World Service are on the air in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu, and some BBC programs 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 in Mombasa.

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