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People & Culture

People

Kenya has a population of more than 33 million people comprising of 42 ethnic groups, each with its own language and culture, as well as Asian, Arab and European Communities. Nairobi, the capital, is home to just under 4 million people.

Indigenous communities Indigenous Kenya people fall into three major linguistic groups;

Bantu – They live mainly in the coastal, central, and western regions of the country.  Traditionally they are agriculturalists. This group includes the Gikuyu, Luhya, Kamba, Embu, Meru, Kisii, Mijikenda, Mbeere, Kuria, Taveta, Taita, Pokomo, Bajuni, Boni and Sanye.

Nilotes – Nilotes are traditionally pastoralists and fishermen. They reside in the broad Rift Valley region of Kenya in and around the Lake Victoria region. They comprise three distinct groups:

River Lake Nilotes , the Luo, live around the Lake Victoria and practice fishing

Plain Nilotes, that is the Maasai, Samburu, and Turkana people are the pastoral tribes who have retained most of their traditional ways of life. They are mainly found on the Great Rift Valley where they practice nomadic pastoralism.

High Land Nilotes are the Kalenjin people, who live in the Western Highlands and due of their geographical positioning and good climatic condition, the Kalenjins practice both pastoralism and agriculture.

Cushites – They live in the arid and semi-arid eastern and northeastern parts of Kenya. They reside along a very large area of land that runs from the East of Lake Turkana, stretching out to the North of Kenya through to the Indian Ocean. They include the Somali, Rendile, Borana and the Oromo tribes. Because their habitat is very dry most of the year, they are mainly nomadic pastoralists who keep large herds of cattle, camels, goat and sheep. Cushitic people maintain very close ties with their kinsmen cushites of the neighboring countries of Somali and Ethiopia.


Other communities

Kenyan Asians – The Asian community in Kenya is largely Indian, descendants of the labourers brought in the 19th century to construct the Kenya-Uganda railway. They live in very close-knit societies and are among the most successful business people in Kenya.

Kenyan Arabs – Kenyan Arabs reside along the Kenyan Indian Ocean coastline. They descend from Yemeni, Omani, and Persian traders of the pre-colonial times. The Swahili people are an ethnic group that resulted from Arab-Bantu intermarriage.

Kenyan Europeans – The majority of Kenyan Europeans are of British origin, those who opted to become Kenyan citizens after the country’s independence in 1963. Most of them live a very private life with little involvement in political or public affairs. A number of them own large pieces of land in the Rift Valley province where they practice agriculture and ranching.


Religions

Protestants: 38%, Catholics : 28%, Indigenious religions : 26%, Muslims : 7%, Others : 1%

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