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Republic of Uganda

CAPITAL: Kampala

FLAG: The national flag consists of six equal horizontal stripes of black, yellow, red, black, yellow, and red (from top to bottom); at the center, within a white circle, is a crested crane, the national bird of Uganda.

ANTHEM: Begins "O Uganda! May God uphold thee."

MONETARY UNIT: The new Uganda shilling (NUSh) was introduced in May 1987 with a value equal to 100 old Uganda shillings. NUSh1 = $0.00056 (or $1 = NUSh1,776.68) as of 2005. There are coins of 1, 2, and 5 shillings, and notes of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 shillings.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is now in use.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 1 May; Martyrs' Day, 3 June; Independence Day, 9 October; Christmas Day, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable holidays include Good Friday, Easter Monday, 'Id al-Fitr, and 'Id al-'Adha'.

TIME: 3 pm = noon GMT.


A landlocked country in east-central Africa, situated north and northwest of Lake Victoria, Uganda has a total area of 236,040 sq km (91,136 sq mi), of which 36,330 sq km (14,027 mi) is inland water. Comparatively, the area occupied by Uganda is slightly smaller than the state of Oregon. It extends 787 km (489 mi) nnessw and 486 km (302 mi) esewnw. Bounded on the n by Sudan, on the e by Kenya, on the s by Tanzania and Rwanda, and on the w by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROC). Uganda has a total boundary length of 2,698 km (1,676 mi).


The greater part of Uganda consists of a plateau 800 to 2,000 m (2,6006,600 ft) in height. Along the western border, in the Ruwenzori Mountains, Margherita Peak reaches a height of 5,109 m (16,762 ft), while on the eastern frontier Mount Elgon rises to 4,321 m (14,178 ft). By contrast, the Western Rift Valley, which runs from north to south through the western half of the country, is below 910 m (3,000 ft) on the surface of Lake Edward and Lake George and 621 m (2,036 ft) on the surface of Lake Albert (L. Mobutu Sese Seko). The White Nile has its source in Lake Victoria; as the Victoria Nile, it runs northward through Lake Kyoga and then westward to Lake Albert, from which it emerges as the Albert Nile to resume its northward course to the Sudan. With 69 lakes, Uganda has the highest number of lakes in Africa.


Although Uganda is on the equator, its climate is warm rather than hot, and temperatures vary little throughout the year. Most of the territory receives an annual rainfall of at least 100 cm (40 in). At Entebbe, mean annual rainfall is 162 cm (64 in); in the northeast, it is only 69 cm (27 in). Temperature generally varies by altitude; on Lake Albert, the mean annual maximum is 29°c (84°f) and the mean annual minimum 22°c (72°f). At Kabale in the southwest, 1,250 m (4,100 ft) higher, the mean annual maximum is 23°c (73°f), and the mean annual minimum 10°c (50°f). At Kampala, these extremes are 27°c (81°f) and 17°c (63°f).


In the southern half of Uganda, the natural vegetation has been largely replaced by cultivated plots, in which plantain is the most prominent. There are, however, scattered patches of thick forest or of elephant grass and mvuli trees, providing excellent timber.

The cooler western highlands contain a higher proportion of long grass and forest. In the extreme southwest, however, cultivation is intensive even on the high mountain slopes. In the drier northern region, short grasses appear, and there are areas of open woodland; thorn trees and borassus palms also grow.

Elephant, hippopotamus, buffalo, cob, topi, and a variety of monkeys are all plentiful, while lion, giraffe, and rhinoceros also are seen. At least six mammal species are found only in Uganda.

The birds of Uganda include the crowned crane (the national emblem), bulbul, weaver, crow, shrike, heron, egret, ibis, guinea fowl, mouse bird, lourie, hornbill, pigeon, dove, bee-eater, hoopoe, darter, lily-trotter, marabou stork, kingfisher, fish eagle, and kite. As of 2002, there were at least 345 species of mammals, 243 species of birds, and over 4,900 species of plants throughout the country.

There are relatively few varieties of fish, but the lakes and rivers contain plentiful stocks of tilapia, Nile perch, catfish, lungfish, elephant snout fish, and other species. Crocodiles, too, are found in many areas and are particularly evident along the Nile between the Kabalega (Murchison) Falls and Lake Albert. There is a wide variety of snakes, but the more dangerous varieties are rarely observed.


Major environmental problems in Uganda include overgrazing, deforestation, and primitive agricultural methods, all of which lead to soil erosion. Attempts at controlling the propagation of tsetse flies have involved the use of hazardous chemicals. The nation's water supply is threatened by toxic industrial pollutants; mercury from mining activity is also found in the water supply.

Forests and woodlands were reduced by two-thirds between 1962 and 1977. By 1985, 193 square miles of forests were eliminated. Between 1990 and 2000, the annual rate of deforestation was about 2%. Wetlands have been drained for agricultural use. As of 2003, 24% of Uganda's total land area was protected, including two natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites and two Ramsar wetland sites.

In 1996, water hyacinth growth created a serious environmental and economic problem on Lake Victoria. By some estimates, the hyacinths covered 6,000 ha (14,820 acres) of water, still less than 0.1% of the lake. When the masses of hyacinths drifted into Uganda's ports and coves, they impaired the local fishing, trapped small boats in ports, and kept fish under the plants. The weed invasion had also been known to affect cargo boat and ferry transportation by fouling engines and propellers and making docking difficult. Environmentalists introduced different types of pests to control the weed growth, so that by 2001, much of the growth had diminished. Of more recent concern for Lake Victoria is the drop in water level that has occurred in from about 19952005. Some reports estimate that the water level had dropped by one meter in that decade.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the number of threatened species included 29 types of mammals, 15 species of birds, 6 species of amphibians, 27 species of fish, 10 types of mollusks, 9 species of other invertebrates, and 38 species of plants. Threatened species include the mountain gorilla, northern white rhinoceros, black rhinoceros, and Nile crocodile. Poaching of protected animals is widespread.


The population of Uganda in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 26,907,000, which placed it at number 41 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 2% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 51% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 100 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 20052010 was expected to be 3.2%. In response to this rate, which the government viewed as too high, the government revised its Population Policy in an attempt to slow population growth. As of 2006 Uganda had one of the fastest-growing populations in the world. The projected population for the year 2025 was 55,810,000.

The overall population density was 112 per sq km (289 per sq mi). However, density varied from 673 per sq km (260 per sq mi) in Kabale to 36 per sq km (14 per sq mi) in the dry Karamoja plains. The northern, eastern, and western regions are less densely populated than the region along the north shore of Lake Victoria.

The UN estimated that 12% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 4.67%. The capital city, Kampala, had a population of 1,246,000 in that year. Other major cities and their estimated populations were Jinja, 106,000; Mbale, 70,437; and Masaka, 61,300.


Expulsion of Asian noncitizens was decreed by the Amin government in 1972; almost all the nation's 74,000 Asians, both citizens and noncitizens, emigrated during the Amin regime. In 1982, the government enacted the Expropriated Properties Bill, which provided for the restoration of property to Asians expelled under Amin. About 6,000 Asians had returned by 1983.

After the fall of the Amin regime, as many as 240,000 people from Amin's West Nile district may have fled Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and the Sudan. Many of them returned to Uganda in 1983; government campaigns against guerrillas, however, displaced thousands more, and at the end of 1986 there were an estimated 170,000 Ugandan refugees in Sudan and 23,000 in Zaire. The refugee population in Zaire remained steady, but the number in the Sudan had dropped to 3,800 by the end of 1992.

As of 2004, Uganda had 250,482 refugees, 1,809 asylum seekers, and 91 returned refugees. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), these refugees were primarily from Sudan (214,623), Rwanda (18,902), and the DROC (14,982), and other neighboring African nations. Asylum seekers were from Somalia, the DROC, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia. In that same year some 16,000 Ugandans were refugees in the DROC and Sudan, and some 1,200 sought asylum in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Kenya. The net migration rate in 2005 was estimated as -1.49 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory. Worker remittances in 2002 were $365 million.


Uganda's ethnic groups are most broadly distinguished by language. In southern Uganda, most of the population speak Bantu languages. Sudanic speakers inhabit the northwest; Nilotic speakers, principally the Acholi and Langi, live in the north; and the Iteso and Karamajong in the northeast. The Baganda, who populate the northern shore of Lake Victoria, constitute the largest single ethnic group in Uganda, making up about 17% of the total population. The Ankole account for about 8%, Basogo 8%, Iteso 8%, Bakiga 7%, and the Langi 6%. Perhaps 6% of the population (not counting refugees) is of Rwandan descent, either Tutsi or Hutu. Most of them live in the south. Bagisu constitute 5%; Acholi account for 4%; Lugbara another 4%; Bunyoro 3%; and Batoro 3%. The Karamajong account for 2%. The Bakonjo, Jopodhola, and Rundi groups each account for 2% of the population as well. About 1% is comprised of non-Africans, including Europeans, Asians, and Arabs. Other groups make up the remaining 8%.


English is the official national language. It is taught in grade schools, used in courts of law, and by most newspapers and some radio broadcasts. Bantu languages, particularly Luganda (the language of the Baganda), are widespread in the southern, western, and central areas. Luganda is the preferred language for native-language publications and may be taught in school. Nilotic languages are common in the north and northeast, and Central Sudani clusters exist in the northwest. Kiswahili (Swahili) and Arabic are also widely spoken.


Christianity is the majority religion, practiced by about 75% of the population, with about 90% of all Christians fairly evenly split in membership as Roman Catholics or Anglicans. Other denominations include Seventh-Day Adventist, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, the Orthodox Church, the Unification Church, and Pentecostal churches. Muslims account for about 15% of the population; most are of the Sunni sect. Others practice traditional African religions, which are more common in the north and west of Uganda. There are also small numbers of Hindus, Baha'is, and Jews. Traditional beliefs and customs are often practiced in conjunction with other established faiths.

Though freedom of religion is provided for in the constitution, local governments have placed restrictions on some religious groups that are considered to be cults. This has been particularly true since 2000, when it was discovered that members of a cult group had killed over 1,000 citizens. Some organizations are banned from evening meetings for what local authorities claim to be a matter of public safety. All religious organizations must register with the government; failure do so brings the threat of criminal prosecution for those who practice any religious activities. Several religious alliances have formed in cooperation for peace within the country. These include the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, the Inter-Religious Council, Religious Efforts for Teso and Karamoja, and the Inter-Religious Program. Certain Muslim and Christian holidays are officially observed.


A landlocked country, Uganda depends on links with Tanzania and Kenya for access to the sea. The main rail line runs from Tororo in the east through Jinja and Kampala to the Kilembe copper mines near Kasese. The northwest line runs from Tororo to Pakwach. Eastward from Tororo, the line crosses into Kenya and runs to the port of Mombasa. As of 2004, the Ugandan railway system totaled 1,241 km (771 mi), all of it narrow gauge.

In 2002, there were 27,000 km (16,778 mi) of roads, 1,809 km (1,125 mi) of which were surfaced. In 2003, there were 51,010 passenger cars and 43,150 commercial vehicles registered in Uganda. However, many were not in service due to damage, shortages of fuel and spare parts, and closing of repair and maintenance facilities.

Steamships formerly carried cargo and passengers along the country's major lakes and navigable rivers, but there is no regular service on the Nile. Three Ugandan train ferries ply Lake Victoria, connecting at Kisumu, Kenya, and Mwanza, Tanzania. Important ports and harbors include Entebbe, Jinja, and Port Bell. As of 2004, Uganda had an estimated 300 km (187 mi) of navigable inland waterways. As of 2002, Uganda had a merchant fleet of three cargo ships totaling 5,091 GRT.

In 2004, airports numbered an estimated 29, only 4 of which had paved runways as of 2005. Uganda's international airport is at Entebbe. In 2003, about 40,000 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international flights.


San-like peoples were among the Uganda region's earliest inhabitants. Over the centuries, however, they were overcome by waves of migrants, beginning with the Cushitic speakers, who probably penetrated the area around 1000 bc. In the first millennium ad, Bantu-speaking peoples moved into the highland areas of East Africa, where they cultivated the banana as a food crop. After ad 1000, two other migrations filtered through the area: Nilotic-speaking Sudanic people and Luo speakers.

In the region south and west of the Nile, a number of polities formed, most of them strongly centralized. North and east of the Nile, political organization tended to be decentralized. In the south, the kingdom of Bunyoro was the most powerful and extensive, but in the 18th century the neighboring kingdom of Buganda began to challenge its supremacy. The two states were engaged in a critical power struggle when the British explorers John Hanning Speke and J. A. Grant reached Buganda in 1862. They had been preceded some years earlier by Arab ivory and slave traders. Other foreigners soon followed. Sir Samuel Baker entered Uganda from the north shortly after Speke's departure. Baker described a body of water, which he named Lake Albert. Baker returned to Uganda in 187273 as a representative of the Egyptian government, which was pursuing a policy of expansion up the Nile. The first Christian missionaries, members of the Church Missionary Society of Great Britain, came to Buganda in 1877. They were followed in 1879 by the Roman Catholic White Fathers.

The missionaries were welcomed by the kabaka (ruler) of Buganda, Mutesa I, who hoped to gain their support or the support of their countrymen against the Egyptian threat from the north. When the missionaries displayed no interest in military matters and the Egyptian danger was removed by the Mahdist rising in the Sudan in the early 1880s, Mutesa became less amenable. His son, Mwanga, who succeeded Mutesa on the latter's death in 1884, was even more hostile, fearing the influence exerted over his subjects by both the missionaries and the Arab traders. The kabaka, therefore, began to persecute the Bagandan adherents of Christianity and Islam. Both sets of converts joined forces to drive the kabaka from his country in 1888. A few weeks later, the Christians were expelled by the Muslims. Mwanga then appealed to the Christians for help, and they finally succeeded in restoring him to power early in 1890.

In 1888, the Imperial British East African Co. was granted a charter and authorized to administer the British sphere of East Africa. The Anglo-German agreement of 1890 officially outlined imperial spheres of influence in East Africa. By that agreement, what is now Uganda and Kenya were to be considered British spheres and Tanganyika a German sphere. In 1890, Capt. F. D. Lugard was sent to Buganda to establish the company's influence there. Lugard obtained Mwanga's agreement to a treaty that placed Buganda under the company's protection. Shortly afterward, however, lack of funds compelled the company to withdraw its representatives from Buganda.

In 1894, the kingdom of Buganda became a British protectorate, which was extended in 1896 to cover Bunyoro and most of what is now Uganda. In 1897, Mwanga led a revolt against British encroachments; he was quickly defeated and deposed. His infant son, Daudi Chwa, succeeded him, and a regency was established to govern Buganda under British supervision. Under the Uganda Agreement of 1900, Buganda was ruled indirectly by the British, who in turn used the Baganda leadership as agents to extend British control indirectly throughout Uganda. The agreement confirmed the privileged position of Buganda in Uganda and of the traditional chiefs in Buganda. Subsequent treaties for indirect rule were concluded with the remaining kingdoms over a period of years.

Buganda's rebuff of British policies following World War II marked the beginning of a conflict over the place of Buganda within the future evolution of the territory. Kabaka Mutesa II was deposed in 1953 when he refused to force his chiefs to cooperate with the British. He was restored to power in 1955 under a compromise agreement.

It was only at the constitutional conference convened in London in October 1961 that a place was agreed for Buganda in a federal relationship to central government. It was also decided at this conference that Uganda should obtain independence on 9 October 1962. At a second constitutional conference in June 1962, Buganda agreed to scale down its demands over financial matters and ended its threats of secession from the central government. In August, a federal relationship with the kingdom of Ankole was agreed upon, and the agreement used as a model for dealing with the remaining two kingdoms, Bunyoro and Toro.

On 9 October 1963, an amendment to the constitution abolished the post of governor-general and replaced it with that of president. Sir Edward Mutesa (Kabaka Mutesa II of Buganda) became Uganda's first president. In February 1966, the 1962 constitution was suspended and the prime minister, Milton Obote, assumed all powers of government. parliament formally abrogated the 1962 constitution on 15 April 1966 and adopted a new constitution, which created the post of president and commander-in-chief; Obote was elected to fill this position on the same day. Obote declared a state of emergency in Buganda following a clash between the police and dissident Baganda protesting the new constitution. On 24 May, Ugandan troops took control of the kabaka's palace, and the kabaka fled the country.

Further revisions to the constitution enacted in June 1967 abolished the federal relationship of Buganda and the other kingdoms, making Uganda a unitary state. Uganda became a republic with an executive president, who would be concurrently head of state and government.

Following a failed assassination attempt on Obote in December 1969, parliament declared a state of emergency on 22 December. Ten opposition leaders were arrested and all opposition parties were banned.

Amin Seizes Power

On 25 January 1971, while Obote was out of the country, Maj. Gen. Idi Amin led a successful military coup. Obote was received by Tanzania as a political exile. The Second Republic of Uganda was proclaimed on 17 March 1971, with Amin as president. In September 1972, Ugandans who had followed Obote into exile in Tanzania staged an abortive invasion. They were immediately overpowered, but tensions between Uganda and Tanzania remained high.

The expulsion of Asian noncitizens from Uganda in August 1972 also caused international tension, especially with the United Kingdom. Expulsion of numerous British nationals in 1973 and the nationalization of UK-owned enterprises beginning in December 1972, further aggravated relations with the United Kingdom. An Israeli commando raid on Entebbe Airport on 34 July 1976, which freed 91 Israeli passengers and 12 crew members held captive by pro-Palestinian radicals in a hijacked aircraft, was a severe blow to the prestige of Amin, who was suspected of collusion with the hijackers (20 Ugandan troops were killed during the raid).

Under Amin, Uganda suffered a reign of terror that had claimed 50,000 to 300,000 lives by 1977, according to Amnesty International. The expulsion of the Asians took a heavy toll on trade and the economy. Agricultural and industrial production also fell, and educational and health facilities suffered from the loss of skilled personnel. The collapse in 1977, essentially because of political differences, of the 10-year-old East African Community (membersKenya, Tanzania, and Uganda) also dealt a blow to Uganda's economy.

In late October 1978, Ugandan forces invaded Tanzanian territory, but Tanzanian forces, supported by anti-Amin rebels, struck back and by January 1979 had entered Ugandan territory. Kampala was taken on 11 April 1979, and all of Uganda was cleared of Amin's forces by the end of May; Amin fled first to Libya and later to Saudi Arabia. Yusuf K. Lule, an educator, formed a provisional government but was ousted on 20 June in favor of Godfrey Binaisa. On 13 May 1980, a military takeover ousted Binaisa and installed Paulo Muwanga. parliamentary elections administered by Muwanga and other supporters of Obote, who returned from exile in Tanzania, were held on 10 December 1980. The election results, which opponents claimed were fraudulent, gave Obote's Uganda People's Congress (UPC) a clear majority, and he was sworn in as president on 15 December 1980. A period of reconstruction followed, and Tanzanian troops left in mid-1981. Security remained precarious, however. An undisciplined soldiery committed many outrages, and antigovernment guerrilla groups, especially the National Resistance Army (NRA), which was supported from abroad by Lule and Binaisa, remained active.

Obote's second term in office was marked by continued fighting between the army and guerrilla factions. As many as 100,000 people may have died as a result of massacres, starvation, and hindrance of relief operations. International groups denounced the regime for human rights abuses. On 27 July 1985, Obote was overthrown in a military coup and Lt. Gen. Tito Okello, commander of the armed forces, was installed as president.

The NRA continued fighting, however, and on 26 January 1986 it occupied Kampala. Three days later, NRA leader Yoweri Museveni assumed the presidency. By April the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government was in control of most of the country, but armed supporters of the Obote, Amin, and Okello regimes remained active in northern and northeastern Uganda, as well as opposition from Karamojong separatists and prophetic religious movements, most notably the Holy Spirit rebels of Alice Lakwena in 1987.

After 1990, except for tiny groups of bandits, rebel military action was almost eliminated. However, Museveni resisted introducing a multiparty constitution advocating "no-party government" instead. In late August 1992, parliament formalized the ban on party politics which officials of the UPC and Democratic Party, DP (both abolished by Museveni in 1986) rejected at a press conference. Nonetheless, parties became more active, despite the ban and police action.

Although lauded by western countries as a new breed of African leader, and Uganda as a role model for African development, there was growing criticism of Museveni for his lack of democratic credentials. In July1993, parliament enacted Constituent Assembly Statute No. 6, the basis for nonparty elections to choose a constituent assembly, which would consider the draft constitution released in December 1992 by an appointed commission. In a secret ballot election on 28 March 1994, Ugandans elected 214 delegates to the 288-member assembly. Also included were 10 delegates appointed by the president, 56 representing interest groups, and 8 representing 4 parties that had contested the 1980 election.

In addition, the government introduced constitutional changes allowing the Baganda to restore their monarchy purely for ceremonial purposes. Ronald Mutebi, son of the former king, was installed as Kabaka on 31 July 1993. The monarchies had been abolished in the 1967 constitution. A second king was restored and a third was rejected by government.

In October of 1995, the new constitution was finally enacted. It replaced the interim National Resistance Council with a permanent parliament, and made minor changes in executive power, but its most noticed element was the prohibition of political party activity for five years.

The first popular elections for president since independence were held on 9 May 1996. Museveni won with 74% of the vote, Paul Ssemogerere got 24%, and Muhammad Mayanja 2%. Nonparty parliamentary elections for the 276-member (214 elected, 62 nominated by special groups) house followed on 27 June 1999. The elections were peaceful and orderly, but election conditions, including restrictions on political party activities, resulted in flaws. Elections were held again in March 2001 with Museveni claiming victory with 69% of the vote to 28% for Kizza Besigye. The results were upheld despite objections by the opposition.

By June 2003, there was growing concern over the government's inability to build political consensus in the country and to maintain peace and security. In the north, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a cult-like Christian rebel group operated from bases in southern Sudan, and in western Uganda, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) stepped up rebel attacks from the DROC. Other rebel groups included Rwanda Hutu rebels, Uganda National Rescue Front-II, and the Uganda National Front/Army. Members of these rebel groups murdered, raped, kidnapped, tortured, and abducted children using them as combatants, sex and labor slaves. UNICEF estimated that the LRA and ADF abducted over 4,900 men, women and children since 1987, most of whom remained missing.

Museveni has tried both diplomatic and military means to end the fighting. He reluctantly accepted an Amnesty Bill in January 2000, which provided for pardon to any rebels who surrendered their arms within six months. Three months later, no rebels had complied. A highly publicized all-out offensive in 2002 also failed to achieve its goals, and independent observers accused government troops of killing innocent civilians including women and children.

In 2004, three oppositions groupsReform Agenda, the Parliamentary Advocacy Reform (PAFO), and the National Democratic Forum (NDF)merged to form the FDC, which became the main challenger to Museveni's NRM party. In 2005, the parliament approved two constitutional amendments that restored a multiparty system and removed the two-term limit for the president. The elimination of the two-term limit, which opposition groups and donors stridently opposed, was significant in that it allowed Museveni to run for another term. Uganda had operated under a no-party system since 1980. Subsequently, some 50 parties formed and began to campaign in the run-up to the 2006 elections. In August, the parliament also approved additional changes to the constitution that increased the power of the executive vis-à-vis the legislature.

The February 2006 polls marked the first multiparty presidential and parliamentary elections in 26 years. In the run-up, three people were killed as a result of violent clashes between security personnel and opposition supporters. Voting day itself was mostly peaceful though many irregularities such as unsealed ballot boxes, under-age voting, and military patrols in the vicinity of polling stations were reported. Thousands of domestic and international observers from the EU, AU, United States and Commonwealth nations observed the polling. Some 8090% of polling stations were monitored.

As the results were announced the following day, the FDC alleged voter-list tampering. International observer missions, though not uniform in their assessments, generally rated the exercise as short of free and fair. The main complaint by observers was that the playing field had been made extremely unlevel mostly because of the rape and treason charges leveled at Dr. Kizza Besigye, Museveni's opponent, by government agencies. In March 2006 the rape charges were dropped. However, the treason trial was due to begin on 15 March 2006. Ironically, Mr. Besigye, who had fled Uganda after losing the 2001 poll, had formerly been Museveni's personal doctor, and the two were allies in the guerrilla war. The official results gave Museveni the victory by a margin of 59.28% of the vote to Dr. Besigye's 37.36%. The FDC immediately challenged the results, but police surrounded FDC headquarters to prevent a mass protest. Voter turn-out was 68.6%.

In the 2006 parliamentary contest, the NRM ruling party took the majority of the seats with 202 to 40 for the FDC and 49 seats to other smaller opposition groups. This result assured the president's party of a two-thirds majority. In a hotly contested race in a district in southwest Uganda, the first lady, Janet Museveni, became a member of parliament by beating an FDC incumbent of ten years. Evidence that she used state resources during her campaign did not reverse the outcome. Although the FDC accused the NRM of having stolen the election, it vowed to pursue change through legal and constitutional means. A separate FDC tally showed Museveni winning 51% of the vote with enough votes to exceed a run-off by only 600,000which the FDC claimed it could prove was rigged.

Internationally, a cease-fire with President Joseph Kabila of DROC signed in 2003 was threatened by alleged evidence of rebel ADF bases in neighboring Ituri province. Additionally, though most Ugandan troops were withdrawn from Congolese territory in early 2003, the Ugandan government was likely to send troops back in if Rwanda were to do the same. Relations with Sudan continued to be unsettled because of unanswered questions following the crash of John Garang's helicopter in July 2005. Garang, former leader of the SPLA, had been a long-time friend of Museveni, but speculation that Uganda was connected to the crash chilled relations with the South Sudan government. For Uganda, this meant that insecurity in the north would likely continue, especially with the rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) able to operate from Sudanese territory.


Following Gen. Amin's coup of 25 January 1971, provisions of the 1967 constitution dealing with the executive and legislature were suspended, and Amin ruled by decree. As commander-in-chief of the armed forces and president of the military government, he exercised virtually all power.

Following Amin's defeat, the Uganda High Court in 1980 declared a modified version of the 1967 constitution to be the law of the land. The constitution was amended in May 1985, but it was suspended with the fall of the Obote government in July, when the National Assembly was dissolved. A 270-person National Resistance Council was established in 1986 to act as the nation's legislative body pending the holding of elections. Nonpartisan elections for the NRC were held in February 1989. There were 382 members, 216 elected and 166 appointed by the president. An appointed cabinet (including members of the banned opposition parties) advised the president. He also sought advice from and consensus with key interest groups and institutions on important policy issues, especially from the National Resistance Army.

The new constitution was enacted in October 1995, replacing the NRC with an elected parliament while leaving the power and structure of the executive largely unchanged. It provided for a 276-member body, with ensured representation for special interest groups (including 39 seats for women, 10 for the Army, 5 for the disabled, 5 for youth, and 3 for trade unions). By 2003, the number and proportion of appointed seats had been altered. In 2005, parliament voted two significant changes to the constitution that restored multipartyism and revoked the two-term limit for presidents.

Parliamentary elections were first held on 27 June 1996 and again on 26 June 2001. The parliamentary term is five years. The current eighth legislative body numbers 309 members up from 304 seats in the seventh parliament. Presidential elections were held on 9 May 1996, on 12 March 2001, and most recently (along with parliamentary elections) on 23 February 2006the first multiparty elections in 26 years. Fresh elections were due in 2011. Suffrage is universal at age 18.


The Uganda People's Congress (UPC), founded in 1959, was the leading political party of the pre-Amin era. At the time of independence it formed a ruling coalition with the Kabaka Yekka (The King Only), which drew its support from the Baganda. The opposition party was the Democratic Party (DP), founded in 1953.

The marriage of convenience between the UPC and the Kabaka Yekka deteriorated, and in February 1966, Prime Minister Milton Obote, who had been the head of the UPC, suspended the constitution, deposed the president and vice president, and began a move to power, which culminated in the proclamation of the Republic of Uganda under a new constitution adopted in September 1967. The political situation under Obote continued to deteriorate, and after an attempt on his life, Obote's government banned the opposition parties and arrested 10 of their leaders. Uganda was subsequently declared a one-party state in 1969, the UPC remaining as the only legal party. After the military overthrow of the Obote government on 25 January 1971, Maj. Gen. Amin outlawed all political parties.

After the overthrow of Amin, four political parties took part in the parliamentary elections held in December 1980. The UPC was declared to have won 74 seats in the National Assembly; the DP, 51; the Uganda Patriotic Movement, 1; and the Conservative Party, 0. These parties, as well as Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Movement and the Uganda Freedom Movement, were represented in the cabinet appointed in 1986. The government ordered all parties to suspend active operations, however, and mandated that elections would not be held before 1989.

By 1991, however, party activity, although banned, began to increase. Top officials of the DP and UPC were arrested in January 1992. Museveni insisted that no party activity could precede the new constitution. In August, the DP and UPC held a joint press conference to denounce parliament's formalization of the ban. President Museveni declared that parties were not allowed to participate in either the presidential election or the parliamentary elections held in May and June of 1996, respectively. Nonetheless, 156 of the 276 members of the parliament elected in 1996 were considered to be supporters of General Museveni. The UPC, DP, and CP remained the most important opposition parties.

In June 2000, the no-party system was subjected to a national referendum. Despite accusations of vote rigging and manipulation by the opposition, Ugandans approved it. They also reelected Museveni to a second five-year term in March 2001. In the 303member National Assembly, 214 seats were directly elected by popular vote, and 81 were nominated by legally established special interest groups including women (56), army (10), disabled (5), youth (5), labor (5), and ex officio members (8). Campaigning by party was not allowed.

In May 2003, the National Executive Committee recommended that subject to another national referendum in 2004, parties be free to operate. Nonetheless, the United States was particularly concerned about the lack of political space and freedom of speech that Museveni's Movement has allowed other political forces. The United States also expressed its disapproval of any attempt by Museveni or his Movement to tamper with the constitution to legalize a run for a third term. Nevertheless, the February 2006 elections showed the grassroots strength of the reconstituted National Resistance Movement Organization (NRMO), which despite opposition (FDC) complaints, was confirmed in its victory by parallel vote tabulation. One deciding factor in the outcome, however, was a highly unlevel playing field characterized by the use of state resources, intimidation, and a smear campaign on FDC candidate, Dr. Besigye, launched by the ruling NRMO party.


Until the adoption of the 1967 constitution, local government in Buganda was conducted on behalf of the kabaka by six ministers, advised by the lukiko (Buganda council) and by a hierarchy of chiefs. With the abolition of the federal system of government in 1967, Buganda was divided into four districts, and the kabaka's government was dissolved. The federal status of the kingdoms of Ankole, Bunyoro, and Toro was also abolished. Under that constitution, Uganda was divided into 18 districts.

In 1973, President Amin instituted a new system of provincial government establishing 10 provinces subdivided into 26 districts. Later Kampala became Central Province. In 1980 the number of districts increased to 33, and in March 2000, to 39. By 2002, there were 45 districts and by 2006, the number rose to 56.

Since 1986, National Resistance Movement committees have played leading roles in local and district affairs. In early March 1992, local council elections were held nationwide. Political parties were not allowed to campaign, although many candidates could be identified as members of particular parties.

There was disappointment on the part of donors with logistical delays, irregularities in distribution of electoral material and voting, confusion over electoral laws, and electoral violence during the 2002 local elections.


In 1995, the government restored the legal system to one based on English common law and customary law. At the lowest level are three classes of courts presided over by magistrates. Above these is the chief magistrate's court, which hears appeals from magistrates. The High Court hears appeals and has full criminal and civil jurisdiction. It consists of a chief justice and a number of puisne justices. The three-member Court of Appeal hears appeals from the High Court. A military court system handles offenses involving military personnel. Village resistance councils (RCs) mediate disputes involving land ownership and creditor claims. These councils have at times overstepped their authority in order to hear criminal cases including murder and rape. RC decisions are appealable to magistrate's courts, but ignorance of the right to appeal and the time and cost involved make such appeals rare. In practice, a large backlog of cases delays access to a speedy trial.

Although the president retains some control of appointments to the judiciary, the courts appear to engage in independent decision-making and the government normally complies with court decisions. Uganda accepts the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice with reservations.


After Amin's regime was overthrown, a Commonwealth training force was sent to reorganize the army, which proved difficult. In 1987, the National Resistance Army (NRA) was established as the national army in the wake of another civil war. Thousands of defeated guerillas were given amnesty and integrated into the NRA, swelling its ranks to as many as 70,000100,000 men, armed with outdated US, UK, and Russian weapons.

The Ugandan People's Defense Force was estimated at 40,00045,000 in 2005, and consisted of five divisions, one armored and one artillery brigade. Equipment included 152 main battle tanks and 20 light tanks. There was an air wing with 15 combat capable aircraft that included 11 fighters, in addition to six attack helicopters. Paramilitary forces consisted of a border defense unit of around 600, some 400 marines, a police air wing of around 800, and local defense units numbering up to 10,000. In 2005, the defense budget totaled $196 million.


On 25 October 1962, Uganda became the 110th member of the United Nations; it is a member of ECA and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the World Bank, IAEA, the FAO, ILO, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, and the WHO. Uganda participated in the establishment of the African Development Bank. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the ACP Group, the WTO, the East African Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), COMESA, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and G-77. Kampala was the headquarters of the African Union (formerly the Organization of African Unity) for the 1975 summit meeting, and then president Idi Amin was the OAU president for 197576.

Uganda generally supports peace efforts in neighboring countries. Relations with Rwanda, Congo and Sudan are sometimes tense, primarily due to unrest in those nations. Uganda fully supports the international war on terrorism. The country is part of the Nonaligned Movement. In environmental cooperation, Uganda is part of the Basel Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar, CITES, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.


Uganda's economy is agriculture based, with agriculture employing over 80% of the population and generating 90% of export earnings. Coffee is the main export crop, with tea and cotton other agricultural products. Uganda also has mineral deposits of copper and cobalt, which contributed 30% of export earnings during the 1960s, although the mining sector is now only a minor contributor to the economy.

The upheavals of the 1970s and the troubles of the 1980s left the economy in disarray. However, economic reforms begun in 1986 have resulted in important progress. The government made significant strides in liberalizing markets and releasing government influence during the 1990s, although some administrative controls remained in 2003. Monopolies were abolished in the coffee, cotton, power generation, and telecommunications sectors and restrictions on foreign exchange were removed. Reforms improved the economy and gained the confidence of international lending agencies.

