What is Kenya Known For? (16 Things It’s Famous For)

The Republic of Kenya is a country in the Eastern portion of Africa. The country spans an area of 580,367 square kilometers (224,081 square miles), making it the 48th largest country in the world by land area. According to the latest census, the country has more than 47.5 million residents, which makes it the 27th most populous in the world. The largest city and capital is Nairobi, which has around 4.4 million inhabitants. The country has more than 42 tribes, with the Maasai among the most popular. Kenya is also popular for its safari tours, as the variety of animals makes it a great destination.

Kenya is known for its excellence in Olympic sports such as long-distance running and athletics, its diverse and colorful culture, beautiful landscapes, brave tribesmen, and a variety of animals. The country also has terrific beaches and rivers and teeming with different food types. It is a leading safari destination.

Eliud Kipchoge,  the Man in Long-Distance Running 

Kenya is known as the home of long-distance runners, and Eliud Kipchoge happens to be among the best of them. Born on November 5, 1984, in Kapsisiywa, Kenya, Kipchoge made a name for himself on the world stage when he won all ten marathons he entered during the span of five years from 2014 to 2019. He is also the current marathon record holder with a time of two hours, one minute, and nine seconds. Kipchoge broke the one-hour marathon mark in 2019 in an assisted race in Vienna. He is also dubbed The Philosopher for his approach to life and running. 

Fena, a Multi-Awarded Kenyan Singer

Fena is a multi-awarded Kenyan singer-songwriter, rapper, and producer. Her real name is Fena Gitu, although she also goes by the monicker Fenamenal Woman. She is considered a highly inventive Kenyan artist and has been recognized by various African award-giving bodies for her hit songs. Her distinctive musical style spans genres such as Afro-Soul, Neo-Soul, and Hip Hop. Fena calls her music Urban Soul. Fena’s deep and resonating tones have resulted in several hit songs such as Fenamenal Woman, The Gitu Girls Christmas Special, and Back4th. In addition, she has released several albums, including Unleashed and Fenamenon.

Henry Wanyoike, a Legally Blind Paralympics Athlete

Henry Wanyoike is a special Kenyan long-distance runner as he is legally blind. He competes for Kenya in the Paralympics and marathon racing. Born on May 10, 1974, Wanyoike made a name for himself early in his career, excelling in the 5000 and 10000-meter races. However, his fortunes changed when he suffered a stroke on May 1, 1995, which left him legally blind. His condition didn’t deter him from competing in his pet races, although he had to race in the Paralympics. He set the world record for blind runners in the marathon with a mark of two hours, thirty-one minutes, and thirty-one seconds. 

Lupita Nyong’o Calls Kenya Home

When you think about Marvel’s Black Panther, you immediately think of Wakanda. However, most people also recognize the talent of Kenyan-Mexican artist Lupita Amondi Nyong’o who played Nakia, one of the pivotal characters in the film. Born on March 1, 1983, to Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o and Dorothy Ogada Buyu in Mexico City, she was raised in Kenya from the age of three. She attended college in the United States, earning a bachelor’s degree in film and theatre studies at Hampshire College. She has starred in 12 Years a Slave, voiced the character Raksha in Jungle Book, and also played the part of Maz Kanata in the Star Wars trilogy prequel. 

Irio, a Staple Kenyan Food 

One of the staples of the Kenyan diet is irio. Irio combines mashed potatoes, peas, and corn and is filling and delectable. The term means food in the Kikuyu language, and the recipe is also known as mukimo. Most chefs consider irio an elevated form of mashed potatoes because adding peas and corn provides a textural dimension that adds color to the finished product. In addition, different cooks add various ingredients such as onions, pumpkin leaves, spinach, and watercress to create a different appearance to the food. Regardless of the added ingredients, irio is one of the best side dishes in the Kenyan diet. 

The Popular Kenyan Big Five 

Kenya is known for its safaris and abundance of national parks and wildlife. There are 23 national parks on land and 4 marine parks, with 28 national and six marine reserves scattered throughout the country. Kenya is known for its Big Five animals – the African bush elephant, the lion, Cape Buffalo, the rhinoceros, and the leopard. These game animals are among the most sought-after by licensed safari tour operators who offer big game hunting services to the affluent. Unfortunately, they are also the most difficult to hunt on foot, and hunters coined the term during the African Colonial era. 

Among the Best Coffee in the World 

If you’re a coffeeholic, you know that one of the top five best coffees in the world comes from Kenya. Kenyan coffee is often described as having a rich body with intense flavor, high acidity, and a delightful aroma that captivates the senses. The coffee also boasts rich berry undertones from the black currant, which gives the coffee a distinctive characteristic. Kenyan coffee also boasts five Arabica varietals, namely, SL 28, SL 34, K7, Ruiru 11, and Batian, which is the product of experimentation to determine whether coffee can be immune from certain diseases. However, these varietals still offer the best flavor and intensity.

