Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, have recently been joined by Rwanda and Burundi to form the transnational “East African Community.” Currently this is a common economic market. However, it does have the potential to develop into a political federation. East Africa can sometimes also refer to a much broader region, spanning as many as 19 territories or countries from Egypt to Madagascar.
The geography of East Africa is often stunning and scenic. Shaped by global forces that have created the Great Rift Valley, East Africa is the site of Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, the two tallest peaks in Africa. Some parts of East Africa have been renowned for their concentrations of wild animals, such as the “big five” of elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros, though populations have been declining under increased stress in recent times, particularly the rhino and elephant.
East Africa is generally considered to be the Cradle of Man, the region where modern man evolved. The cultures of East Africa are diverse, but there are common threads that run through much of the region. Many countries have a shared heritage of Western colonialism, Islamic conquest and subsequent independence. At times, multiple countries have been joined under a single African Empire, colonial territory or sultanate.