The economy has posted growth rates in the GDP averaging 6.9% from 198898, and 5.8% from 20002005. Consequently, the economy has almost doubled. Still, Uganda is one of the poorest countries in the world heavily dependent on foreign aid (approximately 55% of government spending in 1998). High growth rates are necessary to balance the population growth rate of over 3%. The government in 2003 was known for its sound fiscal management. World coffee prices recovered in 2003, which brought in revenue. New property developments have been fueled by an influx of foreign investment, which has provided testimony of confidence in Uganda's economy. Ugandan Asians, who had been expelled by Idi Amin in 1972, have had their property restored and have brought business back into the country. One of the first African nations hit by HIV/AIDS, Uganda had by 2005 witnessed a drop in infection rates over the previous decade. However, Uganda's continued involvement in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo compromised the progress Uganda has made on many other fronts.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Uganda's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $46.0 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $1,700. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 9%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 9.7%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 31.1% of GDP, industry 22.2%, and services 46.9%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $295 million or about $12 per capita and accounted for approximately 4.7% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $959 million or about $38 per capita and accounted for approximately 15.6% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Uganda totaled $4.92 billion or about $195 per capita based on a GDP of $6.3 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 6.0%. It was estimated that in 2001 about 35% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


Uganda's workforce in 2005 was estimated at 13.17 million. As of 2003, agriculture accounted for the majority of the country's workforce at 69.1%, followed by the services sector at 23.1%, industry at 7.6% and undefined occupations for the remainder. A 2003 survey of the Ugandan workforce gave an unemployment rate for that year of 3.2%.

The Uganda Trade Union Congress was dissolved in 1973 and replaced by the National Organization of Trade Unions, which remains the largest labor federation. NOTU is independent of the government but has little influence in the economy since it claims only about 5% of the workforce. Strikes are permitted by law but are greatly restricted by lengthy and complicated procedures.

The minimum working age is 18 but many children work out of economic necessity and because school fees are so high. A large percentage of under-18 children do not attend school. Most children work in the informal sector. In 2002, the legal minimum wage remained at a level set in the early 1960s, at $3.50 per month. Wage earners are an extremely small percentage of the workforce. In this sector, the workweek is set at 40 hours. Most workers supplement their income with second jobs and family farming. Occupational safety regulations have existed since 1954 but the government lacks the resources to implement them.


Uganda's economy is predominantly agrarian; 32% of the GDP, 70% of the employed labor force, and 40% of export earnings are derived from the agricultural sector. A total of 7,350,000 hectares (18,162,000 acres), or 37% of the land area, is under cultivation. Subsistence production remains the pattern; 70% of the area under cultivation is used to produce locally consumed food crops. Women provide over half of agricultural labor, traditionally focusing on food rather than cash crop production. The monetary value of market crops is exceeded by the estimated value of subsistence agriculture. Plantains, cassava, sweet potatoes, and bananas are the major food crops. In 2004, food production estimates included plantains, 9.9 million tons; cassava, 5.5 million tons; sweet potatoes, 2.6 million tons; bananas, 615,000 tons; millet, 700,000 tons; corn, 1,350,000 tons; sorghum, 420,000 tons; beans, 545,000 tons; and potatoes, 573,000 tons.

Coffee is still an important export earner for Uganda, with receipts in 2004 at $124.2 million, 35% of agricultural exports. Production of robusta, which was cultivated by the Baganda before the arrival of the Arabs and British, and some arabica varieties of coffee provides the most important single source of income for more than one million Ugandan farmers and is the principal earner of foreign exchange. Export crop production reached a peak in 1969. Estimated production of major cash crops in 2004 included coffee, 186,000 tons; cotton (lint), 22,200 tons; tea, 36,000 tons; sugarcane, 1,600,000 tons; and tobacco, 33,000 tons. Roses and carnations are grown for export to Europe.


Uganda had an estimated 6.1 million head of cattle; 7.7 million goats; 1.15 million sheep; and 1.3 million hogs in 2005, as well as about 33 million chickens. Meat production in 2005 was an estimated 256,000 tons, 23% pork. The tsetse fly, which infests about 30% of Uganda, limits livestock production, and cattle rustling remains a problem. The livestock sector had been disrupted by armed rebels, but the United Nations, the EU, Denmark, and several international development banks are contributing to its revitalization.


Many persons find employment in fishing and the marketing of fish, and many fishermen sell their catch to the main distribution centers. Most fish are caught from dugouts or hand-propelled canoes. Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga are the major commercial fishing areas; Nile perch and Nile tilapia are the most abundant species. In 2003, the total catch was estimated at 245,431 tons. The fishing industry has benefited from a large ice-making plant at Soroti.


Forests cover 4,190,000 hectares (10,353,000 acres), or 21% of the land area. About half of the forested area is savanna woodland. In 2000, production of roundwood was estimated at 39.4 million cu m (139 billion cu ft). About 92% was used for fuel.


Mining and quarrying in fiscal year 2002/2003 accounted for 1% of Uganda's gross domestic product (GDP), which grew by 4.7% in 2002/2003 and 6.8% in 2002/2001. Gold accounted for 13% of Uganda's exports by value in 2002. In recent years, Uganda has been known to produce cobalt (95% of which was exported), limonite and other iron ore, niobium, steel, tantalum, tin, tungsten, apatite, gypsum, kaolin, brick clays and other clays, hydrated lime, quicklime, limestone, pozzolanic materials (used for pozzolanic cement), and salt (by evaporation of lakes and brine wells).

Mine gold output (metal content) in 2003 was estimated at 5 kg, up from 3 kg in 2002. Gold production began in 1992. Limestone output, in 2003 was estimated at 226,408 metric tons, up from 140,022 metric tons in 2002. Limestone resources at the largest depositsHima, Tororo Hill, and Bukiribototaled 46.1 million tons. Output of hydraulic cement in 2003 was estimated at 505,000 tons, down slightly from 505,959 metric tons in 2002; and columbite-tantalite ore and concentrate (gross weight) was estimated at 7,200 kg. In addition, Uganda presumably produced copper content of slag, corundum, garnet, gemstones, gravel, marble, ruby, sand, and vermiculite. No wolfram was produced in 2003. Extraction of copper was halted in 1980.

The Namekhela high-quality vermiculite deposit had resources of 5 million tons. Pyrochlore resources amounted to 6 million tons. Iron ore resources in Sukulu were 45.7 million tons at an average grade of 62% iron; the Muko deposit, worked by artisanal miners, contained 30 million tons at a grade 6167% iron; and there were additional resources at Kyanyamuzinda, Metuli, Mugabuzi, and Wambogwe. Inferred resources of wolframite were 20 million tons; gypsum deposits totaled 5.5 million tons; marble resources, 10 million tons; the Sukulu phosphate deposit had resources of 230 million tons; and there were occurrences of silica sand deposits. The abandoned Kilembe copper mine had proven reserves of 5 million tons, and its tailings contained 5.5 million tons. A pilot study in 1991 attempted to process the tailings for cobalt and copper, using a natural strain of bacteria to separate the cobalt metal.

The United Nations Security Council accused Ugandan government officials, military officers, and businessmen of illegally exploiting columbium, diamonds, gold, and tantalum from Democratic Republic of the Congo; the Ugandan government denied the accusations.


Uganda has no known reserves of crude oil, natural gas or coal, nor any refining capacity.

Uganda must import all the petroleum products, natural gas or coal that it consumes. In 2002, demand and imports of refined petroleum products each averaged 9,920 barrels per day. There were no recorded imports of natural gas or coal, nor any demand for either in that year.

Uganda's electric power generating capacity is almost entirely hydroelectric. In 2002, electric generating capacity totaled 0.303 million kW, with conventional thermal capacity accounting for 0.003 million kW. Electric power output that year totaled 1.675 billion kWh, with 1.668 billion kWh from hydroelectric sources and 0.007 billion kWh from fossil fueled plants. Demand for electric power in 2002 totaled 1.413 billion kWh. Only an estimated 35% of the population has access to electricity. Fuel wood and charcoal supply 95% of required energy.


Production of most industrial products declined in 1973, largely because of the expulsion of skilled Asian personnel. A precipitous decline followed, with output in 1985 little more than a third of the postindependence peak levels of 197072. As of 2002, however, growth over the past decade had occurred in manufacturing and construction, among other sectors, and the size of the Ugandan economy had doubled. Industrial contribution to GDP was 21% in 2004. The agricultural industry produces cotton, coffee, tea, sugar, tobacco, edible oils, and dairy products. Ugandan industrial production also includes grain milling, brewing, vehicle assembly, textiles, steel, metal products, cement, soap, shoes, animal feed, fertilizers, paint, and matches.

The textile industry suffers from a lack of skilled labor but is being encouraged by funds from the EU and the Arab Development Bank. General Motors is assembling vehicles in Uganda, and Lonrho has returned to manage its previously owned brewery, to build an oil pipeline, and to join in agricultural marketing efforts. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Schweppes are producing soft drinks. A tannery will make Uganda self-sufficient in leather products. Batteries, canned foods, pharmaceuticals, and salt are among the other products being produced in Uganda's industrial sector.

In 2002, the country planned to build from one to three hydroelectric projects along the Nile River, and this and other infrastructure projects fueled the construction industry.


Uganda has a medical association, a child malnutrition unit, an agriculture research institute, a forestry research center, and a cotton research station in Kampala. An animal health research center and the Geological Survey and Mines Department are in Entebbe. Makerere University (founded originally in 1922 as a technical school at Kampala) has faculties of science, agriculture and forestry, technology, medicine, and veterinary science. Uganda Polytechnic Kyambogo (founded in 1954 at Kampala) has 1,000 students. Mbarara University of Science and Technology (founded in 1989) has faculties of medicine and science education.

In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 17% of college and university enrollments. In 2001 expenditures on research and development (R&D) totaled $259.438 million, or 0.82% of GDP. In 2000 (the latest year for which data was available), foreign sources accounted for the overwhelming majority of R&D spending at 90.3%, followed by government sources at 6.6%, the domestic business sector at 2.2%, higher education at 0.6%, and private nonprofit organizations at 0.3%. As of 2001, there were 25 researchers and 15 technicians engaged in R&D per million people. High technology exports in 2002 totaled $4 million, accounting for 12% of the country's manufactured exports.


Most retail trade is accomplished through small shops supplied by small distributors. Consumer products are priced based on what the market will bear. Kampala is Uganda's main commercial center, but many concerns have their headquarters or regional offices in Nairobi, Kenya. Bootlegging of cassettes and videos is common. The market for smuggled goods, including fuel, clothing, electronics and other consumer goods, is rather large. English is the business language, although Swahili is often spoken as well. Products are marketed through radio and television advertising.

Business hours are from 8 or 8:15 am to 12:30 pm and from 2 to 5 pm. Shops close on Sundays. Banking hours are 8:30 am to 12:30 pm, MondayFriday.


Principal imports in 2005 included machinery equipment, iron, steel, vehicles and accessories, chemical and related products, medical supplies, petroleum and related products, vegetable products, animal fats and oil. Traditionally, coffee accounted for nearly a third (31%) of Uganda's export commodities. For example in 2005 the big four exports were coffee (41%), fish (34%), cotton (13%), and tea (12%). Other exports include gold and tobacco.

Uganda exports most of its goods to Belgium, Netherlands, the United States, Germany and Spain while most of its imports come

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 164.6 1,375.1 -1,210.5
Switzerland-Liechtenstein 30.9 7.1 23.8
Kenya 17.7 357.3 -339.6
Netherlands 15.3 25.0 -9.7
United Kingdom 12.7 86.4 -73.7
Germany 7.4 39.2 -31.8
Belgium 7.1 23.1 -16.0
United Arab Emirates 6.6 80.4 -73.8
Congo (DROC) 6.3 6.3
France-Monaco 5.5 15.7 -10.2
Rwanda 5.2 5.2
() data not available or not significant.

from Kenya, the United Kingdom, China and Japan. Principal trading partners for exports in 2004 as a percent of total exports were as follows: Netherlands (15.8%), Belgium (10.2%), the United States, (9.0%), Germany (7.8%), and Spain (6.6%). Principal trading partners for imports in 2004 as a percent of total imports were as follows: Kenya (44.6%), South Africa (6.6%), India (5.6%), the United Kingdom (5.3%), and China (4.5%).


Uganda had a favorable balance of payments in the 1930s and throughout the postwar yearsan unusual feature in an underdeveloped country. The favorable balance with the rest of the world, however, was diminished by deficits in trade with Kenya and Tanzania following independence. Uganda's payments position declined during the 1960s, and during the 1970s, years of deficit out-numbered

Current Account -377.4
   Balance on goods 692.9
   Imports -1,255.9
   Exports 563.0
   Balance on services -214.3
   Balance on income -175.5
   Current transfers 705.3
Capital Account
Financial Account 421.4
   Direct investment abroad
   Direct investment in Uganda 194.2
   Portfolio investment assets
   Portfolio investment liabilities 20.8
   Financial derivatives
   Other investment assets -39.7
   Other investment liabilities 246.0
Net Errors and Omissions -10.4
Reserves and Related Items -33.6
() data not available or not significant.

those of surplus; moreover, the deficits were larger than the surpluses. Poor trade performances and mounting debt service led to a loss of reserves in the 1980s. From 1986 to 1990, merchandise exports fell by 56% (due largely to plummeting coffee prices), while merchandise imports increased by 30%, so that the trade deficit widened rapidly from $69 million to $440 million in just a few years. Trade deficits continued through the 1990s. Low levels of foreign investment, coupled with weak coffee exports, led to a decline in foreign exchange reserves and a deteriorating balance of payments position in the early 2000s.

The Economist Intelligence Unit reported that in 2005 the purchasing power parity of Uganda's exports was $791.1 million while imports totaled $1.608 billion resulting in a trade deficit of $816.9 million.


The Bank of Uganda was established on 16 May 1966 as the bank of issue, undertaking the function previously served by the East African Currency Board in Nairobi. The government-owned Uganda Commercial Bank (UCB) provided a full commercial banking service, complementary to and in competition with other commercial banks in the country. Uganda was rocked by a banking scandal in 1989. Lack of public confidence in the system was compounded by a prolonged period of high inflation, which caused rapid erosion in the value of money, and by the liquidity and insolvency problems of some banks. These problems remained unresolved through the 1990s.

In 1998, the financial sector included the Bank of Uganda together with 18 commercial banks and 2 development banks. In addition to the UCB, major commercial banks included Crane Bank Limited, Stanbic, Bank of Baroda, Standard Chartered Bank, Nile Bank, and Barclays Bank. The Uganda Development Bank is a government bank that channels long-term loans from foreign sources to Ugandan businesses. The East African Development Bank, the last remnant of the defunct East African Community, obtains funds from abroad for Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $517.6 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $938.8 million. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 9%.

The government supported the establishment of a stock exchange in Kampala, and it inaugurated the Capital Markets Authority in 1995/96. The initial stage of capital market development concentrated on the interbank market and the sale of treasury bills, which the Bank of Uganda started selling in 1992 at weekly auctions. The exchange was officially opened in 1997, but in 1999, had not been active since inception.


As of 1997, the government-owned National Insurance Corp. of Uganda, the Uganda American Insurance Co., and the East Africa General Insurance Co. were doing business in Uganda. Some 27 insurance companies were operating in Uganda in 1998.

Revenue and Grants 2,014.8 100.0%
   Tax revenue 1,212.3 60.2%
   Social contributions
   Grants 761 37.8%
   Other revenue 41.4 2.1%
Expenditures 2,483.2 100.0%
   General public services
   Public order and safety
   Economic affairs
   Environmental protection
   Housing and community amenities
   Recreational, culture, and religion
   Social protection
() data not available or not significant.


The fiscal year runs from 1 July to 30 June. The main sources of government revenue are the export duties on coffee and cotton, import duties, income and profit taxes, excise taxes, and sales taxes. Deficits are chronic. Over half of public monies comes from foreign aid.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Uganda's central government took in revenues of approximately $1.8 billion and had expenditures of $1.9 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$59 million. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 62.8% of GDP. Total external debt was $4.949 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2002, the most recent year for which it had data, budgetary central government revenues were NUSh2,014.8 billion and expenditures were NUSh2,483.2 billion. The value of revenues in US dollars was us$1.12 million and expenditures us$1.38 million, based on a principal exchange rate for 2002 of us$1 = NUSh1,797.6 as reported by the IMF.


Individual income is taxed progressively at rates ranging from 415% for residents, and 1520% for nonresidents. For the year ending 30 June 2005, corporate income was taxed at 30%, while mining companies were subject to a tax rate ranging from 2545%, based on the level of profits. Capital gains are taxed at the corporate rate and are applied only to business assets. Generally, dividends, interest income, royalties and management fees are subject to a 15% withholding tax. Social security taxes are paid by both employers and employees.

A value-added tax (VAT) is set at 17%. The tax holiday for foreign investments was eliminated in 1997, replaced with accelerated appreciation schedules.


All imports and exports require licenses. As a party to the Lomé Convention, Uganda benefits from EU tariff preferences for its goods. Import duties are levied at 15%. Excise surcharges are set at 10%. Reductions were planned for 1999 to 2000.

Items that cannot be exported without permission from Uganda include scrap iron, wood charcoal, timber, coffee husks, fresh fish, and game trophies. Other restrictions exist when importing medications, firearms, live animals, endangered species, secondhand clothing, explosives, and plants; and when exporting minerals, fruit, and hides and skins. Prohibited imports include pornographic materials and used tires.


A large number of Asian Ugandan companies were expropriated in 1972. A 1982 law provided for restoration of expropriated property to Asians who returned and for compensation to those who did not; a number of large Asian-owned enterprises resumed operations in 1986 as joint ventures, in which the government held 51% ownership. The United Kingdom group Mitchell Cotts also regained its nationalized property by participating in a similar joint venture. Further measures were taken in 1991 to recompense Asian Ugandans, and a new investment code designed to protect foreigners was issued in 1990. Ugandan law still allows for expropriation for public purposes, but investors are guaranteed compensation within 12 months. The Ugandan government has made attracting foreign investment a central part of its policy, and the Uganda Investment Authority has reported that the country has moved from 161 to 82 on a world ranking of average FDI per capita in the period 1990 to 2000. Most FDI inflows have come from expatriate Asians investing in repatriated property. Other investors are deterred by pervasive corruption. On Transparency International's 2002 listing of countries according to its Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Uganda was ninth from the bottom of 102 countries, scoring 2.1 on the 10-point index. Corruption infected the privatization process, which had greatly slowed in 2002 due to a lack of transparency, rampant asset stripping, and the failures of a number of negotiations.

From 1998 to 2001, the average annual inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) held rather steady at approximately $229 million a year, peaking in 2000 at $275 million. From 20002004 FDI averaged $231 million with the year 2004 registering $237 million.

Foreign investors include those from the United Kingdom, India, Kenya and South Africa. Foreign companies operating in Uganda in 2005 included Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Caltex, Sheraton, Starcom, Citibank, Xerox, Cargill, AES, Colgate Palmolive, Swift Global, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, GM, Ford, Ernst and Young, Price-Waterhouse-Coopers, Deloitte and Touche, and Caterpillar.


Uganda's economic development policy for the early 1990s was outlined in the Economic Recovery Program for 198892. State investment was lowered by 42% from the previous plan and the export sector was to be revived, particularly the nontraditional export sector. The investment budget was divided equally among the transport and communications sector, social infrastructure, agriculture, and the industry and tourism sector.

Inflation, which ran at 240% in 1987 and 42% in mid-1992, was under 5% for 1998. This was further reduced to -0.3% in 2002 but was estimated to have risen to 9.7% in 2005. Nevertheless, a slowdown in privatization, low interest in foreign investment, and sustained but limited growth dimmed the prospects for economic development.

In 2000, Uganda became eligible for $1.3 billion in debt service relief under the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. In 2002, the IMF approved a three-year $17.8 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) Arrangement for Uganda, which was due to expire in September 2005. Political instability and poor economic management have stinted economic development, although gross domestic product (GDP) growth stood at 5.5% in 2005. The government was implementing a Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) in 2003, with the goal of reducing the incidence of poverty to less than 10% of the population by 2017. The Economist Intelligence Unit reported that the latest IMF review in 2005 of Uganda's poverty reduction and growth facility (PRGF) was broadly positive. The government has published a new poverty eradication and action plan (PEAP). There were, however, a number of weaknesses in the PEAP, such as how high levels of donor inflows could be better managed.


A social security system was introduced in 1967 and amended in 1985. This program provides old-age and disability pensions for employees of firms with five or more workers. Voluntary coverage is available. Retirement benefits amount to total employee and employer contributions plus interest, payable in a lump sum. Work injury benefits are provided for all workers and is funded by the employer.

Women are accorded equal rights by law, but tradition limits their exercise of them. Under customary law, women may not own or inherit property and are not entitled to custody of their children after divorce. The children of Ugandan women married to foreigners are not entitled to Ugandan citizenship. This stipulation does not apply to Ugandan men married to foreigners. Domestic abuse and violence against women is common. According to a 2003 study, one in three women were victims of domestic abuse. There are still reports of abduction and rape to obtain wives, and in 2004, thousands of women were raped by rebel forces. Female genital mutilation is practiced by several ethnic groups. Child labor is common.

The human rights situation in Uganda has improved in a few areas, but serious violations persisted, including excessive force by security forces, incommunicado detention, and prolonged pretrial detention. Prison conditions are very poor.


Although medical treatment in government hospitals and dispensaries is free, facilities deteriorated greatly under Amin's rule. Following the 197879 war of liberation, many hospitals were left without medicine or beds. A new government health care policy in 1993 outlined goals for restoration of a cohesive network of health care services. As of 2000, however, Uganda's health indicators were still poor, even in comparison with those of other African countries. Containment of serious diseases, such as cholera, dysentery, tuberculosis, malaria, schistosomiasis, sleeping sickness, typhus, and leprosy, has been made difficult by poor sanitation and unclean water. Other barriers to health care access for the rural poor were distance from providers, cost of services, and inadequate quality of health care. Less than half the population lives within 5 km (3 mi) of a health care facility. An estimated 71% of the population had access to health care services. The most serious obstacle to health has arisen from nutritional deficiencies, particularly among children. The goiter rate was 75 per 100 school-age children. Approximately 50% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 75% had adequate sanitation. As of 2004, it was estimated that there were fewer than 5 physicians per 100,000 people. There were fewer than 6 nurses per 100,000 population, and even fewer midwives. Total health care expenditure was estimated at 5.9% of GDP.

Planned health care projects in the 1990s included: rehabilitation of buildings, equipment, fittings, and services; institutional support and training; designs for five district hospitals and 10 rural centers; and a mental health rehabilitation study. Malaria remains the country's most serious health threat, even more so than AIDS. Venereal disease continues to be a problem in the adult population and AIDS became a severe problem in the 1980s, with an estimated 800,000 Ugandans HIV-positive in 1989. The country plans to focus on health care awareness and educationin particular, family planning and AIDS. Prevention strategies that change high-risk sexual behavior have had a direct impact on HIV infection rates in Uganda. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 4.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 530,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 78,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

The life expectancy was only 51.59 years in 2005. The infant mortality rate that year was 67.83 per 1,000 live births. Only 15% of married women ages 1544 used any form of contraception. As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 47.2 and 17.5 per 1,000 people. Immunization rates for children up to one year old were high: tuberculosis, 84%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 58%; polio, 59%; and measles, 60%. Commonly reported diseases were guinea worm, measles, and tuberculosis.


Most of the inhabitants live in thatched huts with mud and wattle walls, but styles of building vary from group to group. Even in rural areas, however, corrugated iron is used extensively as a roofing material. In urban centers, sun-baked mud bricks, concrete blocks, and even fired bricks were encouraged by the government, which was responsible for a number of housing schemes prior to the Amin era. In that period, housing was neglected and there was considerable damage to the nation's housing stock during the 197879 war.

The National Housing and Construction Corp., a government agency founded in 1964, builds residential housing and has sponsored a number of developments in recent years. One of its newest projects is called the Growing House. The Growing House is a basic, one-bedroom detached house that is ready for immediate occupation but is designed for easy expansion by the owner, as their own financial situation allows.

For 198088, the total number of housing units was 3.1 million with 5.1 people per dwelling. At the 2002 census, there were 5,126,558 housing units nationwide. At least 71% of all units were considered to be temporary structures. Another 11% were semi-permanent structures. About 78% of all housing was owner occupied. Only 11% of all houses had access to piped drinking water. Only 5.7% had a water source on the premises; 21.9% of the population relied on water sources that are 1 km (0.62 miles) or further from their home. Only 1.7% of all dwellings had flush toilets; 63.6% of all households used pit latrines. The average household had 4.7 members.


The school system generally comprises a seven-year primary course, a four-year junior secondary course, and a two-year senior secondary course for those who qualify. Those who do not choose to attend general secondary schools may attend technical schools for three years. Agricultural studies are compulsory in all secondary programs. Many of the senior schools are boarding establishments, and bursaries are available from local authorities and various groups for qualified candidates unable to pay the fees. Primary schools are financed from central government grants, local government funds, and fees from pupils. In 1997, the government eliminated fees for education and introduced universal primary education made possible by IMF debt relief. All senior secondary schools, technical schools, and training colleges receive direct grants-in-aid. The academic year runs from October to July.

In 2001, about 4% of children between the ages of four and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 1995 was estimated at about 87% of age-eligible students. In 2003, secondary school enrollment was about 16% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about 63.4% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 59:1 in 2000; the ratio for secondary school was about 18:1.

The University College of East Africa (founded 1921), became Makerere University in 1970. Situated on the outskirts of Kampala, it prepares students for degrees in the arts, sciences, and agriculture and for advanced diplomas in medicine, education, engineering, law, and veterinary science. Other universities include Mbale Islamic University and the Mbarara University of Science and Technology. There are also a number of religious colleges, 5 commercial colleges, 52 technical schools, and 71 colleges for teachers. In 2003, it was estimated that about 3% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in tertiary education programs. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 68.9%, with 78.8% for men and 59.2% for women.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 2.5% of GDP.


Makerere University has the largest and most comprehensive library in East Africa. It consists of a central library with over 566,000 volumes, which functions as the National Reference Library, and the Albert Cook Library of Medicine with over 55,000 volumes, which functions as the National Library of Medicine. The university also has specialized libraries in the fields of technology, education, social sciences, and farm management. The Public Libraries Board, founded in 1964, administers the Uganda Library Service, with 20 branches and 160,000 volumes.

The Uganda Museum, founded in 1908 on the outskirts of Kampala, contains an excellent anthropological collection. The museum conducts a regular education service in collaboration with the Uganda Society. It has a fine collection of East African musical instruments and a growing collection of archaeological specimens. The Zoological Museum at Makerere University has a collection of rock fossils, birds, and mammals indigenous to Uganda, and the university's geology department has natural history collections. Entebbe has botanical gardens, a zoo, an aquarium, and a game and fisheries museum. There are also two fine arts museums in Kampala, regional folk museums at Kabale, Mbarara, and Soroti, a variety of agricultural and forestry collections, and three national park museums.


In 2003, there were an estimated two mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 30 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Radio Uganda, founded in 1954, controls the only national radio broadcasting station in the country, broadcasting daily in 22 languages, including English, French, Swahili, and local languages. In 2004, there were about 60 local and regional radio stations that were privately owned. Uganda television sponsors a public broadcasting station with programming in English, Swahili, and Luganda. In 2001, there were about eight television stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 122 radios and 18 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were four personal computers for every 1,000 people and five of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were two secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

The government-operated New Vision, with a 2002 circulation of 40,000 is published in English in Kampala. Two other major dailies published in Kampala are The Monitor (in English, 34,000) and Munno (in Luganda, 15,000).

The constitution provides for free speech and a free press; however, the government is said at times to restrict these rights in practice. The occasional use of sedition laws and imprisonment of some members of the media lead to the general practice of self-censorship.


There is a National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and an employers' federation. The cooperative movement is extensive. The Uganda Manufacturers Association sponsors an annual international trade fair in Kampala held in early October.

The Uganda Society is the oldest and most prominent cultural organization. The Uganda National Council for Science and Technology was established in 1990 to promote interest, education, and research in various branches of science. There are several professional organizations that also promote education and research in specialized fields of science and technology, such as the Uganda Medical Association.

There are a number of women's rights groups, including the Committee for the Advancement of Women of the Bahai's of Uganda, the National Association of Women Organizations of Uganda, the Uganda Association of University Women, and the multinational African Women's Leadership Institute. National youth organizations include Boy's Brigade of Uganda, the Uganda Scouts Association, Uganda Girl Guides, Junior Chamber, and YMCA/YWCA. The Mukono Multi-Purpose Youth Organization promotes programs for the health and well-being of youth, particularly those in rural areas. The National Council of Sports is active in promoting amateur athletics programs.

The African Medical and Research Foundation is dedicated to public health issues. The Minsaki Katende Foundation, founded in 2003, serves as a national HIV/AIDS support organization and provides programs for orphans and the disabled. There are national chapters of the Red Cross Society, UNICEF, Habitat for Humanity, and Caritas.


Wildlife, the major tourist attraction, includes the endangered mountain gorilla as well as many other animal species. There are 10 national parks that spread across Uganda and both sides of the equator, all rich in biodiversity. Tourism facilities are adequate in Kampala but limited in other areas. Hiking in the Virunga Mountains is popular along with white-water rafting, and mountain biking. Tourists require a passport and visa. A vaccination against yellow fever is required to enter Uganda.

In 2003, about 305,000 tourists visited Uganda, the vast majority from African countries. That same year, tourism expenditure receipts totaled $221 million. There were 19,385 hotel rooms in 2002, with 29,295 beds.

According to 2004 US Department of State estimates, the daily cost of staying in Kampala was $293; in Entebbe, $164; and in other areas, considerably lower.


Kabaka Mutesa I (r.185684) contributed to Uganda's modern development. Sir Apollo Kagwa, chief minister (18901926) to Kabaka Mwanga and his successor, Kabaka Daudi Chwa, was one of the dominant figures in Uganda's history. Mukama Kabarega of Bunyoro (r.189699) led his people against British and Buganda forces until captured and exiled in 1899; he died in exile in 1923. Apollo Milton Obote (19242005), founder of the UPC and prime minister from 1962 to 1966, overthrew the first president, Sir Edward Frederick Mutesa (Kabaka Mutesa II of Buganda, 192469), and was himself president of Uganda from 1966 to 1971 and from 1980 to 1985. Maj. Gen. Idi Amin Dada (19252003) overthrew Obote in 1971 and led a military government until he was ousted in 1979 by Tanzanian forces and Ugandan rebels. Yoweri Museveni (b.1944), leader of the National Resistance Movement, became president in 1986 with the help of about 2,000 guerrillas recruited among Tutsi refugee families who had fled Rwanda.


Uganda has no territories or colonies.


Apter, David Ernest. The Political Kingdom in Uganda: A Study of Bureaucratic Nationalism. Portland, Ore.: Frank Cass, 1997.

Bigsten, Arne and Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa. Crisis, Adjustment and Growth in Uganda: A Study of Adaptation in an African Economy. New York: St. Martin's, 1999.

Byrnes, Rita M. (ed.). Uganda: A Country Study. 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1992.

Chrétien, Jean-Pierre. The Great Lakes of Africa: Two Thousand Years of History. New York: Zone Books, 2003.

Guest, Emma. Children of AIDS: Africa's Orphan Crisis. Sterling, Va.: Pluto Press, 2001.

Hansen, Holger Bernt, and Michael Twaddle (eds.). Developing Uganda. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1998.

Kaberuka, Will. The Political Economy of Uganda, 18901979: A Case Study of Colonialism and Underdevelopment. New York: Vantage Press, 1990.

McElrath, Karen (ed.). HIV and AIDS: A Global View. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Ofcansky, Thomas P. Uganda: Tarnished Pearl of Africa. Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1996.

Pirouet, Louise. Historical Dictionary of Uganda. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow, 1995.

Twaddle, Michael. Kakungulu and the Creation of Uganda, 18681928. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1993.

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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Uganda
Region: Africa
Population: 23,317,560
Language(s): English, Ganda, Luganda, Swahili, Arabic
Literacy Rate: 61.8%
Number of Primary Schools: 10,000
Compulsory Schooling: 6 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 2.6%
Libraries: 17
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 2,912,473
  Secondary: 292,321
  Higher: 34,773
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 74%
  Secondary: 12%
  Higher: 2%
Teachers: Primary: 82,745
  Higher: 2,606
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 35:1
  Secondary: 18:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 68%
  Secondary: 9%
  Higher: 1%

History & Background

Located in the heart of Africa, Uganda is a land-locked nation that straddles the equator. It shares a northern border with the Sudan, to its east it borders Kenya, to its south it borders both Tanzania and Rwanda, and to its west it borders the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Slightly smaller than Oregon, Uganda covers 91,076 square miles in area. Its capital, Kampala, has 954,000 residents. Other major cities include Jinja, Mbale, Masaka, Gulu, Soroti, and Mbarara. Uganda's population is 21,000,000 people and it is growing at a rate of 2.14 percent (Ramsey 1999), which represents a dramatic decline from the 4.6 percent growth rate that was normal during the 1960s. Tutsi refugees fleeing genocide in Rwanda partly accounted for the high growth rates of the 1960s. Uganda provides homes for hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Sudan, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Almost 87 percent of Ugandans are rural residents, while 13 percent are urban dwellers. During the 1990s, reverse migration of Tutsis from Uganda to their tragic homeland, Rwanda, caused growth rates to slow, as did the return home of many members of other ethnic groups to the Sudan and elsewhere. Diseases, such as AIDS, also dramatically cut population growth rates.

The infant mortality rate is 98.4 deaths per 1,000 live births. The average Ugandan woman gives birth to seven children, but many die before reaching their fifth birthday. By 1988 Uganda had 980 health clinics, 81 hospitals and 20,136 hospital beds. There is one doctor per 20,700 Ugandans and only 38 percent of Ugandans have access to safe drinking water. Ugandans consume 83 percent of the recommended daily average caloric intake. Life expectancy is 38 years for males and 40 for females due to AIDS and war. Debate is open and, when President Museveni recognized that over 30 percent of Ugandans were infected with the HIV virus, he made every department of government take the epidemic seriously and the incidence of HIV was reduced to 15 percent between 1986 and 1996 (Museveni 1993a).

