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 Jewel of

The African continent is comprised of 54 nations, each with its own independent government and sovereignty, GDP, culture, natural resources, language(s), military, and religion. The treasure trove of mineral and raw material wealth has scarcely been touched and the continent's largely untapped fertile lands could feed the world. Herewith is Jewel of Africa, an interactive adventure in the cradle of mankind, an exploration of nations from A-Z in alphabetical order.

Uganda: Bountiful, beautiful nation you never heard about 


The Republic of Uganda or Uganda  is a country in East Africa, bordered to the east by Kenya, on the north by Sudan, to the west by the Democratic Republic of CongoRwanda on the southwest, and Tanzania to the south.

The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, within which it shares borders with Kenya and Tanzania. Most of Uganda lies within a basin formed within two branches of Africa's Great Rift Valley.

Uganda takes its name from the Buganda kingdom, which encompasses a portion of the south of the country, including the capital, Kampala. Due to its distance from the coasts where Western and Arab traders operated, the history of slavery in this region of Africa was minimal, allowing the Buganda kingdom to grow and prosper while many others on the continent collapsed.

Uganda is often called the Heart of Africa, not only for its slight cartographic resemblance to the shape of the human organ, but also because of its position in the continent's interior and for the suffering its people have endured, particularly in its religious and recent political history.


Though Uganda has no direct navigable outlet to the sea, it is incorrect to describe the country as landlocked since its southern border extends well into Lake Victoria, the world's second-largest freshwater lake (after Lake Superior), and the border with the Congo traverses two smaller Rift Valley lakes, Edward and Albert. The water of all three lakes passes through the midst of Uganda, with the river flowing north out of Lake Victoria called the Victoria Nile to the point it empties into Lake Albert becoming the Albert Nile from the mouth of that lake until it reaches Sudan. Lake Vic- toria was once considered the source of the Nile, but it has since been discovered that the true source lies farther south in Burundi, where the river's southernmost waters begin the long north- erly journey through Uganda, eventually emptying into the Mediterranean Sea.

The Rwenzori Mountains, just east of the Congolese border, were once considered the Nile's source and are often identified with the mythical "Mountains of the Moon" mentioned centuries ago by Ptolemy. The range's highest peaks, slightly north of the equator, are permanently snow-capped, but often shrouded in clouds. The Rwenzoris are one of the country's foremost tourist destinations, both for their natural beauty and the possibility of viewing mountain gorillas in their native habitat. Uganda is located on the East African plateau, 2,952 feet above sea level.


Although generally tropical in nature and providing very dependable rainfall, the climate varies between parts of the country and affords short dry seasons. Scores of islands lie offshore within Lake Victoria. Most important cities are located in the south, near the lake, including Kampala and the nearby city of Entebbe. The equator runs through the country's south, close to Entebbe at one of Uganda's widest points. The land bordering Lake Victoria and the other lakes is extremely fer- tile, with a growing season throughout the year. Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once visited Uganda , and is said to have called the nation, "the Pearl of Africa."

Fauna and flora

 With its wide range of habitats, Uganda is regarded as a hotspot for biodiversity. Some 345 species of mammals have been recorded in the country, along with 1,020 species of bird (around


Kampala is Uganda's national and commercial capital bordering Lake Victoria, Africa's largest lake. Hills covered with red-tile villas and trees surround an urban center of contemporary skyscrapers. In this downtown area, the Uganda Museum explores the country's tribal heritage through an extensive collection of artifacts. 

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Ugandan electorate patiently waiting until well after sunset to cast their votes in the January 2021 election for president.

Uganda’s economy underper- formed in 2020 as coronavirus pandemic lockdown took toll on economic activities. The econ-

omy is projected to grow by 5.5-6.0 percent in 2022-23, before increasing to 6.5-7.5 percent in the medium-term (2-3 years ahead), according to the Bank of Uganda, driven by the on- going vaccinations and easing of restrictions. However, the economy still faces numerous challenges ahead.  Import growth is expected to outpace exports due to recovery in import-intensive household consumption and private investment. As a result, the contribution of net exports to GDP growth will be negative

for an extended period. 


COVID-19 affected the produc- tion and processing of food, transport along commodity routes had disrupted by restrictions on cross-border movement. Labor shortages, due to the stay-at-home poli- cies, affected the same. As

overall logistics are slowed down, food safety and quality has been negatively affected. Agriculture is the core sector

of the Ugandan economy and the main employer.


