Capital | Nairobi
Population | 41,070,934 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 582,650 SQ KM
Official Language | Kiswahil, English
Holidays | Independence Day, 12 December (1963); Madaraka Day, 1 June; Mashujaa Day, 20 October
Currency | Shilling (KES)
Time Zone | UTC +3
Best Time to Visit | January to February, the hottest and driest months
Connecting with the Culture | Taking a safari-- by mini-bus, 4WD, truck, camel, small plane, or hot-air balloon. Experiencing the wildebeest mass migration—the sight and sound of a million hoofs on the move with a host of eager predators in hot pursuit. Winding down a notch or ten with a lazy spell in other-worldly Lamu. Taking the Nairobi—Mombasa night-train for a taste of the old-colonial experience.
Read | Isak Dinesen’s epic settler account, Out of Africa.
Listen | to benga, the contemporary dance music of Kenya, by Shirati Jazz, Victoria Kings, and Them Mushrooms.
Watch | Robert Redford and Meryl Streep in the big-screen version of Out of Africa or the equally tear-jerking screen-translation of Kiki Guillman’s I Dreamed of Africa.
Eat | nyama choma, literally ‘roasted meat’ of any shape or form, but usually goat.
Drink | Tusker—elephant beer
In a Word | Jambo (hello)
Characteristics | Spear-bearing Maasai warriors; wiry marathon runners; strong-blend coffee; man-eating lions; gin-soaked old colonials; Nairobbery.
Surprises | Nairobi’s cosmopolitan population mix and its western-style skyscrapers and suburban sprawl; the shadowy, medival architecture of spice-infused Swahili Lamu and old-town Mombasa and Malindi.