Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa, bordered by Kenya in the East, in the north by South Sudan, in the West by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the southwest by Rwanda, and in the south by the Republic of Tanzania. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, which is also shared by Kenya and Tanzania.
Uganda takes it’s name from the Buganda kingdom, which encompasses a large portion of the country including the great capital city 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. Uganda gained independence from Britain on 9 October 1962. The official languages are English and Swahili, although multiple other languages are spoken in the country.
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 meters (3,609 ft) above sea level, and this slopes very steadily downwards from South Sudanese Plain to the north. However, much of the south is poorly drained, while the centre is dominated by Lake Kyoga, which is also surrounded by extensive marshy areas. Uganda lies almost completely within the Nile basin. The Victoria Nile drains from lake Victoria into Lake Kyoga and hence into Lake Albert on the Congolese border. It then runs northwards into South Sudan. One small area on the eastern edge of Uganda is drained by the Turkwel River, part of the internal drainage basin of Lake Turkana.
Lake Kyoga serves as a rough boundary between Bantu speakers in the south and Nilotic and Central Sudanic language speakers in the north. Despite the division between north and south in political affairs, this linguistic boundary runs roughly from northwest to southeast, near the course of the Nile. However, many Ugandans live among people who speak different languages, especially in rural areas. Some sources describe regional variation in terms of physical characteristics, clothing, bodily adornment, and mannerisms, but others claim that those differences are disappearing, hence making Uganda a good destination for mini safaris as you will be able to encounter lots of exciting wildlife in a short time.
Although generally equatorial, the climate is not uniform as the altitude modifies the climate. Southern Uganda is wetter with rain generally spread throughout the year. At Entebbe on the northern shore of Lake Victoria(Victoria Ngamba Island Tours), most rain falls from March to June and in the November/December period. Further to the north a dry season gradually emerges; at Gulu about 120 km from the South Sudanese border, November to February is much drier than the rest of the year.
The northeastern Karamoja region(Kidepo National Park Tour) has the driest climate and is prone to droughts in some years. Rwenzori(Mt.Rwenzori mountaineering tours), a snow peaked mountainous region on the southwest border with Congo (DRC), receives heavy rain all year round and is the source of the Nile. The south of the country is heavily influenced by one of the world’s biggest lakes, Lake Victoria, which contains many islands. It prevents temperatures from varying significantly and increases cloudiness and rainfall. Most important cities are located in the south, near Lake Victoria, including the capital Kampala(Kampala city day tour) and the nearby city of Entebbe. Although landlocked, Uganda contains many large lakes; besides Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga, there are Lake Albert, Lake Edward and the smaller Lake George.
For decades, Uganda’s economy suffered from devastating economic policies and instability, leaving Uganda as one of the world’s poorest countries. The country has commenced economic reforms and growth has been robust. In 2008, Uganda recorded 7% growth despite the global downturn and regional instability. Uganda has substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, and sizable mineral deposits of copper and cobalt. The country has largely untapped reserves of both crude oil and natural gas. While agriculture accounted for 56% of the economy in 1986, with coffee as its main export, it has now been surpassed by the services sector, which accounted for 52% of percent GDP in 2007. In the 1950s the British Colonial regime encouraged some 500,000 subsistence farmers to join co-operatives. 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. Inflation ran at 240% in 1987 and 42% in June 1992, and was 5.1% in 2003.
Between 1990 and 2001, the economy grew because of continued investment in the rehabilitation of infrastructure, improved incentives for production and exports, reduced inflation and gradually improved domestic security. 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 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 2006 the Ugandan Government successfully paid all their debts to the Paris Club, which meant that it was no longer in the (HIPC) list. Growth for 2001–2002 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, 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% between 2000 and 2003, poverty levels increased by 3.8% during that time. 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.
Uganda traditionally depends on Kenya for access to the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa. Recently, 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. 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, in 2010/2011 Uganda got $694 million in remittances from Ugandans abroad, the highest foreign exchange earner for the country. Uganda also serves as an economic hub for a number of neighbouring countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Rwanda.