In 2019 Kenya had an average population density of 89
residents per km2. However, due to ecological
conditions and the availability of arable land, the
population is unevenly distributed; about 75 percent live on
10 percent of the country's area. About half of the
population is found in southwestern Kenya, in the area
around Lake Victoria and in the eastern, central and western
By 2019, the proportion of urban population was 32
percent. The largest cities in 2010 were the capital Nairobi
(3.2 million residents), the port city of Mombasa (917,800)
and Kisumu (275,300).
Countryaah, Kenya's indigenous population consists of more than 60
ethnic groups, which are usually categorized according to
language: Bantu-speaking, Nilotic-speaking and
In the arid and semi-arid areas of the northeast, mainly
Kushite-speaking people live. Several of these - for example
Somalis (2.3 million) and Oromo (164,000) - are livestock
keepers and fully or partially nomadic. In the more fertile
central parts of the country live diet-speaking, mainly
agricultural groups, such as kikuyu (6.7 million), kamba (4
million) and meru (1.7 million).
The groups that speak Nilo-Saharan languages are found
in the western parts of the country. Among these are the
livestock massages (840,000) in the southwest and Turkana (1
million) in the northwest. The Nilotic peoples also include
the agricultural Luo (4 million, the country's second
largest population group), the so-called Kalenjin group
(over 4 million) and Pokot (370,000), who live on the slopes
around Mount Elgon and carry on both livestock management
and agriculture. There are some small enclaves of hunter and
gatherer people, including okiekwhich disintegrates in the
sogoo in the Mauskogen in western Kenya as well as the
Chinese around the village of Kinare in Kenya. Only a few
still speak their own languages. At the mouth of the Tana
River lives the dahalo (400), who until recently lived as
hunters. In the Ija district in the northwestern parts of
the country is another hunter group called awaar or boni
(3,500). In northern Kenya there is another hunter and
gatherer group, waata (2,000). They used to be elephant
hunters, but now work at oromonomads.
Despite the diversity of ethnic groups, ethnic conflicts
have in the real sense until recently been rare. The
national languages Swahili and English have sought to
establish a national Kenyan culture.
In Kenya, some 55 native languages are spoken, which
can be divided into three groups representing three of the
four major language families in Africa. The first consists
of twenty-five bantu languages (zones E, G and J) in the
Niger-Congo languages. The largest of these are kikuyu (17%
of the population), luhya (14%) and kamba (10%). The second
group consists of fifteen Nilotic languages, representing
the Nilo-Saharan language family, the largest of which are
Kalenjin (13%) and Luo (10%). The third includes fifteen
Cushitic languages within the Afro-Asian language family.
The largest among these are Somali (6%).
Swahili is the dominant interpersonal language, while
English is the administrative language. See also Population
and Ethnography above.
Christianity was established early in Kenya and today
comprises about 80% of the population. Of these, just over
half are Protestants (including members of the Anglican
Church of Kenya) and the rest are Catholics. In 2010, there
were over one hundred different religious communities. Among
these, the Pentecostal movement is one of the most
successful. It is estimated that around 15% of Kenya's
population participates in various Pentecostal
congregations. Nairobi is the administrative center for
several international Christian organizations, e.g. the All
Africa Conference of Churches important to ecumenical work.
It is unclear when Islam reached Kenya. Zanzibar in
present-day Tanzania has a Kufish inscription that tells of
the construction of a mosque 1107, which confirms that there
was a significant Muslim settlement. Estimates of the
proportion of Muslims in Kenya vary, but they are expected
to amount to about a tenth of the population. Most live in
coastal areas and on the border with Somalia.
Adherents of native traditional religion amount to about
9%. The proportion of Hindus, Sikhs and Baha'is is less than
Kenya's constitution is secular and together with other
laws religious freedom is guaranteed. In the country there
are qadi courts (cf. qadi), which decides on inheritance and
other family matters for Muslims. These courts existed
before the colonization of East Africa, but in 2010, their
legitimacy was challenged by members of the Supreme Court,
who said these courts were discriminatory, including.
because they were funded with state funds. In the new
constitution of 2010, qadid courts are subordinate to
judicial bodies such as the Supreme Court and the Court of
Both Christian and Muslim groups are allowed to broadcast
radio and television programs. Registered religious
communities have the right to apply for tax exemption.
Marriage between members from different Christian
communities is unproblematic. Conversely, Christians who
want to marry Muslims are expected to convert to Islam. Many
Muslims feel that they are discriminated against in a
society dominated by Christians, e.g. by deliberately
hindering the development of state and corporations in
Muslim-dominated areas, and counterterrorism laws have led
to Muslims being harassed.