2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: African Countries; Countries

Republic of Uganda
Jamhuri ya Uganda
Flag of Uganda Coat of arms of Uganda
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "For God and My Country"
Anthem: Oh Uganda, Land of Beauty
Location of Uganda
(and largest city)
0°19′N 32°35′E
Official languages English, Swahili
Government Democratic republic
 - President Yoweri Museveni
 - Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi
Independence from the United Kingdom 
 - Republic October 9, 1962 
 - Total 236,040 km² ( 81st)
91,136 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 15.39
 - July 2005 estimate 27,616,0001 ( 39th)
 - 2002 census 24,442,084
 - Density 119/km² ( 82nd2)
308/sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $45.97 billion ( 83rd)
 - Per capita $1,700 ( 153rd)
HDI  (2003) 0.508 (medium) ( 144th)
Currency Ugandan shilling ( UGX)
Time zone EAT ( UTC+3)
 - Summer ( DST) not observed ( UTC+3)
Internet TLD .ug
Calling code +2563
1 Estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected.
2Rank based on 2005 figures.
3 006 from Kenya and Tanzania.

Uganda, officially the Republic of Uganda, is a country in East Africa, bordered on the east by Kenya, the north by Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by Tanzania. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, within which it shares borders with Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda takes its name from the Buganda kingdom, which encompasses a portion of the south of the country including the capital Kampala.


The earliest human inhabitants in contemporary Uganda were hunter-gatherers. Between about 2000 and 1500 years ago Bantu speaking populations, who were probably from central and western Africa, migrated into the southern parts of the country. These settlers brought and developed agriculture, ironworking skills and new ideas of social and political organization. The Kingdom of Buganda and that of Bunyoro-Kitara represent some of the earliest forms of formal organization. By the fifteenth/sixteenth centuries there were centralized kingdoms in Buganda, Bunyoro-Kitara and Ankole. Other kingdoms developed by way of secession, such as Toro, while other groups were organized as fiefdoms of clans, such as the Busoga.

Nilotic people including Luo and Ateker entered the area from the north, probably beginning about A.D. 100. They were cattle herders and subsistence farmers who settled mainly the northern and eastern parts of the country. Some Luo invaded the area of Bunyoro and assimilated with the Bantu there, establishing the Babiito dynasty of the current Omukama (ruler) of Bunyoro-Kitara. Luo migration proceeded until the 16th century, with some Luo settling amid Bantu people in Eastern Uganda, with others proceeding to the western shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya and Tanzania. The Ateker ( Karimojong and Teso) settled in the north-eastern and eastern parts of the country, and some fused with the Luo in the area north of Lake Kyoga.

Arab traders moved inland from the Indian Ocean coast of East Africa in the 1830s. They were followed in the 1860s by British explorers searching for the source of the Nile. Protestant missionaries entered the country in 1877, followed by Catholic missionaries in 1879. The United Kingdom placed the area under the charter of the British East Africa Company in 1888, and ruled it as a protectorate from 1894. As several other territories and chiefdoms were integrated, the final protectorate called Uganda took shape in 1914.

Uganda became an independent nation in 1962, with Edward Muteesa II, the Kabaka (King) of Buganda as the President and Commander in Chief of the armed forces, and Milton Obote as Prime Minister. In 1966, Obote overthrew the constitution and declared himself president, ushering in an era of coups and counter-coups which would last until the mid-1980s. Obote was deposed twice from office, both times by military coup d'etat.

Idi Amin took power in 1971, ruling the country with the military for the coming decade. Idi Amin's rule cost an estimated 300,000 Ugandans' lives. He forcibly removed the entrepreneurial Indian minority from Uganda, decimating the economy. His reign was ended after an invasion by Tanzanian forces aided by Ugandan exiles in 1979. The situation improved little with the return of Obote, who was deposed once more in 1985 by General Tito Okello. Okello ruled for six months until he was overthrown after the so called " bush war" by the National Resistance Army (NRM) operating under the leadership of the current president, Yoweri Museveni.

Museveni has been in power since 1986. In the mid to late 1990s, he was lauded by the West as part of a new generation of African leaders. His presidency has been marred, however, by involvement in civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other Great Lakes region conflicts, not to mention widespread accusations of endemic corruption. Rebellion in the north continues to perpetuate one of the world's worst humanitarian emergencies.


Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda.
Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda.