Christians comprise 66 percent of Uganda's population, 16 percent are Muslims and the remaining 18 percent of Ugandans follow indigenous religions. Uganda has 40 ethnic groups, most of whom speak Bantu, Nilotic, or Sudanic languages. The principal languages spoken include English (the official language) and Swahili, but several Bantu and Nilotic languages are widely spoken as well, such as Luganda. The adult literacy rate is 48 percent.

Uganda sits atop a huge plateau almost 4,000 feet above sea level, surrounded by a rim of mountains to the east, north, and west, with Lake Victoria defining most its southern border. Swamplands are common along the lakeshore. Arable soil is common and suitable for farming. Perennial crops are grown throughout Uganda. Coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, cassava, potatoes, corn, millet, pulses, and livestock grow in abundance throughout Uganda. Sugar, copper alcohol, cobalt, limestone, and salt are among Uganda's main exports. Uganda's economy is growing at an impressive 7.1 percent per year. Vast expanses of savanna grasslands mixed with trees cover much of the center of the country. Thick natural forests are found in the west. The climate is tropical and rainy in the south and semiarid and dry in the northeast (Karamoja) near the Sudan. Uganda has two rainy seasons, March through May and September through November. Average annual rainfall varies between 46 and 64 inches per year.

Nilotic-speaking Luo groups migrated from the Sudan into Uganda in the 1400s and 1500s, while the Portuguese were discovering how to circumnavigate the continent of Africa and Columbus was discovering the Americas (Tidy 1980). Luo groups founded several major kingdoms in Uganda, the most notable being the Buganda kingdom, organized by Luos who referred to themselves as the Baganda. When British colonial officers visited Uganda they were surprised to discover well organized kingdoms like the Buganda. The Baganda people had a king, whom they called the Kabaka, and a prime minister or Katikiro, and a parliament or Lukiko, composed of heads of each Baganda clan (Gibbs 1988). This well-organized, wealthy African kingdom had a large standing army and a navy that routinely patrolled and raided other kingdoms along the vast expanse of Lake Victoria, Africa's largest inland, freshwater lake.

Officially Uganda, from 1894 to 1961, was a British Protectorate much like Zanzibar. Britain never colonized the Baganda, rather they agreed to collaborate with them to dominate the traditional rivals of the Baganda, such as the Bunyoro (Beattie 1960). Bunyoro was a kingdom as powerful, well organized, and rich as the Baganda. For this reason they usually fought to a draw or tie. The Baganda used their alliance with Britain to tip the scales against their old enemies. Then they demanded tribute, which they divided with their British allies.

Lord Lugard perfected his system of "indirect rule" through his collaboration with the Baganda (Tidy 1980). Using foot soldiers imported from the Sudan who neither knew nor had sympathy for Ugandans, Lord Lugard and the Kabaka (king) defeated many African groups that opposed them. Swahili was the language of their joint army and consequently became despised by many Ugandan tribes as the language of the oppressor.

Swahili was also spoken in a previous era by slave raiders, thus it already carried a very negative association for most Ugandans (Mazrui 1984). This explains why many Ugandans prefer to speak English even though they know Swahili well, and why it is not the medium of instruction in schools. Swahili is associated with uneducated, rough individuals in Ugandan culture. Conversely, English became associated with missionary schools and, later, government schools, learning, sophistication, and power. The Baganda collaborated with the English because they also had monarchs and the English saw in the Baganda a people similar to themselves in many ways, as both had monarchs, parliaments, armies, and navies. Together they created what is today known as Uganda; the territorial boundaries that they established form the borders of modern Uganda.

Throughout the British Protectorate era Uganda was considered the "pearl of East Africa" by Britain (Tidy 1980). The soil was so fertile that British officials said that if you placed your fingernail clippings in the soil they would grow. Ugandan farmers often harvested three crops per year because of the combination of ideal climate, sunshine, rain, and fertile soil, combined with an industrious and enterprising African peasantry. The first British colonial university in East Africa during the colonial period was Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda's capital. Many future African elites from Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda were educated at Makerere. A few would go for further studies in Britain at Oxford or Cambridge University.

Informal education, or what anthropologist call enculturation, was offered by each ethnic group to train young men and women how to become acceptable and responsible adults in the eyes of their own group (Gibbs 1988). In 1886, formal Western education was introduced in Uganda by the Church Mission Society of London. Between 1886 and 1918 formal education was developed by religious organizations. They set the syllabi, wrote the curriculums, wrote and graded examinations, set standards of accomplishment for each grade, built and administered the schools, and trained the teachers who staffed them. Missionaries sought to win souls as much as to cultivate minds. Their method was to educate an elite cadre who would demonstrate the advantages of Christianity and thereby attract additional converts.

The British Colonial Office initially feared that training Africans might create unfulfillable aspirations (i.e., make Africans believe that they were equal to Europeans in a system based on the assumption of inequality). Educated Africans were often said to be "tragic Africans," because they thought themselves entitled to the same things that Europeans possessed. The colonial system was determined to deny them access to equality. As a result, the British Colonial Office did not begin building and controlling schools in Uganda until 1927.

Ownership of most schools remained in the hands of missionaries until independence, despite creation of a Ministry of Education in 1957 (De Bunsen 1953). Following independence, Africans felt that every place was potentially their place so they educated their children to fill every available position in the country in mass numbers. Lack of education would no longer be an excuse to hold them back or hold them down. Acquisition of education would open doors of power, influence, and scientific discovery previously locked. Education became the key to self-reliance and self-actualization throughout Uganda.

Apolo Milton Obote led Uganda to internal self-government within the British Commonwealth in 1961. Obote headed the Uganda People's Congress (UPC) and he became prime minister of an independent Uganda on 9 October 1962 (Mazrui 1984). Obote was an antimonarchist who sought to destroy the Kabakaship and the kings of the Bunyoro, Ankole, and other Ugandan monarchies. Obote was from northern Uganda, where few tribes had kings and most considered everyone equal. Equality was a foreign concept to the hierarchically organized tribes of the south, many of whom had powerful kings (Jorgensen 1981).

At independence Uganda was divided into four provinces, one of which was Buganda, with King Mutesa II serving as Kabaka. Mutesa II was also the first president. His reputation as a playboy and high stakes gambler while in England alienated him from Obote. Obote saw Mutesa II as a symbol of all that was backward, wasteful, and antimodern and Obote tried to undermine him.

In February 1966 Colonel Idi Amin, under orders from Obote, led the army to overrun Mutesa II's palace, and the Kabaka fled to London. Obote then suspended the Uganda Constitution of 1962. From 1966 until 1992 Uganda functioned without a constitution. During this period anarchy and chaos prevailed. Personal power prevailed above the "rule of law." This began more than 16 years of chaos and struggle between northern Ugandans and southern Ugandans over power. Inability to work out viable power sharing would prove tragic. Hundreds of thousands of Ugandans would die, several ethnic groupsincluding East Asianswould be forced to flee, and the country would descend into economic ruin. Its educational system, once the pride of East Africa, would suffer a precipitous decline in quality.

To appeal to non-Baganda, Obote returned land conquered by the Kabaka and the British to its Bunyoro original owners. Buganda's federal status and autonomy were abolished and the Baganda rebelled only to be crushed by the Ugandan army under Idi Amin. Amin was a soldier with a third grade formal education who rose through the ranks of the British army by personally killing hundreds of Kikuyu freedom fighters when he helped quell the Mau Mau rebellion during the 1950s. Using psychological warfare, he purportedly cut off the right hand of each Kikuyu whom he killed and wore them in battle.

In 1970 Obote tried to implement a socialist agenda known as the "Common Man's Charter" (Mazrui 1984). Before attending a Commonwealth conference in Singapore in September of 1971, Obote stripped Amin of most of his powers. However in July of 1971, General Idi Amin overthrew Obote before he could implement his socialist plan.

Amin developed a reputation as a brutal dictator. He suspended political activity and declared himself "head of state." He declared an "economic war," which amounted to little more than ousting the wealthy East Indians in 1972 who dominated Uganda's economy. Once they left, he distributed their property to his supporters, who promptly dissipated this wealth without generating new wealth. The result was economic implosion and collapse. The international community condemned Amin for the mass expulsion of East Asians, since many were Ugandan citizens.

Amin often ruthlessly eliminated opponents, and he feared educated Ugandans who he thought despised him for being uneducated so he had many professors, lawyers, doctors, and engineers killed. Those people who could escape the carnage became refugees in neighboring Kenya and Tanzania. Some fled to England, Canada, and the United States. Under Amin, massacres and atrocities were common and human rights violations were daily headlines. To distract Ugandans Amin claimed large regions of Kenya and Tanzania. In 1978 Amin annexed the Kagera Salient of Tanzania, igniting a war, which Uganda lost.

In 1979 a Tanzanian invasion force (Tanzanian Peoples Defense Force, TPDF), together with the Ugandan National Liberation Army (UNLA), formed of Ugandan exiles, defeated Amin's forces. Amin fled to Libya, and in 1980 took up permanent residence in Saudi Arabia. A series of seven, short-lived, unstable regimes were headed by Yusuf Lule, Godfrey Binaisa, Milton Obote, and Basilio Okello. General elections held in 1980 returned Obote to power, but because they were suspected to be rigged, Museveni and 26 supporters started a war of resistance against Obote.

Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Movement (NRM) came to power in 1985 and introduced stability. Political parties were banned, as was political activity. He established a "no party" system of government with resistance committees at the local and district level who were responsible for maintaining security and eliminating corruption. Museveni fired 80 percent of the police because they were suspected of massive human rights violations and corruption (Museveni 1993a.) Members of resistance movements who did not accept offers to integrate into the new system were arrested and tried for treason.

The strain of integrating returning refugees and addressing the threat of internal resistance slowed Uganda's economic recovery and the rebuilding of its educational system. Late 1992 saw Uganda introduce a new Constitution for the first time since Obote suspended the 1962 Constitution. Rule of law was restored. In 2001 Museveni allowed political parties to form and to compete for all offices in national elections, including the race for president. Amid fears that Museveni would lose in a free and fair election, he defeated his opponent by winning 69 percent of the popular vote. These elections were certified free and fair by international monitors.

Museveni officially invited all expelled Asians to return and promised to restore expropriated property confiscated by Idi Amin. Prince Ronald Muwenda Mutebi was enthroned as Kabaka (king) in a ceremony attended by Museveni. He also attended the coronation of the king of Toro, Patrick Olimi Kaboyo, who became Uganda's ambassador to Cuba. Kings of Ankole, Busoga, and Bunyoro have also been installed since Museveni came to power. These coronations did a lot to restore the confidence of Southern Ugandan cultures in Museveni, since these groups have great affection for their monarchs. Museveni and Paul Kagame, the Rwandan head of state, are old comrades-in-arms. They appear to get along well and support one another. Museveni also has excellent relations with Tanzania's head of state, Benjamin Mkapa. Decades of torturous turmoil, death, and destruction have badly battered Uganda's educational system. Since 1985, Museveni has made significant strides toward rebuilding what was once an educational system that was the "pride of East Africa."

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

Laws Affecting Education: Seven legal statues create the framework for education in Uganda. These statues begin with the Education Ordinance of 1927 mandating government control of schools, and extend to the Education Ordinances of 1942 and 1969. As important were the Makerere Ordinance of 1938, the Makerere College Act of 1949, the Kampala Act of 1970which chartered Makerere Universityand the Education Act of 1970 (Seers 1979). Under the Kampala Act of 1970, the president of Uganda serves as chancellor of the university. The chancellor appoints the vice chancellor and a deputy vice chancellor, who serves as provost and chief academic officer. To foster self-governance by the faculty, a University Council is mandated to control and administer the institution and a university faculty senate regulates admissions, academic standards, and all appointments.

Educational Philosophy: Colonial education policy was geared toward training low and middle level workers for government and missionary service. Africans learned more about London and New York than about Kampala and Jinja and became alienated from their own culture, traditions, and practices. Some Africans even became hostile toward their own culture, seeing it as "backward." From independence until the present two goals have taken priority in education:

  1. making primary education universally available and equipping every Ugandan with the basic minimum skills needed to survive in a modern economy, while also appreciating and valuing their own and others cultures
  2. providing for the manpower needs of Uganda and its expanding economy. (Obote 1969)

Education is designed to foster self-actualization, undersanding of the local community, as well as the nation of Uganda, of Africa and of the world, and textbooks reflect these new goals.

Educational SystemOverview

Compulsory Education: In January 1997 Uganda launched its Universal Primary Education Program, which provides free primary school education for up to four children from each Ugandan family. While not compulsory, the goal is to enroll and ultimately provide a primary education for every Ugandan child. As a result of this program, primary school enrollment doubled in a period of two years to 5.4 million enrolled children in primary schools (Xinhua News Agency 2001).

Age Limits: Few urban children attend preprimary schools, but most Ugandan children begin their education at age six and most finish elementary school by age 13. As of the early 2000s, over 80 percent of primary school age children were enrolled in school. Normally, primary school extends from Grade I to Grade VII in Uganda. Better primary schools, whether public or private, tend to be attended by elite children from privileged backgrounds. Educated or influential parents use their knowledge and connections to enroll their children in the best schools, enhancing their children's advantages for future success. Museveni's government builds an additional 15,000 primary school classrooms each year to accommodate additional students. Surging enrollment have increased student to teacher ratios and diluted the quality of primary education.

Enrollment: Of primary school graduates, less than 25 percent go on to enroll in secondary school. They spend their first four years completing "O" level (ordinary school) courses or technical school courses. In 1979 there were 66,730 students enrolled in secondary schools; 320 students in vocational schools; and approximately 14,000 students enrolled in technical schools, technical institutes, teacher training institutes, and commercial colleges.

Immediately after Museveni came to power in 1985, he restored peace and began national reconstruction. Between 1985 and 1989 the number of secondary schools increased fourfold and enrollment increased 227 percent. By 1995, continued impressive secondary school enrollment growth increased this number to 292,321 students (UNESCO 2000). Remarkably, the teaching force grew by 260 percent during this period and the official teacher-student ratio decreased modestly from 23:1 to 21:1, but in rural areas the teacher-student ratio was higher, at 28:1. Museveni's government is making great strides toward reducing teacher-student ratios and improving the quality of education. Roughly 20 percent of "O" level grades advance to "A" levels, or two years of advanced level studies, more or less like junior college. No enrollment figures were available for this level.

Public and private primary schools compete for good students with few behavioral problems and excellent reading and math scores. In 1979 Uganda had 4,294 primary schools, and they enrolled 1.2 million students. By 1990 there were 2.5 million primary school students enrolled and this number climbed to 2.8 million students by 1994. Moreover, by 1995, enrollment figures reached 2.9 million (UNESCO 2000). As stated previously, this number doubled in a mere two years when President Museveni stressed the need for universal primary education, reaching 5.4 million students by 1999. Such growth is phenomenal. UNESCO figures for university level education suggest that Makerere University, the Islamic University, and Mbarara University of Science and Technology together enrolled 17,578 students in 1990. By 1995 this number had risen to 34,773 (UNESCO 2000).

Female Enrollment: Ugandan females are classified as a "disadvantaged" group, along with orphans, migrants, poor students, and the disabled (Fleuret 1992). Drop out rates for girls are high and increase as they reach higher levels. Girls' persistence in primary school is less than boys. Girls are 46 percent of first grade classes but only 39 percent of secondary school classes (Fleuret 1992). This percentage reflects higher representation than in the past. Makerere University has a deliberate policy of giving 1.5 points to each female applicant who qualifies for entrance to increase their competitiveness in the entry process. This policy has raised the number of women on campus. Ugandan communities often think that boys will make more significant economic contributions in the future, thus need more training. Some ethnic groups believe that a "girl's place is in the home" and her primary goal in life must be marrying and raising a family not seeking a career. Girls often marry and start families early in life, which limits access to education, especially in rural Uganda. Cultural attitudes about girl's roles are strong and resist rapid change. Many ethnic groups do not favor educating girls because they feel that they will just marry outside of the group and the value of their education will not benefit their family. There are signs of change however, including the fact that as average levels of bride-wealth paid for educated wives rises, parents put higher values on educating girls. Also, some Ugandans are beginning to believe that if a daughter has a steady income, she will care for aged parents, while boys might spend their money on their wives. These new cultural beliefs work to the advantage of girls.

President Yoweri Museveni also plays a role in the increase in female enrollment since he favors sex equity in education. Many female soldiers fought with him when liberating Uganda from Idi Amin's dictatorial control. Museveni, therefore, probably feels obligated to be fair to women.

Minority Education: East Indians, known as "Asians" in Uganda, built their own schools for Indian and Pakistani children. The Agha Khan, for example, built excellent schools for the Islamic sect known as Ismaliis. Sunni and Shite Muslims also built schools, and there were Hindu temple schools. Europeans also built special high-quality, expensive international schools for their children. In 1971 Idi Amin expelled "Asians" from Uganda, but the closure of their schools had little impact on Uganda's educational system since very few Africans attended these schools. The European and Asian populations were less than 1 percent of Uganda's population, even though they were the wealthiest element and exercised influence over Uganda's economy. A few Europeans and Asians stayed on throughout Amin's xenophobic years.

Museveni has invited Asians and Europeans to return, claim their property, rebuild their schools, and help the economy prosper. Asians and Europeans continue to be privileged populations with higher than average standards of living and excellent schools for their children. British teachers are a common sight in the European schools.

Academic Year: Throughout all three East African countries (Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania), the school year begins in January and ends in December. Climate and tradition have established this pattern (Seers 1979).

Language of Instruction: It has long been customary to use English as the language of instruction throughout Uganda, beginning in the first grade and continuing throughout the entire educational system. Shortages of qualified English teachers, however, means that sometimes English language instruction cannot begin until fourth grade or later.

Swahili is the language of the military and police, thus, it is used in some training academies, but, due to its association with slavery, it has a negative association with oppression and mistreatment in the minds of many Ugandans (Mazrui 1975). This is a cultural and linguistic bias which reinforces Ugandans preference for English.

In the south central region of Uganda, Luganda is often the medium of instruction. The Baganda still take great pride in their language and culture, but other tribes view it as a language of a hegemonic, imperialistic people and avoid learning it for political reasons. In various regions of Uganda, the selective use of the following languages is common in the first four years of primary school: Karimojong, Teso, Lugbara, Luo, Runyankole, and Runyoro. In all cases, English remains the official language of Uganda's schools.

Examinations: As in England, national examinations determine advancement from one educational level to the next. The Uganda National Examinations Council (UNEB) assumes the role of an examining board. The first examination, the Primary Leaving Examination (PLE), is administered at the end of primary education. Only students who have relatively high passing scores are admitted into "O" level secondary schools. In 1981, over 150,000 students took the PLE and 30,000 passed, yet a mere 25,000 matriculated in secondary schools the following academic year.

At the end of their four year "O" or ordinary level education, students take a certification examination. This is known as the Uganda Certificate of Education. Results of this examination are used by schools to admit students to "A" level institutions, government training institutes, technical colleges, and grade three teacher-training colleges. Those with "high pass" are assured places in "A" or advanced level schools. Upon successful completion of two years of "A" level education, students attempt the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education. Those with "high pass" are the lucky few who are admitted to universities and other postsecondary institutions for additional education or training for professions and careers (Evans 1991). Thus, selection of students for universities, national teachers colleges, technical colleges, and government employment agencies is determined by the Uganda Advanced Certificate examination.

Uganda's educational system is a pyramid with a broad base but very narrow funnel that admits only a few to its top levels. Within each level of this pyramid students take class tests and the results of these internal tests decide who gets promoted to the next class. Pressure and competition cause many students to drop out.

Grading System: In general, students study subjects all year in preparation for one major end of the year examination. Such examinations are usually in essay format.

Religious Schools: Christian Missionaries traditionally used the lure of free education and hospital care to attract converts. The Anglican Church of Uganda operates over 969 primary schools, the Roman Catholic Church runs more than 1,146 primary schools, and there are approximately 200 Muslim schools. The Ismali community operates several Aga Khan schools, and there are also Hindu schools. The Islamic University, three Roman Catholic seminaries, the Bishop Tucker Theological College (Anglican), Bugema Seventh Day Adventist College, and the Anglican College of Tertiary Studies illustrate the range of institutions of higher education that are faith-based. These schools promote moral and ethical values, as well as patriotism, self-reliance, and reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Instructional Technology (Computers): The internet and computer technology are making their way into Uganda. There are more than 6,000 privately owed computers and the numbers are growing rapidly. Makerere University and other institutions of higher education have computer programming and engineering divisions. This technology will eventually find its way into primary and secondary schools alongside slide projectors, overhead projectors, 16-millimeter film projectors, and other technology now becoming common in schools.

Curriculum Development: Textbook and course syllabi development have been the responsibility of the National Curriculum Development Center (NCDC) since it was founded in 1973. Mainly charged with primary school curriculum development, the center also serves secondary schools and universities. The textbook mandate calls for development of books that acquaint students with Uganda, Africa, the world, and themselves. In the past they learned a lot about England and little or nothing about their own country.

Foreign Influences on the Educational System: England has had a profound influence upon education in Uganda and all major examinations were at one time written at Cambridge University and graded by external examiners in England. This was true for Kenya and Tanzania also until independence when they, along with Uganda, began developing mechanisms for internally certifying students. The structure of the system and philosophy of education are still essentially English. As a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, Uganda still receives many teachers annually to man its classrooms from within the Commonwealth and still follows the English model.

Uganda receives external aid from the United States, Great Britain, Denmark, and Norway. The U.S. aid includes donations from the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Carnegie Endowment for Education. Educational assistance is used to help build additional schools, maintain existing schools, and fund educational research.

Role of Education in Development: Government provides the bulk of educational resources and funding. Poor performance of the economy due to internal conflict for decades adversely affected financing of education. Despite quantitative expansion of the system, severe constraints limit quality. Recurrent expenditure on teacher salaries is a major issue and early development budgets in the 1960s devoted 25 percent of the national budget to education. By the 1970s, Idi Amin was in power. Amin never went further than grade three of primary school. He did not place importance on education and consequently education dropped to 10 percent of Uganda's budget. During the turmoil of the 1980s, education's share of the national budget dropped by a ratio of 2:1. This was a gloomy time for educators in Uganda until Yoweri Museveni came to power in 1985. Museveni holds a degree in economics from Dar es Salaam University in Tanzania and he appears to value education for national development. By 1992 recurrent expenses for education jumped up to 18 percent of Uganda's national budget and continue to climb.

The effect of years of war on Uganda's economy are devastating. Despite this, Museveni grew the economy by 7 percent per year. An expanding economic base has permitted Uganda to devote 23 percent of its budget to education or more than double the amount Amin devoted. Uganda plans to increase funding further to improve teacher salaries and classroom expansion to accommodate the push for expanded enrollment of students at all levels. For Museveni, an educated population is the master key which will unlock Uganda's potential for modernizing its economy and achieving rapid economic and social development.

Parents pitch in by raising money to supplement low teacher salaries and to fund many school operating expenses that government can not afford. Economically disadvantaged regions lag behind wealthy urban districts and this widens the inequality gap. Through cost-sharing and the expansion of private education through fees, Uganda's elite try to insure that their children will be prepared for leadership roles regardless of war, famine, earthquakes, or economic downturn.

Preprimary & Primary Education

General Survey: Preprimary children can begin school at age three. Most urban areas have fine preschool facilities. Preschool is very commercial, and the private sector dominates such schools. The government is concerned about the lack of regulation at this level. Fees are often seen as excessive and exclusionary. The quality of education is very uneven, as are teaching methods, facilities, and alleged violations of sound pedagogical principles of child psychology and development. The problem with the better schools is competition, which is so high for the few positions available that parents must literally enroll the child at birth to assure that the child will find a place in these preschools.

The main problem facing primary educators in Uganda is budgetary. Beyond this there is a great disparity between the education available in cities and in remote rural areas. This attracts Ugandans to cities like a magnet and is the source of many urban problems when unsuccessful students drop out and take to crime or other self-help activities to support themselves. More vocational training is being introduced into primary school curriculums in an attempt to address this problem.

Urban & Rural Schools: The distribution of education at the primary level is reasonably well balanced throughout Uganda, with the exception of Karamoja in the north, where the people and climate are more Sudanese in character than Ugandan. The Karamojong and other ethnic groups little respect national boundaries and migrate freely between Uganda and the Sudan in search of grazing pastures for their livestock and water. The highly mobile lifestyle of this population makes it difficult to meet their educational needs. Special educational grants are supplied to schools in Karamoja to address this problem. Enrollment ratios in each province are within 15 percent of the national average, except for Karamoja (Helleiner 1979), where only 17.5 percent of eligible children are enrolled. Given the chronic fighting, drought, migrations, and other problems that torture this population, even this number is remarkable.

The introduction by the government of Sudan in Khartoum of slavery as a weapon of war against Africans in the south of the Sudan encourages large flows of migrants into Uganda, which further complicates educational planning in northern Uganda. Despite its problems, Uganda has never, in recent years, subjected its populations to the horrors of slavery. The same cannot be said for the Sudan and Mauritania.

Curriculum: Primary students study arithmetic, natural science, farming, health, reading, writing, music, English, religion, and physical education in grades one and two. Grades two through seven add art, crafts, language, history, geography (often of England and the United States), and cooking and domestic science for young girls. Curriculums are established by the National Curriculum Development Center (NCDC). Panels of teachers and members of examination boards, university professors, and educational inspectors review all curricula. The NCDC examines syllabi and textbooks, as well as teachers guides. They even write textbooks or recommend revisions. The Ministry of Education implements the recommendations of the NCDC. Many primary schools have libraries to encourage the habit of reading as a lifelong activity. Radio lessons are provided for in-service teacher training and personnel development, as well as for English language instruction. Radios are common even in the remotest parts of Karamoja, so this is an effective means of reaching many isolated populations that might otherwise not be served.

Teachers: Primary school teachers are very mobile, and there is a persistent shortage of such teachers. In 1979, some 16.2 percent of approved teaching positions were unfilled. In 1980 there were 38,422 primary school teachers in almost 4,500 schools. The teacher-pupil ratio was about 1:34. Most were trained in grade three teacher training colleges. This means that these teachers have at least finished secondary school before being admitted to grade two teacher training. In the past they could teach primary school if they had finished grade seven. A few unqualified teachers from the old system are still teaching but they are being phased out.

Repeaters & Dropouts: High drop out rates are a major problem in Uganda. In 1981, approximately 23 percent of primary school aged children were enrolled in school. By grade seven only 10 percent of the children who entered grade one were still in school. Approximately 10 percent of students in government schools are repeating a grade. The highest incidence of grade repeating is in grades one through six.

Secondary Education

General Survey: Since many students come from great distances to attend secondary schools, most are boarding schools. It is also true that to prevent unwanted pregnancies, most secondary schools cater to a single sex. English is the principal language of instruction. Less than 20 percent of students who complete "O" levels continue to "A" level instruction. Close to 40 percent of these students were females in 1995, up from 33 percent in 1988 (UNESCO 2000). These students were enrolled in over 600 schools whose total enrollment in 1995 reached 292,321 students. Beyond this, there were 73 government-aided secondary schools and more than 170 private secondary schools.

Ugandans consider secondary education a "rich man's harvest." Parents have to pay large fees and buy school uniforms. These fees are prohibitive for many rural families and competition is fierce. The government pays for the buildings, equipment, teacher and administrator salaries, and maintenance. Most secondary teachers graduated from National Teachers Colleges or universities. Primary school graduates who do not go on to academic secondary schools may enter grade two teacher training programs or vocational alternatives. Over half of students who finish "O" levels and enter the job market do not find employment that is a good fit for their education, which fuels some of Uganda's political discontent and turmoil.

Curriculum: The curriculum includes mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, English, French, history, geography, religious studies, political education, literature, and commerce. Additional languages offered may include German, Swahili, Urdu, Gujarati, and/or Luganda. All schools have extracurricular activities such as soccer and other sports, games, and cultural activities such as school plays and concerts. Home economics, art, agriculture, wood and metal fabrication, and other practical subjects have been introduced in many schools to meet the demands of a labor market that must absorb over half of all Form IV graduates who do not advance to "A" levels. Secondary school curriculums do not have to be identical. General education courses are taken during the first two years and in the third year students begin to specialize. Second languages phase in during the third year in most schools.

Examinations & Diplomas: Admission to secondary schools depends upon passage of the Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) with high scores. Students who do so may choose to enter a grade two teacher training college or a technical college rather than pursue an academic secondary school education. Upon successful completion of four years of "O" level secondary education, students take the Uganda Certificate of Education examination. Only 20 percent of "O" level graduates earn scores high enough for admission to "A" level secondary schools for advanced training in their area of specialization. Advanced secondary education last for two additional years. Upon completion of "A" level education students face another hurdle known as the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education examination. This examination determines selection for university education, national teachers colleges, and government employment.

Teachers: In 1991, about 48 percent of all secondary school teaching positions were not filled. Rapid expansion of the secondary school system in part explains the shortages. The majority of teaching faculty in secondary schools are graduates and more than 60 percent are professionally trained. Graduates of "O" level institutions are eligible to enter grade three teacher training colleges; however, Makerere University's Department of Education bears primary responsibility for training qualified secondary school teachers, in cooperation with national teachers colleges. Students who attend national teachers colleges receive their diplomas through Makerere University's School of Education. In-service teacher education is encouraged, but no established required programs are in place. The Uganda Technical Colleges and the Uganda College of Commerce train cadres of technicians, secretaries, stenographers, accountants, and craftsmen respectively.

Technical colleges and universities face chronic shortages of teachers and have difficulty recruiting and maintaining faculty. One problem brought on by very rapid expansion of secondary schools is the recruitment of unqualified teachers to staff classrooms. Teaching staffs have more than doubled, but in 1980 untrained teachers were 38 percent of the teaching force and this number rose to 48 percent by 1989. Upgrading such faculty will present a major challenge for Uganda.

Officially the secondary school teacher-student ratio is 1: 21 but this masks wide regional disparities. It is often 1:8 in remote districts like Karamoja and closer to 1:70 in crowded urban schools. The 1:21 ratio is merely a national average which is not accurate enough to tell World Bank officials where more teachers are needed most or what it takes to retain them after recruiting them.

Repeaters & Dropouts: Roughly 75 percent of primary school graduates drop out and never go on to secondary school. Add to this the fact that about one fourth of first year students drop out, and, by the fourth year of secondary school, only a small percentage of the entering class graduate. High dropout rates are typical at every level of Uganda's educational system, which may force the government to commission studies to determine the reasons so that they can combat this problem.

Vocational Education: High dropout rates at every level necessitate greater emphasis on vocational education to train school-leavers' for available jobs within Uganda's economy. Moreover, Uganda's industrial sector is small, compounding problems of absorption of dropouts. The Ministry of Education recognizes this problem and has revamped secondary school curriculums to reflect the need for more training in arts and crafts and vocational subjects such as woodworking and agriculture. The Nakawa Vocational Institute in Kampala offers full-time courses in auto mechanics, electrical installation and fitting, and industrial engineering. A 16 year old secondary school dropout who has completed at least two years of secondary school can take six month training courses in metal working, sheet metalwork, welding, and flame cutting. Both theory and practice are taught.

There are YMCAs and YWCAs throughout Uganda which offer vocational training programs in handicrafts, cooking, health education, dressmaking, typing, business correspondence, bookkeeping, carpentry and joining, masonry, plumbing, and driving. Makerere University's Continuing Education Center also offers vocational training courses by "taking the university to the people." These are one-year full-time residence courses leading to university certificates in adult studies. It also offers courses for clerks, teachers, chiefs, artisans, and agricultural extension workers. There are 10 rural technical schools offering three year courses and five two-year technical training institutes. The Uganda Technical College and the Uganda College of Commerce also offer vocational training. In 1962 technical and commercial training accounted for 3.9 percent of the national education budget and by 1981 it had climbed to 7 percent, but it fell back to 4 percent by 1985.

Higher Education

Types of Public & Private: In Uganda postsecondary or higher education refers to education that is post-"A" level. Only students who have successfully completed "A" levels and passed their Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education are eligible to enter postsecondary institutions of higher education. Publicly supported institutions are of three types; autonomous universities, institutions run by the Ministry of Education, and institutes administered by the Public Service Commission. Makerere University and Mbarara University of Science and Technology are autonomous universities. The Institute of Teacher Education, the Uganda Polytechnic, the National College of Business, four technical colleges, five colleges of commerce, and 10 national teachers colleges are administered by the Ministry of Education. The Institute of Public Administration, the Uganda Law Development Center, the School of Radiography, the School of Medical Laboratory Technology, the School of Psyciotheraphy, four agricultural colleges, the Fisheries Training Institute, two veterinary training institutes, Kigumba Cooperative College, the Soroti Flying School and 10 paramedical schools are all administered by the Public Service Commission. These are all considered postsecondary institutions of higher education in Uganda.

Makere University is the oldest university in East Africa. It was founded by the British Colonial Office in 1922 to train "talented natives" for subordinate jobs in the colonial civil service. Until 1950 Makerere was the only publicly funded university in all of East Africa. It achieved full university status in 1970.

Uganda's private institutions of higher education include the Islamic University at Mbale, the Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Bishop Tucker Theological College (Anglican), Bugema Adventist College, the College of Tertiary Studies (Anglican), Chartered Institute of Bankers, Nkumba College of Commerce, and the Catholic National Seminaries (three). These institutions have separate charters and often receive substantial external funding.

Admission Procedures: Admission to Uganda's universities and institutions of higher education is based upon passing the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education. "High pass" is the ideal. A student who is over 25 years of age may apply for admission based upon "mature entry admissions." Such students must have completed "A" levels. Students who have completed diploma and certificate courses are also eligible for admission. If a student has completed four years of teacher training then they can apply for admission to Makerere's School of Education or its Institute of Education. The same general admissions qualifications apply for other institutions of higher education but admissions standards are less rigorous.

Administration: In 1970 an act of Parliament established Makeree as Uganda's first university. The head of Makerere University and Mbarara University is known as the chancellor, who is also the de facto head of state, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. The executive head of universities is known as the vice chancellor, who administers the institution on a daily basis. The chancellor is the ceremonial head and usually is only seen on campus at graduation when he awards degrees. Many private institutions are headed by rectors, including the Islamic University and the Catholic National Seminaries. Each faculty within a university is headed by a dean, while departments have either heads who are appointed by deans or directors who are elected by their faculty. Faculty boards or councils are the highest governing bodies in the administration of schools, institutes, or faculty. The boards set standards for teaching, research, curriculum development, and student admissions. Nonuniversity institutions are headed by principals or directors who manage their institutions in accordance with policy guidelines formulated by their board of governors.

