Lying astride the equator, most of Uganda consists of a fertile plateau (average elevation 4,000 ft/1,220 m), in the center of which is Lake Kyoga. The plateau is bounded (W) by the western branch of the Great Rift Valley, including lakes Albert and Edward (in each case about half of the lake is in Uganda) and the Albert Nile River; by the Ruwenzori Range (SW), including Margherita Peak (16,794 ft/5,119 m), Uganda's loftiest point, and the Virunga Mts.; by Lake Victoria (S), about half of which is in Uganda; and by several mountain ranges (E and N). The eastern mountains include Mt. Elgon (14,178 ft/4,321 m), part of which is in Kenya, and Mt. Moroto (10,114 ft/3,083 m). Altogether, about 18% of Uganda is made up of water surface and about 7% comprises highland situated at more than 5,000 ft (1,520 m). In addition to Kampala, other cities include Entebbe, Gulu, Jinja, Masaka, and Mbale.
About 90% of Uganda's inhabitants live in rural areas. Approximately 70% of the people speak one of the Bantu languages; the main Bantu ethnic groups, all of whom live in the southern half of the country, are the Baganda (who make up about 17% of the country's total population), Banyankole, Basoga, Bakiga, and Bagisu. Other language groups in Uganda are the Western Nilotic (principally the Langi, Acholi, and Alur), whose speakers live in the north and make up about 15% of the population; the Eastern Nilotic (mainly the Iteso and Karimajong), whose members live in the northeast and make up about 10% of the population; and the Sudanic (the Lugbara), whose speakers live in the northwest and make up about 5% of the population. Between 1980 and 1985, thousands of refugees (mostly Tutsis) from Rwanda and Zaïre (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) settled in Uganda. English and Swahili are the country's official languages. More than 80% of the people are Christian, while about 12% are Muslim; the rest follow traditional religious beliefs.
The economy of Uganda, which was devastated during the Idi Amin regime of the 1970s and the subsequent civil war, made a significant comeback beginning in the mid-1980s, when economic reforms aimed at dampening inflation and boosting production and export earnings were undertaken. The country is overwhelmingly agricultural, and farming employs over 80% of the workforce. Most of the farms are small in size. The chief food crops are cassava, sweet potatoes, corn, millet, and pulses. The principal cash crops are coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, cut flowers, and sugarcane. Large numbers of poultry, cattle, goats, and sheep are raised. There is a sizable fishing industry, and much hardwood (especially mahogany) is cut.
Copper ore, once the leading mineral resource, has been virtually mined out. Other minerals extracted on a small scale include cobalt, tin and iron ores, beryl, tungsten, and gold. Uganda's few manufactures are limited mainly to processed agricultural goods, but they also include textiles, chemical fertilizer, and steel. There is a large hydroelectric plant (Nalubaale Power Station) at Owen Falls, located on the Victoria Nile where it leaves Lake Victoria.
Uganda has two main rail lines; one traverses the southern part of the country, the other connects Tororo on the Kenya border with Gulu in the north. The country is linked by rail with Mombasa, Kenya, on the Indian Ocean. The annual value of Uganda's imports is usually considerably higher than the value of its exports. The principal exports are coffee (which accounts for the bulk of export revenues), fish and fish products, tea, cotton, horticultural products, and gold. The leading imports are capital equipment, vehicles, petroleum, medical supplies, and cereals. The main trade partners are Kenya, European Union countries, the United Arab Emirates, and South Africa.
Uganda is governed under the constitution of 1995 as amended. The president, who is both head of state and head of government, is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. The unicameral legislature consists of the 332-seat National Assembly, whose members also serve for five years; 215 of the members are directly elected, and the rest are nominated from women, the army, and other groups. Administratively, the country is divided into 80 districts, grouped into four regions (Northern, Western, Central, and Eastern).
