Uganda, The Pearl of Africa - in a Nutshell

Author: Sue
Date: 19th August 2022

A Very Short History of Uganda

  • Modern day Uganda is in The Great Lakes area of Africa. It's thought that the Empire of Kitara (up to 1500AD) covered an important part of this area.
  • This was the antecedent of the Toro, Ankole, and Busoga kingdoms, three of Uganda's kingdoms, still in existence today. There are many more chiefdoms. These are credited with maintaining a strong culture of good behaviour amongst the friendly and affable people. The four main kingdoms are the Toro, Buganda, Bunyoro and Busoga.
  • The area attracted the attention of British explorers seeking the source of the Nile River in the 1860s, and this influence expanded in subsequent decades with the arrival of Christian missionaries and trade agreements
  • Uganda was a British protectorate from 1894-1962) - the British were keen to preserve Nile trade routes.
  • Uganda has had a troubled history since independence, with tensions arising between the kingdoms, and especially resentment towards the larger Buganda kingdom.
  • Milton Obote, from the north, was able to gather enough support over time to seize power. But he was eventually deposed by Idi Amin, who ruled as a dictator, for eight years. It’s estimated that Amin was responsible for the deaths of up to half a million Ugandans. His regime came to an end when Tanzania invaded, in cooperation with Ugandan exiles.
  • Uganda's current president, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, took power in January 1986 after a protracted six-year guerrilla war. Following constitutional amendments that removed term limits for the president, he was able to stand and was elected president of Uganda in the 2011, 2016 and in the 2021 general elections

Facts and Factoids

  • Uganda derives its name from the Buganda Kingdom and the Luganda language (Yuganda).
  • The country sits at an average of 900 metres above sea level. Both the eastern and western borders of Uganda have mountains
  • Uganda is arguably the source of the Nile. Read more about that here.
  • The official languages in Uganda are English and Swahili.
  • Uganda’s current population is around 45 million making Uganda one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. Notably, 77% of Uganda’s population is under the age of 25, making it the youngest population in the world.
  • The official currency of Uganda is the Uganda Shilling (UGX). as in so many countries USD are also widely accepted (at a price).

What to See in Uganda?

Winston Churchill famously referred to Uganda as ‘The Pearl of Africa'. He was right. It's a splendid safari destination and home to 11% of the world's birds (1040 species) including the weird and wonderful shoebill. Uganda is one of the premier destinations for seeing primates- especially gorillas. It's also one of the friendliest countries in Africa.

This is what I did:

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