In most universities and institutes committees are popular methods of self-governance. They are democratic and insure that work is completed efficiently. Along with staff associations, workers committees, student unions, and faculty senates, they help run such institutions.

Enrollment: In 1965 Uganda had 888 students enrolled in Makerere University and about 1,000 students enrolled in other institutions of higher education. This number climbed to 2,581 students at Makerere by 1970 and well over 1,000 at other institutions. By 1980 Makerere had 4,045 students enrolled and other institutions of higher learning had enrollments in excess of 3,000. Impressive gains occurred in 1991 when Uganda enrolled 17,578 students in postsecondary institutions of higher education. An estimated 28 percent of these students were females. As late as 1998, Uganda's enrollment in universities and institutions of higher education had doubled to 34,773 (UNESCO 2000). Female enrollment had moved up to 33 percent of total student enrollment.

Finance: Students who are nationals pay nothing, government covers all of their costs and meets their pocket money requirements and transportation costs as well as boarding expenses. Since the Ministry of Education covers administrator salaries, staff salaries, and faculty salaries as well as building and maintenance costs, each university must submit an annual budget estimate to the Ministry of Finance. In 1991, estimated unit costs per student were 80,000 Uganda shillings ($US 500) per year at Makerere University. Makerere's recurrent expenditures for 1991 were $US 12 million. The library's budget accounted for 3 percent of this and 5 percent was devoted to research. Foreign students account for 1 percent of total student enrollment and are charged $US 6,000 per year. Most are refugees whose expenses are paid by the United Nations. For foreign Ph.D. candidates it cost between $US 5,000 and $US 7,000 per year. This total does not cover the costs of research or equipment, travel, accommodation, or related expenses, which could easily double these figures.

Courses, Semesters, & Diplomas: It normally takes three years to earn a bachelors degree at any East African university, Makerere University and Mbarara University are no exceptions. Degrees in medicine and veterinary science take five years to complete, and engineering requires four years. Academic years begin October 1 and end on June 30, or August 30 for four term courses. During the first year of study each student must take and pass three subjects before being allowed to advance to their second year of coursework. Lectures, discussions, and laboratories are supplemented with tutorials and library studies, research, and practical training. Undergraduate students have facilities for relaxation, sports facilities, chaplaincies, health care, and opportunities to participate in student government and social clubs. First degrees are offered in fields such as medicine, law, dentistry, veterinary science, agriculture, engineering, commerce, statistics, social work, forestry, philosophy, political science, anthropology, sociology, geography, literature, public administration, economics, music, dance, drama, fine art, physics, chemistry, biology, zoology, environmental studies, mathematics, and computer science, as well as languages (English, French, German, Russian, Swahili, Luganda, and Lingala).

Students can earn either a degree, such as a bachelor's degree, master's degree, or Ph.D., or a diploma or certificate. Certificate courses include adult education and library science, which take one year to complete. Two-year diploma courses are available in library science, music, dance, and drama. The Islamic University offers bachelor's degrees in Islamic studies, education, and medicine. Mbarara University of Science and Technology awards degrees in development studies, education, medicine, and applied science. The Institute of Teacher Education at Kyambogo awards diplomas in education to teachers who complete a two-year course. Uganda's many institutes award either certificates or diplomas depending upon the duration of coursework.

Postgraduate & Professional Training: Most master's degree candidates must meet residency requirements, take required courses, and write a master's thesis based upon original research. Doctoral degree programs also have residency and minimum coursework requirements, as well as a dissertation based upon original research. Students must satisfy their internal review committees and external examiners that they have mastered their subject. The M.D. and/or Ch.M. degree is awarded after completing one year of study beyond the bachelor's of science degree, and the doctorate of literature (D. Lit.) and D.Sc. are awarded after publication of work. For Ugandans, fees for tuition, research, and accommodations are free. Foreign students are required to pay annual tuition and fees, plus pay for research and dissertation, as well as accommodation costs separately.

Foreign Students: The Islamic University's charter mandates that 50 percent of its students must be foreign, principally from English-speaking African states. Foreign students accounted for 1 percent of all students enrolled in institutions of higher education in 1999. Most foreign students attended Makerere University and many were sponsored by their home governments, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, or the Inter-University Student Exchange Program.

Students Abroad: Many Ugandan students attend universities in the United States and England. Most years approximately 1,000 students study abroad. India, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Canada offer Ugandan students opportunities to complete university degrees in growing numbers. In the past, Russia, China, and Japan have also helped educate Ugandans for higher level occupations. Neighboring nations such as Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia, as well as Libya and Egypt, also train Ugandans.

Libraries: Uganda has plans for library expansion. In 1993 there were five libraries in Uganda with 10 service points (UNESCO 1999). They contained 734 microfilmed documents and had a base of 35,000 users annually. While the number of users per year has declined since 1980, when 156,891 people used these libraries, the number of books available to read significantly increased, to 1.1 million of books, up from 73,000 books in 1980. Libraries buy 9,200 new books annually and loan out 904,000 books each year. Uganda has 178 librarians, 26 of whom hold university degrees in library science, and an additional 35 librarians who were trained on the job (UNESCO 1999). The School of Librarianship offers a two-year diploma course.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

Government Educational Agencies: The minister of education and his permanent secretary control the administration, financing, and research agenda for education in Uganda. Teacher salaries, building construction, and maintenance are subsidized by the government. A number of semi-autonomous institutions exist, including the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), which advises the president on educational issues such as appointments, confirmations, promotions, and discipline. The Uganda National Examination Board (UNEB) conducts major examinations, and the Uganda Curriculum Development Center (NCDC) plans national curriculums for schools. Historically, the Ministry of Education has played a strong central role but "de facto" decentralization is occurring. Primary schools are administered by local district councils and education committees at each school. The minister of education has representatives on each committee, but their influence is minimal. The headmaster of each school is the real power.

At the secondary school level, the board of governors formulates policy and implements it. The inspector of education sets standards for schools. Lack of funding for transportation and training mean that standards are not rigidly enforced. The ministry's planning unit is responsible for gathering statistical data on education, preparing budgets, and, based upon enrollment, planning for expansion. In 1990 Uganda's total expenditure on education was 1.5 percent of its GNP, which increased to 2.6 percent of its GNP by 1995. This represents an increase from 11.5 percent of total government expenditure to 21.4 percent respectively in the same time frame. Government spending on education accounts for 95.5 percent of all educational expenditure. Clearly, the private sector plays only a minor role in funding education in Uganda (UNESCO 2000). In general, Uganda is moving quickly toward decentralization of schools down to the grassroots level to give power back to local communities.

Nonformal Education

Adult Education: Uganda promotes adult education with a goal of improving quality of life. Basic education in reading, writing, and arthmetic is provided by churches, local literacy asociations, and the Ministry of Local Government. In 1964 an adult literacy campaign proved a disaster, so little formal effort has been put into campaigns since. The YMCA and YWCA, trade unions, and the NRM government all offer programs. The Nakawa Vocational Institute, in Kampala, offers three month courses in auto mechanics, electrical fitting and installation, and industrial engineering. School-leavers 16 years old and older can enroll in two-year courses. Despite all these efforts, Uganda had 3.6 million illiterate individuals in 2000. Of these illiterates, 1.2 million were male and 2.4 million were female (UNESCO 2000). As of the early 2000s, 32.7 percent of Ugandans were illiterate, down from 54.4 percent in 1980. Uganda is gradually winning its war against illiteracy. Radio programs support this by broadcasting more than 13 adult education courses. The Center for Continuing Education at Makerere University offers correspondence and residential courses. The university's mature entrance program allows individuals 25 years of age and older who meet entrance requirements to be admitted to Makerere. The ministries of health, labor, and agriculture all have adult training programs. Private organizations, such as the African Adult Education Association, disseminate information and support public policy that promotes adult education. They also sponsor conferences and publish newsletters.

Teaching Profession

Training & Qualifications: Rapid expansion of education insures a chronic teacher shortage. Teachers are Uganda's largest professional and educated group. Teacher education is a top priority. In 1970 Uganda had 2,755 schools staffed by 21,471 teachers. By 1995 Uganda had 10,000 schools staffed by 82,745 teachers (UNESCO 1999). Of these, 50 percent were female at the primary school level and 21 percent at the secondary school level (IMF 2000). Secondary schools had 14,447 teachers in 1995, with 1,022 teachers in training institutions preparing to enter the secondary system and 766 teachers in training for vocational institutions. Universities employ professors with appropriate terminal degrees, such as Ph.D.'s, in their academic disciplines. Employment is normally permanent, though visiting and temporary appointments are available as assistant lecturer, lecturer, senior lecturer, reader, and professor.


General Assessment: Political struggles between southern hierarchical societies and northern egalitarian societies have created constant instability in Uganda since its independence. Infrequent lulls in fighting provide some relief. Museveni's NRM has provided much needed stability since 1985, which has permitted education to make significant strides forward. The educational system has more than doubled since 1985 and is striving to once again become the envy of all East Africa. Much work remains, but this is a welcome change from the horrors and backwardness of the Amin era.

Need for Change: Uganda is committed to closing the educational gap between regions, ethnic groups, and social classes; it is committed to expanding "equal opportunities for education" for all Ugandans. Evidence of this can be seen in the frantic pace of school construction, teacher training, and the general expansion of education. It continues to make progress in its war against ignorance as seen in declining rates of illiteracy, but high dropout rates at every level are an ongoing problem. Restructuring the curriculum to include more agricultural and technical training is seen as a step in the right direction in combating dropout rates. Providing jobs for the growing population of school graduates is important to help prevent resentment and unrest. The shortage of qualified teachers needs urgent attention, as does upgrading of unqualified teachers who are trying to fill the void. Expansion of teacher education to increase the supply of qualified teachers is a primary goal. Priority has also been given to technical and vocational training. Cooperation among the educational institutions of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania is promoted by Museveni. Efforts to revive the East African community may help to rationalize educational opportunities throughout the region.


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Dallas L. Browne

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Republic of Uganda



A landlocked state in Eastern Africa, west of Kenya and east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (former Zaire), Uganda has an area of 236,040 square kilometers (146,675 square miles) and a total land boundary of 2,698 kilometers (1,676 miles). Comparatively, the area occupied by Uganda is slightly smaller than the size of Oregon. Uganda's capital city, Kampala, is located in the country's southeast on the shore of Lake Victoria, Africa's largest lake and the source of the river Nile. Lake Victoria is also bordered by Kenya and Tanzania.


The population of Uganda was estimated at 22,459,000 in 2000 by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, an annual average increase of 2.5 percent from the 1995 population of 19,689,000. In 2000 the birth rate stood at 48.04 per 1,000 while the death rate was at 18.44 per 1,000. With similar annual growth rate, the population is likely to stand at 34,762,000 in 2015 and 66,305,000 by 2050. Although population per square kilometer was only 241 in 1999 (93 per square mile), the above projected population growth could create a future crisis of land and resources.

The Ugandan population is primarily of African descent, consisting of thirteen principal ethnic groups, although there are actually 49 such groups in total. The rest of the population is made up of Asians and Europeans (around 1 percent) and a fluctuation of refugees escaping from crises in neighboring countriesmost recently from Sudan, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is important to note that Uganda had a large number of Asian citizens at independence in 1962; however, the majority of them were forcibly expelled under the regime of General Idi Amin (1971-78) in a racist attempt to "Africanize" the country.

Uganda's population is very young, with 51 percent below age 14 and just 2 percent of the population at 65 or older. A majority of Ugandans86 percentlived in rural areas in 2000. The urban population was 7 percent of the total population in 1965, rising to 14 percent in 2000 (5 percent of the population is centered in and around Kampala). It should be noted that it is difficult to be precise about population distributions because of frequent fluctuation between urban and rural areas as workers move to find seasonally-based employment.

Uganda is commonly conceived to be the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic; in fact HIV/AIDS in Uganda is commonly accepted to be a pandemic (the occurrence of a disease over a whole country). It is estimated that 110,000 Ugandans died from AIDS in 1999, and it has been the most common form of death of young adults since the late 1980s. It is important to understand that these deaths resonate beyond their own profound significance due to the socio-economic effects of HIV/AIDS. For example, the drawn-out nature of death from AIDS requires a large amount of care and attention. Therefore, large numbers of, predominantly, women who could be productively employed are spending their time caring for the dying. In addition, by 1999 the cumulative number of orphans created due to AIDS since the pandemic began reached 1,700,000. This raises the problem of the development and guidance of Uganda's children. However, the Ugandan government was one of the first in Africa to promote public education programs and openness about HIV/AIDS. As a result of this proactive policy, Uganda is one of Africa's success stories for reducing HIV/AIDS; for example, 10,235 AIDS cases were reported in 1990 but only 1,406 in 1998.


Uganda's economy is dominated by the production of agricultural goods, which employs some 82 percent of the workforce. These goods range from crops grown mainly for subsistence purposes such as plantains, maize, beans, and potatoes, and exported cash crops such as coffee, tea, and tobacco. The reliance of the national economy on cash crops for foreign exchange is a legacy of Uganda's colonial period when it was made a British protectorate (1894-1962) during the "scramble for Africa" by the imperialist European powers. In other words, the country's productive structure remains dominated by what the British colonial administration had forcefully demanded Ugandans produce.

At independence in 1962 Uganda was one of Africa's most economically promising states and was widely cited as the "Pearl of Africa." It was self-sufficient in food, its manufacturing sector produced basic inputs and consumer goods , and its transportation infrastructure was one of the best in the continent. Its key exportscoffee and cottonwere in global demand as the world economy was registering substantial growth built on the import demands of the United States, Western Europe, and parts of Northeast Asia. Health services were among the best in Africa, and schools, although in limited supply, were of a generally high quality.

However, from the beginning of President Idi Amin's regime in 1971 to the National Resistance Movement's (NRM) adoption of free market reforms in 1987, the official economy fell deeper and deeper into crisis under the strain of spasmodic civil wars and shortsighted economic programs such as the nationalization of certain industries and the expulsion of the Asian population. In 1960 cotton provided 40 percent of Uganda's export revenue (because cotton is a less volatile crop than coffee, its production had acted as a good counterbalance to foreign exchange reserves earned through exports). However, the harvesting of goods such as cotton and sugar declined considerably during the period 1971-1987 so that even in 2000 they were a minimal part of Uganda's agricultural production. The instability of the economy and the Uganda shilling between 1971-1987 led to the rise of the informal sector . The NRM had inherited an economy that had had the worst growth rate of all African countries between 1962-1987. The country's reliance on coffee production has left the economy highly vulnerable to the continual flux of international coffee prices.

Under the influence of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, the NRM embraced free market reforms in 1987; these included the privatization of industry and services, the devaluation of the Uganda shilling (USh), and the liberalization of the exchange rate system. Since then Uganda has become one of the most economically liberal countries in the world. Due to a combination of free market reform, the large amount of post-conflict national reconstruction required, and the relative degree of security maintained by the NRM, the economy has enjoyed consistently high rates of GDP growth since the late 1980s. By the late 1990s external donors such as the IMF and European Union (EU) promoted Uganda as one of the key success stories of free market reform in Africa. For instance, evidence suggests that the stabilization of the Uganda shilling has created an economic environment suitable for the growth of the country's manufacturing sector and, more broadly, the diversification of export production into "non-traditional goods" such as fish products and cut flowers.

The reduction of the drain on state revenue since the banking sector was partially denationalized has contributed to the successful balancing of the national current account. The privatization of parastatals and the reduction of state spending by means of downsizing social services and the public sector have, similarly, lessened government spending. Because of the social stability throughout most of Uganda in the 1990s the incidence of tourism is increasing very quickly after having been heavily reduced by the violence permeating the country from 1971 to 1986.

Yet Uganda still suffers from considerable economic difficulties. The economy is dependent on the continued flow of aid from external donors. Total external debt has risen from US$0.689 billion in 1980 to US$3.708 billion in 1997, and the country remains entirely dominated by the unpredictability of the production and international prices of coffee. During the Amin period and the economy's decline, corruption within the government and society as a whole became very common in order to satisfy greed amongst the rich and survival for the poor. In 2000 corruption still saturated the government and the private sector despite efforts to curtail its influence. Similarly, by 2000 the informal sector remained of considerable size. However, the liberalization of the exchange rate system and the subsequent evening out of informal and official prices have sent the informal sector into decline.


Like most African countries, the territory known as Uganda was an arbitrary creation of the European colonial powers. The borders cut across and brought together a whole range of ethnic and linguistic groups. Since gaining independence from Britain in 1962, the history of Uganda's politics and government falls into 4 broad periods.

The first period was opened at the country's independence with multi-party elections which brought the Uganda People's Congress (UPC) to power, led by Prime Minister Milton Obote. However, the Obote regime soon opted for a more authoritarian leadership. By using its base of support in the north of the country and the military to discard Uganda's traditional kingdoms and check its historical rivals in the south (who had been the country's elite during the colonial administration), Obote became the self-appointed executive president.

The second period began in 1971 when Obote was ousted from government by one of his key pillars of support, the military, led by Idi Amin. This was a major turning point for Uganda as Amin's 8 years of rule (1971-1979) saw the economy and political process collapse. Amin's regime used fear and racism as central instruments of policy and social control; over 300,000 people were murdered by the regime, and the vast majority of the country's 88,000 Asians were forcibly expelled and their land and other assets divided amongst Amin's followers. Economically, this was a disaster. After this policy had been enacted, the redistributed assets were placed in the hands of people who were inexperienced and lacked established business networks; this led to the decline of the productivity and efficiency of Uganda's business sector. Moreover, as Uganda's citizens became less confident in the stability of the formal economy due to Amin's unpredictable rule, they increasingly began to turn to the informal sector, thereby bypassing the state and its revenue-collecting authorities. In sum, the economy became less productive and more reliant upon the informal sector, both drastically reducing state taxation revenue. As state revenue was so depleted, the government began borrowing from international lenders at such a rate that Uganda became heavily indebted. These factors, in combination with the deteriorating terms of trade for Uganda's products on international markets after the decline of world economy in the 1970s, explain why the Ugandan economy was in dire crisis by the end of Amin's regime.

The third broad period of Uganda's political history began when Amin was finally overthrown in 1979 by a coalition of domestic forces under the banner of the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF) and the neighboring Tanzanian army. This led to an 8-year period of crisis and uncertain rule that plagued the country. After Amin's defeat, a string of 3 limited and short-term governments followed, led by the UNLF, President Binaisa, and President Lule, respectively. This period was one in which the economy was devastated further by continued widespread disruption, huge military expenditures, and the effects of the international rise of oil prices in 1979. This quick succession of regimes culminated in the corrupt and widely disputed multiparty elections of 1980 that reinstated Obote as president. Commonly known as Obote II, this period was characterized by 2 central dynamics. First, Obote attempted to address the country's considerable economic woes by approaching the IMF and the World Bank for financial aid. This aid was dependent upon Uganda liberalizing the economy with the hope that free market forces would make it more competitive in the world economy. Second, the social effects of this reform were negative, which in combination with the corrupt and heavy-handed rule of Obote II, culminated in growing popular support for the National Resistance Movement (NRM) led by Yoweri Museveni that was waging a guerrilla war from its support-base in Uganda's south.

The fourth key period of Uganda's political history began when the NRM took state power in 1986; the NRM remained in power in early 2001. With Museveni as president the NRM had seized power on the back of a set of left-progressive, anti-imperialist policies. However, because of the legacy left by Amin and his successors, the country was in a state of severe social, economic, and institutional crisis. Consequently, by 1987 the NRM was forced to go back on its initial left-progressive developmental policies simply because there was insufficient revenue to pursue such an approach. In fact, like Obote II, the NRM applied to the IMF and World Bank for aid that was conditional upon adopting free market reform.

Although Uganda's economy is claimed by many to have been in a relatively good state of health since the opening to free market forces from 1987 onwards, the political situation is somewhat more ambiguous. The country remains a "no party democracy." Museveni stresses that the NRM is not a political party but a national "movement" of a broad coalition of societal and political forces. As a result, while Uganda maintains a high level of press freedom (especially in comparison with most other African countries), political parties are illegal. A referendum in July 2000 saw 90 percent of voters favoring the continuation of the "no party system" which seems to have justified the NRM's political stance.

However, a level of contention remains about this system's legitimacy as the 2 most prominent opposition parties, Uganda People's Congress (UPC) and Democratic Party (DP), boycotted the referendum. Furthermore, the U.S.-based human rights group Human Rights Watch claimed in a 1999 report that, due to the illegal nature of organized opposition, the country has "a restricted political climate." Contemporary indications of discontent in Uganda are clearly illustrated by a series of violent insurgencies by dissident groups such as Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army in the north and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the southwest. In order to counter these rebellions, the army now has permanent barracks in these volatile areas.

Presidential elections were held at the beginning of March 2001. Museveni won an easy victory with 69.3 percent of the votes compared to the 27.8 percent of his closest competitor, the politically progressive former army colonel, Dr. Kizza Besigye. Although Museveni's victory was tainted by accusations of intimidation, fraud, and violence (an estimated 5-15 percent of votes cast could have been compromised), this margin of potential electoral corruption still gave Museveni a sufficient mandate to hold onto the presidency.

Since 1998 Uganda has been at war in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to depose the Kabila regime first led by Laurent Kabila (who was assassinated in January 2001) and then by his son Joseph. This is a very complex war involving Rwanda, which supports a separate but similar anti-Kabila faction, and Angola, Zimbabwe, and Namibia, which all support the DRC government. The war is a considerable drain on the government's already sparse revenue; the Ministry of Defence received 33 percent of all ministerial allocations in the 1999-2000 budget. Yet by March 2001, Uganda was beginning to withdraw some troops from the DRC; however, this conflict has subsided and re-ignited before.

A key reform promoted by the IMF and World Bank was the restructuring of Uganda's taxation regime. One of the intentions was to lower the dependence on trade taxes, which reduced incentives for production, and to rely instead on indirect taxes on goods and services. Indirect taxes provided an average of 79.8 percent of total revenue between 1990-1998. Taxes on income and profits have steadily increased from 9.8 percent of total revenue in 1989 to 15.2 percent in 1998. Yet, of total taxes, about 50 percent still emanates from indirect taxes on only 4 productspetroleum, cigarettes, beer, and soft drinks. In fact, Uganda's tax revenue to GDP ratio is fifty percent below the African average.

The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) was established to address the priority of improving government tax-collecting abilities. However, it is claimed that almost immediately after the creation of the URA its officials were involved in the major embezzlement of the funds it was set up to collect. In addition, throughout the government departments in 1997-98, US$120 million in tax revenue and government spending was unaccounted for. Due to these high levels of ingrained corruption, low levels of household income, and a small proportion of waged (thus taxable) labor, the majority source of government revenue still emanates from external donors. Of the government's estimated total financial requirement for 2000, US$1.467 billion was expected to come from domestic resources, whereas US$2.255 billion was required in external aid. It is due to regular deficits such as this that Uganda's external debt as a percentage of GNP has risen from 35.5 percent in 1985 to 58.2 percent by 1998.


Uganda is a landlocked country served by a network of 27,000 kilometers (16,800 miles) of roads, although only 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) are paved and 4,800 kilometers (2,900 miles) of the remainder are suitable for all-weather purposes. This road network supplied Uganda's total 25,900 passenger cars and 42,300 commercial

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Uganda 2 128 27 N/A 1 0.1 1.5 0.06 25
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Dem. Rep. of Congo 3 375 135 N/A 0 N/A N/A 0.00 1
Kenya 9 104 21 N/A 0 N/A 2.5 0.19 35
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

vehicles in 1995. With funding from a range of external donors, Uganda launched an ongoing road rehabilitation project in 1987 with the principal aims of providing improved access of agricultural products to markets within the country and a regional network to link Rwanda, the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda with the port of Mombasa in Kenya. A 22-kilometer (13-mile) road linking Uganda to Rwanda was opened in 2000.

The nation's rail system had lacked sufficient investment since decolonization, but the state-owned Uganda Railways Corporation's (URC) 1,241 kilometers (770 miles) of railroad has benefitted from a rejuvenation project since 1995. This includes plans by the government to partially privatize the operation of the network. The URC has US$350 million in assets and a US$20 million annual turnover , and, due to the trebling of freight traffic between 1989 and 1995, the URC network has the potential of becoming highly profitable.

The Entebbe International Airport is Uganda's major airport, which is situated 35 kilometers (22 miles) from Kampala. Although there are another 28 airports throughout the country, the vast majority are unpaved. Uganda's landlocked status makes it dependent upon the port services of neighboring countries, such as Mombasa in Kenya and Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania. Rail links to the port of Durban in South Africa are growing in importance. The country's situation in the "Great Lakes" region means that it boasts 5 large lakes and 2 major rivers that are frequently used for transportation purposes. The use of waterways has benefitted from an extensive program of government investment and external aid.

The vast and varied waterways in Uganda are also highly beneficial for the production of hydroelectricity. A parastatal, Uganda Electricity Board (UEB), utilizes this natural resource to produce enough power to satisfy the country's needs and also to export 115 million kWh of electricity in 1998. UEB commands assets worth over US$600 million and has an annual turnover in the region of US$70 million. The government intends to grant concessions to the private sector for the operation of parts of UEB upon its disintegration into separate operators maintaining the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity.

In 2000 there were 2 national telecommunications operations in the country, Uganda Telecomm Limited (UTL) and Mobile Telephone Network Uganda (MTN). A third operator, Celtel Uganda, supplies additional mobile telephone services. Although as many as 12 Internet service providers had been licensed to provide both Internet e-mail and Internet services by early 2001, only 4 are actually in operation.


Uganda's economic sectors reflect the legacy of colonial structures, the country's position as a land-locked territory, its politically tumultuous past, and the widespread lack of foreign investment in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. Uganda is highly dependent on agricultural exports in order to provide much-needed foreign currency, and its underdeveloped industry and services necessitate an increasing level of imports. Consequently, in 1997 the government was in 5.7 percent deficit as a percentage of GDP (excluding external aid). In addition, Uganda lacks a significant internal market for domestically produced goods because of low household incomes. In light of these factors it is unlikely that the economy will reduce its primary dependence on the export-based growth strategy of producing goods such as coffee in the medium-term future; nonetheless, it does remain a leader in international coffee markets.

In order to address these geographical, historical, and material problems, the Ugandan government is attempting to diversify its economic sectors to produce more manufactured goods for domestic, regional, and international consumption to reduce the dependence of the economy on foreign aid and imports. With the continued financial support of the IMF, World Bank, EU, and United States for Uganda's free market reforms there is a genuine possibility that the economy's present diversification will contribute to its current growth rateone of the fastest in the world. Uganda had an average GDP annual growth rate of 7.2 percent over 1990-99, which constitutes a growth rate of agriculture of 3.7 percent, of services at 8.1 percent and industry at 12.7 percent. This consistent growth of various sectors suggests a dynamic economy.


The agricultural sector is dominant in Uganda's economy. Whilst this sector grew at an annual average of only 3.7 percent over 1990-99 compared to the far more impressive growth of the industrial and service sectors, the importance of agriculture in Uganda's economy outweighs all other sectors put together. The agricultural sector employs 82 percent of the workforce, accounts for 90 percent of export earnings, and provided 44 percent of GDP in 1999. Moreover, the farmers in Uganda's 2.5 million smallholdings and scattered large commercial farms provide the majority of their own and the rest of the country's staple food requirements. Uganda is able to rely on agriculture due to the country's excellent access to waterways, fertile soils, and, (relative to many other African nations) its regular rainfall, although it does still suffer from intermittent droughts such as in 1993-94.

Uganda's key agricultural products can be divided into cash crops, food crops, and horticultural produce. The most important cash crops are coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, and cocoa. Uganda is second only to Kenya as Africa's largest producer of tea, exporting US$17.06 million of tea in 1996 and $39 million by 1998. Unmanufactured tobacco exports provided US$9.5 million in 1998, over 25 percent more than in 1996. The export of cocoa beans hit a recent high in 1996 with US$1.07 million in export receipts, but this had declined to $0.87 million in 1998. The primary food crops, mainly for domestic consumption, include plantains, cassava, maize, millet, and sorghum. Total cereal production was 1.76 million metric tons in 1998, which provided US$17.82 million of exports in 1998. This gain was in part negated as imports of cereals were $30.9 million in the same year. The more recent development of cultivating horticultural produce includes fresh flowers, chilies, vanilla, asparagus, and medicinal plants. At the beginning of 2001 it is unclear how well horticultural production will prosper but it does indicate the economy's potential diversity. The fact that vanilla production is the third largest in Africa, providing US$930,000 in export receipts in 1998, is a success in itself.

The economy of northeast Uganda is dominated by pastoralism (cattle farming). Although agricultural production is apparent in some areas, this is normally a mixture known as "agro-pastoralism" (integrated cattle and crop farming). It should be noted that pastoralism is in decline due to the constant cattle raids by guerrilla groups such as the Lord's Resistance Army based in southern Sudan, as well as government and aid agency intervention which encourages the fencing off of land to discourage the traditional free-roaming of cattle.


Coffee is by far the most important factor in the nation's entire economy. Uganda is one of the largest producers of coffee in sub-Saharan Africa and exported 197,200 metric tons in 1998, second only to Côte d'Ivoire. This provided US$314 million in export earnings. Although this was a drop in earnings from the 1996 level of $396.2 million, the 1996 harvest had provided 81,511 metric tons more than in 1998. The country's high altitude, relatively high rainfall, and mild climate are suited to the growing of coffee. Robusta coffee is grown in areas near Lake Victoria and in some Western districts. Arabica coffee is grown in the volcanic regions in Mbale and Kapchorwa where the cooler, higher altitude provides the increased rainfall necessary for the growth of this more profitable crop. The dual process of the devaluation of the Ugandan Shilling and its flotation was intended to provide an incentive to producers to take advantage of more competitive exports and thus expand their production of exportable goods. On face value this process was a success as producer prices dramatically increased. For example, coffee farmers received a 182 percent rise in the price paid for their product, and there was an annual average growth of coffee exports of 6.5 percent between 1990-1997.

However, the apparent growth of Uganda's coffee exports does not take account of smuggling into the country from neighboring countries such as the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo whose farmers often do not receive as good a price for their crops as those in Uganda. Furthermore, increased productivity was based upon an increase in the area cultivated rather than on higher yields. When there is a rise in available cultivated land it acts as an increased drain on the country's environmental resources. The 50 percent projected rise of the population by 2015 more than likely will increase competition, and perhaps conflict, over ever-decreasing land plots.

Regarding improvements to the agricultural sector, farmers simply lack the access to capital ( see Services rubric below) in order to mechanize production and increase agricultural productivity. Productivity per agricultural worker was an average of US$345 per annum over 1996-1998. In consequence, farmers are unable to take full advantage of increased returns for the export of coffee when they do arise, for instance, during the coffee boom of 1994-95 where the price in U.S. cents to a pound of coffee was 126.83. This failure to improve production is based upon a lack of investment and an assumption of the continuation of the usually relatively low levels paid by the volatile world market for primary commodities . For example, in 1999 the price in U.S. cents to a pound of coffee was only 67.65. Considering the long-term maturity of coffee plants, the instability of international markets does not provide much of an incentive for improved efficiency of production. It should also be noted that export crops such as coffee are very susceptible to natural disasters, which further reduces their economic viability. For instance, a hurricane in 2000 pushed Uganda's national harvest back a year.


Industry is very limited in Uganda. The most important sectors are the processing of agricultural products (such as coffee curing), the manufacture of light consumer goods and textiles, and the production of beverages, electricity, and cement. The production of beer in Uganda has increased dramatically in recent years, rising from 215,000 hectoliters in 1988 to 896,000 in 1997. Similarly, cement production has expanded from a low of 15,000 metric tons in 1988 to 290,000 in 1997. Of lesser importance is the production of sawn wood, remaining stable at 83,000 cubic meters from 1994 onwards. However, there is little evidence of the sufficient replanting of trees, which may not only affect this level of production but could have adverse environmental effects such as soil erosion and increased landslides. A key block to the development of Uganda's industrial and commercial sector is corruption. Bribes are commonly demanded to acquire even the most basic services such as an electricity supply and telephones.

Due to increased domestic security, market reform, and tax breaks, Uganda's manufacturing sector is growing. Merchandise exports have expanded from US$147 million in 1990 to US$501 million in 1998. However, merchandise imports have also expanded but at an even greater rate, from US$213 million in 1990 to US$1,414 million in 1998. This imbalance indicates a serious problem with Uganda's economy because, in order to continue the present rate of import of manufactured goods, the government is obliged to borrow ever greater amounts of money from foreign donors which makes the country increasingly indebted.

The privatization of industry is a central dynamic in Uganda's contemporary national economy. This is of central importance considering that government subsidies to parastatals were equal to that spent on much needed education between 1994-1998. The Privatization Unit of the Ministry of Finance has plans to open a number of industries to the private sector. For example, the largest dairy processor in the country, the government-owned Dairy Corporation, which has an annual turnover of US$12 million, is undergoing full privatization. Copper mining used to be a mainstay of the economy in the 1960s to mid-1970s with an output of up to 18,000 metric tons per annum. Due to the country's civil unrest and the decline of copper prices on international markets, the 90 percent government-owned Kilembe Mines Ltd. mining activity has been inactive since 1982. The planned privatization of this enterprise should end government subsidies to this company and is hoped to lead to the rein-vigoration of Uganda's copper production.


The export of Uganda's commercial services has grown dramatically from US$21 million in 1990 to US$165 million in 1998. Yet at the same time the import of commercial services has grown from US$195 million in 1990 to US$693 million in 1998. This imbalance, similar to that of manufactured goods, contributes to the deficit of Uganda's balance of payments . Therefore, in order to maintain this level of imports, Uganda is forced to borrow more money from external donors, thus leading to the deepening of the country's public debt and the consequent drain of debt interest payments upon an already limited government revenue.


Due to the severe insecurity permeating Uganda through the 1970s and most of the 1980s, tourism was a very limited sector. Today, the majority of Uganda is entirely safe for tourists and the country has a lot to offer, such as a number of beautiful reserves and national parks, vast lakes, rare and endangered wildlife, relatively untouched rural communities, and safe cities. By 1995, 159,899 tourists provided receipts of US$188 million; by 1997 receipts from tourism rose to US$227 million. However, it should be noted that internal tourism expenditures drew out almost as much money as was brought in to the country, with US$137 million being spent by Ugandans abroad in 1997.


