||Source: US Department of State
Republic of Uganda
Area: 241,040 sq. km. (93,070 sq. mi.); about the size of Oregon.
Cities: Capital--Kampala (2002 pop. 1.2 million). Other cities--Jinja, Gulu, Mbale, Mbarara.
Terrain: 18% inland water and swamp; 12% national parks, forest, and game reserves; 70% forest, woodland, grassland.
In the northeast, semi-arid--rainfall less than 50 cm. (20 in.); in
southwest, rainfall 130 cm. (50 in.) or more. Two dry seasons:
Dec.-Feb. and June-July.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Ugandan(s).
Population (2007): 30.9 million.
Annual growth rate (2004 est.): 4.0%.
Ethnic groups: African 99%, European, Asian, Arab 1%.
Religions (2007): Christian 85%, Muslim 12%, other 2%.
Languages: English (official); Luganda and Swahili widely used; other Bantu and Nilotic languages.
Education: Attendance (2000; primary school enrollment, public and private)--89%. Literacy (2003)--70%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--86/1,000. Life expectancy--45.3 yrs.
Constitution: Ratified July 12, 1995; promulgated October 8, 1995.
Independence: October 9, 1962.
Branches: Executive--president, vice president, prime minister, cabinet. Legislative--parliament. Judicial--Magistrate's Court, High Court, Court of Appeals, Supreme Court.
Administrative subdivisions: 80 districts.
parties: In 2006, approximately 33 parties were allowed to function,
including political parties that existed in 1986, when the National
Resistance Movement assumed power.
Suffrage: Universal adult.
National holiday: Independence Day, October 9.
GDP (nominal, 2006/2007): $10.8 billion.
Inflation rate (annual headline or CPI, 2006/2007): 7.6%.
Natural resources: Copper, cobalt, limestone, phosphate, oil.
Agriculture: Cash crops--coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, sugar cane, cut flowers, vanilla. Food crops--bananas, corn, cassava, potatoes, millet, pulses. Livestock and fisheries--beef, goat meat, milk, Nile perch, tilapia.
Processing of agricultural products (cotton ginning, coffee curing),
cement production, light consumer goods, textiles.
(2006/2007)--$1.5 billion: coffee, fish and fish products, tea,
electricity, horticultural products, vanilla, cut flowers, remittances
from abroad. Major markets--EU, Kenya, South Africa, U.K., U.S. Imports (2006/2007)--$2.5 billion: capital equipment, vehicles, petroleum, medical supplies, chemical, cereals. Major suppliers--OPEC countries, Kenya, EU, India, South Africa, China, U.S.
Fiscal year: July 1-June 30.
PEOPLE AND HISTORY
of three main ethnic groups--Bantu, Nilotic, and
Nilo-Hamitic--constitute most of the population. The Bantu are the most
numerous and include the Baganda, which, with 18% of the population,
constitute the largest single ethnic group. Individual ethnic groups in
the southwest include the Banyankole and Bahima, 10%; the Bakiga, 8%;
the Banyarwanda, 6%; the Bunyoro, 3%; and the Batoro, 3%. Residents of
the north, largely Nilotic, include the Langi, 6%, and the Acholi, 4%.
In the northwest are the Lugbara, 4%, and the Karamojong, 2%, occupy
the considerably drier, largely pastoral territory in the northeast.
The Basoga, 8% and the Bagisu, 5% are among ethnic groups in the East.
Europeans, Asians, and Arabs make up about 1% of the population with
other groups accounting for the remainder.
Uganda's population is predominately
rural, and its population density highest in the southern regions.
Until 1972, Asians constituted the largest nonindigenous ethnic group
in Uganda. In that year, the Idi Amin regime expelled 50,000 Asians,
who had been engaged in trade, industry, and various professions. In
the years since Amin's overthrow in 1979, Asians have slowly returned
and now number around 30,000. Other nonindigenous people in Uganda
include Arabs, Western missionaries, non-governmental organization
(NGO) workers, diplomats, and business people.
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. These traders were followed in the 1860s by British
explorers searching for the source of the Nile River. Protestant
missionaries entered the country in 1877, followed by Catholic
missionaries in 1879.
In 1888, control of the emerging British
"sphere of interest" in East Africa was assigned by royal charter to
the Imperial British East Africa Company, an arrangement strengthened
in 1890 by an Anglo-German agreement confirming British dominance over
Kenya and Uganda. In 1894, the Kingdom of Buganda was placed under a
formal British protectorate.
Britain granted internal self-government
to Uganda in 1961, with the first elections held on March 1, 1961.
Benedicto Kiwanuka of the Democratic Party became the first Chief
Minister. Uganda maintained its Commonwealth membership. A second round
of elections in April 1962 elected members to a new National Assembly.
Milton Obote, leader of the majority coalition in the National
Assembly, became prime minister and led Uganda to formal independence
on October 9, 1962.
