Uganda is a small landlocked East African Country situated between Kenya to the east and the Democratic Republic of Congo it’s the west. Uganda is a former British Colony and attained its independence on the 9th of October 1962. The country maintained its links with the traditional monarchy after independence and Kabaka Edward Mutesa II was its first president.
The Kabaka was overthrown by his Prime Minister Milton Obote in 1966 and a period of instability followed with a number of coups and coup attempts.
Most notable was the rule of Idi Amin who came into power in 1971. Amin’s reign is directly responsible for the deaths of about 300,000 Ugandans.
He is also famed for his expulsion of Indians from Uganda. The National Resistance Army under the leadership of Yoweri Museveni took power in 1986. This ushered a period of relative stability and development in Uganda.
Uganda was involved in the civil war in neighboring Congo and members of the Ugandan army fought alongside rebel groups. The country is also said to have aided these groups financially and also providing weapons. Uganda is also faced with a rebellion problem with fighting taking place mainly in the north of the country between the Lord’s Resistance Army and Government forces.
Health in Uganda:
HIV/AIDS presently poses the greatest health problem for Uganda. The prevalence rate of the disease in the country has fallen greatly in recent years as a result of various programs initiated by the government and a number of private organizations.
At the height of HIV/AIDS in the country, whole villages were left only with children and the elderly. It is estimated that presently, about 0.5 million people are living with the disease in Uganda.
Other health problems are associated with poor food and water hygiene. Visitors are advised to drink boiled water. Bottled water is also available from supermarkets.
There is also a risk of developing malaria though this can be greatly limited by taking anti-malarial tablets prior to travel. The best health facilities including hospitals and pharmacies can be found in Kampala. Health centers also exist in most towns.
The currency of Uganda is known as the Ugandan Shilling (UGX). The currency was introduced to replace the East African Shilling a currency used during the British Colonial era in the region. One shilling is equivalent to 100 cents.
Denominations: coins exist for 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, 100, 200 and 500 shillings. Banknotes are available for 1000, 5000, 10000, 20000 and 50000 shillings. The distribution of the currency and exchange rates are regulated by the Bank of Uganda.
Foreign exchange services are offered by a number of banks in major towns and also at foreign exchange bureaus.
At the time of writing (July 2006), One $ US was equal to 1,859 UGX, One British Pound was equal to 3,439.9 UGX and One Euro was equal to 2,349 UGX.
Uganda Facts & Figures:
– Location: Eastern Africa, between Kenya to the east and the Democratic Republic of Congo to its west.
– Capital City: Kampala.
– Population: 29, 195, 754.
– Other major towns and cities: Entebbe, Tororo, Jinja, Mbale, Mbarara
– Religion: Christian, Islam, Traditional, Others.
– Languages: English is the official language, Swahili and Luganda are widely spoken, Indigenous.
– Currency: Ugandan Shilling (UGX).
Public Holidays in Uganda:
-New Years Day on the 1st of January
-Liberation Day on the 26th of January
-Women’s Day on the 8th of March
-Labor Day on the 1st of May
-Martyrs’ Day on the 3rd of June
-Heroes’ Day on the 9th of June
-Independence Day on the 9th of October
-Christmas Day on the 25th of December
-Boxing Day on the 26th of December
Religious Holidays (dates may vary each year): Eid Ul Fitr, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Eid Al Adha.
The current flag of Uganda was adopted on the 9th of October 1962 when the country attained its independence from the United Kingdom.
The country’s national emblem which is a “Great Crested Crane” is situated at the centre of the flag. The black color is for the African people, yellow is for sunshine and red is for brotherhood.
Uganda is a democratic republic with an elected government. Multi-party presidential and parliamentary elections are held every five years. The President is also the head of government and is responsible for appointing a Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet.
Political Parties in Uganda: Conservative Party or CP; Democratic Party or DP; Forum for Democratic Change or FDC; Justice Forum or JEEMA; National Democrats Forum; National Resistance Movement or NRM; Ugandan People’s Congress or UPC.
The City of Kampala is the capital of Uganda. The country is divided into 69 districts for administrative purposes. These are; Adjumani, Apac, Arua, Bugiri, Bundibugyo, Bushenyi, Busia, Gulu, Hoima, Iganga, Jinja, Kabale, Kabarole, Kaberamaido, Kalangala, Kampala, Kamuli, Kamwenge, Kanungu, Kapchorwa, Kasese, Katakwi, Kayunga, Kibale, Kiboga, Kisoro, Kitgum, Kotido, Kumi, Kyenjojo, Lira, Luwero, Masaka, Masindi, Mayuge, Mbale, Mbarara, Moroto, Moyo, Mpigi, Mubende, Mukono, Nakapiripirit, Nakasongola, Nebbi, Ntungamo, Pader, Pallisa, Rakai, Rukungiri, Sembabule, Sironko, Soroti, Tororo, Wakiso, Yumbe, Amolatar, Amuria, Budaka, Butaleja, Ibanda, Kaabong, Kabingo, Kaliro, Kiruhura, Koboko, Manafwa, Mityana, Nakaseke.
