All about Uganda

Published on: 2018-02-25 06:31:57 By: SafariDays Content Mgt. Team

Republic of Uganda

CAPITAL: Kampala

FLAG: The national flag consists of six equal horizontal stripes of black, yellow, red, black, yellow, and red (from top to bottom); at the center, within a white circle, is a crested crane, the national bird of Uganda.

ANTHEM: Begins "O Uganda! May God uphold thee."


MONETARY UNIT: The new Uganda shilling (NUSh) was introduced in May 1987 with a value equal to 100 old Uganda shillings. NUSh1 = $0.00056 (or $1 = NUSh1,776.68) as of 2005. There are coins of 1, 2, and 5 shillings, and notes of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 shillings.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is now in use.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 1 May; Martyrs' Day, 3 June; Independence Day, 9 October; Christmas Day, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable holidays include Good Friday, Easter Monday, 'Id al-Fitr, and 'Id al-'Adha'.

TIME: 3 pm = noon GMT.


A landlocked country in east-central Africa, situated north and northwest of Lake Victoria, Uganda has a total area of 236,040 sq km (91,136 sq mi), of which 36,330 sq km (14,027 mi) is inland water. Comparatively, the area occupied by Uganda is slightly smaller than the state of Oregon. It extends 787 km (489 mi) nne–ssw and 486 km (302 mi) ese–wnw. Bounded on the n by Sudan, on the e by Kenya, on the s by Tanzania and Rwanda, and on the w by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROC). Uganda has a total boundary length of 2,698 km (1,676 mi).


The greater part of Uganda consists of a plateau 800 to 2,000 m (2,600–6,600 ft) in height. Along the western border, in the Ruwenzori Mountains, Margherita Peak reaches a height of 5,109 m (16,762 ft), while on the eastern frontier Mount Elgon rises to 4,321 m (14,178 ft). By contrast, the Western Rift Valley, which runs from north to south through the western half of the country, is below 910 m (3,000 ft) on the surface of Lake Edward and Lake George and 621 m (2,036 ft) on the surface of Lake Albert (L. Mobutu Sese Seko). The White Nile has its source in Lake Victoria; as the Victoria Nile, it runs northward through Lake Kyoga and then westward to Lake Albert, from which it emerges as the Albert Nile to resume its northward course to the Sudan. With 69 lakes, Uganda has the highest number of lakes in Africa.


Although Uganda is on the equator, its climate is warm rather than hot, and temperatures vary little throughout the year. Most of the territory receives an annual rainfall of at least 100 cm (40 in). At Entebbe, mean annual rainfall is 162 cm (64 in); in the northeast, it is only 69 cm (27 in). Temperature generally varies by altitude; on Lake Albert, the mean annual maximum is 29°c (84°f) and the mean annual minimum 22°c (72°f). At Kabale in the southwest, 1,250 m (4,100 ft) higher, the mean annual maximum is 23°c (73°f), and the mean annual minimum 10°c (50°f). At Kampala, these extremes are 27°c (81°f) and 17°c (63°f).


In the southern half of Uganda, the natural vegetation has been largely replaced by cultivated plots, in which plantain is the most prominent. There are, however, scattered patches of thick forest or of elephant grass and mvuli trees, providing excellent timber.

The cooler western highlands contain a higher proportion of long grass and forest. In the extreme southwest, however, cultivation is intensive even on the high mountain slopes. In the drier northern region, short grasses appear, and there are areas of open woodland; thorn trees and borassus palms also grow.

Elephant, hippopotamus, buffalo, cob, topi, and a variety of monkeys are all plentiful, while lion, giraffe, and rhinoceros also are seen. At least six mammal species are found only in Uganda.

The birds of Uganda include the crowned crane (the national emblem), bulbul, weaver, crow, shrike, heron, egret, ibis, guinea fowl, mouse bird, lourie, hornbill, pigeon, dove, bee-eater, hoopoe, darter, lily-trotter, marabou stork, kingfisher, fish eagle, and kite. As of 2002, there were at least 345 species of mammals, 243 species of birds, and over 4,900 species of plants throughout the country.

There are relatively few varieties of fish, but the lakes and rivers contain plentiful stocks of tilapia, Nile perch, catfish, lungfish, elephant snout fish, and other species. Crocodiles, too, are found in many areas and are particularly evident along the Nile between the Kabalega (Murchison) Falls and Lake Albert. There is a wide variety of snakes, but the more dangerous varieties are rarely observed.