The President of Uganda, currently Yoweri Museveni, is both head of state and head of government. The president appoints a prime minister who aids him in his tasks. The current prime minister is Apolo Nsibambi. The parliament is formed by the National Assembly, which has 303 members. Eighty-six of these members are nominated by interest groups, including women and the army. The remaining members are elected for five-year terms during general elections.

In a measure ostensibly designed to reduce sectarian violence, political parties were restricted in their activities from 1986. In the non-party "Movement" system instituted by Museveni, political parties continued to exist but could not campaign in elections or field candidates directly (although electoral candidates could belong to political parties). A constitutional referendum cancelled this nineteen-year ban on multi-party politics in July 2005.

The presidential elections were held in February 2006. Museveni ran against several candidates, the most prominent of whom was exiled Dr. Kizza Besigye. Museveni was declared the winner in the elections, however international election observers did not condemn the election results, or endorse the electoral process. Despite technically democratic elections, harassment of opposition had started months earlier in the form of disturbing of opposition campaign, detention of activists, rape and other criminal allegations against Besigye and use of state funds for electoral campaigning.


Although landlocked, Uganda has access to several large water bodies, including Lake Victoria, Lake Albert, Lake Kyoga and Lake Edward. The country is located on the East African plateau, averaging about 900 metres (2,950  ft) above sea level. Although generally tropical in nature, the climate differs between parts of the country. Uganda includes several offshore islands in Lake Victoria. Most important cities are located in the south, near Lake Victoria, including the capital Kampala and the nearby city of Entebbe.

Administrative divisions

Map of Uganda
Map of Uganda

Uganda is divided into seventy districts, spread across four administrative regions: Northern, Eastern, Central and Western. The districts are subdivided into counties. A number of districts have been added in the past few years, and eight others were added on July 1, 2006. Most districts are named after their main commercial and administrative towns. Each district is divided into sub-districts, counties, sub-counties like Rukoni, parishes and villages.


Uganda has substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, and sizable mineral deposits of copper and cobalt. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy, employing over 80% of the work force, with coffee accounting for the bulk of export revenues. Since 1986, the government (with the support of foreign countries and international agencies) has acted to rehabilitate an economy decimated during the regime of Idi Amin and subsequent civil war.

During 1990-2001, the economy turned in a solid performance based on continued investment in the rehabilitation of infrastructure, improved incentives for production and exports, reduced inflation, gradually improved domestic security, and the return of exiled Indian-Ugandan entrepreneurs. Ongoing Ugandan involvement in the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, corruption within the government, and slippage in the government's determination to press reforms raise doubts about the continuation of strong growth. In 2000, Uganda qualified for the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief initiative worth $1.3 billion and Paris Club debt relief worth $145 million. These amounts combined with the original HIPC debt relief added up to about $2 billion. Growth for 2001-02 was solid despite continued decline in the price of coffee, Uganda's principal export. According to IMF statistics, in 2004 Uganda's GDP per-capita reached 300 dollars, a much higher level than in the Eighties but still at half of Sub-Saharan African average income of 600 dollars per year. Total GDP crossed the 8 billion dollar mark in the same year.


Ethnolinguistic map of Uganda.
Ethnolinguistic map of Uganda.

Uganda is home to many different ethnic groups, none of whom form a majority of the population. Around forty different languages are regularly and currently in use in the country. English became the official language of Uganda after independence.

The most widely spoken language in Uganda is Luganda, spoken predominantly in the urban concentrations of Kampala, the capital city, and in towns and localities in the Buganda region of Uganda which encompasses Kampala. This is also the primary language through which commercial transactions are coordinated, in large part because over 50% of Ugandan commerce is transacted in Kampala. The Ateso language follows, spoken by about 4.2 million people covering seven Districts in the Eastern part of the country.

Swahili, a widely used language throughout eastern and central Africa, has had little relevance in Uganda where it has been used primarily in military circles and in the police. Though important in Kenya and Tanzania, Swahili has not been accepted in Uganda. Although few people in Uganda speak it, the decision by Parliament to make Swahili a second official national language was perhaps motivated by the intentions of politicians to continue efforts to compel Ugandans to speak it. Uganda's 1995 constitution did not originally recognize the official and national status of Swahili as it was controversial and many delegates voted it down, though many people made attempts to introduce it as a second national language. The parliament voted in September 2005 to once again make Swahili the country's second official national language.

The average age in Uganda is 15, the lowest in the world.


Muslim traders and Christian missionaries first arrived in the 1860s, attempting to convert the Bugandan king.

