Situated at the geographical heart of the African continent, the Republic of Uganda is a landlocked country bordered by Kenya in the east, Sudan in the north, Democratic Republic of the Congo in the west, Rwanda in the southwest and Tanzania in the south.
Uganda’s total land area is 241,559 sq. km. About 37,000 sq. km of this area is occupied by open water while the rest is land. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, which it shares with Kenya and Tanzania.
Located on the East African plateau, Uganda averages about 1,100 meters (3,609 ft) above sea level. The plateau generally slopes downwards towards Sudan explaining the northerly tendency of most river flows in the country. Although generally equatorial, the climate is not uniform since the altitude modifies the climate.
Uganda has long been a cultural melting pot, as evidenced by the existence of 30-plus different indigenous languages belonging to five distinct linguistic groups, and an equally diverse cultural mosaic of music, art and handicrafts.
With a total population of about 32 million people, the official languages are English and Swahili. Although many other language are spoken such as Runyoro, Runyankole, Rukiga, and Luo, Luganda is widely spoken across the country.
Uganda takes its name from the Buganda kingdom, which encompasses a large portion of the south of the country, including the capital city of Kampala. Ancestrally, the people of Uganda were hunter-gatherers until 1,700 to 2,300 years ago, when Bantu-speaking populations migrated to the southern parts of the country.
Beginning in 1894, the area was ruled as a protectorate by the UK, who established administrative law across the territory. Uganda gained independence from the UK on 9 October 1962. The period since then has been marked by intermittent conflicts, including a lengthy civil war against the Lord's Resistance Army in the Northern Region, which has caused hundreds of thousands of casualties.
The president of Uganda is Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who came to power in January 1986 after a protracted six-year guerrilla war.
25 Interesting Facts About Uganda
- In terms of land area, Uganda is roughly the size of the state of Oregon. However, Uganda has a population that is roughly ten times larger than Oregon’s!
- The climate is tropical, and there are two dry seasons that run from December to February and again in June through August.
- Uganda gained its independence from Britain in 1962.
- An estimated 300,000 people lost their lives during the regime of Idi Amin (Former President: 1971-79). The majority of these people belonged to the northern part of the country and were perceived as Milton Obote’s (former Prime Minister: 1962-66; also former President: 1966-71 and 1980-85 ) supporters. Amin also forcibly expelled the Indian businessmen from the country during his regime.
- Sir Winston Churchill called Uganda “the Pearl of Africa”. He visited the country when it was under the British rule.
- The Ugandan president is always called Museven
- Country’s motto is “For God and My Country”
- Approximately half of Ugandans live on less than one dollar per day.
- Its currency is the Ugandan shilling
- Home to 11% of the world’s bird population
- Grasshoppers that have been pan fried are a delicacy consumed in Uganda.
- Matooke is a staple food in Uganda. It is made with unripened bananas that have been mashed
- A Rolex isn’t a watch in Uganda – it’s a type of fast food. This dish is a chapatti filled with sausage and includes other ingredients like vegetables.
- In Uganda, peanuts are known as “g-nuts,” or “ground nuts.”
- In terms of population, Uganda is the second largest landlocked country in the world.
- There are an estimated 52 tribes residing in Uganda. These tribes have their own customs that are still practiced to this day.
- Almost half of the country’s population is under the age of 14, which makes it one of the youngest countries in the world.
- English that is spoken in Uganda is a different type of dialect and sounds quite different from what is spoken in the U.S. This language is referred to as Uglish.
- Ugandans refer to white foreigners as “mzungu.”
- Approximately one-third of Ugandans own a mobile phone.
- In Uganda, motorcycles are used as taxis to ferry people from one place to another. However, these taxis are not recommended for tourists as they can be dangerous. These are locally known as “boda-boda“.
- If you have to pee, Ugandans call it “making a short call”
- Uganda is under the rule of one and the same president— Yoweri Museveni–since 1986.
- Uganda is also famous for its coffee.
- Unemployment is a huge concern in Uganda and many locals find work with local cottage industries and many are still unemployed.