Facts & figures
Full name: Republic of Uganda
Population: 35.6 million (UN, 2012)
Area: 241,038 sq km (93,072 sq miles)
Major languages: English (official), Swahili (official), Luganda, various Bantu and Nilotic languages
Major religions: Christianity, Islam
Life expectancy: 54 years (men), 55 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Ugandan shilling = 100 cents
Main exports: Coffee, fish and fish products, tea; tobacco, cotton, corn, beans, sesame
GNI per capita: US $510 (World Bank, 2011)
Internet domain: .ug
International dialling code: +256
Yoweri Museveni has been in office for more than a quarter of a century, having seized power at the head of a rebel army.
He won a fresh term in office in presidential elections in February 2011, having amended the constitution before the 2006 election to remove the previous limit on the number of terms a president could serve.
Visa & travel advice
A. ALL PASSPORTS (INCLUDING UK RED PASSPORT HOLDERS):
- One duly filled application form by each applicant.
- One passport size photograph attached to each application form.
- Passport valid for at least six months from the proposed date of entry.
- Correct visa fee (£35 for single entry visa & £80 for six-month multiple entry visa).
- Letter of invitation/introduction, if travelling on business.
6. Applicants may be requested to submit additional supporting documentation.
- Best period:
Visitors to Uganda do not have to worry about intense tropical heat and humidity as they might elsewhere on the continent.
Today Uganda is a politically stable country, though conflict in some of its neighboring nations can sometimes be a source of concern for visitors.
About 500 B.C. Bantu-speaking peoples migrated to the area now called Uganda. By the 14th century, three kingdoms dominated, Buganda (meaning "state of the Gandas"), Bunyoro, and Ankole. Uganda was first explored by Europeans as well as Arab traders in 1844. An Anglo-German agreement of 1890 declared it to be in the British sphere of influence in Africa, and the Imperial British East Africa Company was chartered to develop the area. The company did not prosper financially, and in 1894 a British protectorate was proclaimed. Few Europeans permanently settled in Uganda, but it attracted many Indians, who became important players in Ugandan commerce.
Uganda became independent on Oct. 9, 1962. Sir Edward Mutesa, the king of Buganda (Mutesa II), was elected the first president, and Milton Obote the first prime minister, of the newly independent country. With the help of a young army officer, Col. Idi Amin, Prime Minister Obote seized control of the government from President Mutesa four years later.
Ugandan music is as diverse as the ethnicity of its people. The country is home to over 30 different ethnic groups and tribes and they form the basis of all indigenous music. The Baganda, being the most prominent tribe in the country, have dominated the culture and music of Uganda over the last two centuries. The other tribes all have their own music styles passed down from generations dating back to the 18th century.
These variations all make for good diversity in music and culture. The first form of popular music to arise out of traditional music was the Kadongo Kamu style of music, which rose out of traditional Ganda music. Later music genres drew from Kadongo Kamu, making it one of the most influential music styles in Uganda.
Currently, because of the effects of globalization, Uganda, like most African countries, has seen a growth in modern audio production. This has led to the adoption of western music styles like Dancehall and Hip Hop. Current Ugandan popular music is part of the larger Afropop music genre.
Literature is key to understanding Ugandan history and gaining an idea of the terrible suffering many Ugandans have experienced in the last century. Even in Uganda, however, where literature education in Uganda dates back to the British colonial era, British classics are selected over Ugandan literature. At the moment, there are only two books each on the O-Level and A-Level syllabi.
Ugandan author Okot p’Bitek, whose long poetic lament, Song of Lawino (1966), is Uganda’s best known literary work, criticizes the supposed benefits of Western education and values for Acholi traditional life. Sir Apolo Kagwa, the first prime minister of Buganda under British rule, wrote The Kings of Buganda (translated 1971), the first locally written Ugandan history.
- Film industry
Low key filming and video production activity in the country is to be found only in the capital from where Uganda TV transmits programmes countrywide. Like other sectors of the economy, the film industry was badly affected during the two decades of political turmoil that followed the coup by Dictator Idi Amin in 1971. Idi Amin's regime dismantled private ownership of all sorts of media operations and subsequently killed cinemas in the major towns. Cinemas were converted into theatres. Traditional drama replaced foreign films as the major source of entertainment. All theatres are fully booked on weekends, making it hard to buy tickets at the entrance. Ugandans claim they are now only interested in contemporary theatre - plays which are relevant to their way of living.
The movies Congo, Gorillas in the Mist and Mountains of the Moon were partly shot in Uganda. A film that involved a lot more Ugandans was Mississippi Masala, directed by Mira Nair, late in 1990. She found that the vibrant theatrical tradition was a plus, allowing her to assemble large groups of trained extras and cast locals in scenes involving Ugandans. The short film Kintu by Lovinca Kavouma was in competition at Milan 2000. Kintu is as docu-fiction on the Ugandan art of obtaining fabrics from the bark of trees.
- Famous places
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park an incredible preserve home to some of Africa's most endangered animals.
The Kasubi Tombs is a place where the Kabaka and others in Buganda’s complex cultural hierarchy frequently carry out important centuries-old Ganda rituals. It is built in 1882 and converted into the royal burial ground in 1884. Four royal tombs now lie within the Muzibu Azaala Mpanga, the main building, which is circular and surmounted by a dome. It is a major example of an architectural success in organic materials, principally wood, thatch, reed, wattle and daub.
Lake Victoria is one of the Great Lakes of Africa and the third biggest lake in the world covering 68,800 square kilometres (26,560 mi²) in size. Lake Victoria is located in Tanzania and Uganda with a small part extending into Kenya.