In the WHI (world happiness index) of 2017 Kenya is not one of the 100th happiest countries, and holds place #112. According to the HPI, they rank a little higher, #83. Your first reaction might be ‘yes, I can imagine’. Doing some research for facts on Kenya we indeed quickly found out that Kenya, as many African countries, still faces some serious challenges. Yet, despite all of this, we have 12 remarkable facts on Kenya that make us believe Kenya deserves a spot within the 25 of the happiest countries in the world.
Not all facts on Kenya make you feel good. According to the research, unemployment percentages are high, the Kenyans have minimal access to health care, and the level of corruption is high. This differs from the list of remarkable statistics of for example Costa Rica. However, the WHI report also shows African youths are very optimistic for a bright future. The reasons for this are the rich mineral wealth, which has not been exhausted yet, and vast agricultural land provide unlimited opportunities according to youths.
Before we visited Kenya we had never spoken to a Kenyan and the only thing we knew was that the natural parks are breathtaking and that former president of the USA Mr. Obama has his roots here. After visiting Kenya and getting to know its history, its culture and traditions, and meeting the amazingly friendly and positive Kenyans we were a little confused.
It’s obvious that it is not in the top 10 of happiest countries because of the challenges, but not even in the top 100?!
How the Kenyans define happiness and what their secret to a happy life is you can read here. First, let’s have a look at some remarkable Kenyan facts!
Facts on Kenya
- Jambo Rafiki – Welcome my friend! We love the way this sounds when you are welcomed in Kenya. Greeting each other both friends and strangers are a fabric of the Kenyans social and cultural life. Whenever people meet, irrespective of whether they are acquaintances, they must greet each other, either through a raised hand, thumbs up or even the use of the most common words, “Jambo Rafiki.”
- People care for each other – Social life in Kenya is tied to companionship, hospitality, kindness and a willingness to help. The kind nature of the Kenyan people might be attributed to the setting and structures of families and communities. In Kenya, a child is brought up by the community and the society at large, and not just the family members alone. This makes it easy for people to develop feelings of concern and helpfulness towards others, strangers or not. This is one of the facts on Kenya we love the most.
- Hot or cold – One of the strangest facts on Kenya is that Kenyans usually drink their beverages hot or at room temperature. That’s why we always got the question: ‘do you want your Tusker warm or Ice cold sir?’. The first few times we got this question we thought it was a Kenyan joke…but their look told us they were bloody serious!
- How many cows – Before marriage Kenyans still pay a dowry to the bride’s family, which starts at 10 cows. Our tour guide Daniel (natural tours and safaris) tells us that this is to thank the family of the bride for raising up your wife and it shows respect. How many cows would you pay for your lover?!
- More wives problems – The men of Kenya are allowed to have more than one wife. The Masai village we visited close to the Masai Mara natural park, the leader has four wives and 23 children.
- Christians and Muslims live together peacefully – In Mombassa, the second largest city of Kenya on the east coast, we met Vincent. Vincent tells us that his parents and himself are Christians. His two brothers, however, are Muslims. They choose to become a Muslim after primary school. Its ok he says, it is their free will and if it makes them happy why not!
- Kenya is full of tropical forests – What you probably wouldn’t expect is that Kenya is also a green country full of tropical rainforests. Some of the largest rainforests include the Mau Forest within the Rift Valley and the largest indigenous montane forest in East Africa, and the Kakamega Forest. The Kakamega Forest is the only remnant in Kenya of the once great tropical rainforest that stretched across central Africa and is home to several hundreds of species of birds, snakes, monkeys, bushbucks, duikers, countless tree species and natural glades.
- A lot of water – Not only steppes and desserts but a good portion of land in Kenya is covered by water. Kenya has several lakes, both freshwater and salty The most famous are Lake Victoria, Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha and Lake Bogoria. Our favorite lake is Lake Nakuru. This lake is full of hippo’s and you can get so close to them you can almost touch them.
- The host of the second highest mountain in Africa – Mount Kenya at 5,199 meters (17,057 ft) is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second-highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro. There are 12 remnant glaciers on the mountain, all receding rapidly, and four secondary peaks that sit at the head of the U-shaped glacial valleys. With its rugged glacier-clad summits and forested middle slopes, Mount Kenya is one of the most impressive landscapes in East Africa. An area of 715 square kilometers (276 square miles) around the center of the mountain was designated a National Park and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
- Kenya has 536 kilometers of coastline – Kenya’s coastline is dotted with dazzling tropical beaches, each with its own character. The crystal clear waters of Indian ocean are ideal for surfing, kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving. Spending a few days at the abandoned beaches of the Diani beach strip will clear your mind for sure.
- The network of protected areas in Kenya covers about 12.4% of the national territory – It is made up of 23 national parks, plus nature reserves, game reserves and other types of protected areas. We have visited Amboseli, Lake Naivasha, Lake Nakuru and Masia Mara. The Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the top tourist attractions in Kenya and the country’s most popular game park. Each year the Masai Mara National Reserve is visited by thousands of tourists who come here to watch the exceptional population of game and the annual migration of zebra and wildebeest. The Great Migration takes place every year from July to October when 1.5 million of wildebeest and 200,000 zebras migrate from the Serengeti in Tanzania. FOTO MASAI MARA. Amboseli National Park, the second most popular animal park after Maasai Mara, is 260 kilometers (160 miles) from Nairobi, on the border with the neighboring country of Tanzania. Its magnificent situation at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, combined with its excellent opportunities to view Kenya’s animals, make it one of the most-visited safari parks in Kenya.
- Six UNESCO world heritage sites – These six UNESCO sites are Fort Jesus in Mombasa, the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa Lamu Old Town, the sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests, the Kenya Lake system in Great Rift Valley, Lake Turkana National Park and the Mount Kenya National Park. Eighteen sites, among which Lake Naivasha, Lake Nakuru, and the Mombasa Old Town, are on the tentative list.
These facts on Kenya turn out to relate to the definition of Happiness in Kenya.