Demographics of Kenya
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The demography of Kenya is monitored by the Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics. Kenya is a multi-ethnic state in the Great Lakes region of East Africa. It is inhabited primarily by Bantu and Nilotic populations, with some Cushitic-speaking ethnic minorities in the north. Its total population was estimated at 47 million as of 2017.
A national census was conducted in 1999, although the results were never released. A new census was undertaken in 2009, but turned out to be controversial, as the questions about ethnic affiliation seemed inappropriate after the ethnic violence of the previous year. Preliminary results of the census were published in 2010.
Kenya's population was reported as 38.6 million during the 2009 census compared to 28.7 million inhabitants in 1999, 21.4 million in 1989, and 15.3 million in 1979. This was an increase of 2.5 percent over 30 years, or an average growth rate of more than 3 percent per year. The population growth rate has been reported as reduced during the 2000s, and was estimated at 2.7 percent (as of 2010), resulting in an estimate of 46.5 million in 2016.
- 1 Ethnic groups
- 2 Languages
- 3 Population
- 4 Population statistics
- 5 Religion
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Kenya has a very diverse population that includes most major ethnic, racial and linguistic groups found in Africa. Bantu and Nilotic populations together constitute around 97% of the nation's inhabitants.
Kenya's largest ethnic group is the Kikuyu. They make up less than a fifth of the population. Since Kenyan independence in 1963, Kenyan politics have been characterized by ethnic tensions and rivalry between the larger groups. This devolved into ethnic violence in the 2007–2008 Kenyan crisis.
In Kenya's last colonial census of 1962, population groups residing in the territory included European, African and Asian individuals. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, Kenya had a population of 38,610,097 by 2009. The largest native ethnic groups were the Kikuyu (6,622,576), Luhya (5,338,666), Kalenjin (4,967,328), Luo (4,044,440), Kamba (3,893,157), Kisii people (2,205,669), Somalis (2,385,572), Mijikenda (1,960,574), Meru (1,658,108), Turkana (988,592), and Maasai (841,622). Foreign-rooted populations included Asians (81,791), Europeans (67,000), and Kenyan Arabs (40,760).
Arabs form a small but historically important minority ethnic group in Kenya. They are principally concentrated along the coast in cities such as Mombasa. A Muslim community, they primarily came from Oman and Hadhramaut in Yemen, and are engaged in trade. Arabs are locally referred to as Washihiri or, less commonly, as simply Shihiri in the Bantu Swahili language, Kenya's lingua franca. According to the 2009 Census, Kenyan Arabs number 40,760 people.
Kenyan Asians are descended from South Asian migrants. Significant Asian migration to Kenya began between 1896 and 1901 when some 32,000 indentured labourers were recruited from British India to build the Kenya-Uganda Railway. The majority of Kenyan Asians hail from the Gujarat and Punjab regions.The community grew significantly during the colonial period, and in the 1962 census Asians made up a third of the population of Nairobi and consisted of 176,613 people across the country.
Since Kenyan independence large numbers have emigrated due to race-related tensions with the Bantu and Nilotic majority. Those that remain are principally concentrated in the business sector, and Asians continue to form one of the more prosperous communities in the region. According to the 2009 Census, Kenyan Asians number 46,782 people, while Asians without Kenyan citizenship number 35,009 individuals. In 2017, they were officially recognised at the 44th tribe of Kenya.
Bantus are the single largest population division in Kenya. The term Bantu denotes widely dispersed but related peoples that speak south-central Niger–Congo languages. Originally from West-Central Africa, Bantus began a millennium-long series of migrations referred to as the Bantu expansion that first brought them to southeast Africa about 2,000 years ago.
Most Bantu are farmers. Some of the prominent Bantu groups in Kenya include the Kikuyu, the Kamba, the Luhya, the Kisii, the Meru, and the Mijikenda. The Swahili people are descended from Mijikenda Bantu peoples that intermarried with Arab and Persian immigrants.
Cushitic peoples form a small minority of Kenya's population. They speak languages belonging to the Afroasiatic family and originally came from Ethiopia and Somalia in northeastern Africa. Most are herdsmen and Muslim. Cushites are concentrated in the northernmost North Eastern Province, which borders Somalia.
