Coordinates: 1°N 32°E / 1°N 32°E / 1; 32

Republic of Uganda
Jamhuri ya Uganda
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "For God and My Country"
Anthem: "Oh Uganda, Land of Beauty"
Location of  Uganda  (dark green)– in Africa  (light blue & dark grey)– in the African Union  (light blue)
Location of  Uganda  (dark green)

 in Africa  (light blue & dark grey)
 in the African Union  (light blue)

and largest city
Official languages Swahili, English
Vernacular Luganda
Ethnic groups (2002)
Demonym Ugandan[2]
Government Dominant-party semi-presidential republic[2]
   President Yoweri Museveni
   Vice President Edward Ssekandi
   Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda
Legislature Parliament
   from the United Kingdom 9 October 1962 
   Current constitution 8 October 1995 
   Total 241,038 km2 (81st)
93,065 sq mi
   Water (%) 15.39
   estimate 37,873,253[2] (35th)
   2014 census 34,634,650[3]
   Density 157.1/km2
406.9/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2016 estimate
   Total $85.104 billion[4]
   Per capita $2,071[4]
GDP (nominal) 2016 estimate
   Total $26.631 billion[4]
   Per capita $648[4]
Gini (2009)44.11[5]
HDI (2013)Steady 0.484[6]
low · 164th
Currency Ugandan shilling (UGX)
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)
Drives on the left
Calling code +256a
ISO 3166 code UG
Internet TLD .ug
a. +006 from Kenya and Tanzania.

Uganda (/juːˈɡændə/ yew-GAN-də or /juːˈɡɑːndə/ yew-GAHN-də), officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. It is bordered to the east by Kenya, to the north by South Sudan, to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the southwest by Rwanda, and to the south by Tanzania. Uganda is the world's second most populous landlocked country after Ethiopia. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, shared with Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda is in the African Great Lakes region. Uganda also lies within the Nile basin, and has a varied but generally a modified equatorial climate.

Uganda takes its name from the Buganda kingdom, which encompasses a large portion of the south of the country, including the capital Kampala. The people of Uganda were hunter-gatherers until 1,700 to 2,300 years ago, when Bantu-speaking populations migrated to the southern parts of the country.

Beginning in 1894, the area was ruled as a protectorate by the British, who established administrative law across the territory. Uganda gained independence from Britain on 9 October 1962. The period since then has been marked by intermittent conflicts, including a lengthy civil war against the Lord's Resistance Army in the Northern region, which has caused tens of thousands of casualties and displaced more than a million people.

The official language is English.[7] Luganda, a central language, is widely spoken across the country, and several other languages are also spoken including Runyoro, Runyankole, Rukiga, and Luo. The president of Uganda is Yoweri Museveni, who came to power in January 1986 after a protracted six-year guerrilla war.


The ancestors of the Ugandans were hunter-gatherers until 1,700-2,300 years ago. Bantu-speaking populations, who were probably from central Africa, migrated to the southern parts of the country.[8][9] These groups brought and developed ironworking skills and new ideas of social and political organisation.

According to oral tradition, the Empire of Kitara covered an important part of the great lakes area, from the northern lakes Albert and Kyoga to the southern lakes Victoria and Tanganyika.[10] Bunyoro-Kitara is claimed as the antecedent of the Buganda, Toro, Ankole, and Busoga kingdoms.[11]

The Luo invasion is believed to have led to the collapse of the Chwezi Empire. The twins Rukidi Mpuuga and Kato Kintu are believed to be the first kings of Bunyoro and Buganda after the Chwezi Empire collapsed, creating the Babiito and Bambejja Dynasty. 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.[12]

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.[13]:151 British Anglican missionaries arrived in the kingdom of Buganda in 1877 (a situation which gave rise to the death of the Uganda Martyrs) and were followed by French Catholic missionaries in 1879.[14] The British government chartered the Imperial British East Africa Company (IBEAC) to negotiate trade agreements in the region beginning in 1888.[15]:51–58 From 1886, there were a series of religious wars in Buganda, initially between Muslims and Christians and then, from 1890, between ba-Ingleza Protestants and ba-Fransa Catholics.[16] Because of civil unrest and financial burdens, IBEAC claimed that it was unable to "maintain their occupation" in the region.[17] British commercial interests were ardent to protect the trade route of the Nile, which prompted the British government to annex Buganda and adjoining territories to create the Uganda Protectorate in 1894.[15]:3–4

Uganda Protectorate (1894–1962)