Around 500 B.C., Bantu-speaking people migrated into SW Uganda from the west. By the 14th cent. they were organized in several kingdoms (known as the Cwezi states), which had been established by the Hima. Around 1500, Nilotic-speaking Luo people from present-day SE Sudan settled the Cwezi states and established the Bito dynasties of Buganda (in some Bantu languages, the prefix Bu means state; thus, Buganda means "state of the Baganda people"), Bunyoro, and Ankole. Later in the 16th cent., other Luo-speaking peoples conquered N Uganda, forming the Alur and Acholi ethnic groups. In the 17th cent. the Langi and Iteso migrated into Uganda.
During the 16th and 17th cent., Bunyoro was the leading state of S Uganda, controlling an area that stretched into present-day Rwanda and Tanzania. From about 1700, Buganda began to expand (largely at the expense of Bunyoro), and by 1800 it controlled a large territory bordering Lake Victoria from the Victoria Nile to the Kagera River. Buganda was centrally organized under the kabaka (king), who appointed regional administrators and maintained a large bureaucracy and a powerful army. The Baganda raided widely for cattle, ivory, and slaves. In the 1840s Muslim traders from the Indian Ocean coast reached Buganda, and they exchanged firearms, cloth, and beads for the ivory and slaves of Buganda. Beginning in 1869, Bunyoro, ruled by Kabarega and using guns obtained from traders from Khartoum, challenged Buganda's ascendancy. By the mid-1880s, however, Buganda again dominated S Uganda.European Contacts and Religious Conflicts
In 1862, John Hanning Speke, a British explorer interested in establishing the source of the Nile, became the first European to visit Buganda. He met with Mutesa I, as did Henry M. Stanley, who reached Buganda in 1875. Mutesa, fearful of attacks from Egypt, agreed to Stanley's proposal to allow Christian missionaries (who Mutesa mistakenly thought would provide military assistance) to enter his realm. Members of the British Protestant Church Missionary Society arrived in 1877, and they were followed in 1879 by representatives of the French Roman Catholic White Fathers; each of the missions gathered a group of converts, which in the 1880s became fiercely antagonistic toward one another. At the same time, the number of Baganda converts to Islam was growing.
In 1884, Mutesa died and was succeeded as kabaka by Mwanga, who soon began to persecute the Christians out of fear for his own position. In 1888, Mwanga was deposed by the Christians and Muslims and replaced by his brothers. He regained the throne in 1889, only to lose it to the Muslims again after a few weeks. In early 1890, Mwanga permanently regained his throne, but at the expense of losing much of his power to Christian chiefs.The Colonial Era
During the period in 1889 when Mwanga was kabaka, he was visited by Carl Peters, the German colonialist, and signed a treaty of friendship with Germany. Great Britain grew alarmed at the growth of German influence and the potential threat to its own position on the Nile. In 1890, Great Britain and Germany signed a treaty that gave the British rights to what was to become Uganda. Later that year Frederick Lugard, acting as an agent of the Imperial British East Africa Company (IBEA), arrived in Buganda at the head of a detachment of troops, and by 1892 he had established the IBEA's authority in S Uganda and had also helped the Protestant faction defeat the Roman Catholic party in Buganda.
In 1894, Great Britain officially made Uganda a protectorate. The British at first ruled Uganda through Buganda, but when Mwanga opposed their growing power, they deposed him, replaced him with his infant son Daudi Chwa, and began to rule more directly. From the late 1890s to 1918, the British established their authority in the rest of Uganda by negotiating treaties and by using force where necessary. In 1900 an agreement was signed with Buganda that gave the kingdom considerable autonomy and also transformed it into a constitutional monarchy controlled largely by Protestant chiefs. In 1901 a railroad from Mombasa on the Indian Ocean reached Kisumu, on Lake Victoria, which in turn was connected by boat with Uganda; the railroad was later extended to Jinja and Kampala. In 1902 the Eastern prov. of Uganda was transferred to the British East Africa Protectorate (Kenya) for administrative reasons.