The Cushitic peoples are divided into two groups: the Southern Cushites and the Eastern Cushites.
- The Southern Cushites were the second-earliest inhabitants of Kenya after the indigenous hunter-gatherer groups, and the first of the Cushitic-speaking peoples to migrate from their homeland in the Horn of Africa about 2,000 years ago. They were progressively displaced in a southerly direction or absorbed, or both, by the incoming Nilotic and Bantu groups until they wound up in Tanzania. There are no longer any Southern Cushites left in Kenya. (The Dahalo were originally pre-Cushitic peoples who adopted the language of their dominant Southern Cushitic neighbors sometime toward the last millennium BC.).
- The Eastern Cushites include the Oromo and the Somali. Of these, the Somali are the most recent arrivals to Kenya, having first come from Somalia a few centuries ago. After the Northern Frontier District (North Eastern Province) was handed over to Kenyan nationalists at the end of British colonial rule in Kenya, Somalis in the region fought the Shifta War against Kenyan troops to join their kin in the Somali Republic to the north. Although the war ended in a cease-fire, Somalis in the region still identify and maintain close ties with their kin in Somalia and see themselves as one people. An entrepreneurial community, they established themselves in the business sector, particularly in Eastleigh, Nairobi.
Europeans in Kenya are primarily the descendants of British migrants during the colonial period. Many are of aristocratic descent and still continue to wield significant influence, especially over Kenya's political elite. Since the Independence of Kenya, Britons and other Europeans in Kenya also continue to dominate the local business community. According to the 2009 Census, Kenyan Europeans number 35,000 people, while Europeans without Kenyan citizenship number 32,000 individuals.
Nilotes are the second-largest group of peoples in Kenya. They speak Nilo-Saharan languages and came to Southeast Africa by way of South Sudan. Most Nilotes in Kenya are herdsmen, and they have a fearsome reputation as warriors and cattle-rustlers. The most prominent of these groups include the Luo, the Maasai, the Samburu, the Turkana, and the Kalenjin. As with the Bantu, some of the Nilotes have adopted many customs and practices from the Cushitic groups, including the age set system of social organization, circumcision, and vocabulary terms.
Kenya's various ethnic groups typically speak their mother tongues within their own communities.The two official languages, English and Swahili, serve as the main lingua franca between the various ethnic groups. English is widely spoken in commerce, schooling and government. Peri-urban and rural dwellers are less multilingual, with many in rural areas speaking only their native languages.
According to Ethnologue, there are a total of 69 languages spoken in Kenya. Most belong to two broad language families: Niger-Congo (Bantu branch) and Nilo-Saharan (Nilotic branch), which are spoken by the country's Bantu and Nilotic populations, respectively. The Cushitic and Arab ethnic minorities speak languages belonging to the separate Afro-Asiatic family, with the Indian and European residents speaking languages from the Indo-European family.
According to the 2017 revision of the World Population Prospects, the total population was 48,461,567 in 2016 compared to 6,077,000 in 1950, and around 1,700,000 in 1900. The proportion of children below the age of 15 in 2010 was 42.5%, 54.9% between the ages of 15 and 65, and 2.7% was 65 years or older. Worldometers estimates the total population at 48,466,928 inhabitants, a 29th global rank.
