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) nne–ssw and 486 km (302 mi) ese–wnw. 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 (2,600–6,600 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 1995–2005. 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 2005–2010 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 1872–73 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 3–4 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 (members—Kenya, 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 groups—Reform 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 80–90% 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 600,000—which 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 2006—the 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 70,000–100,000 men, armed with outdated US, UK, and Russian weapons.

The Ugandan People’s Defense Force was estimated at 40,000–45,000 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 1975–76.

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 1988–98, and 5.8% from 2000–2005. 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 deposits—Hima, Tororo Hill, and Bukiribo—totaled 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 61–67% 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 3–5% 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 1970–72. 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 1987–97, 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, Monday–Friday.


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 years—an 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 deposits—an aggregate commonly known as M1—were equal to $517.6 million. In that same year, M2—an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual funds—was $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 4–15% for residents, and 15–20% 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 25–45%, 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 2000–2004 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 1988–92. 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 1978–79 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 education—in 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 15–44 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 1978–79 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 1980–88, 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.1856–84) contributed to Uganda’s modern development. Sir Apollo Kagwa, chief minister (1890–1926) to Kabaka Mwanga and his successor, Kabaka Daudi Chwa, was one of the dominant figures in Uganda’s history. Mukama Kabarega of Bunyoro (r.1896–99) led his people against British and Buganda forces until captured and exiled in 1899; he died in exile in 1923. Apollo Milton Obote (1924–2005), founder of the UPC and prime minister from 1962 to 1966, overthrew the first president, Sir Edward Frederick Mutesa (Kabaka Mutesa II of Buganda, 1924–69), and was himself president of Uganda from 1966 to 1971 and from 1980 to 1985. Maj. Gen. Idi Amin Dada (1925–2003) 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.


ASASIRA ANDREW A is a Ugandan and a free lance writer mostly about tourism, education, health and current situations in Uganda. the sole purpose of the writer is to share and discuss different aspects of life .
This entry was posted in ENVIRONMENT, GENERAL. Bookmark the permalink.


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