In 1904 the commercial cultivation of cotton was begun, and cotton soon became the major export crop; coffee and sugar production accelerated in the 1920s. The country attracted few permanent European settlers, and the cash crops were mostly produced by African smallholders and not on plantations as in other colonies. Many Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, and Goans) settled in Uganda, where they played a leading role in the country's commerce. During the 1920s and 30s the British considerably reduced Buganda's independence.
In 1921 a legislative council for the protectorate was established; its first African member was admitted only in 1945, and it was not until the mid-1950s that a substantial number of seats was allocated to Africans. In 1953, Mutesa II was deported for not cooperating with the British; he was allowed to return in 1955, but the rift between Buganda and the rest of Uganda remained. In 1961 there were three main political parties in Uganda—the Uganda People's Congress (UPC), whose members were mostly non-Baganda; the Democratic party, made up chiefly of Roman Catholic Baganda; and the Kabaka Yekka [Kabaka only] party, comprising only Baganda.An Independent Nation
On Oct. 9, 1962, Uganda became independent, with A. Milton Obote, a Lango leader of the UPC, as prime minister. Buganda was given considerable autonomy. In 1963, Uganda became a republic, and Mutesa was elected president. The first years of independence were dominated by a struggle between the central government and Buganda. In 1966, Obote introduced a new constitution that ended Buganda's autonomy. The Baganda protested vigorously and seemed on the verge of taking up arms when Obote captured the kabaka's palace at Mengo, forced the kabaka to flee the country, and ended effective Baganda resistance.
In 1967 a new constitution was introduced giving the central government—especially the president—much power and dividing Buganda into four districts; the traditional kingships were also abolished. In 1969, Obote decided to follow a leftist course in the hope of bridging the country's ethnic and regional differences through a common social policy.Amin's Reign of Terror
In Jan., 1971, Obote, at the time outside the country, was deposed in a coup by Maj. Gen. Idi Amin. Amin was faced with opposition within the army by officers and troops loyal to Obote, but by the end of 1971 he was in firm control. Amin cultivated good relations with the Baganda. In 1972-73 he initiated severe diplomatic wrangles with the United States and Israel, both of which had provided Uganda with military and economic aid and were now accused of trying to undermine the government. Amin purged the Lango and Acholi tribes and moved against the army. In Aug., 1972, he ordered Asians who were not citizens of Uganda to leave the country, and within three months all 60,000 had left, most of them for Great Britain. Although a small minority, Asians had played a significant role in Ugandan business and finance, and their expulsion hurt the economy. From 1971 to 1973, there were border clashes with Tanzania, partly instigated by exiled Ugandans loyal to Obote, but, in early 1973, Amin and Julius Nyerere, president of Tanzania, reached an agreement that appeared to head off future incidents.
Amin's rule became increasingly autocratic and brutal; it is estimated that over 300,000 Ugandans were killed during the 1970s. His corrupt and arbitrary system of administration exacerbated rifts in the military, which led to a number of coup attempts. Israel conducted a successful raid on the Entebbe airport in 1976 to rescue passengers on a plane hijacked by Palestinian terrorists. Amin's expulsion of Israeli technicians won him the support of Arab nations such as Libya.
In 1976, Amin declared himself president for life and Uganda claimed portions of W Kenya; the move was diverted by the threat of a trade embargo. In 1978, Uganda invaded Tanzania in an attempt to annex the Kagera region. The next year Tanzania launched a successful counterinvasion and effectively unified disparate anti-Amin forces under the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF). Amin's forces were driven out and Amin himself fled the country.Uganda after Amin
Tanzania left an occupation force in Uganda that participated in the looting of Kampala. Yusufu Lule was installed as president but was quickly replaced by Godfrey Binaisa. The UNLF, suffering from internal strife, was swept out of power by Milton Obote and his party, the Uganda People's Congress. The National Resistance Army (NRA) conducted guerrilla campaigns throughout the country and, following the withdrawal of Tanzanian troops in 1981, attacked former Amin supporters. In the early 1980s, approximately 200,000 Ugandans sought refuge in neighboring Rwanda, Congo, and Sudan. In 1985, a military coup deposed Obote, and Lt. Gen. Tito Okello became head of state.