People & Culture
The People of Uganda:
Uganda is home to an estimated 28, 195, 754 people. The largest population concentration is found in the city of Kampala which is home to about 1.5 million people.
The main ethnic groups living in the country are; Baganda, Ankole, Basoga, Iteso, Bakiga, Langi, Bagisu, Acholi, Lugbara, Batoro, Bunyoro, Alur, Bagwere, Bakonjo, Jopodhola, Karamajong and Rundi. There are also small populations of European, Arab and Asian people.
Christianity (mainly Roman Catholic and Protestant), Islam and Traditional beliefs are the main religions in the country. English is the official language in Uganda and other languages widely spoken are Swahili and Luganda.
Matoke is a dish made from steaming green bananas known as matoke. These are steamed and then mashed and are eaten with vegetable, stews or peanut sauce (which can be very tasty). Matoke is the staple food in Uganda since the bananas are grown around the country.
Ugali which is made from maize meal is also popular as well as rice. Most of the country’s foods are produced locally and a majority of Ugandans buy their fresh fruit and vegetables at open air markets.
Restaurants: Kampala has the largest selection of restaurants in Uganda. The city’s eateries offer a variety of cuisine including; Indian, Chinese, Italian, Mexican and African. Fast food is also available and a number of franchises such as; Nandos, Pizza Inn and Dominos are in operation in the city.
Sports in Uganda:
Many Ugandans are actively involved in sports. Popular sports in the country include; soccer, athletics, volleyball, basketball and in recent years rugby and cricket have increased in popularity.
Soccer in Uganda:
Soccer is the most popular team sport in Uganda. “The Cranes” as the national team is known is a force in the regional soccer scene and Uganda has won the East African Cup twelve times. The country participates in qualifiers for the world cup and the Africa Cup of Nations. Uganda’s best achievement to date is runners up at the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations where the team lost 2-0 to Ghana.
Rugby in Uganda:
Rugby is one of the fastest growing team sports in Uganda. The country is represented regularly in the seven-a-side version of the game with the team participating at a number of international tournaments. The team also plays regularly against neighboring Kenya and Tanzania. Kampala is the rugby domain in the country home to a number of popular clubs such as; Kobs and the MTN Heathens.
Tourism & Travel
Tourism in Uganda:
Uganda is a country blessed with natural beauty and amazing geographical formations such as the Ruwenzori Mountain Ranges, Mount Elgon, part of the Virunga Mountains, Lake Victoria and the Nile River.
The country is also home to one of the few remnants of the rainforest that is now extinct in most parts of the African continent. Uganda has the largest Mountain Gorilla population and parks such as the Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga are popular for Gorilla tracking.
The country is also blessed with a number of small lakes and rivers, game parks and reserves where one can see a fascinating array of animals and hundreds of bird species.
A number of good beaches can be found along the shores of Lake Victoria and some of the best hotels and resorts in Kampala and Entebbe are situated on beachfront properties.
Game Parks in Uganda:
The Uganda Wildlife Authority is a government agency established in 1996 and charged with the responsibility of managing the country’s parks and game reserves. The country is home to healthy populations of wildlife and bird species including Mountain Gorilla, Chimpanzees, Monkeys, Buffalo, Elephant, Zebra and Impala. Bird species include; pelicans, stork, eagle and flamingo.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: home to the largest population of Mountain Gorillas in the world, the park occupies a rainforest remnant. The park can be visited by road from Kampala and other Ugandan towns. Bwindi is situated in southwestern Uganda near the town of Kabale in the Albertine Rift Valley. Other animals found here are; elephant, antelope and the colobus monkey.
Mgahinga National Park: situated in southwestern Uganda near the country’s border with Rwanda and Congo DRC; on the Ugandan part of the Virunga Mountain ranges. The park is also home to Mountain Gorillas which are the main attraction here.
Rwenzori National Park: encompassing the Rwenzori mountain range; the mountain’s peaks have permanent snow cover. Rwenzori stands at a height of 5,109 metres. The park is good for hiking and is home to an elephant population.
Queen Elizabeth National Park: situated in southwestern Uganda near the town of Kasese on the shores of Lake Edward, this park is home to a large population of birds (more than 500 species) and animals such as; lion, elephant, hippos and buffalo.