Major environmental problems in Uganda include overgrazing, deforestation, and primitive agricultural methods, all of which lead to soil erosion. Attempts at controlling the propagation of tsetse flies have involved the use of hazardous chemicals. The nation's water supply is threatened by toxic industrial pollutants; mercury from mining activity is also found in the water supply.

Forests and woodlands were reduced by two-thirds between 1962 and 1977. By 1985, 193 square miles of forests were eliminated. Between 1990 and 2000, the annual rate of deforestation was about 2%. Wetlands have been drained for agricultural use. As of 2003, 24% of Uganda's total land area was protected, including two natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites and two Ramsar wetland sites.

In 1996, water hyacinth growth created a serious environmental and economic problem on Lake Victoria. By some estimates, the hyacinths covered 6,000 ha (14,820 acres) of water, still less than 0.1% of the lake. When the masses of hyacinths drifted into Uganda's ports and coves, they impaired the local fishing, trapped small boats in ports, and kept fish under the plants. The weed invasion had also been known to affect cargo boat and ferry transportation by fouling engines and propellers and making docking difficult. Environmentalists introduced different types of pests to control the weed growth, so that by 2001, much of the growth had diminished. Of more recent concern for Lake Victoria is the drop in water level that has occurred in from about 1995–2005. Some reports estimate that the water level had dropped by one meter in that decade.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the number of threatened species included 29 types of mammals, 15 species of birds, 6 species of amphibians, 27 species of fish, 10 types of mollusks, 9 species of other invertebrates, and 38 species of plants. Threatened species include the mountain gorilla, northern white rhinoceros, black rhinoceros, and Nile crocodile. Poaching of protected animals is widespread.


The population of Uganda in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 26,907,000, which placed it at number 41 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 2% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 51% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 100 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 2005–2010 was expected to be 3.2%. In response to this rate, which the government viewed as too high, the government revised its Population Policy in an attempt to slow population growth. As of 2006 Uganda had one of the fastest-growing populations in the world. The projected population for the year 2025 was 55,810,000.

The overall population density was 112 per sq km (289 per sq mi). However, density varied from 673 per sq km (260 per sq mi) in Kabale to 36 per sq km (14 per sq mi) in the dry Karamoja plains. The northern, eastern, and western regions are less densely populated than the region along the north shore of Lake Victoria.

The UN estimated that 12% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 4.67%. The capital city, Kampala, had a population of 1,246,000 in that year. Other major cities and their estimated populations were Jinja, 106,000; Mbale, 70,437; and Masaka, 61,300.


Expulsion of Asian noncitizens was decreed by the Amin government in 1972; almost all the nation's 74,000 Asians, both citizens and noncitizens, emigrated during the Amin regime. In 1982, the government enacted the Expropriated Properties Bill, which provided for the restoration of property to Asians expelled under Amin. About 6,000 Asians had returned by 1983.

After the fall of the Amin regime, as many as 240,000 people from Amin's West Nile district may have fled Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and the Sudan. Many of them returned to Uganda in 1983; government campaigns against guerrillas, however, displaced thousands more, and at the end of 1986 there were an estimated 170,000 Ugandan refugees in Sudan and 23,000 in Zaire. The refugee population in Zaire remained steady, but the number in the Sudan had dropped to 3,800 by the end of 1992.

As of 2004, Uganda had 250,482 refugees, 1,809 asylum seekers, and 91 returned refugees. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), these refugees were primarily from Sudan (214,623), Rwanda (18,902), and the DROC (14,982), and other neighboring African nations. Asylum seekers were from Somalia, the DROC, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia. In that same year some 16,000 Ugandans were refugees in the DROC and Sudan, and some 1,200 sought asylum in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Kenya. The net migration rate in 2005 was estimated as -1.49 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory. Worker remittances in 2002 were $365 million.