When it was not given a role in the new regime, the NRA continued its guerrilla campaign and took Kampala in 1986, and its leader, Yoweri Museveni, became the new president. He instituted a series of measures, including cutbacks in the civil service and army and privatization of state-owned companies, in a generally successful effort to rebuild the shattered economy. Many former government soldiers who had fled to the north when Museveni came to power formed a rebel force there, and in 1987 they mounted an unsuccessful attack on the new government. The rebels, however, were not crushed. AIDS became a serious health problem during the 1980s and has continued to claim many lives in Uganda.
In 1993, Museveni permitted the restoration of traditional kings, including King Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, the kabaka of the Baganda people, but did not grant the kings political power. In 1994 a constituent assembly was elected; the resulting constitution, promulgated in 1995, legalized and extended a ban on political party activity, although allowing party members to run as independents. In May, 1996, Museveni was easily returned to office in the country's first direct presidential elections. A new parliament, chosen in nonpartisan elections in June of the same year, was dominated by Museveni supporters.
In the late 1980s and 90s rebel militias based in Sudan and Congo (Kinshasa) staged intermittent attacks on border areas of Uganda. Fighting with northern rebels, mainly the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), continued into the next decade. In 2002, after Sudanese officials permitted Ugandan forces to attack rebels bases in Sudan, the conflict intensified, but the army failed to achieve any significant success.
Ugandan troops also became involved in ongoing civil unrest in the Congo (then called Zaïre), first (1997) helping rebel groups to oust Mobutu Sese Seko and install Laurent Kabila as president, and then (1998) backing groups who sought to overthrow Kabila. Conflicts also erupted with Rwandan troops in the Congo in 1999. Uganda claimed its only interest was in securing its own borders. In early 2000, Ugandan officials discovered the bodies of nearly 800 people who had died by mass murder and mass suicide; they had been members of the Ugandan millennialist Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God. In May, 2000, new fighting between Rwandan and Ugandan forces in the Congo led to tense relations with Rwanda.
In June a referendum was held in which Ugandans could vote for Museveni's "no-party" system or a multiparty democracy. Museveni argued that Uganda was not ready for political parties, which he said had divided the nation by tribe and religion. Opposition leaders, calling Museveni's system a one-party state, called for a boycott of the referendum. Museveni secured the voters' approval, but by a narrower margin than in 1996; although 88% voted yes, the turnout was only 51%.
In the presidential election in Mar., 2001, Museveni was reelected, but his margin of victory was inflated by apparent vote fraud. His popularity was, in part, diminished by discontent with Uganda's intervention in Congo's civil war and signs of corruption in the government. Uganda's forces were largely withdrawn from Congo by the end of 2002, but there was fighting in 2003 between the remaining Ugandan forces and Congolese rebels allied with Rwanda shortly before the last Ugandan troops withdrew. In 2005 the International Court of Justice ruled that Uganda had engaged in human rights abuses while in Congo, and had to pay compensation to Congo for looting by its forces.
Early in 2004 LRA rebels massacred perhaps as many as 200 civilians in N Uganda. The attack prompted a renewed government offensive that achieved some successes against the LRA; late in 2004 there was a brief truce with the LRA. In Oct., 2005, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for LRA leader Joseph Kony in connection with atrocities committed by the LRA. Meanwhile, in July, 2005, voters approved a return to a multiparty system, This time Museveni supported the abandonment of Uganda's "no-party" politics, in part because of international and internal pressure for the change. He also subsequently signed into law a constitutional amendment that eliminated the presidential term limit.
