The Republic of Kenya lies on the equator with the Indian Ocean to the south-east, Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, South Sudan to the north-west, Ethiopia to the north, and Somalia to the north-east. Kenya covers 581 309 square kilometres and has a population of approximately 44 million people as of July 2012. With such a large population, Kenya is the powerhouse of East and Central Africa and one of Africa’s wealthiest countries. The African Great Lake Region which Kenya is part of has been inhabited by humans since the Lower Paleolithic period.
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 peak on the continent – Mount Kenya. The booming tourism industry is backed up by the fact that Nairobi is viewed as the commercial hub of the entire region and the economy has substantial links overseas due to impressive exporting of flowers, coffee and tea. The tourism industry is nevertheless the main source of the economy with the service sector accounting for approximately 65% of GDP.
With its scenic beauty and abundant wildlife, Kenya is one of Africa’s major safari destinations. The wide range of habitats, from lush grasslands, to riverine forests, to moorlands and semi-deserts, accounts for the variety of wildlife in Kenya. The considerable land devoted to wildlife habitats, including the Maasai Mara, contributes to prime viewing of the Big Five, an abundance of wild game and amazing birdlife.
The survival and abundance of Kenya's wildlife owes everything to one of Africa’s most innovative and successful conservation communities. Kenya pioneered the use of armed rangers to protect rhinos and elephants, stopping the emptying of its wilderness and bringing its wildlife back from the brink after the poaching holocaust of the 1970s and 1980s. More than that, in places like Laikipia and the Maasai Mara, private and community conservancies bring tourism together with community development and wildlife conservation in a near-perfect marriage.
Kenya’s Maasai Mara, along with the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania, is home to one of the greatest natural spectacles in the world. During the Great Migration one million wildebeest, 200 000 zebra and 400 000 gazelle move throughout the southern and eastern plains of the Serengeti
The follow in an indistinct clockwise direction between patches of fresh green grass as they follow the rains. The herds are followed by prides of lion, as well as spotted hyena, striped hyena, golden jackal, side-striped jackal and black-backed jackal.
Kenya’s climate varies from tropical along the coast to temperate inland to arid in the north and northeast parts of the county. There are two dominant influences on the climate: the onshore monsoon winds from the Indian Ocean and the altitude. The winds determine the onset of Kenya’s two rainy seasons. The ‘long rains’ come with the hot north-east monsoons blowing dry air in from the Persian Gulf from November to March and April, and the warm, moist monsoon coming in from the south-east from April or May to October. The ‘short rains’ are experienced only for a few weeks in November and December. The dry season is typically hot and rainless and experienced from mid-December to March.