|Year||Total population (x 1000)||Population aged 0–14 (%)||Population aged 15–64 (%)||Population aged 65+ (%)|
Population by province in 2009 census
|Kenya (country total)||38,610,097|
|Nairobi (capital city)||3,138,369|
Population by census year
Fertility and Births (Demographic and Health Surveys)
Total Fertility Rate (TFR) (Wanted Fertility Rate) and Crude Birth Rate (CBR):
|Year||CBR (Total)||TFR (Total)||CBR (Urban)||TFR (Urban)||CBR (Rural)||TFR (Rural)|
|1993||35,8||5,40 (3,4)||35,1||3,44 (2,5)||35,9||5,80 (3,7)|
|1998||34,6||4,70 (3,5)||33,6||3,12 (2,6)||34,7||5,16 (3,8)|
|2003||37,5||4,9 (3,6)||35,3||3,3 (2,6)||38,1||5,4 (3,9)|
|2008–2009 (census)||34,8||4,6 (3,4)||32,5||2,9 (2,5)||35,3||5,2 (3,7)|
|2014||30,5||3,9 (3,0)||31,0||3,1 (2,6)||30,3||4,5 (3,4)|
Fertility data as of 2014 (DHS Program):
|Region||Total fertility rate||Percentage of women age 15–49 currently pregnant||Mean number of children ever born to women age 40–49|
UN population projections
Numbers are in thousands. UN medium variant projections
- 2015 46,332
- 2020 52,563
- 2025 59,054
- 2030 65,928
- 2035 73,257
- 2040 80,975
- 2045 88,907
- 2050 96,887
Registration of vital events is in Kenya not complete. The Population Department of the United Nations prepared the following estimates. 
|Period||Live births per year||Deaths per year||Natural change per year||CBR*||CDR*||NC*||TFR*||IMR*|
|1950–1955||334 000||154 000||181 000||51.2||23.6||27.7||7.48||147|
|1955–1960||388 000||163 000||225 000||51.5||21.6||29.8||7.79||134|
|1960–1965||449 000||165 000||284 000||51.0||18.8||32.2||8.07||117|
|1965–1970||525 000||172 000||353 000||50.6||16.5||34.1||8.11||104|
|1970–1975||628 000||178 000||450 000||50.8||14.4||36.4||7.99||91|
|1975–1980||743 000||186 000||557 000||49.9||12.5||37.4||7.64||80|
|1980–1985||869 000||192 000||677 000||48.4||10.7||37.7||7.22||70|
|1985–1990||972 000||214 000||757 000||45.1||9.9||35.1||6.54||67|
|1990–1995||1 003 000||252 000||751 000||39.4||9.9||29.5||5.57||66|
|1995–2000||1 115 000||345 000||770 000||38.0||11.8||26.2||5.07||69|
|2000–2005||1 294 000||427 000||867 000||38.7||12.8||25.9||5.00||70|
|2005–2010||1 447 000||429 000||1 017 000||38.0||11.3||26.7||4.80||65|
|2010–2015||1 531 000||376 000||1 155 000||4.44|
|* CBR = crude birth rate (per 1000); CDR = crude death rate (per 1000); NC = natural change (per 1000); IMR = infant mortality rate per 1000 births; TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman)|
Births and deaths 
|Year||Population||Live births||Deaths||Natural increase||Crude birth rate||Crude death rate||Rate of natural increase||TFR|
|2009||698 447||178 352||520 095|
|2010||798 016||185 100||612 916|
|2011||771 150||182 652||588 498|
|2012||801 815||187 811||614 004|
|2013||870 599||194 332||676 267|
|2014||954 254||198 611||755 643|
|2016||948 351||189 930||758 421|
The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.
Total population is reported as 47.6 million as of July 2017.
As of 2015, 25.6% of the population was urban.
Like the demographics of Africa in general, Kenya is plagued by high infant mortality, low life expectancy, malnourishment (32%of population) and HIV/AIDS. While these concerns remain grave, a trend towards improvement is reported in the period of 2006 to 2010: Infant mortality was at estimated at 59.26 deaths/1,000 live births as of 2006, decreasing to 54.7 deaths/1,000 live births as of 2010. Life expectancy was estimated at 48.9 years as of 2006, and has risen to 64 years in 2012.
According to 2008–09 Kenyan government survey, total fertility was 4.6, contraception usage among married women was 46 percent. Total fertility rate has decreased 4.91 children per woman (2006 estimate), to 4.38 (2010 estimate). Literacy (age 7 and over) was estimated at 85.1% in 2003 (male: 90.6%, female: 79.7%).
|Period||Life expectancy in|
CIA World Factbook estimate:
- Christian 83%
- Islam 11.2%
- Traditionalists 1.7%
- Other 1.6%
- None 2.4%
- Unspecified 0.2%
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