Kenya Physical Characteristics

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According to, Kenya is an east African state, extending across the equator. It borders to the North with South Sudan and Ethiopia, to the East with Somalia, to the SW with Tanzania, to the West with Uganda; for a stretch of 420 km, to the SE, it overlooks the Indian Ocean.

The morphology makes it possible to identify two types of different regions, namely the coastal one and that of the inner plateaus, the second separated from the eastern branch of the great depression of the Rift Valley, gigantic rift valley oriented in the NS direction that sinks, even for over 1000 m, to the crystalline base of the plateaus, of the Precambrian and Paleozoic age. The actual coast is a more or less thin strip of alluvial deposits: it is morphologically varied due to the presence of islands, which narrow seaways separate from the mainland, and delta prominences at the outlet of the waterways into the sea. Proceeding inland, you will come across a first level, on average around 250 m asl, from which you go up towards the eastern edge of the Rift Valley. This is a feature of the great East African system of fractures that formed in the Tertiary, accompanied by vertical movements of sinking and lifting of crustal blocks and by magmatic effusions to which the mighty volcanic cones and extensive lava expansions owe their origin. Among the volcanic buildings the cones of the mountains emerge here for their grandeur and altitude Kilimanjaro (5895 m, in Tanzania) and Kenya (5199 m). The latter’s mighty peak of effusive rocks stands isolated just to the South of the equator on a wide, gently sloping base covered with lush rain vegetation. The landscape therefore changes rapidly its appearance as it descends to the bottom of the rift valley, often enclosed between steep and very steep walls, at times even wide, whose edges are given by the Kikuyu plateau to the E and from that of the Mau to the W. AN of the plateau of the Mau and to the West of the great hollow, the relief returns to rise above 3000 m; then it gradually descends to the level of Lake Victoria, of which only the north-eastern section belongs to Kenya. Also part of the country is the southernmost edge of the Ethiopian Highlands, with tabular shapes and covered by steppes and savannahs.

As the morphology varies, the climatic conditions are equally varied, from both a thermal and pluviometric point of view. In general it can be said that the climate of Kenya, thanks also to the influence of the Indian Ocean, is regulated by the alternating game of trade winds and monsoons. Basically, there are abundant rains from March to June and shorter rains from October to December. An extremely important climatic factor is the tormented morphology, for which the smaller amounts of rainfall on the valley floor are matched by a greater amount along the mountain sides exposed to the wind, increasing proportionally with the height. Alongside the intensely rainy central-western area there is also the coastal selvedge, where Mombasa it totals 1200 mm of annual rainfall. In contrast, the whole north-eastern section of the country falls within the domain of the semi-arid tropical climate. The low latitude leads to high temperatures, which gradually diminish in relation to the altitude, although the annual excursion is always low.

From the hydrographic point of view, the Kenya is affected by the geological events that at the end of the Tertiary have upset the pre-existing river network, which, up to now, has not yet adapted to the current morphology of the land. The watercourses are generally subject to considerable variations in flow: swollen and ruinous at the time of the great rains, almost dry in the periods with the least rainfall. There are few perennial streams, of which the main one is the Tana, which collects the contributions from the southern and eastern slopes of Mount Kenya and flows into the Indian Ocean north of Malindi. There are numerous endorheic areas, especially in the Rift Valley and in the depression occupied by Lake Turkana.

Kenya Physical Characteristics

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