Main article: Uganda Protectorate

In the 1890s, 32,000 labourers from British India were recruited to East Africa under indentured labour contracts to work on the construction of the Uganda Railway. Most of the surviving Indians returned home, but 6,724 decided to remain in East Africa after the line's completion. Subsequently, some became traders and took control of cotton ginning and sartorial retail.[18] British naval ships unknowingly carried rats that contained the bubonic plague. These rats spread the disease throughout Uganda, and the following disaster became known as the Black Plague. Over one million people died by the early 1900s.[19]

As several other territories and chiefdoms were integrated, the final protectorate called Uganda took shape in 1914. From 1900 to 1920, a sleeping sickness epidemic killed more than 250,000 people.[20]

Independence (1962 to 1965)

Uganda gained independence from Britain on October 9, 1962 as a Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. In October 1963, Uganda became a republic but maintained its membership in the Commonwealth of Nations.

The first post-independence election, held in 1962, was won by an alliance between the Uganda People's Congress (UPC) and Kabaka Yekka (KY). UPC and KY formed the first post-independence government with Milton Obote as executive prime minister, the Buganda Kabaka (King) Edward Muteesa II holding the largely ceremonial position of president.[21][22]

Construction of the Owen Falls Dam in Jinja.
The Uganda Printers Building on Kampala Road, Kampala, Uganda

1966–1971 (before the coup)

In 1966, following a power struggle between the Obote-led government and King Muteesa, the UPC-dominated parliament changed the constitution and removed the ceremonial president and vice-president. In 1967, a new constitution proclaimed Uganda a republic and abolished the traditional kingdoms. Without first calling elections, Obote was declared the executive president.[23]

1971 (after the coup)–1979 (end of Amin regime)

After a military coup on 25 January 1971, Obote was deposed from power and General Idi Amin seized control of the country. Amin ruled Uganda as dictator with the support of the military for the next eight years.[24] He carried out mass killings within the country to maintain his rule. An estimated 300,000 Ugandans lost their lives during his regime, many of them in the north, which he associated with Obote's loyalists.[25] Aside from his brutalities, he forcibly removed the entrepreneurial Indian minority from Uganda, which left the country's economy in ruins.[26] In June 1976 he allowed Palestinian terrorists to land a hijacked Air France airline at Entebbe airport. The passengers were held hostage until an Israeli commando raid rescued them ten days later.[27] Amin's atrocities were graphically accounted in the 1977 book, A State of Blood, written by one of his former ministers after he fled the country. Amin's reign was ended after the Uganda-Tanzania War in 1979, in which Tanzanian forces aided by Ugandan exiles invaded Uganda.


After Amin's removal, the Uganda National Liberation Front formed an interim government with Yusuf Lule as president. Lule was replaced by Godfrey Binaisa in June 1979. In May 1980, Binaisa was removed and the country was ruled by a military commission chaired by Paulo Muwanga. The December 1980 elections returned Obote to the presidency with Muwanga as vice-president. Obote was deposed again in 1985 by General Tito Okello, who ruled for six months until he was deposed. This occurred after the Ugandan Bush War instigated by the National Resistance Army under the leadership of Yoweri Museveni and by various rebel groups, including the Federal Democratic Movement of Andrew Kayiira and another group led by John Nkwaanga. During the bush war, the army carried out mass killings of non-combatants.[28]


Belligerents of the Second Congo War. On December 19, 2005, the International Court of Justice found against Uganda, in a case brought by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for illegal invasion of its territory, and violation of human rights.[29]

Museveni has been president since his forces toppled the previous regime in January 1986.

Political parties in Uganda were restricted in their activities beginning that year, in a measure ostensibly designed to reduce sectarian violence. In the non-party "Movement" system instituted by Museveni, political parties continued to exist, but they could operate only a headquarters office. They could not open branches, hold rallies, 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.

In the mid-to-late 1990s, Museveni was lauded by western countries as part of a new generation of African leaders.[30]

His presidency has been marred, however, by invading and occupying the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the Second Congo War, resulting in an estimated 5.4 million deaths since 1998, and by participating in other conflicts in the Great Lakes region of Africa. He has struggled for years in the civil war against the Lord's Resistance Army, which has been guilty of numerous crimes against humanity, including child slavery, the Atiak massacre, and other mass murders. Conflict in northern Uganda has killed thousands and displaced millions.[31]

Parliament abolished presidential term limits in 2005, allegedly because Museveni used public funds to pay US$2,000 to each member of parliament who supported the measure.[32] Presidential elections were held in February 2006. Museveni ran against several candidates, the most prominent of them being Kizza Besigye.