In Oct., 2005, Kizza Besigye, Museveni's former doctor and supporter who had run against the president in the 2001 election and received almost 30% of the vote, returned to Uganda from self-imposed exile to challenge Museveni again for the presidency. In November Besigye was arrested on treason and rape charges that his supporters denounced as trumped up to keep him for running against Museveni, who subsequently announced he would seek a third term. (Besigye was acquitted of the rape charge in Mar., 2006.) The arrest sparked riots and was criticized internationally, including by the African Union's fledgling Pan-African parliament. The campaign was also marred by army attempts to influence the vote in favor of Museveni and other irregularities. Museveni was reelected in Feb., 2006, with 59% of the vote. The results, which were challenged by Besigye's party, were upheld (April) by Uganda's supreme court, which said that the irregularities were not significant enough to have affected the outcome.
Talks with the LRA that began in July, 2006, led to an August agreement that called for a cease-fire, for rebels to assemble at camps in S Sudan, and subsequent peace negotiations. Kony and other LRA leaders, fearing ICC warrants for their arrest, remained in Congo along the Sudan border, and in late September the LRA pulled out of the talks, accusing the Ugandan army of trying to surround the camps. Uganda, on its part, accused LRA forces of violating the agreement by leaving the camps. In late October, Museveni won Congo's agreement to oust the LRA from its camps there, and subsequently Uganda and the LRA signed a new cease-fire agreement that called for buffer zones around the assembly camps. The cease-fire was extended several times, but otherwise the negotiations progressed with difficulty, and the cease-fire was marred by occasional violence.
In Feb., 2008, a peace agreement, including a permanent cease-fire, was finally reached with the LRA. It was scheduled to be signed in early April, but a number of issues, including the nature of procedures for trying rebels accused of crimes and whether ICC warrants against LRA leaders would be dismissed, led Kony (who had moved from Congo to the Central African Republic in March) to fail to sign the accord as planned. Subsequently there were signs that the LRA was rearming and recruiting. In June Uganda, Sudan, and Congo (Kinshasa) agreed to mount a joint offensive against the LRA if the talks failed, while Kony said that he would engage in further negotiations. The ICC warrants remained a sticking point, however. In Sept.-Oct., 2008, there were LRA attacks against villages in NE Congo that led the ICC's prosecutor to once again demand Kony's arrest.
In Dec., 2008, after Ugandan rebels based in Congo failed in November to sign a peace agreement with Uganda, Ugandan, Congolese, and Southern Sudanese forces mounted a joint campaign against the rebels' Congolese bases that lasted until Mar., 2009. Subsequently in 2009 Ugandan forces fought LRA that had moved into the Central African Republic. In Sept., 2009, some of the worst riots in more than two decades occurred in Kampala when the government refused to allow the Baganda king to visit Kayunga, a district that had declared its secession from Buganda, the traditional Baganda kingdom. In November, passage of a land law that strengthened tenants rights was denounced by Bagandan traditional chiefs, who control large tracts of land.
See D. E. Apter, The Political Kingdom in Uganda (2d ed. 1967); P. M. Gukiina, Uganda: A Case Study in African Political Development (1972); G. S. Ibingira, The Forging of an African Nation (1973); J. Jorgensen, Uganda (1981); A. Omara-Otunnu, Politics and the Military in Uganda, 1890-1985 (1987); D. Berg-Schlosser and R. Siegler, Political Stability and Development: A Comparative Analysis of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda (1990).
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The Republic of Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa. It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by Tanzania. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, within which it shares borders with Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda takes its name from the Buganda kingdom, which encompassed a portion of the south of the country including the capital Kampala.
Nilotic people including Luo and Ateker entered the area from the north, probably beginning about A.D. 120. They were cattle herders and subsistence farmers who settled mainly the northern and eastern parts of the country. Some Luo invaded the area of Bunyoro and assimilated with the Bantu there, establishing the Babiito dynasty of the current Omukama (ruler) of Bunyoro-Kitara. Luo migration proceeded until the 16th century, with some Luo settling amid Bantu people in Eastern Uganda, with others proceeding to the western shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya and Tanzania. The Ateker (Karimojong and Teso) settled in the north-eastern and eastern parts of the country, and some fused with the Luo in the area north of Lake Kyoga.
