People have lived in Kenya for over three million years. It is the cradle of humankind. The trade routes through Kenya have been fought over for centuries, but the country is now independent. Over the past 500 years, the British, Arabs and Portuguese colonists left evidence of their presence. The British built railroads, such as the East African Railway, for the transportation of cash crops like coffee and tea. The Arabs left their mark on the language and customs of the coastal areas. Modern Swahili is heavily influenced by the Arabic and the Portuguese languages. The Arabs also brought Islam and many Kenyans today are Muslim. The Portuguese built the historic Fort Jesus on the coast, now a popular tourist site.
The Mau Mau Rebellion of 1952 and the nationalist movement throughout the 1950s led to the overthrow of British colonial rule in 1963. Tired of working hard for little reward, the Kenyans wanted to be in charge of their own future.

Today Kenya is culturally diverse. People have come to Kenya from many parts of Africa, such as present-day Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, Ethiopia and other areas. Problems like drought and war have plagued these countries. Some residents have fled to Kenya in search of a better life.

Modern Kenya is run by an elected government. The President is Daniel Arap Moi, who succeeded Mzee Kenyatta after his death in 1978. Moi has since been re-elected four times. The Kenyan national motto is Harambee, which means "let's pull together". It's also the name for a type of community effort that involves singing and feasting while working together, often to build a school or clinic. In Canada this would be like traditional barn raising, where everyone in the area helps to build a new barn and a large dinner follows. The response to harambee is nay which means "follow the footsteps", and this phrase is so often used by President Moi that it has become his nickname.
Did you know?

Some of the oldest human remains in the world have been found in Kenya. Near Lake Turban, anthropological finds indicate that humans lived in the area 2.6 million years ago.