On 20 February 2011, the Uganda Electoral Commission declared the incumbent president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni the winning candidate of the 2011 elections that were held on 18 February 2011. The opposition however, were not satisfied with the results, condemning them as full of sham and rigging. According to the official results, Museveni won with 68 percent of the votes. This easily topped his nearest challenger, Besigye, who had been Museveni's physician and told reporters that he and his supporters "downrightly snub" the outcome as well as the unremitting rule of Museveni or any person he may appoint. Besigye added that the rigged elections would definitely lead to an illegitimate leadership and that it is up to Ugandans to critically analyse this. The European Union's Election Observation Mission reported on improvements and flaws of the Ugandan electoral process: "The electoral campaign and polling day were conducted in a peaceful manner [...] However, the electoral process was marred by avoidable administrative and logistical failures that led to an unacceptable number of Ugandan citizens being disfranchised."[33]

Since August 2012, hacktivist group Anonymous has threatened Ugandan officials and hacked official government websites over its anti-gay bills.[34] Some international donors have threatened to cut financial aid to the country if anti-gay bills continue.[35]

Indicators of a plan for succession by the president's son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba, have increased tensions.[36][37][38][39]


Regional map of Uganda.
Mount Kadam, Uganda.
Uganda map of Köppen climate classification.
The road between Otuboi and Bata near the Teso/Lango border
Main article: Geography of Uganda

The country is located on the East African Plateau, lying mostly between latitudes 4°N and 2°S (a small area is north of 4°), and longitudes 29° and 35°E. It averages about 1,100 metres (3,609 ft) above sea level, sloping very steadily downwards to the Sudanese Plain to the north.

Lakes and rivers

Much of the south of the country is heavily influenced by one of the world's biggest lakes, Lake Victoria, which contains many islands. Most important cities are located in the south, near this lake, including the capital Kampala and the nearby city of Entebbe.

Lake Kyoga is in the centre of the country and is surrounded by extensive marshy areas.

Although landlocked, Uganda contains many large lakes. Besides Lakes Victoria and Kyoga, there are Lake Albert, Lake Edward, and the smaller Lake George.

Uganda lies almost completely within the Nile basin. The Victoria Nile drains from Lake Victoria into Lake Kyoga and thence into Lake Albert on the Congolese border. It then runs northwards into South Sudan. An area in eastern Uganda is drained by the Suam River, part of the internal drainage basin of Lake Turkana. The extreme northeastern part of Uganda drains into the Lotikipi Basin, which is primarily in Kenya.[40]

Environment and conservation

The Crested crane is the national bird.

Uganda has 60 protected areas, including ten national parks: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Rwenzori Mountains National Park (both UNESCO World Heritage Sites[41]), Kibale National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Mount Elgon National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Semuliki National Park.

Government and politics

Main article: Politics of Uganda

The President of Uganda is both head of state and head of government. The president appoints a vice-president and a prime minister to aid him in governing.

U.S. President George W. Bush met with President Yoweri Museveni in Entebbe, Uganda, July 11, 2003.

The parliament is formed by the National Assembly, which has 449 members. These include; 290 constituency representatives, 116 district woman representatives, 10 representatives of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces, 5 representatives of the youth, 5 representatives of workers, 5 representatives of persons with disabilities and 18 ex-official members.


Transparency International has rated Uganda's public sector as one of the most corrupt in the world. In 2014, Uganda ranked 142nd worst out of 175 and had a score of 26 on a scale from 0 (perceived as most corrupt) to 100 (perceived as clean).[42]

According to the US State Department's 2012 Human Rights Report on Uganda, "The World Bank's most recent Worldwide Governance Indicators reflected corruption was a severe problem" and that "the country annually loses 768.9 billion shillings ($286 million) to corruption."[38]

Ugandan parliamentarians in 2014 were earning 60 times what was being earned by most state employees and they were seeking a major increase. This was causing widespread criticism and protests, including the smuggling of two piglets into the parliament in June 2014 to highlight corruption amongst members of parliament. The protesters, who were arrested, were using the word "MPigs" to highlight their grievance.[43]

A specific scandal, which had significant international consequences and highlighted the presence of corruption in high-level government offices, was the embezzlement of $12.6 million of donor funds from the Office of the Prime Minister in 2012. These funds were "earmarked as crucial support for rebuilding northern Uganda, ravaged by a 20-year war, and Karamoja, Uganda's poorest region." This scandal prompted the EU, the UK, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, and Norway to suspend aid.[44]

Widespread grand and petty corruption involving public officials and political patronage systems have also seriously affect the investment climate in Uganda. One of the high corruption risk areas is the public procurement in which non-transparent under-the-table cash payments are often demanded from procurement officers.[45]

