Thanksgiving Point invites you to Travel the World this year – and our first stop is Kenya!

Located in East Africa, Kenya has breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural diversity. Uneart the wonders of this remarkable nation through these ten interesting facts about Kenya.

  1. Kenya is a Human Fossil Hotbed
    Often referred to as “The Cradle of Humanity,” Kenya holds some of the oldest human fossils ever discovered by paleontologists. Humanity’s earliest ancestors lived in the Olorgesailie region between 1.2 million and 500 thousand years ago in modern-day Kenya. The oldest known human fossil, the Turkana Boy, was found near Lake Turkana in Kenya. He is estimated to be roughly 1.5 million years old.
  2. The First African Woman to Win the Nobel Peace Prize is from Kenya
    Born in Kenya in 1940, Wangari Maathai achieved many firsts. At the University of Nairobi, she was a senior lecturer in anatomy, chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy, and an associate professor – the first woman to achieve any of those positions. Maathai would tremendously impact Kenya through her persistent fight for women’s rights, environmental preservation, democracy, and more. She famously created the Green Belt Movement, among many other influential initiatives, encouraging female farmers to plant trees and rewarding them for their environmental contributions. In 2004, Maathai received the Novel Peace Prize for her work in sustainable development, democracy, and peace.
  3. Many of the World’s Best Runners come from Kenya
    Kenya is home to the Kalenjin people – 11 culturally and linguistically related tribes indigenous to East Africa. Despite having less than 0.1% of the world’s population, the Kalenjin people have taken home nearly 50 Olympic gold medals in running events. A possible contributing factor to the Kalenjins’ tremendous success is that their children often run to school daily and reside at high altitudes.
  4. Mount Kenya is the Second-Highest Mountain in Africa
    Towering at 5,895 meters, or 19,340 feet, Mount Kenya is a volcanic mountain in central Kenya, holding the title of the second-highest mountain in Africa. Surpassed only by Kilimanjaro, the mountain’s diverse ecosystems include grasslands, dense forests, and high moorlands. Mount Kenya National Park is a haven for a wide range of wildlife, including elephants, leopards, rhinoceroses, and more.
  5. Nairobi is the Capital
    Nairobi, Kenya’s capital and largest city, is a vibrant metropolis with a rich blend of cultural, historical, and natural attractions. The city is known for its modern skyline against green landscapes, including the expansive Nairobi National Park, where visitors can spot African wildlife. Nairobi is a hub of cultural diversity, hosting numerous markets, museums, and galleries that showcase Kenya’s rich heritage.
  6. Kenya has 333 Miles (535 km) of Coastline
    Bordering the Indian Ocean, Kenya’s 333 miles of coastline is known for its white, sandy beaches, tropical water, and watersports such as snorkeling, fishing, and kite surfing. Travelers worldwide fly to catch some rays on Kenya’s beaches.
  7. Coffee is Kenya’s Biggest Export
    Kenya produces around 50 thousand tons of coffee beans yearly, which only continues to increase over time. Coffee production brings roughly 4.56 billion Kenyan shillings ($40.2 million) to the country’s economy. Economists estimate that about six million Kenyans are employed in the coffee industry.
  8. Football (Soccer) is Kenya’s Favorite Sport
    Football in Kenya is a widely embraced and passionately followed sport, serving as a significant cultural and social activity. The country boasts a vibrant football scene, with numerous clubs, leagues, and enthusiastic fans contributing to the sport’s popularity. The top-tier football competition, the Kenyan Premier League, showcases the country’s football talent and attracts support from communities across Kenya. Keyna’s national team, Harambee Stars, represents the nation in international competitions.
  9. Kenya’s National Animal is the Lion
    The East African Lion is Kenya’s national animal. Approximately 2,500 lions live in Kenya today. Lions are a charismatic species that symbolize courage and strength.
  10. There Are More Than 60 Different Languages Spoken in Kenya
    Kenya is home to over 60 indigenous languages, with English and KiSwahili being the official languages. Major local languages include Kikuyu, Luo, Akamba, and Maa, belonging to the Niger-Congo and Nilo-Saharan language groups. Each ethnic group in Kenya communicates in their mother tongue, while English is a common language in commerce, education, and government. In rural areas, native languages prevail, and multilingualism varies across communities.

Learn More About Kenyan Culture and Traditions

Ready to learn more? Embark on a journey through the heart of Africa by immersing yourself in an exhibit inspired by Kenya’s captivating culture at the Museum of Natural Curiosity’s Kenya’s Kids. As part of Thanksgiving Point’s Travel the World series, presented with The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum, this limited-time experience allows your little ones to delve into Kenyan culture. Children can stroll through the duka (a marketplace offering Kenyan treasures), master the rhythmic cadence of Swahili, and even “adopt” an orphan elephant. Kenya’s Kids provides an opportunity to explore the daily lives of Kenyan children, offering a unique glimpse into their traditions.

Kenya’s Kids at Thanksgiving Point