Uganda's banking system had been in disarray throughout the 1970s and 1980s, in part due to an almost full government monopoly of this sector. The 2 most important national banks, the state-owned Bank of Uganda (BOU) and the Cooperative Bank, had received automatic liquidity support from the Uganda Central bank (UCB) up until the early 1990sthat is, the UCB would supply banks with money to prevent their financial collapse even if they had been making irresponsible and irretrievable loans, often to allies of the various political regimes. As a result, the UCB's non-performing loans accounted for 75 percent of its total loan portfolio. Uganda's most important financial mechanism was bankrupted.

In order to make the UCB less of a drain on state revenue, the IMF and World Bank encouraged its privatization, a 48 percent cut in personnel, and a reduction of branches from 190 to 85. The improved stability of the banking sector has encouraged people to save, and a 1995 IMF report claimed that bank deposits grew from 4 percent of GDP in 1989-90 to 5.8 percent in 1993-94. However, due to the economy's severe underdevelopment, low incomes, and low opportunities for lending, there is limited incentive for private-sector banks to operate. Even though the economy has been substantially liberalized, foreign banks have failed to reinvest or to re-establish themselves, or to innovate their practices in Uganda, in part due to the fact that more than half of commercial banks made losses in 1994.

The privatization of the banking system has reduced the availability of basic banking services, in particular for rural farmers. In 1972 there was one branch per 34,000 people; by the mid-1990s this figure was 164,000. This means that the most important sector of the economy, namely agriculture, receives insufficient investment to improve productivity. Primarily due to fraudulent practice by employees, 3 of Uganda's national banks collapsed in 1999, namely the Cooperative Bank, International Credit Bank, and Greenland Bank. This has given foreign-owned banks such as Stanbic, Barclays, Standard Chartered, and Trans Africa Bank increased footing in those areas they deem commercially viable, thus providing greater competition against the remaining national banks.


Uganda is becoming increasingly dependent on the import of capital through loans and grants, the import of services, and of manufactured goods. The value of imports was consistently double the value of exports throughout the 1990s, and in 1999 the ratio of imports to exports came close to being 3 times in size. Apart from cash-crops such as tea and coffee ( see Agriculture rubric above), Uganda's principal exports in 1998 were US$39.9 million of fish and fish products, US$47.4 million of iron and steel, and US$47.2 million worth of electrical machinery and supplies. It should be noted that the EU banned the import of fish from Uganda between 1999 and mid-2000 as some supplies were poisonous; although this ban has now been lifted this event seems likely to effect future sales. The main recipient of these exports in 1998 was the EU, which received 50.9 percent of the total; broken down individually, the key countries were the Netherlands, which imported 6.3 percent, Switzerland (6.2 percent), Germany (5 percent), and Belgium (3.7 percent). Other key export-partners are the United States which regularly receives around 25 percent, and Kenya which received 4.6 percent in 1998.

Uganda's imports in 1998 consisted of US$130.3 million of road vehicles, US$111.6 million of petroleum,

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Uganda
Exports Imports
1975 .026 .200
1980 .345 .293
1985 .387 .327
1990 .147 .213
1995 .461 1.058
1998 .512 1.409
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

US$72.4 million in cereals, and US$53.65 million of medical goods and pharmaceuticals. These imports were predominantly sourced from the EU, which supplied 17.3 percent (the United Kingdom being the main partner, providing 5.6 percent), neighboring Kenya supplied 12.3 percent, Japan 4.5 percent, and India 4.1 percent. The countries of East Africa have been trying to create a meaningful intra-regional trade organization since the 1960s. The signing of the East African Cooperation (EAC) treaty between Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya in 1999 was a continuation of this historic aim; however, in practice little has been done to reduce tariffs . Uganda is also a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), which in 1996 introduced an 80 percent tariff reduction on trade within COMESA countries; by 2001 Uganda was one of the only members to implement this reduction in full.


Uganda's monetary and financial sector has gone through dramatic change since the government adapted free market reform from 1987 onwards. Two of the most important reforms were the devaluation of the Uganda shilling (USh) and the liberalization of the exchange rate system. In order to make national exports cheaper and more competitive on world markets the USh was devalued by 77 percent in 1987; after subsequent minor de-valuations, it was again substantially reduced by 41.2 percent in 1989. The liberalization of the exchange rate system was undertaken in a number of stages, culminating in the establishment of a unified inter-bank market for foreign exchange and the commercialization of all foreign exchange transactions, which were to be undertaken by commercial banks and foreign exchange bureaus.

By 1994 the government accepted the obligations of Article VIII, Sections 2, 3, and 4 of the IMF's Articles of Agreement, which maintained a commitment to a free and open exchange system. The Uganda shilling had become a competitive monetary unit, open to the speculation of international currency markets. This resulted in its depreciation from USh100 per U.S. dollar in 1987, to

Exchange rates: Uganda
Uganda shillings (USh) per US$1
Feb 2001 1,700
2000 1,644.5
1999 1,454.8
1998 1,240.2
1997 1,083.0
1996 1,046.1
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

USh965 in 1994. Although these policies had initial inflationary consequences (as late as 1991-92 annual average inflation was 42 percent), by 1994-95 the USh had stabilized at only 5 percent; considering that inflation had hit 1,000 percent during the Amin era, this is a considerable government success. Uganda's capital markets are based on 2 main organizations: the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE), and its regulator, the Capital Markets Authority (CMA). In June 1997 the USE was licensed to operate as an approved stock exchange and began formal trading operations in January 1998. In 2001 there were only 4 listed securities trading on the exchange: 2 corporate bonds and 2 companies, Uganda Clays Limited and British American Tobacco, Uganda.


With an average GDP per capita of US$332 in 1998, Uganda is one of the poorest countries in the world. The vast majority of Ugandans are farmers on small plots of land which are used for subsistence agriculture or for the cultivation of cash crops such as coffee and tea. However, most of this land is owned by landlords such as chiefs or government functionaries who seldom reinvest in the productive capacity of the village as they can simply rely on rents. This disparity of the ownership of the means of production is reflected by vast inequalities in the distribution of income. The poorest 20 percent of the country controls only 6.6 percent of the wealth, whereas the richest 20 percent benefit from 46.1 percent. In fact, 69 percent of the population lives on less than US$1 a day and the majority of this limited income (63 percent) is spent on food. As a result, in a country whose government spends only 1.9 percent of its GDP on health, the majority of Ugandan citizens struggle to acquire even the most basic health care. There are only 4 doctors and 28 nurses per 100,000 people. Nonetheless, the government has helped to reduce the infant mortality rate from 110 deaths per 1,000 births in 1970 to 84 by 1998.

Most Ugandans have to work 2 or 3 jobs simply to survive, often even to secure a standard of living below the poverty threshold. Moreover, one or more of these jobs are often within the informal sector which draws taxation

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Uganda N/A N/A 227 251 332
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Dem. Rep. of Congo 392 313 293 247 127
Kenya 301 337 320 355 334
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Uganda
Lowest 10% 2.6
Lowest 20% 6.6
Second 20% 10.9
Third 20% 15.2
Fourth 20% 21.3
Highest 20% 46.1
Highest 10% 31.2
Survey year: 1992-93
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

revenue away from the government. With the increased unemployment levels associated with the privatization and reduction of employment opportunities in the public service, the army, and former parastatals, workers have become an increasingly flexible and less expensive factor of production. Consequently, trends after 1991 have been in the direction of increased inequality, both between rural and urban areas but also in intra-urban terms, as wages did not increase anywhere near as fast as the rise of profits.

The labor surplus and the desperate need for employment has meant that employers can offer almost whatever they want for wages as they know that they will fill their vacancies. As Susan Dicklitch observes in her book, The Elusive Promise of NGOs in Africa, even the middle class, the traditional bastion of democracy and agitator for change, like the working class are "often too busy trying to eke out a living" to fulfil their historic political role. However, if Uganda's GDP continues its 7 percent annual growth of recent years, if President Museveni's anti-poverty strategy promoted in March 2000 is effective, and if the country continues to benefit from the proposed US$2.3 to US$2.5 billion in external aid, then there is hope that the standard of living for the majority may improve.


Uganda's labor force is the sixth largest in sub-Saharan Africa, totaling 8.4 million workers in 1993. Yet, as 51 percent of the population is below the age of 14, it is difficult for a government with such limited revenue to provide sufficient education and vocational training for the mass of Uganda's youth. The majority of the nation's workforce is thus unskilled. However, in part by increasing public expenditure on education from 1.5 percent of GDP in 1990 to 2.6 percent in 1997, the government has been successful in attacking illiteracy. The 49 percent of the population over 15 years of age who were illiterate in 1985 had been reduced to 36 percent by 19979 percent better than the African average. The problem of an unskilled workforce has been accentuated by the AIDS pandemic. Because it is likely that a trained teacher or doctor will contract HIV, it is necessary to train 2 or even 3 people to ensure the supply of even one skilled employee.

Labor migration is very common in Uganda. Areas of high unemployment (in districts such as Kabale) were forcibly created by the British colonial administration in order to facilitate the movement of cheap labor from these districts to "industrial" districts such as Buganda and Ankole to work in mines, towns, factories, and plantations. While migratory labor had been relatively well paid before 1986 (people could save part of their wages to buy products such as bicycles and other "luxuries"), due to high inflation and the liberalization of the Uganda shilling imports are far more expensive and workers struggle to even feed their families. Workers are unable to return to their respective districts with basic tools to improve or buy their own land. Hence, there is a growing landless peasantry that is subject to a cycle of laboring simply in order to buy food and basic essentials.

Uganda's trade unions were given legal recognition by the British colonial administration in 1952. In 1993 the unionization of public services was legally permitted, which brought the number of trade unions in Uganda to 17. All unions are legally obliged to affiliate with the highly centralized National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU) which is part of a tripartite negotiating structure involving the Federation of Ugandan Employers (FUE) and the Minister of Labor. Although the government supports workers' rights conventions promoted by the International Labor Organization (ILO), trade unions are ineffective in Uganda. This is in part due to a lack of unity amongst workers as they work 2 or 3 jobs, and are subject to ethnic, regional, and gender divides. Also, trade unions and other workers' movements have had their powers reduced by the government, and individual workers are often tied to large commercial farms by the provision of normally very poor accommodation, a small plot of land for subsistence, and low wages. Though meager, without these limited resources the worker is lost, hence the space for challenging employers is limited. In light of this situation, although the power of trade unions has been historically low in Uganda, it is no surprise that they are now a virtually non-existent lobby group.


c. 1850. Arab traders make first non-African contact within the territory of Uganda and promote Islam.

1862. Explorer John Hanning Speke is the first European to enter Uganda.

1885. Uganda is designated as a British sphere of influence at the Treaty of Berlin.

1890. A small British military force arrives in Uganda.

1894. Britain declares Uganda a protectorate.

1962. Uganda achieves independence from Britain, and Milton Obote becomes prime minister in multi-party elections.

1971. General Idi Amin forcibly seizes power.

1972. The country's Asian population is expelled, and British companies are taken under government control.

1979. Tanzanian army with Ugandan dissidents under the banner of the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF) oust Idi Amin.

1980. Corrupt multi-party elections reinstate Milton Obote as president.

1986. National Resistance Army enters Kampala and forms a government as the National Resistance Movement (NRM), led by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

1987. The NRM government adapts free market reform and starts to receive aid from the IMF and World Bank.

1998. Uganda starts its involvement in the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

2000. A flawed national referendum maintains the "no-party" political system.

2001. Presidential elections held in March.


At the outset of 2001, Uganda has the potential to diversify its economy, and there are signs that alternatives to the present substantial reliance on the export of coffee are arising. But in the face of continually falling coffee prices on international markets, in order to prosper in the 21st century diversification of the economy is essential. Unless there is a serious unforeseeable crisis Yoweri Museveni will remain as president at least until 2006, and Uganda will continue on its path of free market reform. This reform will continue to be backed-up by substantial aid from the World Bank, the IMF, the EU and other donors.

There will be an intensification of the privatization of parastatals. The revenue freed-up from previously subsidizing parastatals may allow the government to spend a greater proportion of GDP on essential public services such as education and health. Without investment in these areas an unhealthy and poorly educated workforce will constrain improved social and economic development. GDP growth for 1999-2000 was 5.4 percent, a considerable decline from the highs of 7 percent in 1995 and 1996. This is some indication of the economy's growth beginning to stabilize after the essential reconstruction work undertaken from 1987 onwards. In light of this evidence, it is likely that annual GDP growth will remain at around 5 percent or less for the next 5 years. A continued drain on government resources is Uganda's involvement in the ongoing war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). At the beginning of 2001 Museveni was faced with a dilemma between withdrawing and allowing the potential for increased destabilizing attacks upon Uganda by forces based in the DRC or to remain involved in an unpopular and expensive war.


Uganda has no territories or colonies.


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Liam Campling




Uganda Shilling (USh). The largest Ugandan note in circulation is USh10,000 and the smallest is USh50. Recently introduced coins come in denominations of 50, 100, 200, and 500. There are plans to discontinue all notes in these denominations.


Coffee, cotton, tobacco, tea.


Petroleum products, machinery, textiles, metals, transportation equipment.


US$24.2 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).


Exports: US$471 million (f.o.b., 1999). Imports: US$1.1 billion (f.o.b., 1999).

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Republic of Uganda

Major Cities:
Kampala, Entebbe

Other Cities:
Jinja, Kabale, Kisoro, Masaka, Mbale, Mbarara, Moroto, Tororo


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated July 1996. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


UGANDA , once called the "Pearl of Africa," is a nation that has, in little more than two decades, been battered into near ruin by rampant military violence and blatant abuses of the most basic human rights. It has suffered a succession of brutal, dictatorial regimes, widespread atrocities, and crushing starvation and disease.

Raging terrorism affected every segment of society until finally, in January 1986, rebel forces overthrew those in power and a new leader, Yoweri Museveni, promised the formation of a non-aligned government committed to the restoration of peace and stability. Museveni's National Resistance Movement largely put an end to the human rights abuses of earlier governments and initiated substantial political and economic reforms. A new constitution was ratified in 1995 by a popularly elected constituent assembly.

The United Kingdom, which had established hegemony over Uganda in the 1890s, granted full internal self government to the country in March 1962. Political struggles soon began, and were intensified during the turbulent rule of the infamous Idi Amin (1971-1979). Both Great Britain and the United States severed diplomatic relations with Uganda, following open threats and brazen incidents of human rights violations. The U.S. Embassy was reopened in the capital city of Kampala in 1981, but tough American criticism of continuing abuses in Uganda created mounting tension. With a new government in place, a calmer atmosphere prevails.

Insurgent groups, with support from Sudan, harass government forces and murder and kidnap civilians in the north and west. Due to Sudanese support of various guerilla movements, Uganda cut off diplomatic relations with Sudan in 1995.



Kampala began as a settlement near the palace of the kabaka (the former absolute monarch of the Baganda) at Mengo, and in the 20th century developed into the largest town in Uganda, dominating the country's political and economic life. It was granted city status during the nation's independence celebrations in October 1962. An estimated 774,000 people live in the metropolitan area.

Kampala lies on the shores of Lake Victoria, about 20 miles north of the equator, at an altitude of close to 4,500 feet. It is built on a number of low-lying hills, surrounded by green, rolling countryside dotted with small farms. These farms grow mostly plantains, the main subsistence crop and staple food.

Along Kampala's central streets, modern stores and office buildingsmany of them multi-storiedmix with old-style shops. On Janan Luwum Street and Nkurumah Road, near the main market, are many small shops that trade in a variety of goods. On the other side of the main street, called variously along its length Bombo, Kampala, or Jinja Road, are large government structures, the most important of which is the Parliament building with its Independence Arch.

Residential areas, located on a series of hills surrounding downtown, had made Kampala one of Africa's most attractive capitals, but more than two decades of neglect is sadly apparent. Some effort has been made to restore the city to its once verdant beauty. Within the city are Kololo Hill (easily recognized by the tall television mast), and other hills such as Nakasero, Makindye, Makerere (the home of Makerere University), Mulago, Mbuya, and Muyenga. Outside of Kampala, still more hills are dominated by Namirembe Cathedral (Anglican), Rubaga Cathedral (Roman Catholic), the Baha'i Temple, the former kabaka's palace, and Kibuli Mosque.


The Lincoln International School, assisted by the U.S. Department of State's Overseas Schools Program, serves the international community. It follows the American curriculum for kindergarten through the twelfth grade. The school is coeducational.

Extracurricular activities include drama, yearbook, choir, field trips, swimming, soccer, softball, basketball, and volleyball. The school also offers numerous clubs.

Most children of expatriates (in upper grades) attend schools in the U.S., Europe, or Kenya.


Club membership is necessary in Kampala to use facilities for tennis or golf, but such membership is inexpensive and available. There is an 18-hole course at the Kampala Golf Club.

The Kampala Club has good facilities for tennis and squash, and also has a swimming pool which is generally in usable condition. Swimming in Lake Victoria is dangerous because of the likelihood of contracting bilharzia, a debilitating parasitic disease.

The Nyanza Sailing Club sails from two locations in the Kampala area on Sunday afternoons and holidays.

Soccer is a national sport and attracts large crowds for weekend matches.

The Kenya Highlands to the east and the mountains of southwestern Uganda provide a change from the weather of Kampala. Cold-weather gear for an extended trek to the higher altitudes may be useful. These are both six-to-eight-hour drives. The accommodations in Uganda are not good at present, but rehabilitation is going on. In Kenya, pleasant country hotels offer modest facilities for rest and relaxation. The capital city of Nairobi provides an opportunity to enjoy excellent shopping for foodstuffs, household items, African handicrafts, as well as offering night life and other diversions. Nairobi is nine to 10 hours by road and 90 minutes by plane.

Uganda is the home of three of the best game parks in Africa. All are open and operating, and extensive repairs are in progress. Some animals are beginning to return to Kabalega National Park from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the former Zaire) and other nearby areas where they took refuge during the 1979 Liberation War. Poaching is still a problem and the animals are quite shy. The game park also offers the opportunity of seeing a spectacular cataract in which the Nile forces its way through a 19-foot cleft in the rocks. Chobe is the nearest operating game lodge and it offers comfortable lodgings. No scheduled launches go to the falls, but arrangements can generally be made at Paraa Lodge.

Kidepo Park in northeastern Uganda contains land of great beauty, and also some animals which are not observable anywhere else in Uganda. It is, however, remote and difficult to reach. Rwenzori National Park in the west still has some surviving large animals.

Mombasa (Kenya), on the Indian Ocean, is two-to-three days' travel by road. It has pleasant beach accommodations and many tourist attractions. The islands of Madagascar, Mauritius, and the Seychelles are also nice places to visit. Frequent air service from Nairobi reaches the coastal resort areas as well as the islands.


Entertainment is limited in Kampala. The Alliance Française offers French films with English subtitles on Saturdays, and the French Cultural Center has educational programs. Amateur theatricals in English and in local languages are shown at the National Theater.

The British High Commission Social Club sponsors an active Darts League that meets on Fridays during the equivalent of "happy hour." A rugby club meets twice a week on a pitch near the stadium. Golf, tennis, fishing, and sailing are common entertainments for Americans and Europeans as well as for many Ugandans.

A small, but good, museum is a must for newcomers. It portrays the history, culture, and economy of Uganda.

Kampala's active professional soccer league plays daily games from January through May at Nakivubo Stadium.


Entebbe, situated on the equator 22 miles south of Kampala, is Uganda's other principal city, but its population (43,000) is lower than that of other centers. It was administrative capital of the country from 1894 to 1962 and, although most government offices have moved to the capital, the State House (residence and office of the president) remains at Entebbe. It is the center of a region that produces bananas, coffee, and cotton.

Several attractions are located in Entebbe, among them botanical gardens, a veterinary research laboratory, and a virus research institute. The city is a transportation hub for eastern Africa, with an international airport and shipping connections to Kenya, Tanzania, and other parts of Uganda via Lake Victoria.

Entebbe figured prominently in international news in July 1976, when the passengers and crew of a hijacked airliner were rescued in a dramatic Israeli commando raid on Entebbe Airport. An elderly British citizen died, and it was at this time that the United Kingdom broke diplomatic relations with Uganda. Gen. Idi Amin Dada, now in exile in the Middle East, was president and dictator at that time.


JINJA , 50 miles east of Kampala, is Uganda's second largest city, with about 65,000 residents. Built around the Owens Falls dam and power station, it is the country's chief industrial region. Jinja is home to several industries, including the first steel-rolling mill in eastern Africa, a copper smeltery, a brewery, tannery, textile factory, and large sugar plantations. The city is a major transportation center for railroads and lake steamers.

KABALE , the highest town in the nation at 6,600 feet above sea level, is 200 miles southwest of Kampala. Trips to nearby lakes, especially to Lake Bunyonyi, are considered worthwhile for tourists. The current population is 29,000.

KISORO , in the Mitumba Mountain range of the extreme southwest, is a popular tourist spot. The city of 10,000 is the starting point for expeditions to Mounts Muhavura and Mgahinga. Numerous lakes and Ruwenzori Park are in the area.

Historic Fort Mosaka is in MASAKA , 80 miles southwest of Kampala. A market town and commercial center, the city produces processed meat and fish, beverages, footwear, bakery products, furniture, clay products, and glass. It is a critical commercial area for the surrounding coffee growing region. The population is approximately 50,000.

Mount Elgon dominates MBALE , the country's third largest city and the hub of the eastern region. Round trips to the mountain, an extinct volcano, take about three days; climbs in the rainy season may be difficult. Mbale is an agricultural trading center and the site of one of Uganda's principal dairies. The current population is about 54,000.

MBARARA is a center of cattle ranching in the southwestern region of Uganda. The famous Ankole cattle are raised in the area. The city is the headquarters of a large army camp and base for the Lake Mburo Game Reserve. Located 167 miles southwest of Kampala, Mbarara is noted for its woodcarving, weaving, and pottery-making. Industries produce soap, oils and fats, textiles, beverages, processed food, rope and twine, and plywood. It has approximately 41,000 residents.

MOROTO , in the extreme northeast near the Kenyan border, is the home of the Karamojong people. Cattle are vital here, and disputes with Kenyan border tribes over cattle raiding are common. The proud, traditional Karamojong should be approached with care, ideally with a knowledgeable guide. The Karamojong produce various crafts including pottery, woodworking, weaving, and clay products. The current population is 14,000.

TORORO is a major road and rail junction in the far eastern region, near the border with Kenya. This town of 44,000 lies at the base of a hill that dominates the area.


Geography and Climate

Uganda occupies a fertile plateau in the center of Africa at an average altitude of 4,000 feet. The plateau's edges are turned up on the east by Mt. Elgon (14,178 feet) and the Kenya highlands, and on the west by the Rwenzori Mountains (16,791 feet). The country is crossed diagonally from southeast to northwest by the Nile River, which begins its journey to the Mediterranean near the city of Jinja on Lake Victoria, about 50 miles from Kampala. With an area of 91,000 square miles, Uganda is roughly the size of Oregon.

The temperature ranges from a high of 80°F to 85°F at noon to 60°F to 65°F at night. A greater range of temperature change occurs during the course of the day than between seasons. The hottest interval is generally from October through March, and the temperature is usually hot in the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. anytime of the year.

Annual rainfall averages 63.9 inches. During the rainy seasonsMarch/April and September/Octoberthe weather is cool and over-cast. Frequently heavy thunderstorms last 30 minutes to an hour. It seldom rains for an entire day, even during the so-called rainy seasons. Wind gusts accompanying downpours are sometimes strong, yet seldom damaging. Red murram dust can be a problem during dry periods, but this affects city dwellers primarily when they venture beyond the town and leave the asphalt roads.

Virtually every residence has insects of various sizes, but the ever-present lizards provide "exterminator" service.


The population of Uganda is 24 million. Africans of four racial groupsBantu, Nilotic, Nilo-Hamitic, and Sudanicconstitute most of the populace. Of the four, the Bantu are the most numerous and include the Baganda, the largest single ethnic group, with more than 3.5 million members. The Iteso constitute the second largest group, followed by the Basoga, Banyankore, and Banyaruanda, all with populations of more than 500,000.

At one time, the Indo-Pakistani comprised a large part of the population. Most were deported during Amin's rule, but some returned as skilled laborers and office workers. Many Europeans also fled the country during Amin's rule and, after the Liberation War, they too began to return, although political turmoil kept their numbers at a minimum.

English is the official language. It is spoken by almost the entire European community, most of the Asian community, and all of the educated Africans in Kampala.

Elementary Swahili is useful in the Kampala area for talking to servants and to African tradesmen and craftsmen. Outside of Kampala and the Buganda region, Swahili is used as the lingua franca among many people who do not speak English, in addition to their maternal tongues.

Most members of the Baganda tribe, however, prefer not to speak Swahili. They use their own language, Luganda, which is spoken or understood by at least four million people.

The religious work begun in 1877 by missionaries was successful, and today some 66 percent of the Ugandan population is Christian, divided equally between Protestants and Catholics. The rest is made up of Muslims (16 percent) and animists (18 percent).


When British explorers, searching for the headwaters of the Nile, first arrived in Uganda in 1862, they found the northern shores of Lake Victoria controlled by the Baganda, a people who had developed a complex agricultural society ruled over by an absolute monarch called the kabaka. Christian missionaries entered the area in 1877 and, by 1892, British authority was established through a series of treaties of protection with Buganda and the other kingdoms of Uganda. These kingdoms had already well-developed political institutions dating back several centuries.

As a result of the decision by the early British administrators to govern indirectly through the chiefs and rulers, and because of their beliefs that the area was unsuited to European settlement, the country was developed from the beginning primarily as an African territory. Land ownership was reserved for Africans at an early date, so that there is now almost no Asian or European rural settlement group.


When the bloody dictatorship of Idi Amin Dada came to an end in 1979, Dr. A. Milton Obote, who had been overthrown by Amin's army coup eight years earlier, was restored to power. Continued abuses of human rights, however, led to the ousting by rebel troops of Obote and his government. The rebel troops, calling themselves the National Resistance Movement, selected Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as chairman of the National Resistance Council. The National Resistance Council (NRC) is the legislative branch of the National Resistance Movement. Under the NRM system, local resistance councils at the village, parish, subcounty, county, and district level elect representatives to the next level in the pyramidal structure.

The main thrust of the present government is to rebuild the seriously damaged economy. Food production is the area of greatest concentration.

A number of philanthropic and social organizations thrive here. The YMCA, YWCA, Lions, and Rotary are active and play an important role in charitable affairs. In addition, the Uganda Red Cross, which has ties to International Red Cross groups, and the Uganda Foundation for the Blind are active. Youth programs are organized by the National Council of Sports. The National Union of Youth Organizations sponsors a sports club program. In addition to the above, youth programs are organized through the school system.

The Ugandan flag consists of repeated bands of black, gold, and red. In the center is a white disc with an emblem of a crested crane.

Arts, Science, Education

In the arts, the National Theatre once again is flourishing with performances in drama, dance, and song every weekend throughout the year by groups coming to Kampala from all over Uganda. Several popular rock groups entertain regularly. The Uganda Museum, presents a comprehensive insight into the area's history. There are regional museums at Saroti and Kabale. The Nommo Gallery, a parastatal institution, features mostly batiks, but is striving to reestablish its collection in diverse art forms. Many individual batik artists ply their trade within the country. Although radio and television have some technical problems, they do a commendable job in theatrical and musical presentations.

Interest in the sciences is beginning to form again. Individual Ugandans are still invited to international science conferences, but are often unable to attend for lack of foreign currency.

A strong public and private secondary school system exists. Only the most promising primary school students are enrolled. For more than a decade, almost nothing was done to develop and nourish higher education. Makerere University, once the premier institution of higher learning in East Africa, is on the rise again but faces many difficulties because of lack of sufficient funds. Shortages range from lack of housing for faculty and students to insufficient textbooks, scientific journals, and laboratory equipment. Despite its problems, Makerere continues to educate a student body in various disciplines. Other higher educational institutions are the National Teachers College, Institute of Teacher's Education, Uganda Polytechnic, the National College of Commerce, and the Institute for Public Administration.

Commerce and Industry

Uganda has substantial economic resources, among them fertile soil, regular rainfall, and abundant reserves of cobalt and copper. However, commerce and industry were seriously disrupted under both Amin's and Obote's rule, and by the looting that followed the countless civil disturbances. Government and private businesses, with foreign assistance, are making progress rebuilding the industrial sector. Manufacturing began recovering in the 1980s, and by the mid-1990s Uganda's industrial production was three times larger than it was in the late 1980s. Most facilities are still trying to rebuild, however, and the industrial sector still operates at only 40 percent or less of capacity.

Agriculture is Uganda's principal economic sector, employing 82 percent of the labor force. Coffee, cotton, tea, beans, corn, and tobacco are the main export crops; sugar and cocoa also are important. The main food crops are cassava, millet, corn, sweet potatoes, beans, and cereals. The chief industries are those for the processing of the food crops and for textiles, soap, cement, brewing, metal products, vehicle assembly, and steel. Rehabilitation of the sugar, textiles, paper, and steel industries is underway, mainly funded by international aid agencies.

The tourist industry, very important as a foreign exchange earner, is slowly beginning to recover. Several lodges are being rehabilitated for the public, and animals are becoming more evident in game parks, although many have been killed by poachers. Uganda's principal attractions for tourists are the forests, lakes, and wildlife. In the late 1980s, Uganda launched a program to create new national parks and build new hotels.

The National Chamber of Commerce and Industry is at 17-19 Jinja Road, P.O. Box 3809, Kampala.


Air traffic into Uganda is being used increasingly. Entebbe Airport is only 20 miles from the capital over an asphalt road, but there is a scarcity of public or private transportation available between the cities. Kenya Airways and Uganda Airlines operate flights between Entebbe Airport and Nairobi several times a week. Air Tanzania also has one flight per week between Uganda and Tanzania. Buses travel to the Kenya border where bus connections to Kisumu and Nairobi can be made. The Uganda Railways Corporation operates train service between some rural towns and Kampala.

In Kampala, public transportation is poor. The few available buses are overcrowded and do not follow any schedule. Local taxis are, in reality, private cars that crowd in as many passengers as possible, and charge as much as those passengers will pay. The taxis are unsafe and unreliable. Most Americans do not use public transportation.

In general, private automobiles are a necessity. Those planning a stay in Uganda should either bring a car to the country or purchase one in neighboring Kenya. Autos can be bought locally, but selection is limited, and the cost is many times the actual value.

While large cars are more comfortable for long trips, small vehicles are easier to handle on Uganda's narrow roads. A Ugandan driver's license is required and, unless the applicant has a valid Kenyan or Tanzanian license, both oral and road examinations are necessary. Americans who have, or who can show that they have held, a driver's license from an East African or British Commonwealth country, can obtain a permit without testing.

All automobile owners are required by law to carry minimum third-party insurance, but rates are low. However, comprehensive coverage is quite costly because of the high incidence of auto thefts. The prospect of easy money from the sale of stolen vehicles makes owning a car a risky prospect in Uganda. Gasoline, at about five dollars a gallon, is usually available. Traffic moves on the left.


Telephone service is only fair. International calls to the U.S. and Europe are sometimes difficult to place, but reception is generally good, since there is a satellite station in Kenya. Overseas telegraph facilities are available, but not always reliable. Service for local calls within Uganda is often reliable.

International airmail to and from the U.S. is slow, taking roughly 10-15 days. Delivery is fairly reliable for letters. However, packages should be sent through international mail.

Special note: The typewritten stamps of Uganda, issued before the country owned a printing press, are among the most unusual in the world. They were prepared by Rev. E. Miller of the Church Missionary Society in 1895, and are very valuable today.

The government-operated radio system, Radio Uganda, broadcasts in many different languages, divided into the following linguistic groups: the Bantu spoken in the south by three-fifths of the population; Nilotic or Nilo-Hamitic found in the north and northeast; the Sudanic found in the northwest; and English, French, and Arabic. English-language news is broadcast six times daily. Ordinary radios in Kampala are limited to local-station reception. In order to receive a variety of shortwave broadcasts, a good set is required. Reliable shortwave sets can pick up Voice of America (VOA), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Service. Commercial FM radio stations began broadcasting in the mid-1990s; these carry VOA and BBC news and play a wide variety of contemporary music.

Local and foreign-produced television programs consisting of news, entertainment, movies, and sports are shown in the evenings. Most shows are in English, but there is some Swahili and Luganda programming. Television is transmitted by the British and European PAL system. American television sets are not compatible with this system. A multi-system receiver should be purchased. Television sets purchased in Nairobi are compatible with the system in Uganda.

Uganda's freedom of press has given rise to several daily and weekly newspapers in both English and Luganda. New Visions, The Star, Monitor, and The East African are some of the major newspapers. There are several weeklies and periodicals. A number of newspapers have editions in the Luganda language, and are widely read in the Kampala area. Some American or international newspapers or magazines are available.

Bookstores typically carry a fair selection of academic books but stock very little fiction. The Makerere University Library has a rather large collection, especially of East African and Ugandan history, but lack of tight control and inadequate air conditioning have resulted in theft and the deterioration of the collection. Uganda maintains no public lending libraries. However, United States Information Services (USIS) has a small public library, with a selection of current magazines and back issues of U.S. newspapers and the International Herald Tribune.


Mulago Hospital is a government-owned hospital, but there have been problems with lack of personnel and supplies. Several missionary hospitals, which are well staffed, provide adequate services. Nsambya Hospital is run by the Franciscan Sisters and staffed by Irish nuns who are physicians and nurses. It has its own training school for general nursing and midwifery. The hospital has an adequate laboratory, X-ray unit, and blood bank. The operating room is clean and well equipped.

A British general practitioner who runs a competent private practice is under contract to the U.S. Embassy, and is recommended highly. He has a small laboratory and uses hospital X-ray facilities when needed. He isavailable at night and on weekends, and he makes house calls. Westerners with serious medical problems go to Nairobi for treatment.

In Kampala, public sanitation is quite good, and a waterborne sewage disposal system serves 90 percent of the municipal area. However, immediately outside the city limits, public sanitation is completely lacking. A large portion of the population are afflicted with intestinal parasites; health inspections of food are not stringent. The city sporadically collects garbage around some of the market areas.