This sector will be the determi- nant in the country’s efforts to reduce poverty and attain eco- nomic growth in the immediate future.. Uganda has one of the fastest population growth rates of around 3.3 percent, and this itself is the principal driver for the increase in the consumption of crops in Uganda.

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The gold trade in Uganda is booming, even as other businesses have been forced to close amid the coronavirus pandemic. The precious metal has overtaken coffee to become Uganda’s most important commodity in recent years, with gold exports totaling $1.7 billion between November 2019 and December 2020 — 44 percent of its total exports. 

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Uganda's tourism industry based on safaris and professionally-guided excursions to the wild regions of the country spawned 536,600 jobs in 2019 (5.8 of total) and 321,960 jobs in 2020, sadly dropping 4 in 10 jobs in the wake of the pandemic. 


"The source of the Nile river starts

in the Rwenzoris, Africa’s tallest mountain range that stretch across western Uganda shrouded in mist and teeming with glaciers, waterfalls and alpine lakes. These "mountain’s of the moon" are the home of Uganda’s mountain gorillas and tracking them through this majestic habitat is one of the country’s most iconic experiences. Uganda has more than half of the world's mountain gorilla population found on the Virunga Mountain slopes in Mgahinga National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.


There are two species of gorilla habitable to Africa—the Eastern and Western lowland Gorilla. Uganda’s mountain gorilla is a sub-species of the Eastern lowland gorilla, found only in the east-central African rainforests. As their name hints mountain gorillas inhabit only the mountains at 8,000 to 13,000 foot elevation. The most common species, the Western low- land gorilla, is not endemic to Uganda, but roughly 50,000 live in the rainforests of west and central Africa. The endangered eastern lowland gorilla is restricted to forest patches in the east of DRC, estimated to be 4,000 animals. Compared to the other eastern subspecies, the moun- tain gorilla has longer fur, teeth, and arms. They are targeted by poachers and thus are aggressively protected by heavily-armed rangers. Poachers can be shot on sight in the vicinity of the beasts. A government estimate puts the mountain gorilla population at slightly more than 1,000 animals.

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half of the total number found in Africa), 142 species of reptile, 86 species of amphibian, 501 species of fish, and innumerable species of insects and spiders.

Nearly half of the mountain gorillas in the world live in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and it is also a sanctuary for colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, baboons, and birds such as hornbills and turacos. In the Queen Elizabeth National Park, alone, there are 95 species of mammal, including African buffaloUgandan kob, hippo- potamusNile crocodileAfrican bush elephant, lion, leopard, and chimpanzee. The area around Ishasha in Rukungiri District is famous for its tree-climbing lions, whose males sport black manes.

In Kibale National Park there are 13 species of primates. These include several habituated communities of com- mon chimpanzee, as well as several species of Central African monkey including the Uganda mangabey, the Ugandan red colobus and the L'Hoest's monkey.

The Imatong Mountains have a rich biodiverse flora with much endemism; 1,145 species of vascular plant have been identified, including 110 species of fern. The plains and the lower parts of the mountains are covered by deciduous woodland, wooded grassland and bamboo thickets, while the areas to the east and southeast are in

the rain shadow of the mountains, with dry sub-desert grassland or deciduous or semi-evergreen bush. 

The plant diversity of the mountains is due to their position between the West African rain forest, the Ethiopian plateau and the East African mountains, coupled with their relative isolation for long periods during which new species could emerge. Vegetation in the lower areas includes wood- lands of Albizia and Terminalia, and mixed Khaya lowland semi-evergreen forest up to 3,300 feet.

In the northwest of the country, in the Murchison Falls National Park, 80 percent of the tree cover has been lost over several decades and the remaining woodland is dominated by Terminalia schimperiana and Prosopis afri- cana. In the Semliki National Park in the west of the country, the vegetation is predominantly medium altitude moist evergreen to semi-deciduous forest with Cynometra alexandri being the dominant species of tree.

In the east, Mt. Elgon has several vegetative zones. At lower altitudes are montane forests with Olea hochstet- teri and Pouteria adolfi-friedericii, which give way to Afrocarpus gracilior and olive forest at higher altitudes. Higher still, is a zone of Afrocarpus and the bamboo Yushania alpina, and the summit moorland has tussock grasses, heaths, low herbs, giant lobelias and groundsels


When Arabs and Europeans arrived to East Africa, they encountered a number of kingdoms. The largest of these was Buganda, which exists today. Both Islam and Christianity were introduced to these kingdoms in the 1860s. Buganda's king felt threatened by the Catholic and Anglican faiths, which led to the martyrdom of many, including 22 Catholics burned to death near Kampala in 1886. These martyrs were later declared saints, and Pope Paul VI, the first pontiff to visit the area of the continent south of the Sahara, made a pilgrimage to the shrine of the martyrs at Namugongo in 1969.

