About Uganda

Geographical Information

Uganda HillsUganda is located in eastern Africa. It is bordered on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the north by the Sudan, on the east by Kenya and on the south by Tanzania and Rwanda. The country, which lies across the equator, is divided into three main areas: swampy lowlands, a fertile plateau with wooded hills, and a desert region. Lake Victoria forms part of its southern border. Uganda is roughly the size of Great Britain or the State of Oregon in the USA.

There are three mountainous areas – the Rwenzoris, Mount Elgon and the Virunga volcanoes. Rwenzoris, sometimes referred to as the Mountains of the Moon, has six peaks, capped with ice and snow and has three glaciers. Margherita, one of the mountains in the range, is the third highest peak in Africa after Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya.

Uganda View

The rivers and lakes in Uganda and Rwanda are sources of the Nile River. Volcanic lakes are found on the shared border with Rwanda, the largest being Lake Kivu, which is like a giant inland sea.

Uganda occupies most of the Lake Victoria Basin, which was formed by the geological shifts that created the Rift Valley during the Pleistocene era. The Sese Islands and other small islands in Lake Victoria also lie within Uganda’s borders.

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History

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 in 1894 a British protectorate was proclaimed.

Uganda became independent in 1962. In 1976, Idi Amin had himself proclaimed “President for Life.” After a military conflict with Tanzania and Ugandan exiles in 1978, Amin fled into exile in Saudi Arabia in 1979. Yoweri Museveni was declared president in 1986. It remains one of Africa’s poorest countries.

In 2005, parliament amended the constitution to eliminate term limits, thus allowing President Museveni another term in office. In August, a multiparty political system was reinstituted after a 19-year absence. In 2006, Museveni was reelected with 59% of the vote.

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Climate / Seasons

The following chart shows the approximate average temperatures for each month of the year for Kampala, Uganda’s capital. The temperatures are shown in Fahrenheit.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
71 71 71 69 68 68 68 68 68 69 69 69

The following chart shows the approximate average rainfall in inches for each month of the year for Kampala, Uganda’s capital. These amounts will vary according to the year and location.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2.3 2.4 4.8 7.1 5.2 2.6 2.1 3.5 4.0 4.7 5.5 3.7

Although Uganda lies on the equator, the climate is tempered by its altitude which gives it a spring-like climate year round. Bwindi National Park is a rain forest at considerable elevation and can be wet and cool at any time of year.

The hot dry season is from December through February. Intermittent rains start in March with the heavier rainy season being in April and May. The cooler dry season is from June through October. The month of November has short rains including intermittent showers and some flash flooding.

Temperatures rarely rise about 84F (29C). The average temperature is about 78F (26C).

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Language

English is an official language of Uganda, even though only a relatively small percentage of the population speaks it. Swahili is relatively widespread as a trade language and was made an official national language of Uganda in September 2005. Luganda, a language widespread in central Uganda, has been the official vernacular language in education for central Uganda for a long time.

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Other Resources

The Uganda Tourist Board web site has additional information on Uganda.

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Safaris in Uganda

Click here for safaris to Uganda.