A part of Eastern Africa, the territory of what is now Kenya has seen human habitation since the beginning of the Lower Paleolithic. The Bantu expansion from a West African centre of dispersal reached the area by the 1st millennium AD. With the borders of the modern state at the crossroads of the Bantu, Nilo-Saharan and Afro-Asiatic ethno-linguistic areas of Africa, Kenya is a truly multi-ethnic state.
The European and Arab presence in Mombasa dates to the Early Modern period, but European exploration of the interior began in the 19th century. The British Empire established the East Africa Protectorate in 1895, from 1920 known as the Kenya Colony.