The area was placed under the charter of the British East Africa Company in 1888, and the UK established it as a protectorate in 1894. As several other territories and chiefdoms were integrated, the final protectorate called Uganda took shape in 1914. The Sixth Zionist Congress, meeting in Switzerland in 1903, formed a committee to look into British East Africa, in particular the area  that became Uganda, as a possible future Jewish homeland after the British government offered the land. Even though the congress hoped for a return to the ancient land of Israel, it also wanted a fall-back plan. The committee's report in 1905 to the Seventh Congress rejected Uganda as a viable location for a mass Jewish settlement.

Independence from Britain came in 1962, but four years later, the first prime minister, Milton Obote, overthrew the constitution and declared himself president, ushering in an era of coups and counter coups that would last until the mid-1980s. Gen. Idi Amin took power in 1971 and ruled the country under a military dictatorship for the next 10 years. Amin had delusions of grandeur, declaring himself field marshal and president for Life. Amin's rule cost tens of thousands of Ugandan lives—estimates range from 80,000 to 500,000. In 1972 Amin declared "Economic War" and forcibly removed 50,000 of the entrepreneurial East Indian minority from Uganda, decimating the economy.

In 1976, a French commercial airliner was hijacked and flown with largely Israeli passengers manifest to Uganda.  Amin, a Muslim, sympathized with the Palestinian cause. The ensuing rescue by Israeli commandos of their fellow citizens in the raid on Entebbe marked an early victory in the Israeli war on Palestinian terrorismAmin's tyranny ended with an invasion by Tanzanian forces aided by Ugandan exiles in 1979. The situation improved little under a return to power under Obote, who was deposed a second time in 1985.

Yoweri Museveni held the presidency since 1986 and has been viewed as part of a new generation of African leaders. There is controversy, however, about the amendment to the constitution that allowed him to run for a third term. Relative stability has been brought to the country with the exception of of the north, which continues to struggle with a rebel insurgency called the Lord's Resistance Army. The insurrection, which began in 1987, led by Joseph Kony, has no clear objectives. The Lord's Resistance Army is notorious for abducting children and then turning them into soldiers.


Uganda has substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, and sizable mineral deposits of copper and cobaltAgriculture, the most important sector of the economy, employs more than four out of five laborers, with coffee accounting for more than half of export revenues. After independence, small farmers provided the bulk of the nation's agricultural production, but long periods of war and upheaval in the countryside have made farmers' cooperatives a common arrangement.

Since 1986, the government, with the support of foreign countries and international agencies, has acted to rehab- ilitate an economy decimated during Amin's regime and subsequent civil war. The recovery of the nation's sugar refining industry is the major success story along these lines. The domination of the economy by coffee results in Uganda having mainly an export economy. Only a small amount of production is intended for the local market. Other main exports are cotton, tea, and gold, with Kenya and various Western European countries being the most common destinations.

Since the 1990s, the country has shown solid economic improvement despite the persistence of poverty, which is mainly rural. Infrastructure has been rebuilt, inflation reduced, security slowly improved, and the exiled Indian-Ugandan entrepreneurial class coaxed into returning. On the other hand, corruption within Uganda's government, its ongoing involvement in war in the Congo, and its distraction with its own civil war are factors that could stymie the growth of the economy.


Forty languages are spoken in Uganda, falling into two basic groups; the Bantu tongues spoken principally in the south, and the Nilotic dialects spoken mainly in the north. The language with the largest number of native speak- ers is Luganda, a Bantu language spoken in the Buganda region, which encompasses Kampala. Swahili is used widely as a basic trade language. English became the official language of Uganda after independence.


Christians constitute 85 percent of Uganda's population. The Catholic Church has the largest number of adherents (42 percent), followed by the Church of Uganda, an Anglican denomination, at 32 percent. Minor Christian groups include Pentecostals (5 percent) and Adventists (2 percent), while one percent are grouped in the category "other Christians."

The religion with the second-highest adherence is Islam, representing 12 percent of the population. Only one per- cent of the population follows traditional beliefs and a similar margin is classified as "other non-Christians." Also of note is that Uganda hosts one of only seven Bahá'í Houses of Worship in the world. It is known as the Mother Temple of Africa, located on the outskirts of Kampala, and was dedicated in 1961.

