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Uganda


When Arab traders moved inland from their enclaves along the Indian Ocean coast of East Africa and reached the interior of Uganda in the 1830s, they found several African kingdoms with well-developed political institutions dating back several centuries. The most important of these kingdoms were Buganda in central Uganda, and the kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara located to the north and west of Buganda. It was the Arab traders who brought Islam to Uganda.

Arab traders were followed in the 1860s by British explorers searching for the source of the Nile River. Britain quickly became the dominant force in eastern Africa, and Uganda became a British protectorate in 1894. Uganda became independent in 1962, but independence was followed by internal conflicts and power struggles.

It has been a long journey since independence from British colonial rule in 1962. The first Prime Minister, Milton Obote, was toppled in 1971 by the Commander of the Ugandan Army, Idi Amin. Under his regime during the following eight years several hundred thousand people were killed or expelled from the country. Idi Amin was forced from power in 1979.

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Seven years later, Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Movement seized power after a successful guerrilla war. He began gradually restoring democracy in the 1990s and in 2005 held a referendum in which the Ugandan people voted overwhelmingly to restore multi-party politics. The country held its first multiparty general elections in 2006. In 2011 President Mueveni won another term as president.

More about Uganda

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With an estimated 30 million inhabitants, Uganda is one of the most populous countries in Africa. The urban population has grown at a rate of 5.7 percent annually and now represents 12.5 percent of the total population. In 2003, the Ugandan government reported that the current rate of population growth in the country was "unsustainable" and threatened to strangle efforts to lift the country's inhabitants out of poverty. In 2005, the population growth rate was 3.31 percent overall. In 2008, that rate was 3.6 percent.

Uganda sits on the equator and has an equatorial climate tempered by altitude. December to February are the hottest months, with the heat averaging around 29°C (84°F) during the day and cooler temperatures in the mountains. The rainy seasons in the south are from March to May and October to November. In the north the wet season is from April to October. The source of the White Nile River is in Uganda. It converges with the Blue Nile River in Sudan to form the Nile River.

The culture of Uganda is made up of a diverse range of ethnic groups. There are four main ethnic groups in Uganda. Lake Kyoga forms the northern boundary for the Bantu-speaking peoples, who dominate much of east, central and southern Africa. In Uganda, they include the Baganda and several other tribes. In the north live the Lango and the Acholi, who speak Nilotic languages. To the east are the Iteso and Karamojong, who speak a Nilotic language.

Most village families are large, especially when a man has multiple wives. Families in urban areas tend to be smaller. In times of need, Ugandans turn to the extended family for financial support or other assistance, even if it creates a burden for others. Ugandans pay particular attention to aging parents, who are provided for by the eldest or wealthiest son. People who work away from their home districts are less likely to respond to such obligations.

Uganda has substantial natural resources including fertile soils, regular rainfall and sizable mineral deposits of copper and cobalt. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy, contributing to nearly all of the country's foreign exchange earnings. Coffee, fish and tea serve as the major export products.

Since the early 1990s, Uganda's macroeconomic performance has been exceptional, with its per capita GDP growth exceeding the average in sub-Saharan Africa. High economic growth and price stability have been supported by responsible fiscal policy, prudent monetary management, a sound banking sector, and substantial donor assistance. The economy has also been largely deregulated, and most state-owned enterprises have been privatized. These achievements have contributed to poverty reduction and an improvement in living standards. However, Uganda has been hit by the current global economic crisis, and GDP growth has slowed with demand for its exports declining and tightened financing conditions affecting its investment projects. Both fiscal and monetary policy adjustments are important to support economic activity while maintaining macroeconomic stability. To enhance growth potential over the medium term, efforts are needed to address key infrastructure bottlenecks and reduce dependence on subsistence agriculture.