Uganda is a landlocked nation in East Africa bordered by Kenya, Sudan, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Tanzania. Lake Victoria occupies a large part of the country’s southern part. Kampala is the capital city.
Until 1,700 to 2,300 years ago when Bantu speakers migrated to the area, the people in Uganda were hunter-gatherers. In 1962, Uganda gained its independence from Britain. Its official languages are Swahili and English, but other languages are used. Uganda belongs to the African Union, the Commonwealth of Nations, the East African Community, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
Bantu speaking people migrated to the area from central and western Africa approximately 1,700 to 2,300 years ago. They brought not only iron-working but political and social ideals. In the 14th and 15th centuries the Empire of Kitara was the earliest formal organization. They were followed by the Bunyoro-Kitara, the Buganda, and the Ankole.
Beginning in 120 AD, Nilotic people, including the Ateker and Luo, came into Uganda from the north. Some of the Luo invaded the Bunyoro areas and assimilated with the Bantu. This established the Babiito dynasty. This Luo migration ended in the 16th century. The Ateker settled in other areas of Uganda and some combined with the Luo north of Lake Kyoga.
In the 1830s, Arab traders moved from the East African coast and were followed in the 1860s by British explorers looking for the Nile’s source. Protestant and Catholic missionaries followed later in the 19th century. In 1888, the area became a British East Africa Company charter and a formal British protectorate in 1894.
Uganda’s final protectorate took shape in 1914. A sleeping sickness epidemic from 1900 to 1920 killed over 250,000 people.
In 1962, Uganda gained its independence from Britain. The first elections occurred that year and were won by an alliance of two parties, the Kabaka Yekka (KY) and the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC). Milton Obote became the Prime Minister. The Buganda King Edward Muteesa II held a ceremonial position as president. William Wilberforce Nadiope, a Kyabazinga chief, was vice-president.
After a power struggle between Obote’s government and the King in 1966, the parliament, controlled by the UPC, changed the constitution to eliminate the ceremonial president and vice-president. The new constitution in 1967 set up Uganda as a republic and abolished the traditional kingdoms. Without any actual elections, Obote was declared the leader.
In 1971, Idi Amin deposed Obote and seized power. For the next eight years, Amin ruled and caused the death of 300,000 Ugandans. His actions crippled the economy.
After the Uganda-Tanzania War in 1979, Amin’s rule ended. Obote returned but was deposed again in 1985 by General Tito Okello, who ruled for six months and was deposed by the National resistance Army (NRA). Its leader, Yoweri Museveni, became the president and still holds the office.
The West praised Museveni in the 1990s as part of a new generation of African leaders. He involved the country in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and other regional conflicts. Thousands have been killed or displaced in northern Ugandan conflicts.
Uganda’s president is currently Yoweri Kaguta Mosebveni. The president is head of government and head of state. The vice president, Gilber Buklenya, and the prime minister, Amama Mbabazi, are also presidential appointees.
Due to sectarian violence, political parties were restricted in 1986. Non-party groups continued and were known as movements. The party ban was lifted in 2005 after a constitutional referendum. The two term limit on the president was also lifted at this time.
Uganda has an average height of 1,100 meters above sea level and is on the East African plateau. Lake Kyoga dominates the country’s center. The country is almost all within the Nile basin. The Victoria Nile drains from Lake Victoria to Lake Kyoga and then runs north into Sudan. The Turkwel River drains a small area in Uganda’s eastern edge.
The area of Lake Kyoga is a boundary between Nilotic language speakers in the north and Bantu speakers in the south. The climate is equatorial but not uniform. The southern areas are wetter. A dry season does occur in the northern parts of Uganda.
The Karamoja area in the northeast has the driest climate. In the southwest, Rwenzori receives heavy rain all year. Lake Victoria in the south prevents the area’s temperatures from varying significantly. The south is where the most important cities are located, such as the capital, Kampala, and Entebbe.
Districts, Counties, and Kingdoms
There are 80 districts in Uganda in four administrative regions (Northern, Eastern, Central, and Western). These districts are further subdivided into counties. Eight districts were added in 2006. In addition to counties, other subdivisions are sub-counties, parishes, and villages.
There are also six Bantu kingdoms with some cultural autonomy. These are the Ankole, Toro, Bunyoro, Busoga, Buganda, and Rwenzururu.
Poor economic policies and instability caused the economy to suffer for decades. This left Uganda as one of the poorest countries in the world.
The country has a number of natural resources, including sizeable cobalt and copper deposits. There is oil and natural gas, but these are largely untapped. Inflation has subsided. It was 240 percent in 1987, 5.1 percent in 2003, and 6.2 percent in 2013.
The economy grew from 1990 to 2001 due to investment in infrastructure, improved production incentives, reduced inflation, improved security, and return of entrepreneurs. Recently, the country’s involvement in DRC’s wars, governmental corruption, and failure to continue to implement reforms could cause the economic progress to end.
In 2000, Uganda was included in foreign debt relief packages with totaled $2 billion. While there has been gains in the economy, with GDP per capita at $1,500. In Uganda, overall growth in the economy has not always reduced poverty.
A stock market started in Uganda in 1996, but it is primarily a vehicle for the government to use to privatize industry. Some equities have been listed.
There are many different ethnic groups in Uganda. Forty languages are used regularly. After independence, English became the official language.
Luganda is the most widely spoken language and is mostly used by Baganda people in urban Kampala and the surrounding regions. Runyankore and Lusoga are other commonly used languages.
The second official language, approved in 2005, is Swahili. This language is important in the north but not the south. The police and military use it often, which may result from disproportionate recruitment from northern areas.
The current estimated population is 45,323,682.
Christians make up 84 percent of the country’s population. Roman Catholic was the most common denomination, followed by the Anglican Church. Islam is practiced by 12 percent of Ugandans.
Only one percent of the population follows traditional religions. There are a small number of people practicing Judaism and the Baha’i Faith.
Uganda’s actions against HIV have been a success. In the 1980s, over 30 percent of Ugandans were HIV positive, dropping significantly to 7.2 percent.
Life expectancy at birth for females is 55.86 and 53.1 for males. Infant mortality is 60.82 per 1,000 births.
Football is Uganda’s most popular sport, but cricket is gaining in popularity. The Ugandan rugby team has also been successful.
Several rally champions are from Uganda and the country staged a round of the African Rally Championship.
The literacy rate is 73.2 percent. There are both public and private universities, the largest of which is the Makerere University outside of Kampala.
Since the 1980s, respect for human rights has advanced. Areas of remaining concern are abuses by the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army and the Ugandan army in the northern parts of the country. Approximately 1.4 million have been displaced. Security organizations still use torture. Opposition members are arrested and beaten, including members of parliament.