For many people, Kenya is synonymous with wildlife and safaris. The country has been visited for centuries, first by the Arab traders who plied their trade up and down the eastern coast of Africa, and now by the hundreds of thousands of tourists who come to experience a taste of true African wilderness.
Today Kenya is home to over 70 tribal groups and, it is widely believed, it is also home to almost every major language in Africa. Kenya, like Uganda, straddles the equator. It is bordered to the north by the arid bushlands and deserts of Sudan and Ethiopia, to the east by Somalia and the Indian Ocean, to the south by Tanzania, and to the west by Lake Victoria and Uganda.
In the early 1960s, Kenya achieved independence from the colonial administration. The current population of Kenya is estimated at around 28 million. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, employing around 80% of the population and contributing to 50% of the country’s exports (led by coffee and tea). The principal food crops include maize, sorghum, cassava, beans and fruit. Needless to say, tourism is now Kenya’s largest export earner.
Established in 1891, the British protectorate of Nyasaland became the independent nation of Malawi in 1964. Malawi is a landlocked country sharing borders with Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia. Lake Nyasa or Lake Malawi, some 580 km long, is the country’s most prominent physical feature, stretching nearly the whole length of this lush country
The lowest point in the country is the junction of the Shire River (before it joins the great Zambezi) and the international boundary with Mozambique, where the elevation is just 37 m above sea level, and the highest point is just above 3,000 metres at Sapitwa on Mount Mlanje.
Lilongwe, the capital city, is situated in the centre of the country, but prior to 1975 Zomba, on the edge of the plateau, was known as the “most beautiful capital in the Commonwealth”. The economy of Malawi is predominately agricultural, with about 90% of the population living in rural areas. Agriculture accounted for nearly 40% of GDP and 88% of export revenues in 2001.
Known as the “Land of a Thousand Hills” or “Land of Gorillas in the Mist”, Rwanda is less than half the size of Scotland, but with three million more inhabitants. It’s tucked deep within the heart of Africa, over 1,500 kilometres away from the nearest sea port. Into this tiny frame it packs mountains, volcanoes, rivers, lakes, marshes, savannah and forests, including Nyungwe, the largest remaining single tract of montane forest in East and Central Africa.
Within a single day’s driving, the wildlife of Rwanda switches from savannah to mountain and forest species. The thickly forested slopes are one of the last remaining sanctuaries of the mountain gorillas and the plains of Akagera National Park are home to giraffe, buffalo and elephant.
The population density in Rwanda is very high and as a result much of the country is cultivated, and the terraced hillsides have been compared to those in Nepal or the Phillipines. Like many other countries in the region, Rwanda’s economy is largely agriculturally based, dominated by coffee which accounts for 75% of export income. Other principal food crops include plantain, , sweet potato, beans, cassava, sorghum and maize.
The United Republic of Tanzania is located on the East Coast of Africa, sharing borders with seven other countries: Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Malawi and Mozambique. The Tanzanian coastline is nearly 1,500 kilometres long, stretching alongside the sparkling blue Indian Ocean. Just off the mainland sits the legendary island of Zanzibar.
Tanzania, like many coastal countries in the tropics, is a country of contrasts. The altitudes range from sea level to the highest point on the continent of Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro at 5,895 metres. The country is a rich sanctuary for wildlife, including the great Serengeti National Park, (famous for its vast migratory herds of plains animals, notably wildebeest, zebra, eland and kudu) and Gombe National Park along Lake Tanganyika with small bands of chimpanzees.
Despite a richness in natural resources, agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, employing about 90% of the workforce, accounting for 57% of the Gross Domestic Product and 85% of exports. Staples are maize, rice and wheat. Main cash crops include coffee, (of which over 85% is grown by smallholders) cotton, tobacco, cashew nuts, tea and sisal. Zanzibar exports cloves and other spices.
Uganda is a land-locked country in East Africa, bordering Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Sudan. The country has seen a tremendous rate of progress and development in the past 15 years. Blessed with an ideal climate, Uganda is a lush country with an astounding amount of lakes, wetlands and rivers, and is the source of the mighty River Nile.
Uganda has a long tradition of coffee production – dating back more than 100 years – and is now ranked 2nd in Africa and 7th in the world for coffee production. It is the leading exporter of organic coffee in Africa. It is widely accepted that while Ethiopia is the original source of Arabica coffee, Uganda is the source of Robusta.
