Safari is Swahili for "journey" and it is in Kenya where safaris began. Magnificent national parks and reserves brim with wildlife. Lush forests and breathtaking mountains provide awe inspiring photographic opportunities. Fascinating tribal cultures abound and the amazing variety and quantity of bird life are an ornithologist's paradise. The massive Great Rift Valley is no more impressive than in Kenya. The 310 miles of golden beaches of the Kenyan Coast invite the visitor to relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. The small islands off the coast beckon.
But it is perhaps the wildlife more than anything that draws visitors to Kenya. The annual migration from the Serengeti in the south into the Masai Mara sees more than one million wildebeest, along with a host of other plains game, assemble in giant herds. Kenya boasts some of the finest reserves in Africa - and visitors will be thrilled at the sight of lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, giraffe, gazelle, buffalo, hippo, rhino - and hundreds more.
Kenya's history pre-dates the stone and iron ages. Archaeological evidence has been unearthed to suggest that some two million years ago, ancestors of the genus Homo Habilis and Homo Erectus roamed an area in the very north of Kenya, around Lake Turkana. Hominid fossil finds dating back two million years have earned Kenya the title of "The Cradle of Mankind".
Today's Kenyan population is almost all immigrants whose ancestors arrived in Kenya less than 10 thousand years ago. The Cushites from the North arrived first, followed by the Nilotes who entered Kenya from the west of Lake Turkana, and finally the Bantu, who arrived from the south and west around 1000 A.D.
Arabs arrived on the Kenyan coast during the third and fourth century, and encountered strong resistance from the local inhabitants. Lamu was the center of the first Arab settlement, which then spread south. The European settlement was led by the Portuguese. In 1895, Kenya was declared a British Protecorate and remained as such until 1920 when it became a colony of the British Empire.
Today, Kenya is an independent Republic within the Commonwealth having gained independence from Britain in 1963. There are 45 main ethnic groups of people in Kenya and over 140 sub groups.
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