What may compound this problem – as it does in many developing nations (Resource curse) – is the availability of oil. The Petroleum Bill, passed by parliament in 2012 and touted by the NRM as bringing transparency to the oil sector, has failed to please domestic and international political commentators and economists. For instance, Angelo Izama, a Ugandan energy analyst at the US-based Open Society Foundation said the new law was tantamount to "handing over an ATM (cash) machine" to Museveni and his regime.[46] According to Global Witness, an international law NGO, Uganda now has "oil reserves that have the potential to double the government's revenue within six to ten years, worth an estimated US$2.4bn per year."[47]

The Non-Governmental Organizations (Amendment) Act, passed in 2006, has stifled the productivity of NGOs through erecting barriers to entry, activity, funding and assembly within the sector. Burdensome and corrupt registration procedures (i.e. requiring recommendations from government officials; annual re-registration), unreasonable regulation of operations (i.e. requiring government notification prior to making contact with individuals in NGO's area of interest), and the precondition that all foreign funds be passed through the Bank of Uganda, among others things, are severely limiting the output of the NGO sector. Furthermore, the sector's freedom of speech has been continually infringed upon through the use of intimidation, and the recent Public Order Management Bill (severely limiting freedom of assembly) will only add to the government's stockpile of ammunition.[48]

Political divisions

Uganda is divided into districts. The districts are subdivided into counties. A number of districts have been added in the past few years, and eight others were added on 1 July 2006 plus others added in 2010. There are now 112[49] districts. [50] Each district is divided into counties, sub-counties, parishes, and villages.

Administrative units (August 2014)[51]
Districts 112
Counties 181
Sub counties 1,382
Municipalities 22
Town councils 174

Political subdivisions in Uganda are officially served and united by the Uganda Local Governments Association (ULGA), a voluntary and non-profit body which also serves as a forum for support and guidance for Ugandan sub-national governments.[52]

Parallel with the state administration, five traditional Bantu kingdoms have remained, enjoying some degrees of mainly cultural autonomy. The kingdoms are Toro, Busoga, Bunyoro, Buganda, and Rwenzururu. Furthermore, some groups attempt to restore Ankole as one of the officially recognised traditional kingdoms, to no avail yet.[53] Several other kingdoms and chiefdoms are officially recognized by the government, including the union of Alur chiefdoms, the Iteso paramount chieftaincy, the paramount chieftaincy of Lango and the Padhola state. [54]

Foreign relations and military

In Uganda, the Uganda People's Defence Force serves as the military. The number of military personnel in Uganda is estimated at 45,000 soldiers on active duty. The Uganda army is involved in several peacekeeping and combat missions in the region, with commentators noting that only the United States Armed Forces is deployed in more countries. Uganda has soldiers deployed in the northern and eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the Central African Republic, Somalia, and South Sudan.[55]

Human rights

Two women in Gulu whose lips have been cut off by Lord's Resistance Army rebels

There are many areas which continue to attract concern when it comes to human rights in Uganda.

Conflict in the northern parts of the country continues to generate reports of abuses by both the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony, and the Ugandan Army. A UN official accused the LRA in February 2009 of "appalling brutality" in the Democratic Republic of Congo.[56]

The number of internally displaced persons is estimated at 1.4 million. 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, have 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 siege of the High Court during a hearing of Besigye's case by heavily armed security forces – before the February 2006 elections – led to condemnation.[57]

Child labour is common in Uganda. Many child workers are active in agriculture.[58] Children who work on tobacco farms in Uganda are exposed to health hazards.[58] Child domestic servants in Uganda risk sexual abuse.[58] Trafficking of children occurs.[58] Slavery and forced labour are prohibited by the Ugandan constitution.[58]

The US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants reported several violations of refugee rights in 2007, including forcible deportations by the Ugandan government and violence directed against refugees.[59]

Torture and extrajudicial killings have been a pervasive problem in Uganda in recent years. For instance, according to a 2012 US State Department report, "the African Center for Treatment and Rehabilitation for Torture Victims registered 170 allegations of torture against police, 214 against the UPDF, 1 against military police, 23 against the Special Investigations Unit, 361 against unspecified security personnel, and 24 against prison officials" between January and September 2012.[38]

In September 2009 Museveni refused Kabaka Muwenda Mutebi, the Baganda king, permission to visit some areas of Buganda Kingdom, particularly the Kayunga district. Riots occurred and over 40 people were killed while others remain imprisoned to this date. Furthermore, 9 more people were killed during the April 2011 "Walk to Work" demonstrations. According to the Humans Rights Watch 2013 World Report on Uganda, the government has failed to investigate the killings associated with both of these events.[60]