For those who wash fresh fruits and vegetables well, boil and filter all drinking water, and take an antimalarial drug regularly, health hazards are not great within Kampala's residential areas. Allergy diseases (hay fever, asthma, sinus), colds, diarrhea, influenza, and several unidentifiable viruses constitute most maladies.

All water must be filtered because of the silt content, regardless of the purification process. Drinking water must also be boiled; as an alternative, treatment with iodine or chlorine is acceptable. Bottled water is not available. A household bleach or iodine solution should be used to disinfect fresh fruits and vegetables.

Malaria is widespread in Uganda. Four different parasites of Plasmodia cause four types of malaria. The type most common in Uganda is falciparum, which the old textbooks called "malignant malaria," since its frequent complications involve the brains and kidneys, and often cause death. No mosquito-control inspection or spraying is currently taking place. A regular regime of antimalarial drugs is advised, starting two weeks before arrival in Uganda and continuing for four weeks after leaving. Chloroquine (Aralen or Nivaquin) and Fansidar are the drugs commonly used by Americans.

There is a significant AIDS risk in Uganda. Visitors and expatriates are urged to use extreme caution in order to avoid infection. Contracting tuberculosis is a risk if one is exposed over a lengthy period.

Most houses in residential areas are equipped with modern plumbing facilities. Nevertheless, ants, cockroaches, mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks are a constant, if minor, problem. Sanitation standards are not high in the market area, and food bought there should be carefully inspected and washed.

Clothing and Services

Summer-weight clothing is needed all year in Uganda. Very little is available to suit Westerners' tastes, except for the cotton prints in African designs which are always in the marketplace in Nairobi (Kenya), and sometimes in Kampala. Clothing and shoes for the entire family sometimes can be bought in local stores, but they are expensive.

Men find that tropical safari suits are the most comfortable and satisfactory. Often they wear either suits or sports shirts and slacks to work. Women need sweaters and stoles for cool evenings and during the daytime in the rainy season. Women usually wear slacks, jeans, cotton blouses, and skirts during the day.

Several dry cleaners do business in Kampala, but most laundry is done at home. A few reputable hair salons in Kampala serve both men and women, but their prices are extremely high. Of the handful of shoe repair shops, one is good; the two or three others are mediocre. Some automobiles and radios can be repaired locally.

Fresh fruits and vegetables abound in the markets around Kampala. Fresh vegetables, such as green peppers, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, eggplant, and cucumbers, are always in stock. Most tropical fruits also are available and in good condition. Pears, peaches, and apples are not found in Kampala. Beef, poultry, and eggs are plentiful, but prices are high compared to those in the U.S. Good quality, fresh, lake fish is available. Pork, sausages, bacon, and frozen fish sometimes can be found in butcher shops.

Packaged pasteurized milk made by Uganda Dairy Corporation is sometimes available. Fresh milk can be bought from farmers by prior arrangement, and instant powdered milk and evaporated milk are available. Canned margarine, butter, imported coffee, and salt, though usually available, are expensive. High quality Ugandan coffee and tea are in plentiful supply. Cooking oil, which can be adulterated, is not always available and is extremely expensive. Baby foods, dried fruits, soy sauces, spices, and salad dressings are not usually sold in local markets. Several bakeries make bread and a variety of pastries.

There is a great shortage of goods. Most medicines and toiletries are both expensive and difficult to find. Toys and books must be brought from home.

Domestic Help

As good servants are scarce, constant supervision is necessary to see that work is done properly and theft is kept to a minimum. Breakage of china and glassware and some disappearance of food must be expected. These problems can be controlled with proper supervision. Both male and female servants are available for cooking and house-cleaning. Ayahs, or nursemaids, can be hired to care for small children. There are no European or Asian servants.

The minimum wage prescribed by the Ugandan government is very low. If servants provide their own food, they get an allowance. The average American household has a combination cook/houseboy, a gardener (if house and plot are occupied), and an ayah if there are small children. Single people living in apartments usually need only one servant. Most servants live in semi-detached or detached servants quarters. Day and night guards are necessary.


Jan.1 New Year's Day

Jan. 26 Victory Day

Mar.(2nd Mon) Commonwealth Day

Mar. 8Women's Day

Mar/Apr. Good Friday*

Mar/Apr. Easter*

Mar/Apr. Easter Monday*

May 1Labor Day

June 3 Martyrs' Day

June 9 Heroes' Day

Oct. 9 Independence Day

Dec. 25 Christmas Day

Dec. 26 Boxing Day

Id al-Adah*


Id al-fitr*

* Variable


The required entry visa can be obtained at either the Ugandan Embassy in Washington, D.C., or the diplomatic offices in New York. Incoming travelers must also possess cholera and yellow fever immunization certificates on the World Health Organization's standard form. It is wise, once in Uganda, to renew visas for multiple entry.

Because of rebel and bandit activity and fighting in the area along the Sudanese border, travel in the northern part of Uganda is dangerous. The area affected encompasses Apac, Gulu, Kitgum, Kotido, Lira, Moroto, Moyo, Nebbi, and Soroti Districts. The inability of the Ugandan government to ensure the safety of visitors makes any travel in the area unwise. Vehicles have been stopped and destroyed; passengers have been robbed and/or killed. There have been at least two land mine explosions on the roads north of Gulu. Additionally, random acts of violence involving American and other tourists have occurred in northern Uganda, such as a grenade attack at a tourist hotel in Arua. Bomb attacks have occurred in Kampala at various public places, all travelers should exercise extreme caution.

Travel to Murchison Falls National Park is unsafe. Three Americans were robbed in a violent attack by armed men in March 1997 near the southern entrance to the park. In addition, rebels have operated inside the park on the northern side of the Nile River. Visitors should consult U.S. Embassy officials about travel plans to Murchison Falls National Park.

Travel to western Uganda is unsafe. The Ugandan military is pursuing rebel groups in the Rwenzori Mountains, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and in portions of Kasese, Bushenyi and Rukunguri Districts. In March 1999, tourists were kidnapped and murdered in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Travel to the southwestern corner of Uganda near the Zaire and Rwanda borders can also be risky. There have been attacks by bands of armed men in and near Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, as well as the abduction of American tourists. Visitors should consult U.S. Embassy officials about travel plans to western Uganda.

The Government of Uganda is expected to maintain laws forbidding the importation of firearms and ammunition. Updated information should be sought.

Pets bought into Uganda must have valid health and rabies vaccination certificates. Pets will not be quarantined if they are accompanied by these certificates.

Many religions (Baha'i, Muslim, Hindu, Christian, and animist) are represented in Kampala and its environs. Christian churches include Baptist, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Seventh-Day Adventist, and Church of God. Services are usually conducted in English.

The time in Uganda is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) plus three hours.

Uganda uses a decimal currency of shillings and cents.

The metric system of weights and measures is used.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Kampala and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Uganda. The U.S. Embassy address is: P.O. Box 7007, 10-12 Parliament Avenue, Kampala; telephone: 256-41-259-792/3/5.


The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Berg-Schlosser, D. Political Stability and Development: A Comparative Analysis of Kenya, Tanzania, & Uganda. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1990.

Bunker, Stephen G. Peasants Against the State: The Politics of Market Control in Bugisu, Uganda. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.

Creed, Alexander. Uganda. New York: Chelsea House, 1988.

Decalo, Samuel. Psychoses of Power: African Personal Dictatorships. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1988.

Dodge, Cole P., and Magne Raundalen, eds. War, Violence & Children in Uganda. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Hammer, Trudy J. Uganda. New York: Franklin Watts, 1989.

Hansen, Holger Bernt, and MichaelTwaddle. Changing Uganda: The Dilemmas of Structural Adjustment & Revolutionary Change. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1991.

Hansen, Holger Bernt, and MichaelTwaddle. Uganda Now: Between Decay & Development. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1988.

Kisubi, Alfred. Time Winds: Poems. Kansas City, MO: BkMk PressUMKC College of Arts & Sciences, 1988.

Lisicky, Paul. Uganda. New York:Chelsea House, 1988.

Rupesinghe, Kumar, ed. Conflict Resolution in Uganda. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1989.

Wiebe, Paul D., and Cole P. Dode, eds. Beyond Crisis: Development Issues in Uganda. Atlanta, GA: African Studies Assn., 1987.

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B asic D ata
Official Country Name: Republic of Uganda
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 23,985,712
Language(s): English,Ganda or Luganda,other Nigro-Congo, Nilo-Saharan,Swahili,Arabic
Literacy rate: 61.8%
Area: 236,040 sq km
GDP: 6,170 (US$ millions)
Number of Television Stations: 8
Number of Radio Stations: 28
Number of Radio Receivers: 2,600,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 108.4
Number of Individuals with Computers: 60,000
Computers per 1,000: 2.5
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 40,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 1.7

Background & General Characteristics

Uganda is a landlocked East African country in the Great Lakes region in central Africa. With a population of almost 24 million, Uganda is a country with 52 languages spoken by four major people groups: the Bantu, Nilotics, Nilo-Hamitics, and those of Sudanese origin. The country covers 241,000 square Kilometers with 83 percent of the people living in rural areas.

Uganda's people have a relatively short life span some 48 percent of the people will not live to see their 40th birthday. Half the population does not have access to clean water sources, which leads to a high occurrence of water-borne diseases such as typhoid fever and cholera. Uganda also faces a long battle with AIDS; some 8 percent of the people live with HIV. Hardly a family has gone untouched by the severity of the AIDS plague in Uganda.

Uganda is in a state of post-conflict recovery. The dictator Idi Amin is a household name in most parts of the world, although his term as national leader lasted only eight years. He was overthrown by the same person whom Amin himself toppled, Milton Obote, with the help on troops from neighboring Tanzania' People's Defence Force. Obote's second regime endured from 1979 until 1985, when the guerrilla fighter and next president, Yoweri Museveni, successfully concluded his rebellion and took power. The country has enjoyed relative stability under Museveni, and has been welcomed for the most part back into the family of nations. However, northern parts of Uganda still experience military and political insecurity from rebellion promulgated by the Lord's Resistance Army, a Sudan-based insurgency group active in the Gulu, Kitgum, and Pader districts. Nevertheless, Uganda has made gains in rebuilding important institutions such as a parliament, the police, the army, as well as the judiciary and the executive branches of government.

The newspapers and magazines of Uganda have not increased as fast as the radio sector. Moreover, many of the oldest newspapers have ceased publication, such as the Uganda Argus, Weekly TopicTaifa EmpyaSekanyolya, MusiziMunansiStarNgabo, and Citizen.

New Vision is the country's leading daily. Published by the New Vision Printing and Publishing Corporation, the paper has a print run of about 40,000 copies and a readership of 300,000. The New Vision is 15 by 11 inches in size and averages 36 pages per issue, but can also reach as many as 60 pages in an issue. Approximately 70 percent of the paper is news copy, with 30 percent of the space dedicated to advertising. Created in 1986, the corporation is a government-owned company headed by European editor-in-chief, William Pike. The corporation also has several local publications. Bukedde, the Luganda-language daily, distributes 20,000 copies per day; the Luo-language paper, Orumuri, is published weekly in Runyankole; and the Ateso-language paper is called Etop. The government-owned New Vision Publishing Corporation is likely to be privatized in the first decade of the 2000s because the government had placed increasing emphasis on divesting itself of its business activities. In 2002 the New Vision Corporation employed 250 full-time staff and an additional 250 are contract workers. There are over 400 vendors, who usually offer distribution services to multiple publications, can be considered indirectly employed by New Vision.

Another giant in the newspaper industry of Uganda is the Monitor, an independent daily. It was started in 1992 by a group of editors and writers who defected from the Weekly Topic after coming into conflict with management policies. The Monitor grew from humble beginnings to become New Vision 's main rival. The Monitor 's daily print run is 25,000 with a readership of 200,000. With the same 15-by 11-inch format as New Vision, the Monitor averages 31 pages per issue, but can reach up to 50 pages. In an average issue 80 percent of space is committed to news copy, and the remaining 20 percent is sold to advertisers. In 1999 the Nation Media Group of Kenya, owner of Nairobi's leading paper Nation, bought theMonitor. This brought an influx of capital and expertise to the Monitor as the Nation has been in the news industry for a much longer time. In 2001, the Monitor opened an FM radio station. Some of the print media journalists also work at the FM station. The synergy at work in this new venture is interesting and innovative. Monitor Publications also runs a Business Directory published once a year, has a Luganda newspaper called Ngoma, with a print run of 10,000. The Monitor Publications also publishes several books by local authors, some of which are used as text books in Uganda's schools. The Monitor publications and its FM station have 300 full-time workers and 150 part-time workers.

Other papers and magazines include the Uganda Confidential that does anticorruption investigative. It has weathered several lawsuits in pursuit of its mission. Sunrise, Entatsi, and Message are among other news print choices from the vendors in Uganda. The regional weekly paper, East African, published by the Nation Media Group, circulates widely in Uganda's elite circles. At the other end of the spectrum, The Red Pepper is a tabloid weekly that focuses on sleaze stories and tends toward the pornographic. Its editors have been charged for publishing obscene pictures. The paper's editor, Richard Tusiime, has argued that the paper's stories are factual and should be published to awaken society. All newspapers are published in Kampala and circulate throughout Uganda; no print media is based in the countryside. The Monitor and New Vision have readership in Kenya and Tanzania where copies are taken daily.

Challenges for the country and the media remain. The democratic future is still fragile. The current administration in power is a movement, not a political party in the Western sense. Indeed, Uganda does not permit political parties as such, thus there is no room or call for multi-party elections and the kind of political and policy debate that peaceful opposition engenders. This has generated some uncertainty about the country's future in building democratic institutions.

In 2002, parliament enacted into law the Political Organisations Act. The passage of this legislation may help remove uncertainty about which political direction Uganda will take. Parties are not yet allowed to field candidates and hold rallies, but under the new law they can now hold their delegates conferences to elect their leaders, and they can hold seminars at the national level but not the districts. The parties are clearly not happy with the law as it does not open up the political space to the level they want, but there now exists some limited room in which to work for political organization and change. Media of all kinds have been deeply involved in this discussion. In another step toward mapping out its tenuous future, the country has planned a referendum for the mid-decade of 2000 to determine political system, movement, or multiparties will help determine the country's future. Another variable is the ongoing Constitution Review Commission that is collecting views from the population around the country. Its eventual report will also influence the future.

The quality of journalism is impressive since broadcasting was liberalized in 1994. Entertainment radio and television, vastly different from the previous state-controlled media, is still something of a novelty in the country. Critics, who come from a strong tradition of state-run media, are strongly critical of FM radio's overwhelming emphasis on music and advertising at the sacrifice of news reporting and pubic information.

Although the government controlled broadcast media until 1994, print media enjoyed relative openness as early as 1986, when several papers were launched. The quality of journalism has improved with the increased competition from the privately owned newspapers, radio, and television stations. Improved training at Makerere University and the Uganda Management Institute's School of Journalism have also served to provide higher quality journalists for the growing and changing industry.

Economic Framework

Uganda is a developing country with a fragile, largely rural economic base. The total gross domestic product is about US$7 billion with a gross domestic product per capita annually of approximately US$1,167. During the 1990s and early 2000s the economy grew at an annual rate of about 6 percent, one of the highest rates of growth in the world. Yet the World Bank has noted: "Most people, and almost all the poorest, depend on small holder agriculture for their livelihoods. The scope for sustainable poverty reduction is therefore intimately linked to increases in market participation, agricultural productivity and non-farm employment."

The government has put the Plan for the Modernisation of Agriculture in place with the anticipation that rural farming will be provided with the improvements it needs to compete in worldor at least regionalmarkets. Related to this effort is the Poverty Eradication Action Plan also aimed at alleviating subsistence poverty. According the United Nations Develop Programme's 2001 Human Development Report, 44.4 percent of Uganda's population live below the national poverty line. The full economic potential of the country in sectors such as tourism, coffee, tea, cocoa, fish and cotton is yet to be realized. The country's small industrial sector has grown since the Museveni government welcomed back the skilled Indian community that had been expelled by General Amin in the 1970s. The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act also opened a new door has been opened by allowing countries like Uganda to access the U.S. market with their exports. The challenge is how to add value to Uganda's cotton, coffee, and other exports so that finished products brings an influx of capital into the Ugandan economy. Furthermore, the economic growth rates would improve if all parts of the country were safe from ambush, terrorist acts, and meaningless violence.

Press Laws

Several statutes affect the media industry: the Constitution of 1995, the Press and Journalists Statute (1995), the Electronic Media Statute (1996), the Uganda Communications Act (1997), the Referendum and Other Provisions Act (1999), and the Penal Code Act. The constitution requires that "all organs and agencies of the State, all citizens, organisations and other bodies and persons in applying or interpreting the Constitution or any law and in taking and implementing any policy decisions for the establishment and promotion of a just, free and democratic society." The media industry is required under this law to follow the principles and objectives of the 1995 constitution. Article 29 (1) of the constitution states: "Every person shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression which shall include freedom of the press and other media." But this freedom is restricted in Article 41 (1) which states: "Every citizen has a right of access to information in the possession of the State or any other organ or agency of the State except where the release of the information is likely to prejudice the security or sovereignty of the State or interfere with the right to privacy of any other person." This provision of the law makes investigative journalism very difficult as numerous questions are left unanswered. Whose privacy is protected, and who decides when privacy invasion has occurred? Such lack of clarity directly impedes the fact-finding and reporting capabilities of journalists. Finally, the ominous possibility that media investigations might jeopardize the security of the state raises the bar and poses the ever-present possibility that charges of treason, not merely privacy violations, could result.

Government officials, who are usually the target of investigative reporting, find this part of the law to be a convenient and flexible tool. The situation is further complicated by the lack of a freedom of information act, which Parliament has yet to put in place. Such legislation would clarify which types of information can be accessed and which cannot under the present constitution. Indeed, the present ambiguity works in favor of political, but not democratic, interests.

The Press and Journalist Statute of 1995 created the National Institute of Journalists of Uganda to which all practicing journalists are required to belong. Its aims to establish and maintain professional standards; to foster the spirit of professional fellowship among journalists; to encourage, train, equip and enable journalists to play their part in society; and to establish and maintain mutual relationships with international journalists' organizations. The statute even prescribes the type of education full members of the institute should have. A full member is required under this statute to be a holder of a university degree in journalism or mass communication. Alternatively a person may be a full member if he or she has a university degree in any other field plus a qualification in journalism or mass communication and has practiced journalism for at least one year. The law stipulates that a practicing certificate valid for one year is required by all who work in journalism, unless the worker possesses the longer-term certificate. The penalty for noncompliance is a fine of US$170 or three months of imprisonment. Nonetheless, many journalists practice without these certifications, and the law in not normally enforced. It remains a tool of the bureaucracy, though not at this time an active one.

The Press and Journalists Statute 1995 provides for a disciplinary committee that hears complaints, allegations of professional misconduct, and other inquiries. As a reference point for responsible practice, the Statute presents in clear language a nine-point code of conduct which addresses such issues as disclosure of sources of information, accepting bribes, denying a person a legitimate claim of right to reply to a statement, separating opinion from factual news, correcting any damage done through factual error, and discouraging the dissemination of information designed to promote or having the effect of promoting tribalism, racism or any other form of discrimination.

The Press and Journalist Statute (1995) created a Media Council that is appointed by the Minister of Information. The functions of the council are to regulate the conduct and promote good ethical standards among journalists; to arbitrate disputes between the public and the state and the media; to exercise disciplinary control over journalists, editors, and publishers; to promote the flow of information; to censor films, video tapes, plays and other related media for public consumption; and to do for the press anything that may be authorized or required by any other law. However, the government has often resorted to the courts before engaging the services of the Media Council, which has gone unused. Since the law's passage, members of the public have sought due process in the courts, without turning to the Council. To be effective, the Media Council must begin asserting itself and define its role in ensuring that journalists are not harassed in freely pursuing their work.

Passed in March of 2002, the Anti-Terrorism Act is likely to complicate the life of practicing journalists. Several controversial sections of the law have drawn response from international agencies. Soon after the law was passed, Reporters Without Borders (the French media advocacy group) urged the Uganda government not to implement the new antiterrorism law until clauses which could be used against journalists for "encouraging terrorism"a 10-year prison sentence offenseare removed.

The Uganda Journalists Safety Committee helps journalists who are harassed by the state. The committee provides financial support to hire lawyers and sometimes offers support for the family while a journalist is in jail.


Officially the Media Council has the role of censoring offensive materials, mainly pornography or racist, sectarian, or tribalistic material. The National Institute of Journalists also carries some responsibility for discipline of this material. In actual practice, however, agents of the state (usually the police) more often investigate and indict journalists before calling on either professional agency. As a result, the Media Council remains weak and ineffective.

The arrival of the Internet has complicated every effort to control media content. In most national legal systems, legislation cannot keep up with technology. This is certainly the case in Uganda. The split-court decision in 2002 in the U.S. case Ashcroft vs. Free Speech Coalition concerning virtual child pornography would be seen in Uganda to be hair-splitting to the extreme, yet the Ugandan legal systemno more than the one in such an advanced democracycannot maintain pace with the creative technologies of those who would ply the public's most vulnerable sensitivities.

State-Press Relations

Despite the ambiguities of the law and process, the relation between state and press in Uganda continues to improve. Perhaps that improvement is more a comment on the abhorrent conditions under which the press operated during Amin's rule rather than a statement of current liberal practice and press freedom. During the Amin regime, the working life of a dissident journalist was often cut violently short, and from the state's point of view, due process was properly hierarchical, fast, and emphatic. Many journalists were killed, a practice not uncommon in the East African region. That executions no longer occur is improvement indeed. That journalists may now appeal their case and cause based on legislation which at least defines the state's interests (albeit overly broad and with characteristic vagueness) illustrates significant advances over the arbitrary censorship and intimidation of the recent past.

The liberalized atmosphere in which licenses to operate are relatively easy to get makes relations between the state and the press easy to manage. In power since the mid-1980s, the National Resistance Movement government has carried out far-reaching reforms in the country. The media has played a vital role in exposing corruption, in the HIV/AIDS campaign, and in the campaign against poverty. Media have been allies with government in this regard.

Yet certain tensions remain. The government has criticized the media for concentrating on sensational stories. President Yoweri Museveni is particularly angered at times by the press' natural tendency to focus on problems and difficulties in Uganda, which Museveni claims drives away international investors. At times he has called such reporting "enemy action." Nevertheless his government has an open door to the media industry. He is the only president in the region who regularly interacts with the media in lengthy press conferences. His presidential press unit, headed by press secretary Mary Karoro Okurut, holds monthly press briefings. Karoro Okurut contributes articles to both the New Vision and Monitor. Her deputy Onapito Ekomoloit also writes a column for New Vision. This is evidence of the good working relationship that the government has with the media.

The same holds true for the electronic media. It is not uncommon for a minister of government to be a guest at a talk show to explain a particular policy to the public.

Attitude toward Foreign Media

Article 30 (1) and (2) of the Press and Journalist Statute states: "No person being an employee of a foreign mass media organization or working as a freelance for the mass media shall practice journalism in Uganda unless he is in possession of an accreditation card issued by the Council. The accreditation card referred to in this section shall be issued upon payment of fees and upon such terms as may be prescribed by the council."

Foreign media are active in Uganda without harassment. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Radio France International, The Financial Times of London, and others have operated in Uganda. Free to report within the country, even foreign journalists in print and electronic media coming for assignments from neighboring Kenya are required to secure accreditation from the Ugandan government. The foreign press's presence is especially apparent when regional events are taking place in Kampala. The BBC and Radio France International run local FM stations and relay their programs through the country.

News Agencies

Uganda is host to Reuters, Agence France Press, Associated Press, the Chinese News Agency, and one local agency, the Uganda News Agency, which is part of the Department of Information in the President's Office. All have a good working relation with the State. Most foreign news agencies employ local journalists to cover the country for them.

Broadcast Media

The Electronic Media Statute of 1996 guides the Broadcast Media. According to the most reliable source for broadcast news, this statute repeals the earlier Cinematography Act and Television Licensing Act. It amends and consolidates previous statutes relating to broadcasting in particular, the Uganda Posts and Telecommunications Corporation Act. The right to broadcast is guaranteed by the statute. The Act states: "No person shall, on the ground of content of program, take any action not authorized under the statute or any law to prevent the broadcasting of the program." Moral constraints limit what may be broadcast, and according the statute, producers must be at least 18 years old.

The Statute created a regulatory authority for electronic media, the Broadcasting Council. This body is responsible for the licensing and operations of radio and television; publishing a code of ethics for broadcasters in consultation with the Media Council; and standardizing, planning and managing the frequency spectrum in the public interest so as to ensure its optimal utilization and the widest possible variety of programming, including incentive payments where appropriate to ensure provision of broadcasting to rural remote areas. The Council is also charged with licensing and operations of cinematography theatres and videotape libraries.

The Uganda Communication Commission was established by parliament and is responsible for allocation of frequencies to operators who have been approved licensed by the Broadcasting Council.

The leading broadcasters are Uganda Television and Radio Uganda, both government stations. Radio Uganda has other subsidiaries, such as Star FM, Radio Freedom, and the Green Channel. The competition for listeners is stiff in Kampala. But Radio Uganda's broadcasts reach outside Kampala, where private FM stations cannot reach, offering the government-run station a significant advantage. Within Uganda there are approximately 108 radio receivers for every 1,000 people and 26 television sets for every 1,000 people. The airwaves were liberalized in 1994 when private stations like Capital FM and Sanyu FM started their broadcasts. Capital FM has spread its wings to other parts of the country and four other towns. It plays a lot of popular Western music, which appeals to a youthful audience. News and some talk shows are also aired. Capital FM dominates morning programs with its popular show "Alex and Christine in the Morning," which runs from 7:00 am to 10:00 am every Monday to Friday. Another popular program with wide listenership is the "Capital Gang" that runs every Saturday from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon. It usually has government officials, donors, and members of civil society who discuss public policy issues in the news. President Museveni has been to the Capital gang twice. It usually includes a live phone-in opportunities for the public audience. Sanyu FM, another Kampala station, is as old as the Capital FM. It has a strong signal and plays the latest music from around the world. Jazz and classical music lovers are among the station's listeners as well as the country's urban-bred youth. These private FM stations operate 24 hours a day. Since privatization in 1994, approximately 70 licenses have been issued, although not all have become operational. Nonetheless, five television stations have begun broadcasting as a result of liberalization.

State-owned Uganda Television (UTV) dominates the country's television broadcasting primarily because its signal covers about 60 percent of the country and provides the best picture and sound quality of all active Ugandan stations. UTV broadcasts 12 hours a day and approximately 40 percent of the programming content is foreign-based. In the early 2000s a new private station, the Wavah Broadcasting Service (WBS), entered the market. Focused on creative news and entertainment programs, some of its content is locally produced, including two of popular shows, Showtime Magazine and Jam Agenda. WBS broadcasts for 18 hours each day and airs Cable News Network every morning.

Airing some local religious programming, Lighthouse Television depends mainly on relaying programs from the U.S.-based Trinity Broadcasting Network. Its 24-hour broadcasting format consists of religious programming and 90 minutes of CNN. In general, television reaches its highest level of viewership from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The peak time of viewing is 9:00 p.m. TV Africa, which now airs 24-hours a day in Uganda, has also taken a share of Uganda's television audience. Broadcasting from South Africa, the station's signal is not as good as UTV and WBS, but still offers Ugandan's another choice of stations with quality programming.

Pay television also exists in Uganda. Still limited to the country's small privileged class, Digital Satellite Television is beamed from South Africa into at least 400 Ugandan homes.

Private broadcasters complain about the high fees charged by government for the license to operate.

Electronic News Media

The Uganda Communication Commission issues the licenses for electronic media operations. Despite being a very new forum for the media, Uganda has 2,000 Internet service providers and 40,000 Internet users. Several newspapers, including New Vision and the Monitor, maintain Web sites.

Education & Training

The level of education for Uganda's journalists is increasing. Requirements for membership in the National Institute of Journalists of Uganda have pushed several practicing journalists back to school to improve their academic qualifications. Continuous training is also being increasingly emphasized. Specialization is encouraged in fields such as business journalism and environmental reporting. The Mass Communication Program at Makerere University offered the first journalism degree in the country in 1988. The Uganda Management Institute's School of Journalism also offers a degree program; however, in the 2000s, the school was under threatening to close due to financial difficulties. Other schools, including the Uganda Christian University, also offer journalism programs. Every year at least 150 new journalists enter the job market.

The National Institute of Journalists of Uganda, the Uganda Journalists Association, the Uganda Sports Press Association, the Uganda Press Photographers Association, and the Uganda Media Women's Association all serve to monitor and improve professional journalistic standards. The East Africa Media Institute and the Commonwealth Journalists Association are the newest additions to Uganda's professional organizations. Yet another global grouping with membership in Uganda is the U.K-based World Association of Christian Communication. Reporters Without Borders and the Uganda Journalists Safety Committee address concerns regarding journalists' welfare, including assistance for imprisoned journalists.


Since the process of liberalizing the media industry started in 1994, Uganda has experienced an increase in the number of press and media outlets, especially in the broadcast media. Although print media still experience difficulties in increasing readership, the broadcast media maintains a strong and stable viewer base. Competition is stiff but most media are active and prospering. Because Uganda is a developing country, issues of poverty, HIV/ AIDS, and governance are critical. The media play a crucial role in improving the welfare of the people by highlighting the issues and increasing the level of public debate. The country continues to lack a Freedom of Information Act, needed to balance the playing field between the government and the press and to assist the press in fulfilling the role as a watchdog for government corruption. Since the end of Amin's regime in the mid-1980s, press freedom has improved. Journalists commonly work without harassment; however, occasionally reporters are pressured and even imprisoned. The Media and Broadcast Council, which exists to service and regulate the media industry, has proven weak and ineffective. In general, the 1995 constitution is well written, but advances in press freedoms must continue to provide the country with the full services and potential of the services its media outlets can provide.

Significant Dates

  • 1997: Uganda Communications Commission Act is passed.
  • 1999: Nation Group buys Monitor Publications.
  • 2002: Uganda Television and Radio Uganda are brought under one leadership; Channel Television and TV Africa merge.


The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995. Kampala, Uganda: Reproduced by the Law Development Center, 1995.

Muthoni, Lynne, ed. Up in the Air: The State of the Broadcasting in Eastern Africa: Analysis and Trends in Five Countries. Panos Institute Eastern Africa, 2000.

The Press and Journalist Statute, 1995. Kampala, Uganda: Reproduced by the Law Development Center, 1995.

Reinkka, Ritva, and Paul Collier. (eds.). Uganda's Recovery: The Role of Firms, Farms and Government.World Bank, 2000.

Uganda Human Development Report, 2000. New York: Oxford University Press for the United Nations Development Programme, 2000.

The UNDP Human Development Report 2001. New York: Oxford University Press for the United Nations Development Programme, 2001.

Aggrey D. Mugisha

Mark Fackler

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Uganda (yōōgän´də, ōōgän´dä), officially Republic of Uganda, republic (2005 est. pop. 27,269,000), 91,133 sq mi (236,036 sq km), E central Africa. It borders on Tanzania and Rwanda in the south, on Congo (Kinshasa) in the west, on South Sudan in the north, and on Kenya in the east. Kampala is Uganda's capital and its largest city.

Land and People

Lying astride the equator, most of Uganda consists of a fertile plateau (average elevation 4,000 ft/1,220 m), in the center of which is Lake Kyoga. The plateau is bounded (W) by the western branch of the Great Rift Valley, including lakes Albert and Edward (in each case about half of the lake is in Uganda) and the Albert Nile River; by the Ruwenzori Range (SW), including Margherita Peak (16,794 ft/5,119 m), Uganda's loftiest point, and the Virunga Mts.; by Lake Victoria (S), about half of which is in Uganda; and by several mountain ranges (E and N). The eastern mountains include Mt. Elgon (14,178 ft/4,321 m), part of which is in Kenya, and Mt. Moroto (10,114 ft/3,083 m). Altogether, about 18% of Uganda is made up of water surface and about 7% comprises highland situated at more than 5,000 ft (1,520 m). In addition to Kampala, other cities include Entebbe, Gulu, Jinja, Masaka, and Mbale.

About 90% of Uganda's inhabitants live in rural areas. Approximately 70% of the people speak one of the Bantu languages; the main Bantu ethnic groups, all of whom live in the southern half of the country, are the Baganda (who make up about 17% of the country's total population), Banyankole, Basoga, Bakiga, and Bagisu. Other language groups in Uganda are the Western Nilotic (principally the Langi, Acholi, and Alur), whose speakers live in the north and make up about 15% of the population; the Eastern Nilotic (mainly the Iteso and Karimajong), whose members live in the northeast and make up about 10% of the population; and the Sudanic (the Lugbara), whose speakers live in the northwest and make up about 5% of the population. Between 1980 and 1985, thousands of refugees (mostly Tutsis) from Rwanda and Zaïre (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) settled in Uganda. English and Swahili are the country's official languages. More than 80% of the people are Christian, while about 12% are Muslim; the rest follow traditional religious beliefs.


The economy of Uganda, which was devastated during the Idi Amin regime of the 1970s and the subsequent civil war, made a significant comeback beginning in the mid-1980s, when economic reforms aimed at dampening inflation and boosting production and export earnings were undertaken. The country is overwhelmingly agricultural, and farming employs over 80% of the workforce. Most of the farms are small in size. The chief food crops are cassava, sweet potatoes, corn, millet, and pulses. The principal cash crops are coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, cut flowers, and sugarcane. Large numbers of poultry, cattle, goats, and sheep are raised. There is a sizable fishing industry, and much hardwood (especially mahogany) is cut.

Copper ore, once the leading mineral resource, has been virtually mined out. Other minerals extracted on a small scale include cobalt, tin and iron ores, beryl, tungsten, and gold. Uganda's few manufactures are limited mainly to processed agricultural goods, but they also include textiles, chemical fertilizer, and steel. There is a large hydroelectric plant (Nalubaale Power Station) at Owen Falls, located on the Victoria Nile where it leaves Lake Victoria, as well as other hydroelectric facilities.

Uganda has two main rail lines; one traverses the southern part of the country, the other connects Tororo on the Kenya border with Gulu in the north. The country is linked by rail with Mombasa, Kenya, on the Indian Ocean. The annual value of Uganda's imports is usually considerably higher than the value of its exports. The principal exports are coffee (which accounts for the bulk of export revenues), fish and fish products, tea, cotton, horticultural products, and gold. The leading imports are capital equipment, vehicles, petroleum, medical supplies, and cereals. The main trade partners are Kenya, European Union countries, the United Arab Emirates, and South Africa.


