Central Highlands

The Central Highlands of Kenya is a very fertile, intensively cultivated region northwest of Nairobi. The highlands surround the Aberdares, a mountain range running north-south for 60 km and forms the eastern wall of the rift valley. The region is also the heartland of the Kikuyu people who regard the land as sacred, given to them by God. The region also boasts two national parks, Mt. Kenya and Aberdare.

The Central Highlands is a farmers' paradise. The area is said to have one of the world's most perfect climates with abundant rainfall, warm days and cool nights. Tea, coffee, pine and eucalyptus thrive in the higher elevations while oranges, maize, pineapples, and bananas grow on the lower slopes. It is little wonder that this region was immediately popular with the White Settlers who began arriving in mass once the Mombasa-Uganda railway was completed. The Central Highlands provided a superb year-round growing environment for cash crops that were in demand in Europe. Also not surprising was the increasing resentment expressed by the Kikuyu as their precious land was confiscated and their rights exploited. Their alienation reached a boiling point in the Mau Mau Rebellion, a war erupting between the settlers and the Kikuyu over land rights. As a result, British colonial authorities were forced to eventually grant independence to the country.

Although ancestors of the settlers continue to farm in great numbers, few of the massive colonial estates exist today. Most of the land has been returned to the Kikuyu people and carved up into intensively cultivated subsistence plots. Major environmental concerns continue to plague the highlands area, however, as soil erosion and deforestation claim ever increasing acres of land each year.

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