The National Census of October 2002 resulted in the clearest and most detailed information yet gathered on the religious composition of Uganda. According to the Census, Christians of all denominations made up 85.1% of Uganda's population. The Catholic Church has the largest number of adherents (41.9%), followed by the Anglican Church of Uganda, a part of the worldwide Anglican communion (35.9%). Minor Christian groups include Pentecostals (4.6%) and Seventh-Day Adventists (1.5%), while 1.0% were grouped under the category "Other Christians".

The second most popular religion of Uganda is Islam, with Muslims representing 12.1% of the population, according to the Census. The CIA Factbook estimate for the number of Muslims is 16%. While Muslims today appear to be experiencing some degree of discrimination, they were in the seventies the most favoured group under the rule of President Idi Amin, himself a Muslim, under whose government the number of Muslims had significantly grown.

Only 1% of Uganda's population follow Traditional Religions and 0.7% are classified as 'Other Non-Christians,' including Hindus.

One of only seven Bahá'í Houses of Worship, known as Mother Temple of Africa, is located on the outskirts of Kampala.

Judaism is also practiced in Uganda by a small number of native Ugandans known to most people as the Abayudaya. However, their population, estimated at 750 is insignificant and many Ugandans are not aware of this Jewish presence. Initially numbering as many as 3,000 individuals, the community drastically shrunk in size to 300 when Idi Amin came to power and outlawed Judaism, destroying all the synagogues in the country. Since then, the community has established links to Jews worldwide and has grown in size and strength. They operate several schools which enroll Muslim, Jewish and Christian students.


Uganda has been hailed as a rare success story in the fight against HIV and AIDS, widely being viewed as the most effective national response to the pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. President Museveni established the AIDS Control Program (ACP) within the Ministry of Health (MOH) to create policy guidelines for Uganda’s fight against HIV/AIDS. Uganda quickly realized that HIV/AIDS was more than a ‘health’ issue and in 1992 created a “Multi-sectoral AIDS Control Approach.” In addition, the Uganda AIDS Commission, also founded in 1992, has been instrumental in developing a national HIV/AIDS policy. A variety of approaches to AIDS education have been employed, ranging from the promotion of condom use to 'abstinence only' programmes. To further Uganda's efforts in establishing a comprehensive HIV/AIDS program, in 2000 the MOH birth practicies and safe infant feeding counseling. According to the WHO, around 41,000 women received PMTCT services in 2001. Uganda was the first country to open a VCT clinic in Africa and pioneered the concept of voluntary HIV testing centers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The scope of Uganda's success has come under scrutiny from new research. Research published in The Lancet medical journal in 2002 questions the dramatic decline reported. It is claimed statistics have been distorted through the inaccurate extrapolation of data from small urban clinics to the entire population, nearly 90 per cent of whom live in rural areas. Also, recent trials of the HIV drug nevirapine have come under intense scrutiny and criticism; see this excerpt of an article from Harper's Magazine: Out of Control.

US-sponsored abstinence promotions have received recent criticism from observers for denying young people information about any method of HIV prevention other than sexual abstinence until marriage. Human Rights Watch says that such programmes "leave Uganda’s children at risk of HIV". Alternatively, Human Life International says that "condoms are adding to the problem, not solving it" and that "The government of Uganda believes its people have the human capacity to change their risky behaviors."

Culture and sport

A Ugandan bicycle-taxi
A Ugandan bicycle-taxi

Due to the large number of ethnic communities, culture within Uganda is diverse. Many Asians (mostly from India) who were expelled during the regime of Amin have returned to Uganda.

  • Music of Uganda
  • List of writers from Uganda

Human rights

Respect for human rights in Uganda has been advanced significantly since the mid-1980s. There are, however, numerous areas which continue to attract concern.

Conflict in the northern parts of the country continues to generate reports of abuses by both the rebel Lord's Resistance Army and the Ugandan army. Torture continues to be a widespread practice amongst security organisations. Attacks on political freedom in the country, including the arrest and beating of opposition Members of Parliament, has led to international criticism, culminating in May 2005 in a decision by the British government to withhold part of its aid to the country. The arrest of the main opposition leader Kizza Besigye and the besiegement of the High Court during a hearing of Besigye's case by a heavily armed security forces – before the February 2006 elections – led to condemnation.

Geographic locale

Flag of Sudan Sudan
Flag of Democratic Republic of the Congo Democratic Republic of the Congo North Flag of Kenya Kenya
West   Flag of Uganda Uganda    East
Flag of Rwanda Rwanda Flag of Tanzania Tanzania


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