LGBT rights

Main article: LGBT rights in Uganda
Protests in New York City against Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

As of January 2014, homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and carries a minimum sentence of two years in prison and a maximum of life. Sodomy laws from the British colonial era are still on the books, and there is an extreme social bias against homosexuality, with the murder rate for LGBT people being significantly higher than other groups. Gays and lesbians face discrimination and harassment at the hands of the media, police, teachers, and other groups. In 2007, a Ugandan newspaper, the Red Pepper, published a list of allegedly gay men, many of whom suffered harassment as a result.[61] Also on 9 October 2010, the Ugandan newspaper Rolling Stone published a front page article titled "100 Pictures of Uganda's Top Homos Leak" that listed the names, addresses, and photographs of 100 homosexuals alongside a yellow banner that read "Hang Them".[62]

The paper also alleged that homosexuals aimed to recruit Ugandan children. This publication attracted international attention and criticism from human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International,[63] No Peace Without Justice[64] and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.[65] According to gay rights activists, many Ugandans have been attacked since the publication.[66] On 27 January 2011, gay rights activist David Kato was murdered.[67]

In 2009, the Ugandan parliament considered an Anti-Homosexuality Bill which would have broadened the criminalisation of homosexuality by introducing the death penalty for people who have previous convictions, or are HIV-positive, and engage in same-sex sexual acts. The bill also included provisions for Ugandans who engage in same-sex sexual relations outside of Uganda, asserting that they may be extradited back to Uganda for punishment, and included penalties for individuals, companies, media organisations, or non-governmental organisations that support legal protection for homosexuality or sodomy. The private member's bill was submitted by MP David Bahati in Uganda on 14 October 2009, and was believed to have had widespread support in the Uganda parliament.[68] The hacktivist group Anonymous hacked into Ugandan government websites in protest of the bill.[69] The debate of the bill was delayed in response to global condemnation but was eventually passed on 20 December 2013 and signed by President Yoweri Museveni on 24 February 2014. The death penalty was dropped in the final legislation. The law was widely condemned by the international community. Denmark, Netherlands and Sweden said they would withhold aid. The World Bank on 28 February 2014 said it would postpone a $90 million loan, while the United States said it was reviewing ties with Uganda.[70] On 1 August 2014, the Constitutional Court of Uganda ruled the bill invalid as it was not passed with the required quorum.[71][72][73] A 13 August 2014 news report said that the Ugandan attorney general had dropped all plans to appeal, per a directive from President Museveni who was concerned about foreign reaction to the bill and who also said that any newly introduced bill should not criminalize same-sex relationships between consenting adults.[74]

Economy and infrastructure

Downtown Kampala, the capital city.

The Bank of Uganda is the central bank of Uganda and handles monetary policy along with the printing of the Ugandan shilling.[75]

Uganda's economy generates export income from coffee ($466.6 million annually), tea ($72.1 million), fish ($136.2 million), and other products.[76] The country has commenced economic reforms and growth has been robust. In 2008, Uganda recorded 7 percent growth despite the global downturn and regional instability.[77]

Uganda has substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, and sizeable mineral deposits of copper and cobalt. The country has largely untapped reserves of both crude oil and natural gas.[78] While agriculture accounted for 56 percent of the economy in 1986, with coffee as its main export, it has now been surpassed by the services sector, which accounted for 52 percent of GDP in 2007.[79] In the 1950s, the British colonial regime encouraged some 500,000 subsistence farmers to join co-operatives.[80] Since 1986, the government (with the support of foreign countries and international agencies) has acted to rehabilitate an economy devastated during the regime of Idi Amin and the subsequent civil war.[2]

Suburban Kampala.
Graphical depiction of Uganda's product exports in 28 color-coded categories.
Coffee fields in southwestern Uganda

In 2000, Uganda was included in the 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. In 2012, the World Bank still listed Uganda as on the HIPC list. Growth for 2001–2002 was solid despite continued decline in the price of coffee, Uganda's principal export.[2] According to IMF statistics, in 2004 Uganda's GDP per capita reached $300, a much higher level than in the 1980s but still at half the Sub-Saharan African average income of $600 per year. Total GDP crossed the 8 billion dollar mark in the same year.

