Uganda is one of the most beautiful countries in Africa. Though a small country, Uganda is a welcoming nation to visitors from all over the world, having stunning scenery, fabulous wildlife, rare flora and fauna that include the endangered mountain gorillas, Chimpanzees etc.
Uganda, officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the 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, shared with Kenya and Tanzania.
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. The area was ruled by the British beginning in the late 1800s. Uganda gained independence from Britain on 9 October 1962. The period since then has been marked by intermittent conflicts, most recently a civil war against the Lord’s Resistance Army.
The official languages are English and Swahili. Luganda, a southern language, is widely spoken across the country, although multiple other languages are spoken in the country.
Official Language: English;
Hours ahead of GMT: 3;
Monetary Unit: Uganda Shilling ( approximately 3400 Shillings = One US Dollar);
Banking Hours: Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm (some banks also open on Saturday & Sunday mornings). Credit Cards: only accepted at a few establishments, expect to use cash in most places. There are several cash point machines at Standard Chartered Bank, Barclays Banks, Stanbic Bank. Visa and Master Cards generally accepted by hotels and tour operators in Kampala, Entebbe & Jinja.
International Dialing Code: +256;
National Holidays: 1st January, 26th January, 8th March, Good Friday, Easter Monday, 1st May, 3rd June, 9th June, 9th October, 25th & 26th December.
Uganda is largely a free market economy and in recent years has maintained a growth rate of about 5% per annum. Agriculture provides about 60% of GDP and over 80% of the adult population are either subsistence farmers or work in agriculture related fields. Major export crops include coffee, tea and tobacco.
Industry is diverse and centred around Kampala. It is mainly small scale and aimed at supplying the domestic market with basic products. The majority of manufactured goods are imported.
Uganda lies between the two arms of the Great Rift Valley in East Africa. It is crossed by the equator. It is roughly the same size as Great Britain having an area of 241,139 sq. km. Of this 17% sq km is made up of swamps and open fresh water bodies, 12% forest reserves and game parks. It is bordered by Kenya to the East, Sudan to the North, DRC to the West and Tanzania and Rwanda to the south.
The country has an average elevation of 1200m above sea level. Mountain areas are the Rwenzori mountains (5000m) with permanent snow cover and Mount Elgon (4300m).
Uganda’s climate is equatorial but this is tempered by its elevated altitude and average daytime temperatures range between 20C and 27C. Average annual rainfall is in the region of 1000mm. There are two rainy seasons – March to early May and September to December.
Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and second largest in the world. It is also the source of the River Nile. Lakes Edward and Albert lie to the west of the country.
The landscape and vegetation have exceptional diversity. Uganda lies at the overlap between tropical East African savannah and the West African rainforest zones. The south of the country is mostly covered by forest and sub-tropical cultivation (plantains, coffee and tea). There are woodland and open savannah grassland areas. The north is drier than the rest of the country. It is covered in semi-desert and dry acacia woodland, which lacks the heavy intertwining canopy found in tropical forests.
The population of Uganda is about 23,000,000 according to year 2000 estimates. Kampala city, the capital has a population of around 2,000,000. Approximately 51% are female The percentage of urban and rural population is 14% and 86% respectively. Annual population growth rate (natural increase) is 2.7% and the annual death rate is 21 per 1000 people.
Uganda was under British rule between 1900 and 1962. Prior to that it had for many centuries been made up of a number of separate kingdoms divided mainly along tribal lines.
Post independent Uganda had a turbulent history under a number of Presidents until President Yoweri Museveni gained control in 1986 and managed to bring a war torn and divided country together.
Since that time the country has been largely trouble free with the exception of occasional local disturbances and, as a result, has enjoyed rapid economic growth.
TRAVEL AND ACCOMMODATION
The main airport is at Entebbe which is about a forty minute drive from the capital city Kampala. British Airways operates several direct weekly flights from and to London and several other major international airlines also serve Entebbe.
There is no shortage of hotels of all qualities in Kampala and many other towns can offer tourist standard hotel accommodation.
Travel within Uganda is relatively straight forward, most roads being in good or reasonable condition.
Uganda is sunny most of the year round with temperatures rising above 290c. The heavy rainy season is March, May, and the light rainy season November- December, though there will always be a few hours of sun shine.
The official language spoken in Uganda is English. Luganda and Swahili are also widely spoken.