9 things you didn’t know about Kenya—this time for tourists, and those just curious

Did you know in 1980 the country had the world's youngest population? Neither did we.

1—KENYA’S tourism assets are breathtaking, from the world-recognised safaris to the mesmerising wildebeeste migration. You have the stunning Maasai Mara, alluring beaches, inspiring coral reefs, rich traditional cultures and simply beautiful fauna. Throw in the historic architecture of cities such as Lamu, urban culture such as its colourful matatus, delicious cuisine, warm people…we are only getting started but you get the picture.

2—LIKE many other countries, it has battled with poachers—long and determinedly. It was the first country to destroy stockpiled ivory, when in 1989, former President Daniel arap Moi torched a 12 tonne pyre of ivory tusks. Since then a number of countries have followed suit by destroying stocks including France, the USA, Belgium, Zambia, Gabon, the Philippines, Hong Kong and China who destroyed six tonnes in Guangzhou in 2014. The conservation message remains strong.

3:—- IT was the first African country to establish an Ecotourism Society, the first to set up a certification scheme to evaluate performance of hotels/lodges based on eco-principles, and the first African country to establish marine protected areas, the Malindi and Watamu Parks and Reserves established in 1968.

4—KENYA is famous for its world-beating marathon and long-distance runners—highlighted by its topping the recently-ended World Championships in Beijing—the first time an African country has led the medal table at the end of a major international athletics meeting. It is also a story of great consistency by the East African nation— only during the inaugural championships in 1983 in Finland did the country fail to pick up at least a gold medal. It is also the third most successful country in the games 32-year history, after the US and Russia, with 50 gold medals and 128 overall. And we are not started on its proud Olympic record, or the Commonwealth Games…

5—BUT just to add in some more details: the domination by Kenyan athletes are fascinating: Kenyans hold the Boston marathon records for men and women, have won virtually every single marathon at least once and have claimed two of the top three places in steeplechase in the IAAF World Championships (held every two years) since 1991, with the exception of 2003 where only one Kenyan made the podium.

6—KENYA was the first country to introduce Islamic banking in the Eastern and Central African region, a decade ago, as it embraced its rich diversity. According to the Kenya Bankers Association, Islamic banking is a system of conducting trade and banking activities in line with the principles of Islamic Shari’ah, avoiding prohibited activities such as interest or Riba, Gharar, financing of haram trade and businesses.

7—IT was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to establish a national family planning programme, launched in 1967. But its population remains a key resource: in over four decades it has nearly quadrupled in size, from 10.9 million in 1969 to almost 45 million people today. In 2050 it will have 95 million people. according to new UN data. And here’s a fact we are sure you did not know: In 1980 Kenya had the world’s youngest population, at a media of 15 years. In 2100 the median will be 37 years.

8: The Kenyan musical group, the Moipei Quartet, recently the became first non-Americans to sing the American anthem before the NBA playoffs, at a match between San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers in Texas. As an all-girls group, producing high art, in several ways they represent  one of the most important faces in both the shifting gender politics and the place of youth in cultural creation in modern Kenya and Africa.

9: Lupita Nyong’o. Need we say more of the Oscar-winning actress?

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