Economic growth has not always led to poverty reduction. Despite an average annual growth of 2.5 percent between 2000 and 2003, poverty levels increased by 3.8% during that time.[81] This has highlighted the importance of avoiding jobless growth and is part of the rising awareness in development circles of the need for equitable growth not just in Uganda, but across the developing world.[81]

With the Uganda securities exchanges established in 1996, several equities have been listed. The government has used the stock market as an avenue for privatisation. All government treasury issues are listed on the securities exchange. The Capital Markets Authority has licensed 18 brokers, asset managers and investment advisors including: African Alliance Investment Bank, Baroda Capital Markets Uganda Limited, Crane Financial Services Uganda Limited, Crested Stocks and Securities Limited, Dyer & Blair Investment Bank, Equity Stock Brokers Uganda Limited, Renaissance Capital Investment Bank and UAP Financial Services Limited.[82] As one of the ways of increasing formal domestic savings, pension sector reform is the centre of attention (2007).[83][84]

Uganda traditionally depends on Kenya for access to the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa. Efforts have intensified to establish a second access route to the sea via the lakeside ports of Bukasa in Uganda and Musoma in Tanzania, connected by railway to Arusha in the Tanzanian interior and to the port of Tanga on the Indian Ocean.[85] Uganda is a member of the East African Community and a potential member of the planned East African Federation.

Uganda has a large diaspora, residing mainly in the United States and the United Kingdom. This diaspora has contributed enormously to Uganda's economic growth through remittances and other investments (especially property). According to the World Bank, Uganda received in 2014 an estimated $994 million in remittances from abroad.[86] Uganda also serves as an economic hub for a number of neighbouring countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo,[87] South Sudan[88] and Rwanda.[89]

The Ugandan Bureau of Statistics announced inflation was 4.6% in November 2016.[90]


Street views in Kampala

Uganda is one of the poorest nations in the world. In 2012, 37.8 percent of the population lived on less than $1.25 a day.[91] Despite making enormous progress in reducing the countrywide poverty incidence from 56 percent of the population in 1992 to 24.5 percent in 2009, poverty remains deep-rooted in the country's rural areas, which are home to 84 percent of Ugandans.[92]

People in rural areas of Uganda depend on farming as the main source of income and 90 per cent of all rural women work in the agricultural sector.[93] In addition to agricultural work, rural women are responsible for the caretaking of their families. The average Ugandan woman spends 9 hours a day on domestic tasks, such as preparing food and clothing, fetching water and firewood, and caring for the elderly, the sick as well as orphans. As such, women on average work longer hours than men, between 12 and 18 hours per day, with a mean of 15 hours, as compared to men, who work between 8 and 10 hours a day.[94]

To supplement their income, rural women may engage in small-scale entrepreneurial activities such as rearing and selling local breeds of animals. Nonetheless, because of their heavy workload, they have little time for these income-generating activities. The poor cannot support their children at school and in most cases, girls drop out of school to help out in domestic work or to get married. Other girls engage in sex work. As a result, young women tend to have older and more sexually experienced partners and this puts women at a disproportionate risk of getting affected by HIV, accounting for about 57 per cent of all adults living with HIV.[95]

Maternal health in rural Uganda lags behind national policy targets and the Millennium Development Goals, with geographical inaccessibility, lack of transport and financial burdens identified as key demand-side constraints to accessing maternal health services;[96] as such, interventions like intermediate transport mechanisms have been adopted as a means to improve women's access to maternal health care services in rural regions of the country.[97]

Gender inequality is the main hindrance to reducing women's poverty. Women submit to an overall lower social status than men. For many women, this reduces their power to act independently, participate in community life, become educated and escape reliance upon abusive men.[98]


An advertisement for a mobile phone carrier on a van in Kampala.

There are seven telecommunications companies serving over 21 million subscribers[99] in a population of over 34 million.[51] More than 95% of internet connections are made using mobile phones.[100]

The total mobile and fixed telephony subscriptions increased from over 20 million to over 21 million yielding an increment of over 1.1 million subscribers (5.4% increase) compared to the 4.1% increases realized in the previous quarter Q4 2014 (October–December).[99]

The road between Fort Portal and Rebisengo
Mobile & Fixed Telephony[99]
Indicators Q4 2014 Q1 2015 Change (%)
Mobile Subscriptions (prepaid) 20,257,656 21,347,079 5.4
Mobile Subscriptions (post-paid) 108,285 110,282 1.8
Fixed subscriptions 324,442 349,163 7.6
Tele-density 56.5 62.5 10.6
National status 20,690,383 21,806,523 5.4
Northern corridor road from Kampala to Gulu at Matugga Town in Wakiso District


In the 1980s, the majority of energy in Uganda came from charcoal and wood. However, oil was found in the Lake Albert area, totaling an estimated 95,000,000 m3 (3.354893339×109 cu ft) barrels of crude.[78] Heritage Oil discovered one of the largest crude oil finds in Uganda, and continues operations there.[101]

