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Elements of a map

A map is a drawing that represents the earth or part of it on a flat surface.

The key elements of a map include:

  • Title – is the name given to a map. It is usually written at the top or the bottom of the map
  • Frame – is the border that is drawn around a map
  • Key/legend – contains the symbols and signs that have been used on a map. It shows what the signs and symbols represent. Symbols are small pictures, drawings or letters. They represent real objects on a map.
  • Scale – shows the relationship between the distance on the map and the real distance on the ground.

  • Compass – shows the direction of places on a map. A good map should have the five key elements.

Importance of maps include:

  1. Locating the directions and position of places
  2. Identifying the direction and position of places
  3. Identifying our neighbours
  4. Locating various physical features
  1. Guiding tourists to their destination.

Map interpretation

This referred to giving meaning to the features and symbols used on a map.

We use the key elements of a map to read and interpret maps. Symbols and signs helps us to identify the different features, areas and activities on a map e.g.

The presence of a quarry shows that mining is taking place in the area.

  • Market – shows that trading activities is taking place in the area
    • Game reserved – shows the presence of wild animals.
    • A sawmill – shows that timber processing takes place in the area.
    • Scrubland – shows that the area is dry.


Location, position and size of Kenya

Position of Kenya in relation to her neighbours

Kenya has several neighbouring countries. Kenya is surrounded by:

  • Tanzania is to the south
  • Uganda is to the west
  • Ethiopia is to the north
  • Somalia is to the east
  • South Sudan is to the north west
  • Indian ocean to the south east.

Ways in which Kenya maintains good relations with her neighbours.

  1. Trade – Kenya exports and imports goods from her neighbours e.g. Bananas from Uganda.
  2. Games and sports – kenya participates in games such as football, with her neighbours.
  3. Ambassadors – Kenya has an ambassador in each of her neighbouring countries. These ambassadors represent Kenya in these countries.
  4. Free movement of people from Kenya to her neighbours and from her neighbours to Kenya.

Use of common language – Kenya shares a common language (Kiswahili) with some of her neighbours, for example, Tanzania. This helps to maintain good relations.

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The size of Kenya

Kenya covers an area of about 582, 646km square.

It is about 850 km from East to West and about 1025 km from North to South.

Main Physical features In Kenya.

Physical features are natural things found on the earth’s surface.

The physical features are divided into two main categories i.e. relief and drainage features.

Relief features are physical features that are seen above the surface of the earth.

Relief features include:

  • Mountains
  • Hills
  • Plains
  • Valleys
  • Plateaus

Drainage features are physical features that are associated with water. They include

  • Swamps
  • Rivers
  • Lakes
  • Oceans
  • Dams

Weather and climate in Kenya

Weather is the condition of the atmosphere of a place at a particular time. The weather of a place changes from time to time.

Elements of weather are the conditions of the atmosphere, they include:

  • Rainfall – rain, supports the growth of vegetation.
  • Wind – warm and moist winds bring rain
  • Temperature – the hotness or coldness of a place
  • Cloud cover – heavy cloud cover brings heavy rainfall

The weather conditions of a place can be observed, measured and recorded for a period of time. The recorded observations are used to calculate the average weather conditions of that place.

Climate – refers to the average weather conditions of a particular place over a long period of time. Climate can be described as wet, dry, hot, cold, warm or cool.

The characteristics of climatic regions in Kenya are:

a.  Modified equatorial climate

  • Covers the coastal areas near Indian ocean and Lake Victoria.
  • Experiences heavy convectional rainfall 1000 mm – 1500 mm.
  • It has two rainy seasons – long and short rains.
  • The region receives convectional rainfall. This type of rainfall is formed by warm air which rises from the surface of the Indian Ocean or Lake Victoria.
  • Rainfall is well distributed throughout the year
  • Rainfall is affected by the winds blowing from the ocean to the coast.
  • Temperature range between 250C – 3O0C
  • The region is mainly hot and wet.

b.  Modified tropical climate

 Coversthe Kenya highlands and parts of the Rift valley

The area receives rainfall throughout the year

Rainfall is between 1200 mm – 2000 mm

Low temperatures ranging between 18 0 C – 210 C

 The region is mainly cools and wet

 It is modified by the high altitude.

c.  Mountain climate

  • The region covers areas with high mountains like Mount Kenya and Mount Elgon.
  • Experiences cool and wet conditions
  • The region is cold and wet
  • Temperatures range from 00C – 150 C
  • High rainfall of between 1250mm and 2200 mm.
  • The region is characterized by two sides, the leeward side and the windward side.
  • The windward side receives relief rainfall and the leeward side is drier.
  • The climate is mainly influenced by altitude.

d.  Tropical Climate

  • The region covers Kwale, taita and Narok areas
  • Experiences high temperatures
  • It has one rainy season
  • In some parts the dry season lasts up to five months
  • Rainfall of not above 1000mm per year.

e.  Semi-desert climate

  • Covers areas in Northern, North-eastern and some parts of Eastern Kenya.
  • Temperatures are high during the day and low at night.
  • Experiences high temperatures which may rise to 380C
  • Mainly hot and dry
  • Low rainfall of below 250mm per year
  • The sky is clear.

‚óŹ       Desert Climate

  • Experienced in Chalbi and Taru deserts
    • Most of the months are dry causing droughts
    • High temperatures throughout the year – average 380C
    • Clear skies
    • High daytime temperatures and low night temperatures.



These are structures/environments that remind us of our history or where we have come from.

They include:

Fort Jesus

Tom mboya monument National museum of Kenya Jomo Kenyatta monument Nyayo monument

Importance of historic built environments

  • They remind us and teach us about our culture
  • They are sources of employment for people who work there
  • They attract tourists who bring money to our country
  • They are sources of information for learning
  • They allow us interact with other people when we visit them
  • They are used as recreational areas for relaxation Caring for Historic built Environments in our country
    • Repair the destroyed parts of historic built environments
    • Handle items in the historic environments with care
    • Develop conservation messages and place them at historic built environments
    • Educate other people on the importance of historic built environments.

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