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Many fossils found around Turkana, Olorgasailie or Oldupai point to the theory that the history of mankind started in Kenya and Tanzania. The East African coast has been a centre of trade since early times. Exports included ivory, tortoiseshell and slaves. Over the centuries Arab merchants had a strong influence to the coastal towns. At the end of the 15th century  Vasco da Gama landed in Kenya and in the following the Portuguese tried to gain control of the Kenyan coast but were eventually driven off by  the Swahili and Omani Arab states. Slaves had been traded in Kenya for many years and with the spread of the British anti-slavery movement, a treaty was signed in the middle of the 19th century banning the export of slaves.

 In  the 1880s Africa was devided between the European countries. The British East African Protectorate was established in 1895 and a railway system was built opening up the country for colonisation. However anti-colonialist feeling spread among  the African peoples leading to revolts by the Kikuyu, the Kisii and the Maasai.  Four years before the first world war coffee-growing began on a large scale.  After the war the Soldier Settlement scheme gave land in the highlands to British ex-soldiers fuelling further resentment among Kenyans which increased as Kenya became a British colony in 1920.   The great depression of the 1930s caused economic problems in Kenya. At the end of the 1930s the second world war began and Abbysinia (Italian Ethiopia) declared war on Kenya. Kenyans fought with the King’s African Rifles contributing towards the success of the allied army in Africa. In 1952 the rise of Kenyan nationalism including the activities of the Mau Mau (an underground military movement opposed to British rule) led to a state of emergency. Many Kenyans were imprisoned, political leaders arrested and Dedan Kimathi, a Kenyan army commander was executed. Kenya finally achieved independence in 1963 and Jomo Kenyatta became the

Republic’s first president. By the end of the 1960s the new government’s Africanisation policy led to many of the Asian population leaving Kenya. On Jomo Kenyatta’s death in 1978 his vice-president Daniel Arap Moi became Kenya’s second president.



For many centuries Kenya traded with merchants from Arabia and parts of Asia. Today Kenya exports to its neighbouring countries linked to Kenya by road and rail. Other trading partners include the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Egypt, South Africa and the USA. Kenya has very few mineral resources but the beautiful country and abundance of wildlife has fuelled the tourist industry making tourism Kenya’s largest foreign currency earner.


At the end of the 1990s agriculture was affected by the weather phenomen El Nino, when rains destroyed crops in 1997 and 1998. Agricultural products include sugar cane, tea, coffee, corn, wheat, rice, pineapples and sisal. Pyrethrum (used in insecticides) is alsow grown. Kenyan industrial activities are the production of chemical products, cement, textiles, paper, beer, soft drinks, grain and sugar milling.




The major  (abt. 66 %) number of the population is christian. Islam and Hinduism is  practised mainly along the coast not forgetting the typical traditional religions of the various ethnic groups.