Water supply and sanitation

According to a 2006 published report, the Ugandan water supply and sanitation sector had made substantial progress in urban areas since the mid-1990s, with substantial increases in coverage as well as in operational and commercial performance.[102]:3–4 Sector reforms in the period 1998-2003 included the commercialization and modernization of the National Water and Sewerage Corporation operating in cities and larger towns, as well as decentralization and private sector participation in small towns.[103]:15

Although, these reforms have attracted significant international attention, 38 percent of the population still had no access to an improved water source in 2010. Concerning access to improved sanitation, figures have varied widely. According to government figures, it was 70 percent in rural areas and 81 percent in urban areas in 2011,[104] while according to UN figures it was only 34 percent.[105]

The water and sanitation sector was recognized as a key area under the 2004 Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP), Uganda's main strategy paper to fight poverty.[106]:182–188 According to a 2006 published report, a comprehensive expenditure framework had been introduced to coordinate financial support by external donors, the national government, and nongovernmental organizations.[107]:5 The PEAP estimated that from 2001 to 2015, about US $1.4 billion, or US $92 million per year, was needed to increase water supply coverage up to 95 percent, with rural areas needing US $956 million, urban areas and large towns needing US $281 million, and small towns needing US $136 million.[106]:182–183


Main article: Education in Uganda
Students in Uganda
Children attending a primary education program for conflict-affected students

At the 2002 census, Uganda had a literacy rate of 66.8% (76.8% male and 57.7% female).[2] Public spending on education was at 5.2% of the 2002–2005 GDP.[108]


Uganda has been among the rare HIV success stories.[108] Infection rates of 30 per cent of the population in the 1980s fell to 6.4% by the end of 2008.[109] However, there has been a spike in recent years compared to the mid-'90s,[110] especially after a shift in US Aid Policy toward abstinence only campaigns. Researchers have found that rates of new infection have stabilised as of 2005 due to a variety of factors, including increased condom use and sexual health awareness. Meanwhile, the practice of abstinence was found to have decreased.[111]

The prevalence of female genital mutilation (FGM) is low: according to a 2013 UNICEF report,[112] only 1% of women in Uganda have undergone FGM; and the practice is also illegal in the country.[113]

Life expectancy at birth was estimated to be 53.45 years in 2012.[114] The infant mortality rate was approximately 61 deaths per 1,000 children in 2012.[115] There were eight physicians per 100,000 persons in the early 2000s.[108] The 2006 Uganda Demographic Health Survey (UDHS) indicated that roughly 6,000 women die each year from pregnancy-related complications.[116] However, recent pilot studies by Future Health Systems have shown that this rate could be significantly reduced by implementing a voucher scheme for health services and transport to clinics. [117][118]

Uganda's elimination of user fees at state health facilities in 2001 has resulted in an 80% increase in visits; over half of this increase is from the poorest 20% of the population.[119] This policy has been cited as a key factor in helping Uganda achieve its Millennium Development Goals and as an example of the importance of equity in achieving those goals.[81] Despite this policy, many users are denied care if they don't provide their own medical equipment, as happened in the highly publicised case of Jennifer Anguko.[120] Poor communication within hospitals,[121] low satisfaction with health services[122] and distance to health service providers undermine the provision of quality health care to people living in Uganda, and particularly for those in poor and elderly-headed households.[123] The provision of subsidies for poor and rural populations, along with the extension of public private partnerships, have been identified as important provisions to enable vulnerable populations to access health services.[123]

In July 2012, there was Ebola outbreak in the Kibaale District of the country.[124] On 4 October 2012, the Ministry of Health officially declared the end of the Ebola outbreak that killed at least 16 people.[125]

It was announced by the Health Ministry on 16 August 2013, that three people died in northern Uganda from a suspected outbreak of Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF).[126]

Crime and law enforcement

In Uganda, the Allied Democratic Forces is considered a violent rebel force that opposes the Ugandan government. These rebels are an enemy of the Uganda People's Defence Force and are considered an affiliate of Al-Shabaab.[127]


Cultural celebrations in Northern Uganda

The country has a significant overpopulation problem.[128]

Uganda's population has grown from 9.5 million people in 1969 to 34.9 million in 2014. With respect to the last inter-censal period (September 2002), the population increased by 10.6 million people in the past 12 years.[129] Uganda has a very young population; With a median age of 15 years, it is the lowest median age in the world.[2] Uganda has the fifth highest total fertility rate in the world, at 5.97 children born/woman (2014 estimates).[2]

There were about 80,000 Indians in Uganda prior to Idi Amin mandating the expulsion of the Ugandan-Asians (mostly of Indian origin) in 1972, which reduced the population to as low as 7,000. However, many Indians returned to Uganda after Amin's fall from power in 1979, and the population is now between 15,000 and 25,000. Around 90 percent of the Ugandan Indians reside in Kampala, the capital.[130] There are also roughly 3,000 Arabs and 20,000 Whites (mostly of English origin) scattered across the country.

