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Flag Source: CIA World Factbook
Uganda broke from the British Empire and became an independent nation in 1962, but the history of its people has been preserved through an oral tradition for hundreds of years. Archaeological evidence shows that people were engaging in agricultural labor in the area now known as Uganda in 1000 B.C.E., making it one of the earliest inhabited areas in Africa.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, political and social orders developed among various ethnic groups to facilitate and profit from the Sudanese slave trade. In the 19th century the largest of these ethnic groups, the Baganda, expanded its kingdom, called Buganda. King Mutesa I was the last independent ruler of Buganda and was able to make Buganda’s transition to a British protectorate as peaceful as possible. (The Buganda kingdom exists to this day.)
The first European explorers arrived in Uganda looking for the source of the Nile in 1862, and in 1894, Buganda
was declared a British protectorate; other territories around the kingdom became protectorates in subsequent years. Unlike many other European territories in Africa, Uganda was never actually colonized; that would have allowed foreigners to own land. European settlers and British traders were nevertheless able to profit greatly from Uganda’s cotton, coffee, and sugar industries.
In the 1950s, Ugandans started looking toward the many other African states that had achieved independence, and a Ugandan independence movement began, leading to a declaration of independence in 1962. The first leader of independent Uganda was Milton Obote, who ruled from 1962 until 1971, when Sergeant Idi Amin Dada staged a military coup and installed himself at the head of the government and the military.
In 1976, Amin declared himself the leader of Uganda for life. Amin’s rule was characterized by brutality, violence, and the disintegration of Uganda’s economy. In 1978, Ugandan forces exiled in Tanzania removed Amin from power. In 1980, Milton Obote took power again, continuing to ravage the country. Obote was pushed from power in 1986, and Yoweri Kaguta Moseveni became president. Moseveni was able to revive Uganda’s economy and restore political stability. He was reelected in 1996, 2001, and 2006.
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1. Uganda is a landlocked country situated in East Africa. It is bordered by Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sudan. It is slightly smaller than the state of Oregon. Uganda is separated into the Northern, Eastern, Central, and Western regions. It consists mostly of plateau but also has some of the most breathtaking mountains in Africa. Though lacks access to the sea, Uganda has a bounty of lakes and rivers, so the land is extremely fertile.
2. The official language in Uganda is English. It is taught in schools and used in government, administration, and newspapers, but few Ugandans outside of major cities speak English fluently. Ganda or Luganda is the most widely spoken unofficial language, but roughly 40 other native languages are spoken in Uganda. Most Ugandans are fluent in several of those native languages, and many also speak Swahili.
3. Especially in recent years, a significant campaign has been waged to protect Uganda’s natural environment. It has included the banning of plastic bags. When traveling to Uganda, do not take plastic bags with you, and respect the environment, especially outside of larger cities. Smoking has been banned in all indoor public places in Uganda since 2004, and violators face fines or arrest.
4. Uganda is home to 33 million people, and it has a young population: 50 percent of Ugandans are under the age of 15. The largest ethnic group in Uganda is the Baganda.
5. Uganda’s currency is the Ugandan shilling, represented by the symbol UGX.