Hotels in Uganda:
There are a number of good hotels in Uganda. The best of these can be found in the cities of Kampala and Entebbe. Hotel accommodation in the country is affordable and a number of places can be booked online. Leading hotels in Uganda include:
Sheraton Hotel Kampala: a premier establishment in the city, the Sheraton is situated at Ternan Avenue in the Kampala city centre. The hotel is a member of the Sheraton International group of hotels. Having recently undergone renovation, the hotel now offers 237 guest rooms with wireless internet access, air conditioning, cable television and telephone.
Other amenities and services are; foreign currency exchange, swimming pool, tennis courts, beauty salon, car hire, health and fitness centre, bar, restaurant, business and conferencing facilities.
Imperial Resort Beach Hotel: opened in 2004, the hotel is a welcome addition in Uganda’s developing tourism industry. The hotel is a member of the Imperial Group of Hotels and is situated on a beachfront property at the shores of Lake Victoria. The hotel features; a swimming pool, health and fitness center, private beach, bars, restaurants and conference rooms.
Flights to Uganda:
There are a number of airlines that offer regular scheduled flights to Uganda. The country’s principal airport is the Entebbe International which handles most flights into the country.
The airport was the hub of the now defunct Ugandan Airlines. It serves the city of Kampala which is situated about 35 km away and the rest of the country.
Airlines flying to Entebbe: Air Burundi, Air France, Air Tanzania, Air Serve International, Air Zimbabwe, Anova Air Cargo, Cetraca, British Airways, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Eagle Air, East African Airlines, Egyptair, Emirates, Precision Air, Royal Daisy, Global Airlines, Royal Dutch, South African Airways, Rwanda Air Express, Sudan Airways, SN Brussels, United Airlines, TMK Air Commuter, Trans Mediterranean Airlines.
Apart from Tanzanian and Kenyan citizens’; members of the East African Community, all other Nationals are required to have a valid entry visa.
The country has high commissions in most commonwealth member countries.
There are Ugandan Embassies in a number of European Nations including; Germany, Denmark, Russia, Italy, the UK and France. There is also an Embassy in the United States, Canada, India, Japan, Australia, and China.
For visa requirements, conditions and application, you can consult your nearest consulate, or get assistance from your travel agent.
You may also require an entry visa if you intend to travel to other African countries from Uganda.
Uganda Embassies and Consulates in Asia and Australia:
The Ugandan High Commission in Australia
7 Dunoon Street, O’Malley ACT 2606
P.O. Box 2205 Canberra ACT 2601
Tel: 61 2 6286 1234/ 6290 7300
Fax: 61 2 6286 1243
Uganda Embassy in China
5 San Li Tun Dong Jie,
Tel: 86 10 6532 1708/ 6532 1645
Fax: 86 10 6532 2242
Uganda High Commission in India
B-3/ 26 Vasant Vihar, New Delhi
110 057 India
Tel: 91 11 2614 4413/ 91 11 2614 5817
Fax: 91 11 2614 4405
Uganda Embassy in Japan
4 -15-3 Shimomeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 81 3 5773 0481/2
Fax: 81 3 5725 3720
Uganda Embassies and Consulates in Europe:
Uganda Embassy in Belgium
Avenue De Tervuren 317, 1150 Brussels
Tel: 3 22 792 5825
Fax: 3 22 763 0438
Uganda Embassy in Denmark
Sofievej 15 DK 2900, Hellerup, Denmark
Tel: 000 45 39 620966
Fax: 000 45 39 610148
Uganda Embassy in Germany
Flat No. 0391
Heinrich Heine Street 18
10179 Berlin Germany
Tel: 049 30 240 47556
Fax: 049 30 240 47557
Uganda Embassy in Italy
Lungotevere dei Mellini 44
Scala Valadier int B
00193 Rome, Italy
Tel: 39 06 322 5220/ 320 7232
Fax: 39 06 321 3688
Uganda Embassy in Russia
Korovy Val 7 Flat No. 3
Tel: 7 495 230 2276
Fax: 7 495 230 2131
Uganda Embassy in France
13 Avenue Raymond Poincare
75116 Pari, France
Tel: 33 1 56 90 12 20
Fax: 33 1 45 05 21 22
Uganda High Commission in the United Kingdom
Uganda House 58-59 Trafalgar Square,
London WD2N 5DX
Tel: 44 207 839 5783
Fax: 44 207 839 8925
Uganda Embassies and Consulates in North America:
The Uganda High Commission in Canada
231 Cobourg Street, Ottawa, Ontario
Canada KIL 8J2
Tel: 1 613 789 7797/ 789 0110
Fax: 1 613 789 8909
The Embassy of Uganda in the USA
5911, 16th Street N.W. Washington D.C 20011
Tel: 1 202 726 0416
Fax: 1 202 726 1727