Uganda is governed under the constitution of 1995 as amended. The president, who is both head of state and head of government, is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. The unicameral legislature consists of the 332-seat National Assembly, whose members also serve for five years; 215 of the members are directly elected, and the rest are nominated from women, the army, and other groups. Administratively, the country is divided into 80 districts, grouped into four regions (Northern, Western, Central, and Eastern).


Early History

Around 500 BC, Bantu-speaking people migrated into SW Uganda from the west. By the 14th cent. they were organized in several kingdoms (known as the Cwezi states), which had been established by the Hima. Around 1500, Nilotic-speaking Luo people from present-day E South Sudan settled the Cwezi states and established the Bito dynasties of Buganda (in some Bantu languages, the prefix Bu means state; thus, Buganda means "state of the Baganda people" ), Bunyoro, and Ankole. Later in the 16th cent., other Luo-speaking peoples conquered N Uganda, forming the Alur and Acholi ethnic groups. In the 17th cent. the Langi and Iteso migrated into Uganda.

During the 16th and 17th cent., Bunyoro was the leading state of S Uganda, controlling an area that stretched into present-day Rwanda and Tanzania. From about 1700, Buganda began to expand (largely at the expense of Bunyoro), and by 1800 it controlled a large territory bordering Lake Victoria from the Victoria Nile to the Kagera River. Buganda was centrally organized under the kabaka (king), who appointed regional administrators and maintained a large bureaucracy and a powerful army. The Baganda raided widely for cattle, ivory, and slaves. In the 1840s Muslim traders from the Indian Ocean coast reached Buganda, and they exchanged firearms, cloth, and beads for the ivory and slaves of Buganda. Beginning in 1869, Bunyoro, ruled by Kabarega and using guns obtained from traders from Khartoum, challenged Buganda's ascendancy. By the mid-1880s, however, Buganda again dominated S Uganda.

European Contacts and Religious Conflicts

In 1862, John Hanning Speke, a British explorer interested in establishing the source of the Nile, became the first European to visit Buganda. He met with Mutesa I, as did Henry M. Stanley, who reached Buganda in 1875. Mutesa, fearful of attacks from Egypt, agreed to Stanley's proposal to allow Christian missionaries (who Mutesa mistakenly thought would provide military assistance) to enter his realm. Members of the British Protestant Church Missionary Society arrived in 1877, and they were followed in 1879 by representatives of the French Roman Catholic White Fathers; each of the missions gathered a group of converts, which in the 1880s became fiercely antagonistic toward one another. At the same time, the number of Baganda converts to Islam was growing.

In 1884, Mutesa died and was succeeded as kabaka by Mwanga, who soon began to persecute the Christians out of fear for his own position. In 1888, Mwanga was deposed by the Christians and Muslims and replaced by his brothers. He regained the throne in 1889, only to lose it to the Muslims again after a few weeks. In early 1890, Mwanga permanently regained his throne, but at the expense of losing much of his power to Christian chiefs.

The Colonial Era

During the period in 1889 when Mwanga was kabaka, he was visited by Carl Peters, the German colonialist, and signed a treaty of friendship with Germany. Great Britain grew alarmed at the growth of German influence and the potential threat to its own position on the Nile. In 1890, Great Britain and Germany signed a treaty that gave the British rights to what was to become Uganda. Later that year Frederick Lugard, acting as an agent of the Imperial British East Africa Company (IBEA), arrived in Buganda at the head of a detachment of troops, and by 1892 he had established the IBEA's authority in S Uganda and had also helped the Protestant faction defeat the Roman Catholic party in Buganda.

In 1894, Great Britain officially made Uganda a protectorate. The British at first ruled Uganda through Buganda, but when Mwanga opposed their growing power, they deposed him, replaced him with his infant son Daudi Chwa, and began to rule more directly. From the late 1890s to 1918, the British established their authority in the rest of Uganda by negotiating treaties and by using force where necessary. In 1900 an agreement was signed with Buganda that gave the kingdom considerable autonomy and also transformed it into a constitutional monarchy controlled largely by Protestant chiefs. In 1901 a railroad from Mombasa on the Indian Ocean reached Kisumu, on Lake Victoria, which in turn was connected by boat with Uganda; the railroad was later extended to Jinja and Kampala. In 1902 the Eastern prov. of Uganda was transferred to the British East Africa Protectorate (Kenya) for administrative reasons.

In 1904 the commercial cultivation of cotton was begun, and cotton soon became the major export crop; coffee and sugar production accelerated in the 1920s. The country attracted few permanent European settlers, and the cash crops were mostly produced by African smallholders and not on plantations as in other colonies. Many Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, and Goans) settled in Uganda, where they played a leading role in the country's commerce. During the 1920s and 30s the British considerably reduced Buganda's independence.

In 1921 a legislative council for the protectorate was established; its first African member was admitted only in 1945, and it was not until the mid-1950s that a substantial number of seats was allocated to Africans. In 1953, Mutesa II was deported for not cooperating with the British; he was allowed to return in 1955, but the rift between Buganda and the rest of Uganda remained. In 1961 there were three main political parties in Uganda—the Uganda People's Congress (UPC), whose members were mostly non-Baganda; the Democratic party, made up chiefly of Roman Catholic Baganda; and the Kabaka Yekka [Kabaka only] party, comprising only Baganda.

An Independent Nation

On Oct. 9, 1962, Uganda became independent, with A. Milton Obote, a Lango leader of the UPC, as prime minister. Buganda was given considerable autonomy. In 1963, Uganda became a republic, and Mutesa was elected president. The first years of independence were dominated by a struggle between the central government and Buganda. In 1966, Obote introduced a new constitution that ended Buganda's autonomy. The Baganda protested vigorously and seemed on the verge of taking up arms when Obote captured the kabaka's palace at Mengo, forced the kabaka to flee the country, and ended effective Baganda resistance.

In 1967 a new constitution was introduced giving the central government—especially the president—much power and dividing Buganda into four districts; the traditional kingships were also abolished. In 1969, Obote decided to follow a leftist course in the hope of bridging the country's ethnic and regional differences through a common social policy.

Amin's Reign of Terror

In Jan., 1971, Obote, at the time outside the country, was deposed in a coup by Maj. Gen. Idi Amin. Amin was faced with opposition within the army by officers and troops loyal to Obote, but by the end of 1971 he was in firm control. Amin cultivated good relations with the Baganda. In 1972–73 he initiated severe diplomatic wrangles with the United States and Israel, both of which had provided Uganda with military and economic aid and were now accused of trying to undermine the government. Amin purged the Lango and Acholi tribes and moved against the army. In Aug., 1972, he ordered Asians who were not citizens of Uganda to leave the country, and within three months all 60,000 had left, most of them for Great Britain. Although a small minority, Asians had played a significant role in Ugandan business and finance, and their expulsion hurt the economy. From 1971 to 1973, there were border clashes with Tanzania, partly instigated by exiled Ugandans loyal to Obote, but, in early 1973, Amin and Julius Nyerere, president of Tanzania, reached an agreement that appeared to head off future incidents.

Amin's rule became increasingly autocratic and brutal; it is estimated that over 300,000 Ugandans were killed during the 1970s. His corrupt and arbitrary system of administration exacerbated rifts in the military, which led to a number of coup attempts. Israel conducted a successful raid on the Entebbe airport in 1976 to rescue passengers on a plane hijacked by Palestinian terrorists. Amin's expulsion of Israeli technicians won him the support of Arab nations such as Libya.

In 1976, Amin declared himself president for life and Uganda claimed portions of W Kenya; the move was diverted by the threat of a trade embargo. In 1978, Uganda invaded Tanzania in an attempt to annex the Kagera region. The next year Tanzania launched a successful counterinvasion and effectively unified disparate anti-Amin forces under the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF). Amin's forces were driven out and Amin himself fled the country.

Uganda after Amin

Tanzania left an occupation force in Uganda that participated in the looting of Kampala. Yusufu Lule was installed as president but was quickly replaced by Godfrey Binaisa. The UNLF, suffering from internal strife, was swept out of power by Milton Obote and his party, the Uganda People's Congress. The National Resistance Army (NRA) conducted guerrilla campaigns throughout the country and, following the withdrawal of Tanzanian troops in 1981, attacked former Amin supporters. In the early 1980s, approximately 200,000 Ugandans sought refuge in neighboring Rwanda, Congo, and Sudan. In 1985, a military coup deposed Obote, and Lt. Gen. Tito Okello became head of state.

When it was not given a role in the new regime, the NRA continued its guerrilla campaign and took Kampala in 1986, and its leader, Yoweri Museveni, became the new president. He instituted a series of measures, including cutbacks in the civil service and army and privatization of state-owned companies, in a generally successful effort to rebuild the shattered economy. Many former government soldiers who had fled to the north when Museveni came to power formed a rebel force there, and in 1987 they mounted an unsuccessful attack on the new government. The rebels, however, were not crushed. AIDS became a serious health problem during the 1980s and has continued to claim many lives in Uganda; at the same time, however, the country has had greater success than many other African nations in slowing the spread of the disease.

In 1993, Museveni permitted the restoration of traditional kings, including King Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, the kabaka of the Baganda people, but did not grant the kings political power. In 1994 a constituent assembly was elected; the resulting constitution, promulgated in 1995, legalized and extended a ban on political party activity, although allowing party members to run as independents. In May, 1996, Museveni was easily returned to office in the country's first direct presidential elections. A new parliament, chosen in nonpartisan elections in June of the same year, was dominated by Museveni supporters.

In the late 1980s and 90s rebel militias based in Sudan and Congo (Kinshasa) staged intermittent attacks on border areas of Uganda. Fighting with northern rebels, mainly the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), continued into the next decade. In 2002, after Sudanese officials permitted Ugandan forces to attack rebels bases in Sudan, the conflict intensified, but the army failed to achieve any significant success.

Ugandan troops also became involved in ongoing civil unrest in the Congo (then called Zaïre), first (1997) helping rebel groups to oust Mobutu Sese Seko and install Laurent Kabila as president, and then (1998) backing groups who sought to overthrow Kabila. Conflicts also erupted with Rwandan troops in the Congo in 1999. Uganda claimed its only interest was in securing its own borders. In early 2000, Ugandan officials discovered the bodies of nearly 800 people who had died by mass murder and mass suicide; they had been members of the Ugandan millennialist Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God. In May, 2000, new fighting between Rwandan and Ugandan forces in the Congo led to tense relations with Rwanda.

In June a referendum was held in which Ugandans could vote for Museveni's "no-party" system or a multiparty democracy. Museveni argued that Uganda was not ready for political parties, which he said had divided the nation by tribe and religion. Opposition leaders, calling Museveni's system a one-party state, called for a boycott of the referendum. Museveni secured the voters' approval, but by a narrower margin than in 1996; although 88% voted yes, the turnout was only 51%.

In the presidential election in Mar., 2001, Museveni was reelected, but his margin of victory was inflated by apparent vote fraud. His popularity was, in part, diminished by discontent with Uganda's intervention in Congo's civil war and signs of corruption in the government. Uganda's forces were largely withdrawn from Congo by the end of 2002, but there was fighting in 2003 between the remaining Ugandan forces and Congolese rebels allied with Rwanda shortly before the last Ugandan troops withdrew. In 2005 the International Court of Justice ruled that Uganda had engaged in human rights abuses while in Congo, and had to pay compensation to Congo for looting by its forces.

Early in 2004 LRA rebels massacred perhaps as many as 200 civilians in N Uganda. The attack prompted a renewed government offensive that achieved some successes against the LRA; late in 2004 there was a brief truce with the LRA. In Oct., 2005, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for LRA leader Joseph Kony in connection with atrocities committed by the LRA. Meanwhile, in July, 2005, voters approved a return to a multiparty system, This time Museveni supported the abandonment of Uganda's "no-party" politics, in part because of international and internal pressure for the change. He also subsequently signed into law a constitutional amendment that eliminated the presidential term limit.

In Oct., 2005, Kizza Besigye, a former colonel who had been Museveni's doctor and confidant and who had run against the president in the 2001 election and received almost 30% of the vote, returned to Uganda from self-imposed exile to challenge Museveni again for the presidency. In November Besigye was arrested on treason and rape charges that his supporters denounced as trumped up to keep him for running against Museveni, who subsequently announced he would seek a third term. The arrest sparked riots and was criticized internationally, including by the African Union's fledgling Pan-African parliament. (Besigye was acquitted of the rape charge in Mar., 2006, and the constitutional court ordered the treason charges dismissed in Oct., 2010.) The campaign was also marred by army attempts to influence the vote in favor of Museveni and other irregularities. Museveni was reelected in Feb., 2006, with 59% of the vote. The results, which were challenged by Besigye's party, were upheld (April) by Uganda's supreme court, which said that the irregularities were not significant enough to have affected the outcome.

Talks with the LRA that began in July, 2006, led to an August agreement that called for a cease-fire, for rebels to assemble at camps in S Sudan, and subsequent peace negotiations. Kony and other LRA leaders, fearing ICC warrants for their arrest, remained in Congo along the Sudan border, and in late September the LRA pulled out of the talks, accusing the Ugandan army of trying to surround the camps. Uganda, on its part, accused LRA forces of violating the agreement by leaving the camps. In late October, Museveni won Congo's agreement to oust the LRA from its camps there, and subsequently Uganda and the LRA signed a new cease-fire agreement that called for buffer zones around the assembly camps. The cease-fire was extended several times, but otherwise the negotiations progressed with difficulty, and the cease-fire was marred by occasional violence.

In Feb., 2008, a peace agreement, including a permanent cease-fire, was finally reached with the LRA. It was scheduled to be signed in early April, but a number of issues, including the nature of procedures for trying rebels accused of crimes and whether ICC warrants against LRA leaders would be dismissed, led Kony (who had moved from Congo to the Central African Republic in March) to fail to sign the accord as planned. Subsequently there were signs that the LRA was rearming and recruiting. In June Uganda, Sudan, and Congo (Kinshasa) agreed to mount a joint offensive against the LRA if the talks failed, while Kony said that he would engage in further negotiations. The ICC warrants remained a sticking point, however. In Sept.–Oct., 2008, there were LRA attacks against villages in NE Congo that led the ICC's prosecutor to once again demand Kony's arrest.

In Dec., 2008, after Ugandan rebels based in Congo failed in November to sign a peace agreement with Uganda, Ugandan, Congolese, and South Sudanese forces mounted a joint campaign against the rebels' Congolese bases that lasted until Mar., 2009. Subsequently, Ugandan forces fought LRA that had moved into the Central African Republic, and Ugandan forces continued small-scale anti-LRA operations in the three neighboring countries in subsequent years. In 2012 the African Union announced plans for a regional military force led by Uganda and including Central African, Congolese, and South Sudanese troops to capture Kony. In 2014 Ugandan forces operating in the Central African Republic against the LRA clashed with Seleka rebels there and accused them of collaborating with the LRA.

In Sept., 2009, some of the worst riots in more than two decades occurred in Kampala when the government refused to allow the Baganda king to visit Kayunga, a district that had declared its secession from Buganda, the traditional Baganda kingdom. In November, passage of a land law that strengthened tenants rights was denounced by Bagandan traditional chiefs, who control large tracts of land. Tensions between the government and the Baganda continued into 2010, and were aggravated in March when a fire destroyed the tombs of the Buganda kings.

In June, 2010, Kampala suffered two suicide-bomb attacks; mounted by hardline Somali Islamists, they were in retaliation for the presence of Ugandan peacekeeping troops in Somalia. In the Feb., 2011, presidential election Museveni's primary challenger was again Besigye. The president was reelected with 68% of the vote in an election marred by some irregularities; Besigye again accused the ruling party of fraud, and subsequently mounted recurring protests against Museveni's government. In 2013, the parliament enacted legislation that gave officials increased powers to limit and disperse public political gatherings. Ugandan forces were sent in Dec., 2013, into South Sudan in support of the country's president after the outbreak of fighting; they remained there into 2015.


See D. E. Apter, The Political Kingdom in Uganda (2d ed. 1967); P. M. Gukiina, Uganda: A Case Study in African Political Development (1972); G. S. Ibingira, The Forging of an African Nation (1973); J. Jorgensen, Uganda (1981); A. Omara-Otunnu, Politics and the Military in Uganda, 1890–1985 (1987); D. Berg-Schlosser and R. Siegler, Political Stability and Development: A Comparative Analysis of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda (1990).

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POPULATION: 20 million

LANGUAGE: English (official); various tribal languages

RELIGION: Christianity; Islam; indigenous beliefs


Uganda's ethnic history is largely the result of two population movements that occurred between ad 1000 and 1500. Cattle herders, known as Hima, moved into exclusively agricultural areas. They contributed to the development of centralized kingdoms in the west-central portion of the country. Nilotic speakers then moved into the northern and eastern areas. They stimulated the further development of centralized kingdoms to the south by introducing ruling clans (groups of people with common descent). These migrations contributed to political and ethnic divisions that can still be seen today.

The British established Uganda as a protectorate (a territory under British rule) in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Uganda had a promising future at the time of independence (1962). However, ethnic divisions proved insurmountable. In 1967, Prime Minister Milton Obote from the north declared kingdoms illegal. He tried to impose a socialist doctrine on the nation. Sir Edward Mutesa, the Kabaka (King) of Buganda, and the first president of the Republic of Uganda, was overthrown by Obote, who then declared himself the president. In 1971, Obote was overthrown by his army commander, Idi Amin. This led to a repressive reign of terror against all Ugandans. The economy was soon in ruins. Milton Obote returned to power after Amin was driven from the country in 1979. An ensuing guerrilla war ended in 1986, with Yoweri Museveni becoming president. An elected parliament replaced the interim government in 1996. Uganda currently is experiencing a rejuvenated economy and political system. Its present government has maintained an open style of leadership receptive to the participation of all ethnic groups.


Uganda is located in east Africa astride the equator, and between Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its area is about the size of the state of Oregon. Uganda is landlocked but has several large inland waterways, including Lake Victoria. Its climate is tropical with two rainy seasons; however, the northeast is semi-arid.

The capital city is Kampala. Uganda's population is about 20 million people. About forty ethnic groups are represented, of which the Baganda, the Karamojong, the Iteso, and the Lango are the largest groups. There also are a small number of Europeans, Asians, and Arabs.


The official, national language of Uganda is English. Bantu languages are spoken by the greatest number of speakers in the nation. These are concentrated in the southern and western areas of the country. Nilotic languages predominate in the northern regions.

Ugandans are typically comfortable speaking more than one language. Luganda, English, and Kiswahili, for example, are commonly used in Kampala. In other regions of the country, children learn English in addition to their own ethnic language. Even among the most highly-educated Ugandans, there is a strong preference for the mother tongue at home and in social situations.


All the ethnic groups of Uganda have a rich oral tradition of tales, legends, stories, proverbs, and riddles. Folk heroes include those thought responsible for introducing kingship into society. Morality tales were common throughout Uganda. The Ankole peoples' tales include one about a wise woman and her selfish husband, which teaches faithfulness to one's wives during hard times; one about a pig and a hyena, which preaches against self-indulgence; and the wisdom of the hare, which demonstrates the advantages of being quick-witted and friendly.

Proverbs and riddles are perhaps the most significant mechanisms for teaching values to the young. They also provide entertainment. The importance of parenting, for instance, can be seen in the following proverbs from the Baganda:

I will never move from this village, but for the sake of children he does.

He who does a good service to one's child, does better than one who merely says he loves you.

An only child is like a drop of rain in the dry season.

My luck is in that child of mine if the child is rich.

A skillful hunting dog may nevertheless produce weaklings.

A chicken's feet do not kill its young.

That which becomes bad at the outset of its growth is almost impossible to straighten at a later stage.

Collective games of riddle-making are a popular evening entertainment in rural villages. Among the Baganda, these games involve men and women of all ages. A person who solves a riddle is given a village to rule as its "chief." Some examples of riddles are:

Pass one side, and I also pass the other side, so that we meet in the middle? (a belt)

He built a house with only one pole standing? (a mushroom)

He goes on dancing as he walks? (a caterpillar)

He built a house with two entrances? (a nose)

He has three legs? (an old man walking with his stick)


About two-thirds of Ugandans are Christian, evenly divided between Protestants and Roman Catholics. The remaining third are about evenly divided between Muslims and those practicing indigenous (native) African religions.

Indigenous supernatural ideas such as belief in witchcraft, the evil eye, and night dancers are still widespread. A widely-feared person throughout Uganda is the night dancer. He is a community member by day; by night he is thought to roam about eating dead bodies while floating along the ground with fire between his hands. People generally avoid traveling alone at night for fear of these night dancers (Basezi). Ancestors are highly respected and feared. They communicate with the living through dreams to warn them of impending dangers and to advise them on family matters.


There is a single national holiday, celebrated on October 9. It commemorates the day in 1962 when Uganda achieved its independence from the United Kingdom.


Infancy is considered an important period in a child's development. Ceremonies during the first year of life celebrate milestones such as sitting up alone and obtaining one's clan name.

Childhood varies depending on whether the child comes from a wealthy or a poor family, or lives in the city of Kampala or in a rural village. Due to the cost of schooling, family members often need to pool their resources in order to send children (or, in some cases, only the most promising child). This child, if successful, is expected to help other family members in turn. Boys and girls generally have household tasks. Girls seven to nine years old care for younger siblings. In rural areas, young boys typically are expected to tend the livestock. Children from wealthy parents have fewer work responsibilities and more leisure time.

The teenage years are devoted to education, work, and courtship. Pubescent girls were traditionally secluded and formally instructed by elder women (such as one's Ssenga, or father's sister). Boys were initiated into an age-set, a generational hierarchy. Women from western Uganda traditionally went into seclusion prior to marriage. They spent an extended period of time drinking milk in order to gain weight. Plumpness is still considered desirable today.


Ugandans on the whole are extremely involved in the social life of their communities. Social activities may center around villages, schools, neighborhoods, clubs, churches, mosques, age-sets, clans, homesteads, or extended families.

Sociability is best symbolized through a pattern of ritualized greetings. These vary according to time of day, a person's age, social status, and length of time since an encounter. Not to greet someone is considered to be a serious impropriety. The following is an example of a Kiganda greeting:

Mawulire ki? (What is the news?)

Tetugalaba. (We have none.)

Mmm or Eee. (OK.)

Mpoza mmwe? (Perhaps you have?)

Naffe tetugalaba or Nedda. (We have none either.)

Mmm or Eee. (OK.)

Dating occurs prior to marriage in a variety of social contexts. Young people meet at funerals, weddings, churches, and school socials. Nightclubs are popular for dancing with friends or with "dates." Love songs are popular with people of all ages.


Homes in rural areas are frequently made of wattle and daub (woven rods and twigs plastered with clay and mud) and have thatched or corrugated-iron roofs. Affluent residents of rural areas may have elaborate homes. Urban homes are typically of concrete with corrugated-iron or tile roofs, and have glass windows. In the suburbs of Kampala, multilevel and ranch homes are very plush, with servant quarters, swimming pools, and elaborate gardens. Urban gardens where vegetables and flowers are grown are also common.


Marriage and family life are primary pursuits of most Ugandans, whatever their ethnic group or religion. The extended family continues to be important to Ugandans. However, individualism and the nuclear family are increasing due to European and Christian influences. Monogamy (having only one spouse) is now the national ideal, even though polygyny (a husband with several wives) is sometimes encountered.

Ugandans typically pay some form of marriage fee, maintain allegiances to their extended families and clans, and generally marry outside of these clans (a custom known as exogamy). Traditional marriage ceremonies, rituals, and practices prevail. Most women, regardless of their educational level, desire children.


Most Ugandans wear Western-style clothing. Young people are especially attracted to American clothing styles such as jeans and slacks. The most prominent indigenous (native) clothing is found in southern Uganda among the Baganda. The woman typically wears a busuuti (a floor-length, brightly colored cloth dress with short puffed sleeves, a square neckline fastened by two buttons, and a sash placed just below the waist). Baganda men frequently wear a kanzu (long white robe). For special occasions, a western-style suit jacket is worn over the kanzu. In western Uganda, Bahima women wear full, broad cotton dresses and a floor-length shawl. Northern societies such as the Karamojong wear cowskins. They signify social status (such as warrior, married person, or elder) by items of adornment such as feather plumes and large coiled, copper necklaces and armlets.


Each region of Uganda has its own foods and traditions. Among pastoral groups such as the Karamojong, there is a strong emphasis on cattle. They provide meat, milk, clothing, blankets, horns and hoofs for containers, and other resources. Millet and sorghum are common grains available throughout northern regions. Root crops (cassava, manioc, and sweet potatoes) and plantains are staples in southern and eastern Uganda where rain is plentiful year-round. Matooke (plantains, a fruit of the banana family) is the staple of the Baganda, the largest ethnic group in Uganda. Matooke is served with various sauces made of peanuts, green leaves, mushrooms, tomatoes, meat, fish, white ants, and/or grasshoppers.


During the administrations of Milton Obote and Idi Amin, the educational standard of the country deteriorated. The present government is in the process of rebuilding the nation's school system. About half the total population age fifteen and over are illiterate (unable to read or write). Literacy is higher among males than females. This imbalance is due in part to a policy of favoritism shown by the British for the education of boys. In addition, there is a high rate of pregnancy among schoolgirls, usually requiring that they leave school. Poverty is another factor contributing to illiteracy, given that schooling can be expensive.

Parents have high expectations for the education of their children. Success in school is seen as the means to a better livelihood for the individual who is, in turn, expected to help his or her extended family. For this reason, Ugandan students are typically very hardworking and achievement-oriented.


Music and dance are a significant part of Uganda's cultural heritage. Dance forms vary somewhat by ethnic group. People of all ages participate in dance and song in the course of routine rituals, family celebrations, and community events. Among the Karamojong and their neighbors, dance is especially significant during times of courtship.

Many Baganda households contain at least a small cowhide drum for regular use in singing and dancing. Baganda dancers are skilled in their ability to swiftly move their hips to the alternating beats of drums playing simultaneously. Among the Banyankole, pots filled with various levels of water are used as percussion instruments. Men and women accompany the rhythms by singing, dancing, and beating their hands on their bodies.

Modern nightclub and disco dancing are also part of the teenage scene, particularly in urban areas.

Before the devastation of Uganda's economic and intellectual life, Uganda was in the process of developing an extremely rich literary tradition in English. The Baganda people also had developed a robust vernacular literature in the Luganda language, including novels, short stories, essays, historical writings, songs, plays, and poems. Perhaps the most famous Ugandan writer from the pre-Amin years was Okot p'Bitek. He was an essayist, poet, and social critic. Although he died in 1982, his work is still read throughout east Africa, as well as internationally.


During the Amin years, the economy in Uganda lost virtually all its foreign population. Most had been involved in banking, commercial activities, and industry. Nevertheless, Uganda has maintained a strong subsistence agricultural base (growing crops for food as opposed to profit). Important subsistence crops include millet, corn, cassava, and plantains. Beef, poultry, and milk are also significant, especially among pastoral populations.

Small-scale businesses employ numerous Ugandans in Kampala and throughout the country's smaller towns and villages. Such work includes tailoring, shopkeeping, hair care, various kinds of repair work, carpentry, and the marketing of food and other household necessities. The professions, including teaching, law, and medicine, are growing and employ support staffs that include secretaries, receptionists, and computer personnel.

Comparatively poor people operate small all-purpose stands, selling items such as cigarettes, matches, candy, soft drinks, biscuits, cookies, and bread.

The leisure-time industry is quite lively, encompassing restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. Tourism, involving safaris to game parks, is once again on the upswing as well.


Soccer is the most popular sport, with a national league and hotly contested playoffs. Cricket, rugby, and boxing are also enjoyed by many spectators. Uganda sends competitors abroad to international events such as the Olympics. In the past it has won medals for excellence in track and field.


Most Ugandans own radios and enjoy listening to a variety of educational programs, plays, stories, news, and music. Stations broadcast in English and the major ethnic languages. There is a national television station that includes local programs as well as those from the United States and England. Television is available in most affluent homes and in hotels.

Individuals and families enjoy visiting restaurants and clubs where they can watch traditional dancing. Popular theater is also a significant source of entertainment in Uganda. Plays center on themes of broad public appeal such as politics, social change, and health and family matters. Recently, plays have been used throughout the country to promote health education, especially about HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. The significance of public plays for educational purposes cannot be underestimated in a country where about half the population is illiterate.


Much of Ugandans' artistic endeavors involve everyday objects. These include colorful straw mats, tightly woven coiled baskets, wooden milk pots and bowls, and smoking pipes. Basketry is a highly developed art form in Uganda. Common fibers are banana palm, raffia, papyrus, and sisal. Weaving is used for house walls, fences, roofs, baskets, mats, traps, table mats, cushions, and receptacles for drink and food. Bark-cloth was once a widespread craft used for many purposes, including clothing. Today, bark-cloth is used as decoration on place mats and greeting cards, as well as in the making of blankets and shrouds. Another art form is batik, a type of cloth painting that can be hung on walls for decoration. The current revival of the tourist industry is likely to stimulate the production of arts and crafts for foreign consumption.


Uganda suffers from one of the highest HIV/AIDS infection rates in the world. However, it has one of the best public awareness programs associated with HIV/AIDS anywhere. Many families have experienced the loss of loved ones to this disease, resulting in a large number of orphans. Another problem is the flow of refugees coming to Uganda from neighboring nations suffering from political turmoil. Hundreds of thousands of southern Sudanese have fled to Uganda in recent years, due to religious conflict in the Sudan. Rwandan refugees fleeing from ethnic conflict enter Uganda from the west.

Idi Amin's brutal rule was one of the most highly publicized terrorist regimes in modern times. However, Uganda is now well on the way to democracy, although it is still under one-party rule. Ugandans, on the whole, are optimistic about their future.


Curley, Richard T. Elders, Shades, and Women. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973.

Hansen, Holger Bernt, and Michael Twaddle, ed. Uganda Now: Between Decay and Development. London, England: James Currey, Ltd., 1988.

Kilbride, Philip L., and Janet C. Kilbride. Changing Family Life in East Africa: Women and Children at Risk. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1990.

Mair, Lucy. African Societies. London, England: Cambridge University Press, 1974.

Roscoe, John. The Banyankole. London, England: Cambridge University Press, 1923.


Embassy of Uganda, Washington, D.C. [Online] Available, 1998.

Government of Uganda. Uganda Home Page. [Online] Available, 1998.

World Travel Guide. Uganda. [Online] Available, 1998.

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Official name: Republic of Uganda

Area: 236,040 square kilometers (91,136 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Margherita Peak (5,110 meters/16,765 feet)

Lowest point on land: Lake Albert (621 meters/2,037 feet)

Hemispheres: Northern, Southern, and Eastern

Time zone: 3 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 787 kilometers (489 miles) from north-northeast to south-southwest; 486 kilometers (302 miles) from east-southeast to west-northwest

Land boundaries: 2,698 kilometers (1,676 miles) total boundary length; Sudan 435 kilometers (270 miles); Kenya 933 kilometers (580 miles); Tanzania 396 kilometers (246 miles); Rwanda 169 kilometers (105 miles); Democratic Republic of the Congo 765 kilometers (475 miles)

Coastline: None

Territorial sea limits: None


Uganda is located in eastern Africa, west of Kenya, south of Sudan, east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and north of Rwanda and Tanzania. With an area of about 236,040 square kilometers (91,136 square miles), the country is slightly smaller than the state of Oregon. Uganda is divided into forty-five districts.


Uganda has no outside territories or dependencies.


Situated right on the equator, temperatures do not vary much on the plateau. At Lake Albert, annual temperatures range only from 22° to 29°C (72° to 84°F). Temperatures drop significantly at the higher altitudes, however. At Kampala, for instance, the average extremes are 17°C to 27°C (63°F to 81°F).

While most of Uganda receives an annual rainfall of at least 140 centimeters (40 inches), the northeast receives only 69 centimeters (27 inches). The areas around the lakes receive more rainfall on average. The city of Entebbe, on Lake Victoria, receives 162 centimeters (64 inches).


Uganda lies on the great plateau of east-central Africa straddling the equator. Surrounding the plateau are rows of volcanoes along the eastern and western branches of the Great Rift Valley. Its location on the middle of the African Tectonic Plate is a relatively stable geological position. Recently, however, the warping that created the western rift valley has led to an accumulation of waters in the lower zone to the east that now forms the basin of Lake Victoria along the southern border.


Uganda is a landlocked country.


Lakes Albert, Edward, and George are troughs in the western Great Rift Valley system, while Lakes Victoria and Kyoga are shallow basins on the plateau. Uganda shares Lake Albert and Lake Edward with the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Lake George, which is connected to Lake Edward by the Kazinga Channel, is wholly within Uganda.

All of the lakes are relatively shallow. The maximum depth recorded in Lake Victoria is 82 meters (270 feet); in Lake Albert, 51 meters (168 feet); in Lake Edward, 117 meters (384 feet); in Lakes Kyoga and Kwania, 7.3 meters (24 feet); and in Lake George, 3 meters (10 feet). A large swamp surrounds Lakes Kyoga and Kwania in the center of the country. Lake Salisbury, to the northeast of Lake Kyoga, provides an outlet for the waters north of Mount Elgon to the Nile River system. West of Lake Victoria, in the south, six lakes are connected by swampland. In the upland areas of the southwest, a number of swampy areas have been reclaimed.

Lake Victoria is the second-largest freshwater lake in the world, with its water volume estimated to be about 2,760 trillion liters (729 trillion gallons). Only Lake Superior in North America is larger. Lake Victoria has an indented coast with many deep gulfs and tributary outlets. Of Lake Victoria's 69,484 square kilometers (26,828 square miles), 20,430 square kilometers (11,749 square miles) are in Uganda; the remainder is divided between Kenya and Tanzania. Within the lake are many archipelagos, reefs, and more than two hundred species of fish. The Sese Archipelago, a chain of sixty-two islands in the lake off the coast southwest of Kampala, contains inhabitants known as the Basese, most of whom are fishermen. The Basese are a distinct tribal group with their own language, culture, and folklore. The densely populated Ukerewe is the largest of the islands. It rises over 200 meters (650 feet) above the lake's surface.