Coffee has been the largest single foreign exchange earner for the country since the 1970’s, and is based entirely on smallscale production. Robusta coffee accounts for 94% of the output, while Arabica coffee accounts for the remaining 6%. There are approximately 500,000 coffee farms in Uganda. About 25% of the entire country’s population, is dependent on coffee for their livelihood. Other exports from Uganda include cotton, fish, tea, tobacco, maize, beans, and sesame.
Zambia sits on an undulating plateau in South-Eastern Africa, bordered by eight different countries: Angola to the west, the Democratic Republic of Congo to the North- West, Tanzania to the North-East, Malawi to the East and Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the South. Most of Zambia is moist savanna woodland, and in the drier areas, especially the valleys of the Zambezi and Luangwa Rivers, the stout baobab trees grow, some of which are thousands of years old.
Since 1000 AD, Zambia has been populated by myriad tribal groups coming in from all of the neighbouring countries and kingdoms i.e.: Congo, the East African coast, and the Zulu nation and now there are about 35 different ethnic groups in Zambia, all with their own anguages.
Following Livingstone’s trip up the Zambezi in the mid 1850s, hunters and prospectors began coming in droves and much of the area, known at the time as Northern Rhodesia, came under the control of the British South Africa Company. Zambia achieved independence in 1963.
Zambia’s National Parks teem with wildlife, the most well-known being the South Luangwa, home of one of Africa’s largest elephant populations, and it appears that the country is rapidly becoming an adventure centre for tourists. Zambia is sometimes referred to as ‘the real Africa’. Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, continues to be a major draw – the town of Livingstone is experiencing something of a renaissance – with many of the activities centred around water sports on the Zambezi River. Zambia is rich in natural resources and mining is an important industry for the country.
Most farms include substantial areas of natural forest, indigenous trees and veldt (plains) grasses which provide both safe havens and safe passage for many indigenous species of wildlife, birds and insects.
The Republic of South Africa (also known by other official names) is a country located at the southern tip of Africa. It borders the Atlantic and Indian oceans and Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho, an independent enclave surrounded by South African territory. South Africa is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The South African economy is the largest in Africa and 24th largest in the world. Due to this it is the most socially, economically and infrastructurally developed country on the continent.
South Africa has experienced a different history from other nations in Africa because of early immigration from Europe and the strategic importance of the Cape Sea Route. European immigration began shortly after the Dutch East India Company founded a station at what would become Cape Town, in 1652. The closure of the Suez Canal during the Six-Day War highlighted its significance to East-West trade.
The country’s relatively developed infrastructure made its mineral wealth available and important to Western interests, particularly throughout the late nineteenth century and, with international competition and rivalry, during the Cold War. South Africa is ethnically diverse, with the largest Caucasian, Indian, and racially mixed communities in Africa. Black South Africans, who speak nine officially recognized languages, and many more dialects, account for slightly less than 80% of the population.
Livestock is the largest agricultural sector in South Africa, with a population of some 13.8-million cattle and 28.8-million sheep. Stock breeders concentrate on the development of breeds that are well adapted to diverse climatic and environmental conditions.
Discovered by the Portuguese in 1505, Mauritius was subsequently held by the Dutch, French, and British before independence was attained in 1968. A stable democracy with regular free elections and a positive human rights record, the country has attracted considerable foreign investment and has earned one of Africa’s highest per capita incomes. Recent poor weather and declining sugar prices have slowed economic growth, leading to some protests over standards of living in the Creole community.
Since independence in 1968, Mauritius has developed from a low-income, agriculturally based economy to a middle-income diversified economy with growing industrial, financial, and tourist sectors. For most of the period, annual growth has been in the order of 5% to 6%. This remarkable achievement has been reflected in more equitable income distribution, increased life expectancy, lowered infant mortality, and a much-improved infrastructure. Sugarcane is grown on about 90% of the cultivated land area and accounts for 25% of export earnings. The government’s development strategy centers on expanding local financial institutions and building a domestic information telecommunications industry. Mauritius has attracted more than 9,000 offshore entities, many aimed at commerce in India and South Africa, and investment in the banking sector alone has reached over $1 billion. Mauritius, with its strong textile sector and responsible fiscal management, has been well poised to take advantage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).