Mombasa is a Beautiful Coastline 

Mombasa is Kenya’s largest coastal city spanning 294.7 square kilometers. The area boasts four beaches – Bamburi, Nyali, Kikambala, and Shanzu. Different resorts dot the Mombasa coastline, offering various land and water-based activities such as diving, snorkeling, golf, tennis, squash, and fishing. Mombasa has almost 500 kilometers of pristine coastlines, making it one of the most popular tourist spots in the country. Mombasa is also the second largest city in Kenya, next only to the capital Nairobi and carries a historical significance. The area houses Fort Jesus and Old Town, which showcase Arabic, Portuguese, and British influence in architecture and lifestyle.

Mount Kenya is the Country’s Highest Peak

When you talk about the tallest mountains in Kenya, Mount Kenya comes to mind as it is the country’s highest mountain, and it also comes as the second tallest in the continent, next only to Mount Kilimanjaro. The highest mountain peak is in Batian, with a height of 17,057 feet, followed by Nelion, with 17,021 feet. Mount Kenya is also a volcano and was formerly covered with ice caps for thousands of years. This resulted in numerous valleys from the peaks and eroded slopes that characterize the landscape. UNESCO designated an area of 715 square kilometers around the center of the mountain as a World Heritage Site in 1997.

Mutura Is a Must-Try Food

If the Irishmen are known for their black pudding, the Kenyans aren’t far behind with their version known as mutura. It is a fire-grilled delicacy comprised either of goat, lamb, or cown intestines that are sewn together then stuffed with a mixture of ingredients bound with fresh blood and fats that will melt off when grilled. Culinary experts consider mutura among the global collection of blood sausages alongside the French boudin noir, Korean soondae, and Spanish morcilla. Most mutura is sold by roadside vendors who often pair the delicacy with kachumbari, a salad of onion, tomatoes, chilies, and parsley. 

The Spectacular Nairobi National Park 

Nairobi National Park is only a short drive away from the Nairobi business center, but it is as far and different a world as possible. Often dubbed as the world’s only Wildlife Capital, the park is situated in an area of 117 square kilometers with wide, open grass plains with scattered acacia bushes dotting the landscape. The park is home to various endangered wildlife, including the black rhino, cheetahs, hyenas, lions, leopards, giraffes, and buffaloes. It is also home to over 400 migratory and endemic bird species. Visitors can hike, camp, and enjoy the park’s beauty with guided tours and other available activities. 

Samburu National Park is a Good Game Reserve 

Kenya’s Samburu National Park is an acknowledged game reserve in the Ewaso Ng’iro River. On the other side of the river is the Buffalo Springs National Reserve, another area protected by various laws. Samburu National Park is 165 square kilometers in size and is about 350 kilometers from the country’s capital city of Nairobi, with an altitude ranging from 800 meters to 1230 meters above sea level. The park is the home of Kamunyak, the lioness famed in the area for adopting oryx calves. The park is also one of the two areas where conservationists Joy and George Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness, which was made famous in the film Born Free. 

The Tana River Is the Country’s Longest 

The Tana River is the longest in Kenya and is about 1,000 kilometers in length. The river’s catchment area measures around 100,000 square kilometers, and its tributaries include the Thika, the Ragati River, and other smaller rivers which flow only during the rainy season. The Kenyan government has constructed the Seven Forks Hydro Stations to harness the river’s energy and convert it into hydroelectric power, about two-thirds of the grid supply. The river meanders through several areas and irrigates the semi-arid area and the surrounding land, although researchers believe that global warming and climate change threaten the river’s flow.

The Internationally Renowned Maasai Tribes

The Maasai are among the more recognizable African tribes. They are renowned in the international community for their custom rituals, the high jumping dance, the colorful and diverse culture, and bravery in combat. They are also one of the tallest people in the world, with an average height of around 6.25 feet or 190.5 cm. They are nomadic people who rely on their herd for their needs. Most Maasai people continue to barter and trade with other tribesmen for different things, making their lives more comfortable. The Maasai men work for the herd while the women are tasked with domestic chores. 

The Delicious Ugali

One of Kenya’s staple recipes made from maize or corn flour is ugali. It is also known as sima or posho. Ugali can also be made with other types of flour, such as cassava, millet, or sorghum flour. The flour is cooked in boiling water or milk until it reaches a doughy consistency. UNESCO added ugali to the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2017, making it one of the few foodstuffs on the list. Ugali is typically eaten with grilled meat, kachumbari, onion, and tomato salad. It is a good source of carbohydrates, vitamin B, and minerals. 

Wangari Muta Maathai Brought Nobel Prestige 

Wangari Muta Maathai was the first woman from Central and Eastern Africa to earn a doctorate. She earned a degree in Biological Sciences from Mount St. Scholastica College in Kansas in 1964 before going to the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned her Master of Science degree in 1966. She pursued her doctorate studies in Germany and at the University of Nairobi, where she received her Ph.D. in 1971. She has assisted women in planting trees through the Green Belt Movement, resulting in more than 20 million trees being planted. She is also recognized for her efforts on human rights and democracy. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.