Uganda's ethnic groups are most broadly distinguished by language. In southern Uganda, most of the population speak Bantu languages. Sudanic speakers inhabit the northwest; Nilotic speakers, principally the Acholi and Langi, live in the north; and the Iteso and Karamajong in the northeast. The Baganda, who populate the northern shore of Lake Victoria, constitute the largest single ethnic group in Uganda, making up about 17% of the total population. The Ankole account for about 8%, Basogo 8%, Iteso 8%, Bakiga 7%, and the Langi 6%. Perhaps 6% of the population (not counting refugees) is of Rwandan descent, either Tutsi or Hutu. Most of them live in the south. Bagisu constitute 5%; Acholi account for 4%; Lugbara another 4%; Bunyoro 3%; and Batoro 3%. The Karamajong account for 2%. The Bakonjo, Jopodhola, and Rundi groups each account for 2% of the population as well. About 1% is comprised of non-Africans, including Europeans, Asians, and Arabs. Other groups make up the remaining 8%.


English is the official national language. It is taught in grade schools, used in courts of law, and by most newspapers and some radio broadcasts. Bantu languages, particularly Luganda (the language of the Baganda), are widespread in the southern, western, and central areas. Luganda is the preferred language for native-language publications and may be taught in school. Nilotic languages are common in the north and northeast, and Central Sudani clusters exist in the northwest. Kiswahili (Swahili) and Arabic are also widely spoken.


Christianity is the majority religion, practiced by about 75% of the population, with about 90% of all Christians fairly evenly split in membership as Roman Catholics or Anglicans. Other denominations include Seventh-Day Adventist, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, the Orthodox Church, the Unification Church, and Pentecostal churches. Muslims account for about 15% of the population; most are of the Sunni sect. Others practice traditional African religions, which are more common in the north and west of Uganda. There are also small numbers of Hindus, Baha'is, and Jews. Traditional beliefs and customs are often practiced in conjunction with other established faiths.

Though freedom of religion is provided for in the constitution, local governments have placed restrictions on some religious groups that are considered to be cults. This has been particularly true since 2000, when it was discovered that members of a cult group had killed over 1,000 citizens. Some organizations are banned from evening meetings for what local authorities claim to be a matter of public safety. All religious organizations must register with the government; failure do so brings the threat of criminal prosecution for those who practice any religious activities. Several religious alliances have formed in cooperation for peace within the country. These include the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, the Inter-Religious Council, Religious Efforts for Teso and Karamoja, and the Inter-Religious Program. Certain Muslim and Christian holidays are officially observed.




A landlocked country, Uganda depends on links with Tanzania and Kenya for access to the sea. The main rail line runs from Tororo in the east through Jinja and Kampala to the Kilembe copper mines near Kasese. The northwest line runs from Tororo to Pakwach. Eastward from Tororo, the line crosses into Kenya and runs to the port of Mombasa. As of 2004, the Ugandan railway system totaled 1,241 km (771 mi), all of it narrow gauge.

In 2002, there were 27,000 km (16,778 mi) of roads, 1,809 km (1,125 mi) of which were surfaced. In 2003, there were 51,010 passenger cars and 43,150 commercial vehicles registered in Uganda. However, many were not in service due to damage, shortages of fuel and spare parts, and closing of repair and maintenance facilities.

Steamships formerly carried cargo and passengers along the country's major lakes and navigable rivers, but there is no regular service on the Nile. Three Ugandan train ferries ply Lake Victoria, connecting at Kisumu, Kenya, and Mwanza, Tanzania. Important ports and harbors include Entebbe, Jinja, and Port Bell. As of 2004, Uganda had an estimated 300 km (187 mi) of navigable inland waterways. As of 2002, Uganda had a merchant fleet of three cargo ships totaling 5,091 GRT.

In 2004, airports numbered an estimated 29, only 4 of which had paved runways as of 2005. Uganda's international airport is at Entebbe. In 2003, about 40,000 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international flights.


San-like peoples were among the Uganda region's earliest inhabitants. Over the centuries, however, they were overcome by waves of migrants, beginning with the Cushitic speakers, who probably penetrated the area around 1000 bc. In the first millennium ad, Bantu-speaking peoples moved into the highland areas of East Africa, where they cultivated the banana as a food crop. After ad 1000, two other migrations filtered through the area: Nilotic-speaking Sudanic people and Luo speakers.