With a total length of 6,693 kilometers (4,160 miles), the Nile River is the longest river in the world, although others carry more water. The Nile begins in Uganda, where Lake Victoria overflows at a low point near Jinja to form the Victoria Nile. The Victoria Nile flows through Lake Kyoga to Lake Albert. Lake Albert drains through what is called the Albert Nile, which flows north into Sudan, where it becomes known as the White Nile. From the Owen Falls at Jinja to the point at which the Albert Nile crosses the northern border with Sudan, the river descends over more than 518 meters (1,700 feet), accomplished for the most part through a series of falls and rapids. The Nile continues through Sudan and Egypt, where it drains into the Mediterranean Sea.

In Uganda, nearly 5,180 square kilometers (2,000 square miles) of swamp lie in the lowland area that borders the Nile. The Nile River Basin, which includes all the generally fertile lands surrounding the river as it cuts through the Sahara Desert, is the world's largest oasis.

Most other rivers in Uganda are sluggish; in fact, some are not much more than vegetation-covered swamps. The Katonga runs into a swamp at the northeast corner of Lake Victoria. The Kafu flows into the western end of Lake Kwania, but its headwaters connect with those of the Muzizi, flowing westward into the southern end of Lake Albert. Other major rivers are the Aswa, Pager, and Dopeth-Okok of the northeast and the Mpongo, a tributary of the Kafu. Clear, swiftly flowing streams run only through the hills and along the slopes of the Western Rift Valley.


There are no significant desert regions in Uganda.


Scattered patches of elephant grass dominate the southern reaches of the country, while long grasses colonize the western highlands. The drier northern savannah consists mostly of grassland, but the grass here is significantly shorter. Open woodlands of thorn trees, borassus palms, and scrub can also be found in the north.

West of the mountains on the eastern border are a number of other smaller mountain ranges including the Labwor Hills, which range from 1,798 to 2,530 meters (5,900 to 8,300 feet). These hills are more or less isolated from one another, rising abruptly out of the plains.


In the extreme southwest are the Mufumbiro Volcanoes, of which only the northern side is in Uganda. From these volcanic highlands, an elevated area that is more than 1,524 meters (5,000 feet) above sea level extends northeastward through Kigezi District into western Ankole District. The Mufumbiro range includes the 3,645-meter- (11,960-feet-) high Mount Sabinio, the intersection of borders between three neighboring countries: Uganda, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of the Congo. Uganda's highest mountain is Muhavura, at 4,127 meters (13,540 feet).

These highlands are separated from the Ruwenzori Mountains, also known as the Mountains of the Moon, by a low valley containing Lake George and the Kazinga Channel, an outlet into Lake Edward. The Ruwenzori range, skirting the western border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) long and rises into a number of peaks which exceed 4,267 meters (14,000 feet), the highest of which is Margherita Peak, at 5,110 meters (16,765 feet). Above 4,267 meters (14,000 feet), the mountains are capped with snow and large glaciers.

To the east, volcanic centers and hills mark the approach to the Kenya borderlands. Mount Elgon, between Sebei District and Kenya, is 4,321 meters (14,178 feet) at its highest point. Mount Debasien, in Karamoja District, is 3,068 meters (10,067 feet); while Mount Moroto, still further north, is 3,083 meters (10,116 feet). Mount Morungole near the northeast border is 2,750 meters (9,022 feet); and Mount Zulia in the extreme northeast is 2,148 meters (7,048 feet) high. Along the northern border are the southern outlines of the Imatong Mountains of the Sudan, all of which reach 1,828 meters (6,000 feet).


Uganda has two national parks which have been designated as UNESCO Natural World Heritage Sites. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, located in southwestern Uganda, contains more than 160 species of trees and more than 100 species of ferns. It also serves as a habitat for the mountain gorilla, which is an endangered species.

Ruwenzori Mountains National Park covers the main part of the Ruwenzori mountain chain in the west and includes its highest peak. The park contains glaciers, waterfalls, and lakes and also serves as a habitat for many endangered species and unique plant life, such as the giant heather.


The western branch of the Great Rift Valley forms the border between Uganda and Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Great Rift Valley is a massive fault system that stretches over 6,400 kilometers (4,000 miles) from the Jordan Valley in Israel to Mozambique. In general, the Great Rift Valley ranges in elevation from 395 meters (1,300 feet) below sea level at the Dead Sea to 1,830 meters (6,000 feet) above sea level in south Kenya. The western branch contains the troughs and rivers that have become part of the African Great Lakes system. One of these lakes, Lake Albert, marks the lowest point in Uganda at 621 meters (2,037 feet).


Between the east and west mountain masses, Uganda's prominent relief feature is a plateau dissected by numerous rivers, swamps, and lakes. The plateau is fairly regular, with an altitude between 800 and 2,000 meters (2,600 and 6,600 feet) above sea level. In the southwest this region is known as the Ankole, named after the native kingdom that used to occupy the land.


The Owen Falls Dam, near Jinja on the Nile, is a hydroelectric power station that supplies most of the electricity in Uganda.



Africa South of the Sahara 2002: Uganda. London: Europa Publishers, 2001.

Nzita, R., and Mbaga-Niwampa. Peoples and Cultures of Uganda. 2 nd ed. Kampala, Uganda: Fountain Publishers, 1995.

Pirouet, M.L. Historical Dictionary of Uganda. Meutchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1995.


Caputo, Robert. "UgandaLand Beyond Sorrow." National Geographic, April 1988, 468-492.

Web Sites

ThinkQuest: The Living Africa. (accessed May 5, 2003).

Uganda Tourist Board. (accessed May 5, 2003).

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235,880sq km (91,073sq mi)



capital (population):

Kampala (953,400)



ethnic groups:

Ganda 18%, Banyoro 14%, Teso 9%, Banyan 8%, Basoga 8%, Bagisu 7%, Bachiga 7%, Lango 6%, Acholi 5%


English and Swahili (both official)


Christianity (Roman Catholic 40%, Protestant 29%), traditional beliefs 18%, Islam 7%


Uganda shilling = 100 cents

Landlocked republic in e Africa. Uganda is a landlocked republic in East Africa. Most of the country consists of part of the African plateau, which slopes down from c.1500m (4921ft) in the s to 900m (2953ft) in the n. In the w lies an arm of the Great Rift Valley, which contains Lake Albert and the Albert Nile. Highland pockets lie in the sw and e. Much of s Uganda is made up of Lake Victoria, Africa's largest lake. The capital, Kampala, and Entebbe lie on the lakeside.

Climate and Vegetation

Uganda's equatorial climate is moderated by altitude. The wettest regions are the w mountains, especially the high Ruwenzori range. Nearly 20% of Uganda is covered by lakes or swamps. Some rainforest remains in the s. Wooded savanna covers central and n Uganda.

History and Politics

In c.1500, the Nilotic-speaking Lwo people formed various kingdoms in sw Uganda, including Buganda (kingdom of the Ganda) and Bunyoro. During the 18th century, the Buganda kingdom expanded and trade flourished. In 1862, a British explorer, John Speke, became the first European to reach Buganda. He was closely followed (1875) by Sir Henry Stanley. The conversion activities of Christian missionaries led to conflict with Muslims. The Kabaka (King) came to depend on Christian support. In 1892, Britain dispatched troops to Buganda, and in 1894 Uganda became a British Protectorate. Unlike much of Africa, Uganda attracted Asian, rather than European, settlers. African political representation remained minimal until after World War 2.

In 1962, Uganda gained independence, with Buganda's Kabaka, Mutesa II, as president and Milton Obote as prime minister. In 1966, Mutesa II was forced into exile. In 1967, Buganda's traditional autonomy was restricted, and Obote became executive president. In 1971, Obote was deposed in a military coup led by Major General Idi Amin. Amin quickly established a personal dictatorship, and launched a war against foreign interference that resulted in the mass expulsion of Asians. Amin's regime was responsible for the murder of more than 250,000 Ugandans. Obote loyalists resisted the regime from neighbouring Tanzania. In 1976, Amin declared himself president for life, and Israel launched a successful raid on Entebbe Airport to end the hijack of one of its passenger planes. In 1978, Uganda annexed the Kagera region of nw Tanzania.

In 1979, Tanzanian troops helped the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF) to overthrow Amin and capture Kampala. Obote swept back into office in 1980 elections. Amid charges of electoral fraud, the National Resistance Army (NRA) began a guerrilla war. More than 200,000 Ugandans sought refuge in Rwanda and Zaïre. In 1985, Obote was deposed in a further military coup. In 1986, the NRA captured Kampala, and Yoweri Museveni became president. Museveni began to rebuild the domestic economy and improve foreign relations. In 1993, the Kabaka of Buganda returned as monarch. Museveni won Uganda's first direct presidential elections in 1996, and he was re-elected in 2001. Ugandan troops helped depose President Mobutu of Zaïre and then became embroiled in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda has the highest number of reported AIDS cases in Africa.


Civil strife devastated Uganda's economy (2000 GDP per capita, US$1100). In 2001 it was a founder member of the East African Community (EAC). Agriculture employs 86% of the workforce. Uganda is the world's seventh-largest producer of coffee, accounting for 90% of exports. Cotton, sugarcane, and tea are also exported.

Political map

Physical map


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Uganda Project


Proposal for a Jewish state in British territory in East Africa.

In 1902 Theodor Herzl petitioned the Royal Commission for Alien Immigration in London for assistance in alleviating the plight of Jews. In the summer of 1903, the British colonial secretary informed the World Zionist Organization of Great Britain's agreement in principle that East Africa could serve as a potential Jewish homeland. The apparent motivation for this plan, which became known as the Uganda Project or Uganda Scheme, was a desire to help the Jews as well as to develop the area for further colonization and perhaps to minimize further Jewish immigration to Great Britain.

The Sixth Zionist Congress met shortly thereafter, and Herzl presented the Uganda Scheme (it was actually Kenya), urging its acceptance as a temporary measure. Max Nordau, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, Nachman Syrkin, and Rabbi Yitzhak Yaacov Reines supported it, whereas Menachem Ussishkin and Ber Borochov, as well as Vladimir Zeʾev Jabotinsky, staunchly opposed it. The proposal became the subject of one of the fiercest debates in Zionist history. When Herzl won, and the Congress voted, 295 to 178, in favor of a proposal to investigate the plan's viability, the opposition stormed out and agreed to return only after Herzl assured them of his allegiance to Palestine as the ultimate objective of Zionism.

In spring 1904 the British government withdrew its offer. Herzl died before the Seventh Zionist Congress, in 1905, at which the scheme was overwhelmingly rejected by a majority of the 497 delegates.

see also herzl, theodor; world zionist organization (wzo).


Heymann, Michael, ed. The Uganda Controversy: Minutes of the Zionist General Council, 2 vols. Tel Aviv and Jerusalem: Tel Aviv University, Institute for Zionist Research and the Zionist Library, 19701977.

Shimoni, Gideon. The Zionist Ideology. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1995.

chaim i. waxman

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UGANDA. A country of East Africa and member of the COMMONWEALTH. Languages: English (official) SWAHILI, and Luganda and other indigenous, mainly BANTU, languages. English is the language of education, government, and the media. Uganda was visited by Arab traders in the 1830s, by the British explorer Captain John Speke in the 1860s, and in 1888 granted by the Crown to the Imperial British East Africa Company. In 1893, the Company withdrew and the territory was administered by a commissioner, the kingdom of Buganda becoming a British Protectorate in the same year. Between 1900 and 1903, treaties with the four Ugandan kingdoms resulted in the entire territory becoming a protectorate. Uganda gained its independence in 1962. The English of Uganda is a variety of EAST AFRICAN ENGLISH. It is non-rhotic and tends to be stress-timed. Because local Bantu languages generally have only two fricatives, /f, s/, the other English fricatives tend to be obscured: ‘sooeh’ for sure, ‘ferry’ for very. Many do not distinguish r and l: ‘rorry’, ‘lolly’, and ‘rolly’ are all variants for lorry. There are fewer consonants in the vernaculars than in English and consonant clusters are managed by means of an epenthetic vowel (‘sitring’ for string) or by reducing the cluster (in various ways: for example, ‘lents’ or ‘lenss’ for lengths).

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Uganda. Former British protectorate in eastern Africa. The search for the source of the White Nile first brought the region to Britain's attention in the 1860s. British missionaries reached Uganda in 1877 and the difficulties in which they became involved, together with Britain's interest in Egypt, to the north, led to the declaration of a British protectorate in 1894. The presence of well-organized indigenous societies was responsible for the decision, taken early in the 20th cent., to develop Uganda as an African, rather than as a white settler, dependency. This, in turn, led to the introduction of indirect administration, using modified indigenous institutions, and the policy was made economically viable by the encouragement of cotton, and later of coffee, to provide foreign exchange. The road to independence in 1962 was bedevilled only by the problem of accommodating the powerful, centrally located kingdom of Buganda in a unified state.

Kenneth Ingham

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Culture Name



Identification. 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 actually 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.

Location and Geography. Bantu speakers probably entered southern Uganda by the end of the first millennium. They had developed centralized kingdoms by the fifteenth or sixteenth century, and after independence from British rule in 1962, Bantu speakers constituted roughly two-thirds of the population. They are classified as either Eastern Lacustrine or Western Lacustrine Bantu. The Eastern Lacustrine Bantu speakers include the Baganda people whose language is Luganda, the Basoga, and many smaller societies in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. The Western Lacustrine Bantu speakers include the Banyoro, the Bastoro, the Banyankole, and several smaller populations in Uganda.

Nilotic language speakers probably entered the area from the north beginning about c.e. 1000. Thought to be the first cattle-herding people in the area, they also relied on crop cultivation. The largest Nilotic populations in Uganda are the Iteso and Karamojong ethnic groups, who speak Eastern Nilotic languages, and the Acholi, Langi, and Alur, who speak Western Nilotic languages. Central Sudanic languages, which arrived in Uganda from the north over a period of centuries, are spoken by the Lugbara, the Madi, and a few small groups in the northwestern part of the country.

Demography. The population was about twenty-three million in mid-1999. The Eastern Lacustrine Bantu include the Baganda, the Basoga, and the Bagisu. The Baganda, the largest ethnic group, account for about 17 percent of the population, or approximately 3.9 million people. The second largest ethnic group, the Basoga, make up about 8 percent of the population, or 1.8 million people, while the Bagisu constitute roughly 5 percent of the population, or just over a million people. The Western Lacustrine Bantuthe Banyoro, Batoro, and Banyankole peopleprobably constitute around 3 percent of the population, or 700,000 people each.

The Eastern Nilotic language groups include the Karamojong cluster, the Iteso and the Kakwa. The Karamojong account for around 12 percent of the population (2.8 million), the Iteso amount to about 8 percent (1.8 million), and the Kakwa constitute 1 percent (about 230,000). The Western Nilotic language groups include the Langi and Acholi as well as the Alur. Together they account for roughly 15 percent of the population, or about 3.4 million people, with the Langi contributing 6 percent (1.4 million), the Acholi 4 percent (900,000), and the Alur probably about 2 percent (460,000).

Central Sudanic languages are spoken by about 6 percent of the population, mostly in the northwest. The Lugbara (roughly 3.8 percent of the total, or 870,000) and the Madi (roughly 1.2 per cent, or 275,000) are the largest of these groups, representing the southeastern corner of a belt of Central Sudanic language speakers stretching from Chad to Sudan.

About 10,000 Ugandans of Sudanese descent are classified as Nubians. They are descendants of Sudanese military recruits who came in the late nineteenth century as part of the colonial army. Rwandans, who constituted almost 6 percent of the population (more than one million) in the late 1950s, included Hutu and Tutsi groups. The government attempted to limit Rwandan influence by restricting those who lacked Ugandan citizenship to refugee camps and expelling some to Tanzania. In the late 1980s, more than 120,000 Rwandans were recognized as refugees. Asians, who in the 1969 census amounted to some seventy thousand people, mainly of Indian and Pakistani descent, were officially considered foreigners despite the fact that more than half were born in Uganda. After independence and especially when the Obote government threatened to nationalize many industries in 1969, Asians exported much of their wealth and were accused of graft and tax evasion. President Idi Amin deported about seventy thousand Asians in 1972, and only a few returned in the 1980s to claim their expropriated land, buildings, factories, and estates. In the 1990s, there were about ten thousand Asians in the country.

Linguistic Affiliation. Introduced by the British in the late nineteenth century, English was the language of colonial administration. After independence, it became the official language, used in government, commerce, and education. Official publications and most major newspapers appear in English, which often is spoken on radio and television. Most residents speak at least one African language. Swahili and Arabic also are widely spoken.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. After independence in 1962, ending a period of colonization that began in 1885, there was little indication that the country was headed for social and political upheaval. Instead, Uganda appeared to be a model of stability and progress. It had no white settler class attempting to monopolize the cash crop economy, and there was no legacy of conflict. It was the African producers who grew the cotton and coffee that brought a higher standard of living, financed education, and led to high expectations for the future.

Independence arrived without a national struggle against the British, who devised a timetable for withdrawal before local groups had organized a nationalist movement. This near absence of nationalism among the country's ethnic groups led to a series of political compromises.

National Identity. Ethnic and religious divisions as well as historical emnities and rivalries contributed to the country's disintegration in the 1970s. There was a wide gulf between Nilotic speakers in the north and Bantu speakers in the south and an economic division between pastoralists in the drier rangelands of the west and north, and agriculturists, in the better-watered highland and lakeside regions. There was also a historical division between the centralized and sometimes despotic rule of the ancient African kingdoms and the kinship-based politics elsewhere. The kingdoms were often at odds in regard to the control of land. During the colonial period, the south had railways, cash crops, a system of Christian mission education, and the seat of government, seemingly at the expense of other regions. There also were religious groups that had lost ground to rivals in the past, for example, the domination of Muslims at the end of the nineteenth century by Christians allied to British colonialism. All these divisions precluded the formation of a national culture.

Ethnic Relations. After independence, there were conflicting local nationalisms. The Buganda's large population, extensive territory in the favored south, and self-proclaimed superiority created a backlash among other Ugandan peoples. Nubians shared little sense of identification with other groups. The closely related peoples of nearby Zaire and the Sudan soon became embroiled in civil wars in the 1960s and 1970s, drawing in ethnically related Ugandans. Today relations are relatively harmonious. However, suspicion remains with the president believing to favor certain groups from the west of the country over others.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Most people, except a few who live in urban centers, produce their own food. Most people eat two meals a day: lunch and supper. Breakfast is often a cup of tea or porridge. Meals are prepared by women and girls; men and boys age twelve and above do not sit in the kitchen, which is separate from the main house. Cooking usually is done on an open wood fire. Popular dishes include matoke (a staple made from bananas), millet bread, cassava (tapioca or manioc), sweet potatoes, chicken and beef stews, and freshwater fish. Other foods include white potatoes, yams, corn, cabbage, pumpkin, tomatoes, millet, peas, sorghum, beans, groundnuts (peanuts), goat meat, and milk. Oranges, papayas, lemons, and pineapples also are grown and consumed. The national drink is waragi, a banana gin. Restaurants in large population centers, such as Kampala (the capital), serve local foods.

Basic Economy. Most food is produced domestically. Uganda exports various foodstuffs, including fish and fish products, corn, coffee, and tea. The environment provides good grazing land for cattle, sheep, and goats. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy, employing over 80 percent of the workforce. Much production is organized by farmers' cooperatives. Smallholder farmers predominated in the 1960s and 1970s but declined as a result of civil conflict. In the 1980s, the government provided aid to farmers, and by the middle of the decade nearly a hundred ranches had been restocked with cattle.

Lakes, rivers and swamps cover about 20 percent of the land surface, and fishing is an important rural industry. The basic currency is the shilling.

Land Tenure and Property. At independence, the country was a patchwork of district administrations subdivided into counties and consolidated into provinces. As a result of a treaty with the British in 1900, Uganda retained its monarchy together with a modified version of its government and a distinctive form of quasi-freehold land tenure. Land was divided between the protectorate government and the kabaka (king), chiefs, and other tribal notables. This mailo land quickly became an important element in the colonial farming economy.

Uganda has a long history of diverse laws and social systems governing land tenure. Since the promulgation of the Land Reform decree of 1975, only two systems of land tenure exist (leasehold and customary tenure), but in practice a complex mixture of systems (including customary, leasehold, and freehold) continue to exist. The government attempted to simplify and unify the land tenure system. A major development in that process has been the inclusion of land tenure in the constitution of 1995. However, issues such as women's right to own land require further consideration.

Commercial Activities. The major goods and services produced for sale are foodstuffs and cash crops for exportation, with coffee as the major export crop. Uganda escaped widespread famine in the late 1970s and 1980s because many people, including urban residents, resorted to subsistence cultivation. Both commercial and subsistence farming operated in the monetary and nonmonetary sectors, presenting the government with problems of organization and taxation. By the late 1980s, government reports estimated that about 44 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) originated outside the monetary economy. Most nonmonetary activity was agricultural.

Major Industries. When the present government seized power in 1986, industrial production was negligible, consisting mostly of the processing of crops and the production of textiles, wood and paper products, cement, and chemicals. Industry was a small part of GDP in the late 1980s, operating at approximately one-third of the level of the early 1970s. Under Museveni, there has been some industrial rejuvenation, although this has amounted to not much more than the repair of damage done during the civil war to the industrial infrastructure. The sugar industry was rehabilitated through joint ventures involving the private sector and the government. By the 1990s there was a refining capacity of at least 140,000 tons of sugar annually. Other rehabilitated industries include beer brewing, tobacco, cotton, and cement. About 4 percent of adults worked in industry by the 1990s. During the 1990s, industrial growth was 13.2 percent.

Trade. In 1998, the country exported products worth $575 million. The main export commodities were coffee (54 percent of the total value), gold, fish and fish products, cotton, tea, and corn. The countries receiving most of these products were Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, France, and Italy. The main imports include chemicals, basic manufactured goods, machinery, and transport equipment.

Division of Labor. In the mid-1990s the labor force was estimated to be about 8.5 million, with more than 85 percent working in agriculture, 4 percent in industry, and 10 percent in the services sector. Jobs are allocated according to ability and preference.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Although there are no castes, there is a relatively high degree of social inequality. In the mid-1990s, 55 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. The top 10 percent owned about one-third of the available wealth, while the bottom 10 percent owned 3 percent. Wealth distribution is governed by class position. The richest people live mostly in the capital, Kampala.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Social stratification is governed primarily by level of education and status derived primarily from employment. Among the elites, English is the language of communication, and these people dress in a modern Western fashion. Others tend to wear traditional dress.

Political Life

Government. Under the constitution of 1995, legislative power is in the hands of a unicameral parliament (the National Resistance Council) with 276 members (214 elected directly and 62 appointed). Executive powers are held by the president, who is directly elected for a five-year term. On coming to power in 1986, the government introduced "no-party" democracy known as the "movement system" with a national network extending from the capital to the rural areas. Only one political organization, formerly the National Resistance Movement (or NRM) and now known as the "Movement," is recognized; it is the party of President Museveni. Among the parties that exist but are not allowed to sponsor candidates, the most important are the Ugandan People's Congress (UPC), the Democratic Party (DP), and the Conservative Party (CP).

Leadership and Political Officials. It is alleged that one of the main criteria for advancement in the current government is whether an individual fought in President Museveni's guerrilla army, which was instrumental in bringing the regime to power in 1986. Those people are said to have achieved their positions through a combination of hard work, influence peddling, and corruption.

Social Problems and Control. After the victory of the National Resistance Army (NRA) in 1986, the NRA assumed responsibility for internal security. The police force was reorganized and, together with other internal security organs, began to enforce law and order in all districts except those experiencing rebel activity. There are two continuing civil wars against the "Lord's Resistance Army" and against guerrillas based in the Sudan. In 1995, the government established a legal system based on English common law and customary law. There is a court of appeal and a high court, both with judges appointed by the president. The most common crimes are theft and, in some parts of the country, banditry.

Military Activity. Uganda has an army, a navy, and an air force. The NRA has about seventy thousand troops. Recruitment is voluntary; there is no fixed term of service, and both men and women serve. In 1999, Ugandan military forces supported the rebel forces in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

In 1987, the government launched a four-year Rehabilitation and Development Plan to restore the nation's productive capacity, especially in industry and agriculture, and rehabilitate the social and economic infrastructure. The plan targeted industrial and agricultural production, transportation, and electricity and water services, envisioning an annual 5 percent growth rate. Transportation would receive the major share of funding, followed by agriculture, industry and tourism, social infrastructure, and mining and energy. Although the international financial community provided debt rescheduling and new loans, the level of economic recovery was modest. Improved security and private sector development contributed to economic growth and the rehabilitation of the social infrastructure in the 1990s, but external shocks, an overvalued currency, and high government spending limited economic progress.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Political conflict and the near disintegration of the state under Milton Obote and Idi Amin in the 1970s and early 1980s, led to the incorporation of autonomous self-help organizations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Foreign and indigenous NGOs concerned with developmental, social, and political goals have flooded Uganda since the mid-1980s. In general, NGOs have been effective in addressing the needs of service provision and alleviating poverty. For groups of traditionally disadvantaged people such as physically disabled persons and women, NGOs have provided guaranteed political representation at every level of the society.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Traditionally, women's roles were subordinate to those of men despite the substantial economic and social responsibilities of women in traditional Ugandan societies. Women were taught to accede to the wishes of their fathers, brothers, husbands, and other men and to demonstrate their subordination to men in public life. Into the 1990s, women in rural areas of Buganda were expected to kneel when speaking to a man. However, women had the primary responsibility for child care and subsistence agriculture while contributing to cash crop agriculture. Many Ugandans recognized women as important religious leaders who sometimes had led revolts that overthrew the political order dominated by men. In some areas, women could own land, influence crucial political decisions made by men, and cultivate cash crops.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. In the 1970s and 1980s, political violence had a heavy toll on women. Economic hardship was felt in the home, where women and children lacked the economic opportunities available to most men. Women's work became more time-consuming, and the erosion of public services and infrastructure reduced access to schools, hospitals, and markets. However, some Ugandan women believed that the war years strengthened their position in society, and the Museveni government has pledged to eliminate discrimination against women. During the civil war, women were active in the NRA. The government decreed that one women would represent each district on the National Resistance Council, and the government owned Uganda Commercial Bank established a rural credit plan to make farm loans available to women.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Family prosperity in rural areas involves the acquisition of wives, which is accomplished through the exchange of bridewealth. Since the 1950s a ceiling on bridewealth has been set at five cows and a similar number of goats. The payment of bridewealth is connected to the fact that men "rule" women. Polygynous marriages have reinforced some aspects of male dominance but also have given women an arena for cooperating to oppose male dominance. A man may grant his senior wife "male" status, allowing her to behave as an equal toward men and as a superior toward his other wives. However, polygynous marriages have left some wives without legal rights to inheritance after divorce or widowhood.

Domestic Unit. The extended family is augmented by a kin group. Men have authority in the family; household tasks are divided among women and older girls. Women are economically dependent on the male next of kin (husband, father, or brother). Dependence on men deprives women of influence in family and community matters, and ties them to male relationships for sustenance and the survival of their children.

Inheritance. Land reform is a continuing aspect of constitutional debate. Suggestions for a new land policy were part of the draft constitution submitted to the president of the Constitutional Commission in late 1992, though little consideration had been given to the issue of women's right to own and inherit land. Although women make a significant contribution in agriculture, their tenure rights are fragile. The determination and protection of property rights have become important issues as a result of civil war and the impact of AIDS. However, the state's legal stand on inheritance recognizes the devolution of property through statutory as well as customary law.

According to the law, a wife equally with a husband is entitled to 15 percent of the spouse's estate after death. The practice, though, is that in the majority of cases a man inherits all of his wife's property, while culture dictates that a woman does not inherit from her husband at all. In other words, regarding inheritance, where there is conflict between cultural unwritten law and the written modern law, the cultural laws tend to take precedence.

Kin Groups. For many people, clan, lineage, and marriage provide the framework of daily life and access to the most significant resources. Farming is largely a family enterprise, and land and labor are available primarily through kin.


Infant Care. Virtually all infant care is undertaken by women and older girls at home.

Child Rearing and Education. Mothers bore an average of over seven children in the late 1990s, and the use of family planning is low. The death of children is commonplace, with an estimated ninety deaths per one thousand live births. Boys are more likely to be educated to the primary and secondary levels than are girls. Among the 62 percent of the population that is literate, nearly three-quarters are men.

Higher Education. Established in 1922, Makerere University in Kampala was the first college in East Africa. Its primary aim was to train people for government employment. In the 1980s, it expanded to include colleges of liberal arts and medicine serving more than five thousand students. In the early 1990s, there were about nine thousand students. The Islamic University at Mbale, financed by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, opened in 1988. This college provides Islamic educational services primarily to English-speaking students from African countries. In 1989, a second national university campus opened in Mbarara, with a curriculum designed to serve rural development needs. Development plans for higher education rely largely on international and private donors. Most residents value higher education, perceiving it as an essential aspect of national development.


Shaking hands is the normal form of greeting. Casual dress is considered appropriate in the daytime and evening. It is customary to give waiters and taxi drivers a 10 percent tip. Etiquette is important at family meals. When a meal is ready, all the members of the household wash their hands and sit on floor mats. Visitors and neighbors who drop in are expected to join the family at a meal. Normally a short prayer is said before the family starts eating. During the meal, children talk only when asked a question. It is considered impolite to leave the room while others are eating. Leaning on the left hand or stretching one's legs at a meal is a sign of disrespect. When the meal is finished, everyone in turn gives a compliment to the mother.


Religious Beliefs. One-third of the population is Roman Catholic, one-third is Protestant, and 16 percent is Muslim; 18 percent believe in local religions, including various millenarian religions. World religions and local religions have coexisted for more than a century, and many people have established a set of beliefs about the nature of the universe by combining elements of both types. There is a proliferation of religious discourses centering on spirits, spirit possession, and witchcraft.

Religious Practitioners. Religious identity has economic and political implications: church membership has influenced opportunities for education, employment, and social advancement. Religious practitioners thus are expected to provide a range of benefits for their followers. Leaders of indigenous religions reinforce group solidarity by providing elements necessary for societal survival: remembrance of ancestors, means of settling disputes, and recognition of individual achievement. Another social function of religious practitioners is helping people cope with pain, suffering, and defeat by providing an explanation of their causes. Religious beliefs and practices serve political aims by bolstering the authority of temporal rulers and allowing new leaders to mobilize political power and implement political change.

Rituals and Holy Places. In Bantu-speaking societies, many local religions include a belief in a creator God. Most local religions involve beliefs in ancestral and other spirits, and people offer prayers and sacrifices to symbolize respect for the dead and maintain proper relationships among the living. Mbandwa mediators act on behalf of other believers, using trance or hypnosis and offering sacrifice and prayer to beseech the spirit world on behalf of the living.

Uganda has followers of Christianity, Islam, and African traditional religions. Ugandan Muslims make pilgrimages to Mecca when they can. Followers of African religions tend to establish shrines to various local gods and spirits in a variety of locations.

Death and the Afterlife. Death is sometimes interpreted in the idiom of witchcraft. A disease or other cause of death may not be considered the true cause. At a burial, if the relatives suspect someone of having caused the deceased person's death, a spirit medium may call up the spirit of the deceased and ask who really killed him or her.

Medicine and Health Care

Health services deteriorated in the 1970s and 1980s, as a result of government neglect, violence, and civil war. In the 1990s, measles, respiratory tract infections, and gastro enteritis caused one-half of all deaths attributed to illness, and malaria, AIDS, anemia, tetanus, whooping cough, and respiratory tract infections also claimed many lives. Infant mortality was often caused by low birth weight, premature birth, or neonatal tetanus. The entire health care system was served by less than a thousand doctors in the 1990s. Care facilities included community health centers, maternity clinics, dispensaries, leprosy centers, and aid posts. Today there is at least one hospital in each district except the southern district of Rakai. In the sparsely populated northern districts, people sometimes travel long distances to receive medical care, and facilities are inferior to those in the south. Those who live far from or cannot afford modern health care depend on traditional care. Women are prominent among traditional healers.

Secular Celebrations

The major holidays are New Year's Day, 1 January; Liberation Day, 26 January; International Women's Day, 8 March; Labor Day, 1 May; National Heroes Day, 9 June; and Independence Day, 9 October.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. Most artists are self-supporting as there is virtually no state support. Small-scale, local initiatives take place, but it has been difficult to establish viable sectors because of the disruptions caused by long-term political conflict and economic decline.

Literature. The development of literature is at an early stage. It has been held back by the years of civil war.

Graphic and Performance Arts. Performing arts often are associated with different ethnic groups throughout the country.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

The physical and social sciences are generally under-developed as a result of civil instability and conflict and the development of other priorities centered on national reconstruction. Makerere University is still in operation but virtually all expatriate staff, once the backbone of the teaching staff, have been long gone. Little research is currently undertaken because of a lack of up-to-date books, journals, or computers.


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Jeff Haynes

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The Baganda, who populate the northern shore of Lake Victoria, constitute the largest single ethnic group in Uganda (about 17 percent of the total population). Ten other main ethnic groups, each accounting for between 3 and 12 percent of Uganda's population, together make up 60 percent of the total. Perhaps 6 percent of the population (not counting refugees) is of Rwandan descent, either Tutsi or Hutu. For more information on the Tutsi, see the chapter on Burundi in Volume 2; on the Hutu, see the chapter on Rwanda in Volume 8.

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Ugandaadder, bladder, khaddar, ladder, madder •Esmeralda, Valda •scaffolder • lambda •Amanda, Aranda, Baganda, Banda, brander, candour (US candor), coriander, dander, expander, gander, germander, goosander, jacaranda, Leander, Luanda, Lysander, meander, memoranda, Menander, Miranda, oleander, panda, pander, philander, propaganda, Rwanda, sander, Skanda, stander, Uganda, understander, Vanda, veranda, withstander, zander •backhander • Laplander • stepladder •inlander • outlander • Netherlander •overlander • gerrymander •pomander •calamander, salamander •bystander •ardour (US ardor), armada, Bader, cadre, carder, cicada, Dalriada, enchilada, Garda, gelada, Granada, Haggadah, Hamada, intifada, lambada, larder, Masada, Nevada, panada, piña colada, pousada, promenader, retarder, Scheherazade, Theravada, Torquemada, tostada •Alexander, commander, demander, Lahnda, slander •Pravda • autostrada

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