Tana River County is one of the forty seven (47) counties in the Republic of Kenya. The County takes its name from River Tana which is the longest river in Kenya. It is a County in the former Coast Province, Kenya with an area of 35,375.8 square kilometers (13,658.7 sq mi) and a population of 262,684 according to the 2012 census. The administrative headquarter of the county is Hola. The County has three sub counties; Bura, Galole and Garsen.
Tana River County is one of the six Counties in the Coast region. It borders Kitui County to the West, Garissa County to the North East, Isiolo County to the North, Lamu County to the South East and Kilifi County to the South. The county lies between latitudes 000’53” and 200’41’’ South and longitudes 38025’43” and 40015’ East. The county has a total area of 38,862.2 Km2and covers about 35km of the coastal strip. The major physical feature in Tana River County is an undulating plain that is interrupted in a few places by low hills at Bilbil around Madogo and Bura divisions. The land in Tana river generally slopes south eastwards with an altitude that ranges between 20m to 200m above sea level at the top of the Bilbil hills. The River Tana traverses the county from Tharaka County in the North to the Indian Ocean in the South passing through Tana Delta and covering a stretch of approximately 500km.
The most striking topographical feature is the River Tana that traverses the county from the Aberdares in the North to the Indian Ocean in the South covering a stretch of approximately 500km.
Besides the River Tana, there are several seasonal rivers in the county popularly known as lagas, which flow in a west-east direction from Kitui and Makueni Counties draining into River Tana and eventually into the Indian Ocean. The river beds support livestock as well as wildlife during the dry season since they have high ability to retain water. River beds are most appropriate sites for shallow wells, sub-surface dams as well as earth pans.
According to the population census of the year 2012, projected population for the county is 262,684 with 131,544 being female and 131,140 male. There are only two areas categorized as urban centres (Hola and Madogo) with a total projected population of 36,285 persons. The settlement patterns are random but are concentrated close to the river.
The dominant ethnic groups are the Pokomo, many of whom are farmers, and the Orma and Wardey, who are predominantly nomadic. Other tribes include the Waata and Boni who are culturally Hunters and gatherers, the Wailwana /Malakote and the Bajuni. It should be noted that the area is home to other Kenyan ethnic groups. These include the Luos, Kambas, Taitas, Giriamas, Kisii and Kikuyus and Somali immigrants among others
Hola the capital town of Tana River was the site of a detention camp during the British colonial rule.