In the region south and west of the Nile, a number of polities formed, most of them strongly centralized. North and east of the Nile, political organization tended to be decentralized. In the south, the kingdom of Bunyoro was the most powerful and extensive, but in the 18th century the neighboring kingdom of Buganda began to challenge its supremacy. The two states were engaged in a critical power struggle when the British explorers John Hanning Speke and J. A. Grant reached Buganda in 1862. They had been preceded some years earlier by Arab ivory and slave traders. Other foreigners soon followed. Sir Samuel Baker entered Uganda from the north shortly after Speke's departure. Baker described a body of water, which he named Lake Albert. Baker returned to Uganda in 1872–73 as a representative of the Egyptian government, which was pursuing a policy of expansion up the Nile. The first Christian missionaries, members of the Church Missionary Society of Great Britain, came to Buganda in 1877. They were followed in 1879 by the Roman Catholic White Fathers.

The missionaries were welcomed by the kabaka (ruler) of Buganda, Mutesa I, who hoped to gain their support or the support of their countrymen against the Egyptian threat from the north. When the missionaries displayed no interest in military matters and the Egyptian danger was removed by the Mahdist rising in the Sudan in the early 1880s, Mutesa became less amenable. His son, Mwanga, who succeeded Mutesa on the latter's death in 1884, was even more hostile, fearing the influence exerted over his subjects by both the missionaries and the Arab traders. The kabaka, therefore, began to persecute the Bagandan adherents of Christianity and Islam. Both sets of converts joined forces to drive the kabaka from his country in 1888. A few weeks later, the Christians were expelled by the Muslims. Mwanga then appealed to the Christians for help, and they finally succeeded in restoring him to power early in 1890.

In 1888, the Imperial British East African Co. was granted a charter and authorized to administer the British sphere of East Africa. The Anglo-German agreement of 1890 officially outlined imperial spheres of influence in East Africa. By that agreement, what is now Uganda and Kenya were to be considered British spheres and Tanganyika a German sphere. In 1890, Capt. F. D. Lugard was sent to Buganda to establish the company's influence there. Lugard obtained Mwanga's agreement to a treaty that placed Buganda under the company's protection. Shortly afterward, however, lack of funds compelled the company to withdraw its representatives from Buganda.


In 1894, the kingdom of Buganda became a British protectorate, which was extended in 1896 to cover Bunyoro and most of what is now Uganda. In 1897, Mwanga led a revolt against British encroachments; he was quickly defeated and deposed. His infant son, Daudi Chwa, succeeded him, and a regency was established to govern Buganda under British supervision. Under the Uganda Agreement of 1900, Buganda was ruled indirectly by the British, who in turn used the Baganda leadership as agents to extend British control indirectly throughout Uganda. The agreement confirmed the privileged position of Buganda in Uganda and of the traditional chiefs in Buganda. Subsequent treaties for indirect rule were concluded with the remaining kingdoms over a period of years.

Buganda's rebuff of British policies following World War II marked the beginning of a conflict over the place of Buganda within the future evolution of the territory. Kabaka Mutesa II was deposed in 1953 when he refused to force his chiefs to cooperate with the British. He was restored to power in 1955 under a compromise agreement.

It was only at the constitutional conference convened in London in October 1961 that a place was agreed for Buganda in a federal relationship to central government. It was also decided at this conference that Uganda should obtain independence on 9 October 1962. At a second constitutional conference in June 1962, Buganda agreed to scale down its demands over financial matters and ended its threats of secession from the central government. In August, a federal relationship with the kingdom of Ankole was agreed upon, and the agreement used as a model for dealing with the remaining two kingdoms, Bunyoro and Toro.

On 9 October 1963, an amendment to the constitution abolished the post of governor-general and replaced it with that of president. Sir Edward Mutesa (Kabaka Mutesa II of Buganda) became Uganda's first president. In February 1966, the 1962 constitution was suspended and the prime minister, Milton Obote, assumed all powers of government. parliament formally abrogated the 1962 constitution on 15 April 1966 and adopted a new constitution, which created the post of president and commander-in-chief; Obote was elected to fill this position on the same day. Obote declared a state of emergency in Buganda following a clash between the police and dissident Baganda protesting the new constitution. On 24 May, Ugandan troops took control of the kabaka's palace, and the kabaka fled the country.

Further revisions to the constitution enacted in June 1967 abolished the federal relationship of Buganda and the other kingdoms, making Uganda a unitary state. Uganda became a republic with an executive president, who would be concurrently head of state and government.

Following a failed assassination attempt on Obote in December 1969, parliament declared a state of emergency on 22 December. Ten opposition leaders were arrested and all opposition parties were banned.


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