Uganda is a landlocked country bordered by Kenya in the east, Sudan in the north, Democratic Republic of the Congo in the west, Rwanda in the southwest and Tanzania in the south.
Uganda’s total land area is 241,559 sq km. About 37,000 sq km of this area is occupied by open water while the rest is land. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, which it shares with Kenya and Tanzania.
Uganda is located on the East African plateau, averaging about 1,100 meters (3,609 ft) above sea level. The plateau generally slopes downwards towards Sudan explaining the northerly tendency of most river flows in the country. Although generally equatorial, the climate is not uniform since the altitude modifies the climate.
Also read about Uganda’s weather & climate
Uganda’s elevation, soil types and predominantly warm and wet climate impart a huge agricultural potential to the country. They also explain the country’s large variety of forests, grasslands and wildlife reserves. Uganda has a total population of about 35.6 million people.
The official language is English. Luganda, a central language, is widely spoken across the country, and several other languages are also spoken including Runyoro, Runyankole, Rukiga, and Lango. The president of Uganda is Yoweri Museveni, who came to power in January 1986 after a protracted six-year guerrilla war.
Also see Map showing Uganda’s National Park here
TOURISM IN UGANDA
Wondering why it is called ‘The Pearl of Africa‘? Where else can you see Lions prowling across the open savanna as day breaks before white water rafting down the Nile; then the next day set off into the misty mountains in search of the majestic mountain gorillas before settling in to watch a local cultural evening around the camp fire?
Uganda was ranked the number one destination for tourists for the year 2012 by Lonely Planet which is the largest travel guide and media publisher in the world. The following week, Qatar Airways, a member of the five star alliance, announced that it would be launching a service to Uganda’s international hub, Entebbe Airport.
Also Uganda’s tourism has been boasted by the presence of the famous Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable forest. It’s believed that these species are endagered and half of the world’s remaining gorillas are found in Bwindi. Gorilla trekking has been rated one of the top tourist activities by most travelers coming to Africa.
CULTURE IN UGANDA
The culture of Uganda is made up of a diverse range of ethnic groups. Lake Kyoga forms the northern boundary for the Bantu-speaking people, who dominate much of East, Central, and Southern Africa. In Uganda, they include the Baganda and several other tribes.
In the north, the Lango and the Acholi peoples predominate, who speak Nilotic languages. To the east are the Iteso and Karamojong, who speak a Nilotic language, whereas the Gishu are part of the Bantu and live mainly on the slopes of Mt. Elgon. They speak Lumasaba, which is closely related to the Luhya of Kenya. A few Pygmies live isolated in the rainforests of western Uganda.
Ugandans speak over 30 different African languages, belonging to many ethnic groups. English and Swahili are the country’s official languages. Many African countries, dance is an important part of ceremonies and special occasions. Uganda’s different peoples have their own special dances.
For example, in the eastern region, the Basoga practice a dance known as Tamenhaibunga which expresses the importance of love and friendship. Its name literally means ‘good friends drink together and don’t fight in case they break the gourd holding the drink’.
Probably the most widely recognized Ugandan dance is the Kiganda, where the performers move their lower body to a drum-beat. It’s a tricky dance, requiring great skill to keep the upper torso controlled and rotate to the music from the waist down. The dance has many variations for different occasions, but the version often seen is the one performed in honour of the Baganda king.
It plays an important part of daily life in Uganda. Over four-fifths of Ugandans are Christian, either Protestant or Catholic. Around 10% are Muslims, a legacy of the Arab traders who came here in the 19th century. Ugandans are strong in their faith and see no conflict in holding to some traditional beliefs. In times of trouble, as well as praying to the Christian or Muslim God, people may also consult a local oracle or healer. Many shrines to the spirits are still in active use.
Common places like the Rubaga Cathedral & Gaddafi mosque both located in the capital – Kampala, have become common places for most visitors for their outstanding structures and looks.