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Uganda: A Profile


OFFICIAL NAME: The Republic of Uganda.

243,411 sq. km.

: In East Africa, between latitude 1 0 30 ' and 4 0 N. Uganda is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), on the north by Sudan, on the southwest by Rwanda and the south by Tanzania.

Uganda Shilling (Ush). Exchange rate (late 1990) parallel market rate Ush700=US$1.

: President Yoweri Museveni (since 1986).

Uganda's land consists of a number of plateaus, which roll gently towards the northwest, where they meet the Nile. There are volcanic mountain ranges and numerous rivers. The mountain regions lie to the east and west. Uganda's highest peak is Margherita on Mount Stanley (5,113 meters). About half of Lake Victoria lies within Uganda; this lake is a source of the Nile.

: Uganda's climate is tropical, though temperatures cool with increasing altitude. Its annual rainfall ranges from more than 2,100 millimeters around Lake Victoria to about 500 millimeters in the northeast. Vegetation is heaviest in the south. Plant cover thins in the savanna and dry plain regions in the northeast.

The majority of Uganda's people are concentrated in the nation's southern and western regions. Most Ugandans derive from Bagabda, Bunyoro and Batoro ethnic groups; also represented are Bushmen, Nile-Hamites, Sudanese, Bantus, and Asian and European minorities. The 1991 census put Uganda's population at 16.7 million; the government predicted an increase to 20.4 million by mid-1997. The average rate of population increase is expected to be 3.3% by 2000.

LANGUAGE : Uganda's official languge is English, which is spoken by most educated Ugandans. The three major indigenous language families are Bantu, Central Sudanic, and Nilotic. Swahili and Luganda are also widely spoken.

: Christianity is widespread in Uganda. Nearly one third of the populace follows traditional religions. There are also several Muslim sects.
Uganda's leading educational institutions are Makerere University (founded in 1922 as a technical school, as a university college in 1949, and as a university in 1970), Mbarara University of Science and Technology (founded in 1989), the Uganda Martyrs University (founded in 1991), and Uganda Polytechnic (founded in 1954). Uganda's educational system comprises four levels: a seven-year primary education, a three- or four-year lower secondary education, a two-year upper secondary education; and post-secondary education, consisting of university, teachers' colleges, or commercial training. Pupils share expenses with the central government at primary and lower secondary levels; thereafter, education is free. The primary enrollment in 1989 stood at more than 2.5 million, with a secondary enrollment of 265,000. The adult literacy rate is estimated at more than 50%.

In the first elections under the new constitution in 1996, President Museveni and a new parliament were elected. The new legislature comprises 276 members. 214 of these are elected by universal suffrage, with 62 others representing various interest groups. Under Uganda's new constitution, which came into force in October 1995, opposition party activities continue to be banned, requiring that candidates running for election from such parties run as individuals.

Bazzukulu ba Buganda; the Buganda Youth Movement, founded in 1994; the Conservative Party (CP), founded in 1979; the Democratic Party (DP), founded in 1954; the Federal Democratic Movement (FEDEMO); the Forum for Multiparty Democracy (FMD); the National Liberal Party (NLP), founded in 1984; the National Resistance Movement (NRM); the Uganda Democratic Alliance (UDA); the Uganda Freedom Movement (UFM); the Uganda Independence Revolutionary Movement (UIRM), founded in 1989; the Uganda Islamic Revolutionary Party (UIRP), founded in 1993; the Uganda National Unity Movement (UNUM); the Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM), founded in 1980; the Uganda People's Congress (UPC), founded in 1960; the Uganda People's Democratic Movement (UPDM); the Uganda People's Freedom Movement (UPFM), founded in 1994; the Uganda Progressive Union (UPU); the Lord's Resistance Army, founded in 1987.

Uganda's legal system is based on English Common Law and African customary law. However, customary law is in effect only when it does not conflict with statutory law. The highest court is the Supreme Court of Uganda, supported by lower-level appeals courts. Civil disputes are generally handled by local committees. Law enforcement policy is decided by the Police Council, with a special Police tracker Force in charge of suppressing cattle stealing.

Uganda's economy is predominantly based on agriculture, which accounts for about 44% of its GDP. Most Ugandans gained their livelihood in the difficult years of the 1970s and 1980s by working in the informal agricultural sector. Food crop production is the most important economic activity, accounting for over one quarter of the nation's GDP, compared with only 5% for cash crops. Manufacturing output contributes a further 9%. Most agricultural production is concentrated in the southern regions, where climatic conditions support the densest rural populations in the nation. The economic situation in the northern regions is much less secure, partly due to the devastating effects of civil war and to unstable border conditions. Unusually severe rain storms at the end of 1997 and the beginning of 1998 further impeded agricultural production.

Uganda's major exports are coffee, cotton and tea. Its major imports are petroleum products, machinery, cotton piece goods, metals, transportation equipment, and food. The main buyers of Uganda's export products are the US, the UK, France and Spain; the major sellers of Uganda's imports are Kenya, the UK and Japan.

More than 90% of the country's total energy comes from indigenous sources of fuel, including charcoal and firewood. Oil, electricity and commercial energy account for the remainder.

Uganda's principal mineral resource is copper. The only known deposit at Kilembe is, however, rapidly being exhausted. There are two phosphate deposits near Tororo, with proven reserves of more than 180 million tons. Gold was discovered in at least eight districts by 1988.

TRANSPORT: Uganda has nearly 27,000 km of roads. Its railroads total about 1,240 km and provide the country's chief transport link with the Indian Ocean. The railroads are, however, in a state of severe disrepair. Uganda has five airports with paved runways. Because Uganda is a landlocked country, it depends on Kenya and Tanzania for access to the sea. Two inland ports, Jinja and Port Bell, serve the areas around Lake Victoria.

Underground electric cables were completed in Kampala, Entebbe, and Jinja in 1992. The Uganda Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (UPTC) was at work in 1991 installing digital radio equipment linking Uganda with Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. Radio Uganda broadcasts in English, French and Kiswahili and reaches most areas of the country. Six daily newspapers are published in Kampala. The national news agency, run by the Ministry of Information, is the Uganda News Agency. Novosti and Tass have bureaus in Kamplala; Reuters and the AP are also represented there.

The nation's population is beset by a large number of infectious diseases, including measles, pertussis, respiratory tract infections, anemia, tetanus, malaria, and tuberculosis. The incidence of AIDS is quite high, reaching epidemic proportions in southern areas.

FOOD AND NUTRITION: The staple food around Lake Victoria is a starchy mixture of baked bananas known as matoke . In the West and Northwest, the staple foods are millet and sorghum supplemented by peanuts and cassava. The pastoral tribes subsist largely on animal products, including animal blood and meat. Fish is also popular.

MILITARY: Uganda's defense force is headed by the president, who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the chief-of-staff. Information on the organization and composition of these defensees is not officially available. It is composed of combat units including six brigades, several battalions, and a Police Air Wing. The strength of the National Resistance Army (NRA) is estimated at 70,000. Recruitment is voluntary; there is no fixed term of service. Both men and women serve in the nation's military.

Uganda's civil service has been completely Africanized and is under the control of the Public Service Commission. There are three grades of civil servants: clerical or technical, executive and adminstrative. The third class includes permanent secretaries who head the ministerial staffs, under-secretaries, commissioners, and other departmental heads.

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