Land and People
Kenya is a land of great natural splendor. Lush forests, vast open plains, blistering hot deserts, and snow-clad mountains grace this delightful land. It is home to more than a million wildebeests and the endangered rhino. One can also see large herds of giraffes moving across the grasslands.
Creatures of the air are abundant, from powerful soaring eagles to myriads of colorful songbirds that sweeten the air with their cheerful melodies. And who could overlook the elephants and the lions? The sights and sounds of Kenya are unforgettable.
Cutting through the area from north to south is the Great Rift Valley of Africa, a 6,400-kilometer-long (4,000 mi) valley in the earth’s crust. Along this valley are extinct volcanic mountains. The most famous of these is Mount Kilimanjaro. At almost 6,000 meters (20,000 ft), it is Africa’s highest mountain. Farther north is Mount Kenya. A paradox of topography, its base rests on the sunbaked equator, while its twin peaks are perpetually snow clad.
While most of Eastern Africa is tropical, the interior, consisting of high tablelands, is cool, compared with the hot coastal regions.
A Melting Pot of Cultures
Acting like a large magnet, Nairobi has attracted a wide spectrum of mankind. The population of the city now totals over three million. The completion of the railway gave a good reason for people to settle in the region. Indians who helped construct the line remained to establish businesses that grew and spread around the country. Other entrepreneurs followed from Australia, Canada, and several African lands.
Nairobi is a melting pot of cultures. In the streets one may encounter an Indian lady with a flowing sari, heading for the shopping mall; a Pakistani engineer, rushing to a construction site; an immaculately dressed flight attendant from the Netherlands, checking in at one of the hotels; or a Japanese businessman hurrying to a crucial business meeting at Nairobi’s thriving stock market. Added to this, local residents can be found waiting at bus stops; doing business at stalls, open-air markets, and shops; and working in offices or the many industries found in Nairobi.
Paradoxically, few of the Kenyans living in the city can be termed true “Nairobians.” Most have come from other parts of the country, searching for “greener pastures.” In all, the residents of Nairobi are friendly and welcoming.