AIDS Prevention

Uganda has been hailed as a rare success story in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and has widely been viewed as having the most effective national response to the pandemic in the southern Africa region. Many approaches to AIDS education have been employed, ranging from the promotion of condom use to "abstinence only" pro- grams. The main supporter of the anti-HIV/AIDS program has been President Museveni. He has spoken in every part of the country, and in other lands, concerning Uganda's "ABC model":  

"A" for Abstinence: Non-engagement in sexual activity lessens the probability of contracting HIV/AIDS.

"B" for Be faithful: If engaged in sex, keep focused on one person; his/her as singular sexual partners.

"C" for Condoms: If unable to abstain or be faithful to one person, always use condoms in any sexual encounters.

Human rights

Respect for human rights in Uganda has advanced significantly since the mid-1980s. There are, however, numer- ous areas that continue to attract concern. The conflict in the north continues to generate reports of abuses by both the rebel Lord's Resistance Army and the nation's armed forces. Torture continues to be a widespread prac- tice among security organizations. Attacks on political freedom in the country, including the arrest and beating of opposition members of parliament have led to international criticism.


Many of the more than 20 tribes that make up the country still reside within their own parts of the country, but Ugandans living in areas outside their own tribal homelands is increasing, fostering a more diverse culture within Uganda. Another element boosting diversity is the return of significant numbers of Asians, primarily from India that were expelled during Amin's tenure in power.

During the nearly 70 years of their protectorate, the British mainly relied on the local Buganda government, which was already set up with a king and parliament somewhat similar to the European model. Compared to neighboring Kenya, there was little European settlement, which resulted in less resentment towards Whites in Uganda. The British even organized their exit from the country before a nationalist movement could get started. Distrust, and even hatred of the Bugandans by other tribes developed early due to the favor shown them by the British.


Ugandan cuisine consists of traditional and modern cooking styles, practices, foods and dishes in Uganda with EnglishArab, Indian, and Asian influences. Dishes include various vegetablespotatoesyamsbananas and other tropical fruits. Chickenporkfishbeefgoat and mutton are all commonly eaten, although meats are con- sumed less among the rural poor than in other areas. When consumed, is mostly bush meat.


Main dishes are usually centered on a sauce or stew of groundnuts, beans or meat. The starch traditionally comes from posho (maize meal) or matooke (steamed and mashed green banana) in the South or millet bread (an ugali-like dish  made from millet) in the North and East. 

For main meals, white maize flour is added to the saucepan and stirred into the posho until the consistency is firm. It is then turned out onto a serving plate and cut into individual slices. Cassavayam, and African sweet potato are also consumed. More affluent Ugandans include white potato and rice in their diets. Soybeans are considered a healthy food and are a breakfast staple. Chapati, similar to Asian flatbreads, are also part of Ugandan cuisine.

Fruits and vegetables: Various leafy greens are grown and consumed in Uganda. These may be boiled in stews or served as side dishes in fancier homes. Amaranth (dodo), nakati, and borr are examples of regional greens. Fruits such as bananas and pineapples are common staples, whether cooked in foods or eaten as snacks or dessert.


Football or soccer is one of the the main sports of Uganda. The national soccer team is called the Uganda Cranes. The governing body is the Federation of Uganda Football Association(FUFA), and the managing body is the Uganda Super League Limited(USL).

In track and field, John Akii-Bua earned the country its first gold medal in 1972 Summer Olympics in the 400 hurdles in Munich. Other standouts in track and field include distance runners Moses Kipsiro Kiprop, and female steeplechaser Dorcus Inzikuru.

Rugby in Uganda is second only to football in terms of being loved by Ugandans. It is under the Uganda Rugby union. Boxing is one of the most loved sports in Uganda. Ugandan boxers have also taken part in Commonwealth games. Cricket is no less popular in Uganda. Female Cricket is quite popular and is played throughout the year. 
The sport is governed by the Uganda Cricket Association.


There are number of newspapers in Uganda . The New Vision is Uganda's leading English daily newspaper. It is a state-owned and has the largest nationwide circulation. The Daily Monitor is an independent English language newspaper and second in circulation to The New Vision. The two papers dominate print media in Uganda.


Over the last decade, as Uganda's political opposition has gained strength, the Monitor has aligned more with the agenda of the opposition to counter the perceived government agenda fronted by the New Vision. This competition many times leads to entirely different aspects coverage in the five largest news publications in the country.

Jarrette Fellows, Jr. / Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License