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Kenya's population agglomerates tribes, cultures, religions and languages. According to what we know today, the country's human map was started 6,000 years ago, when the native inhabitants of this land were first invaded by the northern Nilotic and Cushite peoples. Then came the Bantus, followed by the Arabs, Asians, Europeans... The skin colours of the Kenyans cover all the range of clears and darks.

The 43 million Kenyans are distributed in a very uneven way throughout the country, given that the north and northeast regions are arid and little hospitable for human settling. In this regions, population density hardly reaches 2 inhabitants per km², whereas in the rich and fertile western the rate rises to 120 inhabitants per km². In the Rift Valley, denisty varies among areas, with an average around 13 inhabitants per km².

Most of the Kenyans dwell in the Highlands, where the climate is mild. Urban population is 22% of the total (2010) and is concentrated in a few large cities, mainly in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru and Kisumu. The rural population is confined to the fertile areas and lives on agriculture, that absorbs 75% of the labor force. Unemployment reaches 40%.

Kenya's population is mostly black. The different tribes are grouped according to their linguistic origin. Around 65% of the total belong to bantu tribes, dwelling in the Central Highlands, the southeast and the coastal regions. The nilotic 30% settle in the southwest and the central Rift Valley region, whereas the 3% cushites inhabit the northern areas. The population spectrum also comprises some minorities, such as Asians, Arabs and Europeans. This diversity is the cause for most Kenyans speaking more than one language. The native tongues persist, but Swahili is the common language for all East Africa. English is official and Kenyans learn it at school.

Diversity is a source of wealth, but also of conflicts. Despite the government's efforts to inspire in Kenyans the idea of one united people with a common destiny, the truth is that in Kenya, as in many other African countries, the feeling of nation applies mainly to one's own tribe. Many Kenyans, especially those who do not have the chance to receive education, do not yet assume the concept of state. The Maasai land was split by the arbitrary border between Kenya and Tanzania, little more than one hundred years ago. Time remorselessly tears apart the destinies of the Maasais at either side of the border, but the collective memory still keeps the notion of one people. Thus, the Maasais find it difficult to understand why the way to their cousins' villages is cut by an imaginary line. Even today, penetration of a tribe within other tribe's territory is received with distrust at the very least, and frequently with hostility.

The following is a summary of the general facts about Kenya's population. Data are from The CIA World Factbook and are estimated for 2012 unless indicated.

Population: 43,013,341 (July 2012)

Population structure by ages:

    0-14 years: 42.5% (male 9,176,000/ female 9,120,710)
    15-64 years: 54.8% (male 11,765,106/ female 11,787,917)
    Over 64 years: 2.7% (male 512,921/ female 650,687)

Population growth rate: 2.444%

Birth rate: 31.93 births/1,000 population

Death rate: 7.26 deaths/1,000 population

Migration rate: -0.23 migrants/1,000 population

Population structure by gender:

    At birth: 1.02 males/female
    Less than 15 years: 1.01 males/female
    15-64 years: 1 male/female
    Over 64 years: 0.79 males/female
    Total population: 1 male/female (2011 est.)

Child death rate: 43.61 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth:

    Total population: 63.07 years
    Males: 61.62 years
    Females: 64.55 years

Natality rate: 3.98 children born/woman

Ethnic groups:

    Kikuyu: 22%
    Luhya: 14%
    Luo: 13%
    Kalenjin: 12%
    Kamba: 11%
    Kisii: 6%
    Meru: 6%
    Other Africans: 15%
    Non Africans (Asians, Europeans and Arabs): 1%


    Protestants: 45%
    Catholics: 33%
    Indigenous religions: 10%
    Muslims: 10%
    Others: 2%

Languages: English (official), Kiswahili (official), numerous local languages

Literacy: (able to read and write over 14 years, 2010 est.)

    Total population: 87.4%
    Males: 90.6%
    Females: 84.2%


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