In succeeding years, supporters of a
centralized state vied with those in favor of a loose federation and a
strong role for tribally-based local kingdoms. Political maneuvering
climaxed in February 1966, when Prime Minister Milton Obote suspended
the constitution, assumed all government powers, and removed the
ceremonial president and vice president. In September 1967, a new
constitution proclaimed Uganda a republic, gave the president even
greater powers, and abolished the traditional kingdoms. On January 25,
1971, Obote's government was ousted in a military coup led by armed
forces commander Idi Amin Dada. Amin declared himself president,
dissolved the parliament, and amended the constitution to give himself
Idi Amin's 8-year rule produced economic
decline, social disintegration, and massive human rights violations.
The Acholi and Langi ethnic groups were particular objects of Amin's
political persecution because they had supported Obote and made up a
large part of the army. In 1978, the International Commission of
Jurists estimated that more than 100,000 Ugandans had been murdered
during Amin's reign of terror; some authorities place the figure much
In October 1978, Tanzanian armed forces
repulsed an incursion of Amin's troops into Tanzanian territory. The
Tanzanian force, backed by Ugandan exiles, waged a war of liberation
against Amin's troops and Libyan soldiers sent to help him. On April
11, 1979, Kampala was captured, and Amin fled with his remaining
After Amin's removal, the Uganda
National Liberation Front formed an interim government with Yusuf Lule
as president. This government adopted a ministerial system of
administration and created a quasi-parliamentary organ known as the
National Consultative Commission (NCC). The NCC and the Lule cabinet
reflected widely differing political views. In June 1979, following a
dispute over the extent of presidential powers, the NCC replaced Lule
with Godfrey Binaisa. In a continuing dispute over the powers of the
interim presidency, Binaisa was removed in May 1980. Thereafter, Uganda
was ruled by a military commission chaired by Paulo Muwanga. December
1980 elections returned the UPC to power under the leadership of
President Obote, with Muwanga serving as vice president. Under Obote,
the security forces had one of the world's worst human rights records.
In their efforts to stamp out an insurgency led by Yoweri Museveni's
National Resistance Army (NRA), they laid waste to a substantial
section of the country, especially in the Luwero area north of Kampala.
Obote ruled until July 27, 1985, when an
army brigade, composed mostly of ethnic Acholi troops and commanded by
Lt. Gen. Basilio Olara-Okello, took Kampala and proclaimed a military
government. Obote fled to exile in Zambia. The new regime, headed by
former defense force commander Gen. Tito Okello (no relation to Lt.
Gen. Olara-Okello), opened negotiations with Museveni's insurgent
forces and pledged to improve respect for human rights, end tribal
rivalry, and conduct free and fair elections. In the meantime, massive
human rights violations continued as the Okello government murdered
civilians and ravaged the countryside in order to destroy the NRA's
Negotiations between the Okello
government and the NRA were conducted in Nairobi in the fall of 1985,
with Kenyan President Daniel Moi seeking a cease-fire and a coalition
government in Uganda. Although agreeing in late 1985 to a cease-fire,
the NRA continued fighting, seized Kampala in late January 1986, and
assumed control of the country, forcing Okello to flee north into
Sudan. Museveni's forces organized a government with Museveni as
president and dominated by the political grouping called the National
Resistance Movement (NRM or the "Movement").
A referendum was held in March 2000 on
whether Uganda should retain the Movement system, with limited
operation of political parties, or adopt multi-party politics. Although
70% of voters endorsed retention of the Movement system, the referendum
was widely criticized for low voter turnout and unfair restrictions on
Movement opponents. Museveni was reelected to a second five-year term
in March 2001. Parliamentary elections were held in June 2001, and more
than 50% of contested seats were won by newcomers. Movement supporters
nevertheless remained in firm control of the legislative branch.
Observers believed that the 2001 presidential and parliamentary
elections generally reflected the will of the electorate; however, both
were marred by serious irregularities, particularly in the period
leading up to the elections, such as restrictions on political party
activities, incidents of violence, voter intimidation, and fraud.
A Constitutional Review Commission (CRC)
issued a report proposing comprehensive constitutional change in
December 2003. The government, however, took issue with many CRC
recommendations and made counter-proposals in September 2004. A July
2005 national referendum resulted in the adoption of a multiparty
system of government and the subsequent inclusion of opposition parties
in elections and government.
In February 2006, the country held its
first multiparty general elections since President Museveni came to
power in 1986. The election generally reflected the will of the people,
although serious irregularities occurred. Ruling NRM candidate
President Museveni was declared the winner with 59.26% of the vote,
giving him a third term in office following the passage of a
controversial amendment in June 2005 to eliminate presidential term
limits. Opposition FDC leader Kizza Besigye captured 37.39% of the
vote, while the remaining contestants received less than 2% of the vote
each, according to official figures from the Electoral Commission.
1995 constitution established Uganda as a republic with an executive,
legislative, and judicial branch. The constitution provides for an
executive president, to be elected every 5 years. President Yoweri
Museveni, in power since 1986, was elected in 1996 and reelected in
2001 and 2006. Legislative responsibility is vested in the parliament;
legislative elections were last held February 2006. There are currently
99 women representatives in the 332-member parliament. The Ugandan
judiciary operates as an independent branch of government and consists
of magistrate's courts, high courts, courts of appeals, and the Supreme
Court. Parliament and the judiciary have significant amounts of
independence and wield significant power.