According to the UNHCR, Uganda hosted over 190,000 refugees in 2013. Most of the latter came from neighbouring countries in the African Great Lakes region, namely Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda and Sudan.[131]


Main article: Languages of Uganda
An ethnolinguistic map of Uganda

Swahili, a widely used language throughout the African Great Lakes region, was approved as the country's second official national language in 2005,[132][133] though this is somewhat politically sensitive. English was the only official language until the constitution was amended in 2005. Though Swahili has not been favoured by the Bantu-speaking populations of the south and southwest of the country, it is an important lingua franca in the northern regions. It is also widely used in the police and military forces, which may be a historical result of the disproportionate recruitment of northerners into the security forces during the colonial period. The status of Swahili has thus alternated with the political group in power.[134] For example, Amin, who came from the northwest, declared Swahili to be the national language.[135]


Main article: Religion in Uganda

According to the census of 2002, Christians made up about 85 percent of Uganda's population.[136] The Roman Catholic Church had the largest number of adherents (41.9 percent), followed by the Anglican Church of Uganda (35.9 percent). Adventist, Evangelical, Pentecostal, and other Protestant churches claimed most of the remaining Christians, though there was also a tiny Eastern Orthodox community.[136] There are a growing number of Presbyterian denominations like the Presbyterian Church in Uganda, the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Uganda and the Evangelical Free Church in Uganda with hundreds of affiliating congregations. The next most reported religion of Uganda was Islam, with Muslims representing 12.1 percent of the population.[136]

The Muslim population is primarily Sunni. There are also minorities who are Shia (7 percent), Ahmadiyya (4 percent) and those that are non-denominational Muslims, Sufi Muslims.[137][138]

The remainder of the population according to the 2002 census followed traditional religions (1.0 percent), Baha'i (0.1 percent), other non-Christian religions (0.7 percent), or had no religious affiliation (0.9 percent).[136]

Northern Region, including the West Nile sub-region, is predominantly Catholic, while the Iganga District in eastern Uganda has the highest percentage of Muslims. The rest of the country has a mix of religious affiliations.[139]

Largest cities


Woman in Ruwenzori – Western Uganda

Owing to the large number of communities, culture within Uganda is diverse. Many Asians (mostly from India) who were expelled during the regime of Amin have returned to Uganda.[140]



The country has an increasingly successful national basketball team. It is nicknamed The Silverbacks,[141] and made its debut at the 2015 FIBA Africa Championship.


In July 2011 Kampala, Uganda qualified for the 2011 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania for the first time, beating Saudi Arabian baseball team Dharan LL, though due to visa complications they were unable to attend the Series.[142]


Main article: Cinema of Uganda

The Ugandan film industry is relatively young. It is developing quickly, but still faces an assortment of challenges. There has been support for the industry as seen in the proliferation of film festivals such as Amakula, Pearl International Film Festival, Maisha African Film Festival and Manya Human Rights Festival. However filmmakers struggle against the competing markets from other countries on the continent such as those in Nigeria and South Africa in addition to the big budget films from Hollywood.[143]

The first publicly recognised film that was produced solely by Ugandans was Feelings Struggle, which was directed and written by Hajji Ashraf Ssemwogerere in 2005.[144] This marks the year of assent of film in Uganda, a time where many enthusiasts were proud to classify themselves as cinematographers in varied capacities.[145]

The local film industry is polarised between two types of filmmakers. The first are filmmakers who use the Nollywood video film era's guerrilla approach to film making, churning out a picture in around two weeks and screening it in makeshift video halls. The second is the filmmaker who has the film aesthetic, but with limited funds has to depend on the competitive scramble for donor cash.[143]

Though cinema in Uganda is evolving it still faces major challenges. Along with technical problems such as refining acting and editing skills, there are issues regarding funding and lack of government support and investment. There are no schools in the country dedicated to film, banks do not extend credit to film ventures, and distribution and marketing of movies remains poor.[143][145]

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) is preparing regulations starting in 2014 that require Ugandan television to broadcast 70 percent Ugandan content and of this, 40 percent to be independent productions. With the emphasis on Ugandan Film and the UCC regulations favouring Ugandan productions for mainstream television, Ugandan film may become more prominent and successful in the near future.[145]

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Further reading

Selected books
Government and economy
Humanitarian issues
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