Arab traders moved inland from the Indian Ocean coast of East Africa in the 1830s. They were followed in the 1860s by British explorers searching for the source of the Nile. Protestant missionaries entered the country in 1877, followed by Catholic missionaries in 1879. The United Kingdom placed the area under the charter of the British East Africa Company in 1888, and ruled it as a protectorate from 1894. As several other territories and chiefdoms were integrated, the final protectorate called Uganda took shape in 1914.
The constitution was changed in 1963 to satisfy an alliance between the Uganda People's Congress and the Kabaka Yekka Party, during the elections in 1962. This created a post of a titular Head of State called the President and a position of a Vice President. The UPC government appointed Edward Muteesa II, Kabaka (King) of Buganda, as the President and Commander in Chief of the armed forces. William Wilberforce Nadiope, the Kyabazing of Busoga (paramount chief), was appointed Vice President. In 1966, Obote overthrew the king. A UPC-dominated Parliament changed the constitution, and Obote became president. The elections were suspended, ushering in an era of coups and counter-coups, which would last until the mid-1980s. Obote was deposed twice from office, both times by military coup.
Idi Amin(1925-2003) took power in 1971, ruling the country with the military for the coming decade. Idi Amin's rule cost an estimated 300,000 Ugandans' lives. He forcibly removed the entrepreneurial Indian minority from Uganda, decimating the economy. His reign was ended after the Uganda-Tanzania War in 1979 in which Tanzanian forces aided by Ugandan exiles invaded Uganda. This led to the return of Obote, who was deposed once more in 1985 by General Tito Okello. Okello ruled for six months until he was deposed after the so called "bush war" by the National Resistance Army (NRM) operating under the leadership of the current president, Yoweri Museveni, and various rebel groups, including Federal Democratic Movement of Andrew Kayiira, and another belonging to John Nkwanga.
Museveni has been in power since 1986. In the mid to late 1990s, he was lauded by the West as part of a new generation of African leaders. His presidency has included involvement in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other conflicts in the Great Lakes region, as well as the civil war against the Lord's Resistance Army. In 2007, Uganda deployed soldiers to the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
The President of Uganda, currently Yoweri Museveni, is both head of state and head of government. The president appoints a prime minister, currently Apolo Nsibambi, who aids him in governing. The parliament is formed by the National Assembly, which has 303 members. Eighty-six of these members are nominated by interest groups, including women and the army. The remaining members are elected for two-year terms during general elections.
In a measure ostensibly designed to reduce sectarian violence, political parties were restricted in their activities from 1986. In the non-party "Movement" system instituted by Museveni, political parties continued to exist, but they could only operate a headquarter office. They could not open branches, hold rallies or field candidates directly (although electoral candidates could belong to political parties). A constitutional referendum canceled this nineteen-year ban on multi-party politics in July 2005.
The presidential elections were held in February 2006. Yoweri Museveni, ran against several candidates, the most prominent of whom was exiled Dr. Kizza Besigye. Museveni was declared the winner in the elections, but international election observers did not condemn the election results or endorse the electoral process. Despite technically democratic elections, harassment of opposition had started months earlier in the form of a disturbing opposition campaign, detention of activists, rape and other criminal allegations against Besigye, and use of state funds for electoral campaigning.
Yoweri Museveni's tenure in office has been marred by allegations of massive corruption, embezzlement of public funds by a small section of the population and continued uncontrollable demonstrations of recent PRA suspects in court and Mabira Forest give-aways.
The country is located on the East African plateau, averaging about 1100 metres (3,250 ft) above sea level, and this slopes very steadily downwards to the Sudanese Plain to the North. However, much of the south is poorly drained, while the centre is dominated by Lake Kyoga, which is also surrounded by extensive marshy areas. Uganda lies almost completely within the Nile basin. The Victoria Nile drains from the lake into Lake Kyoga and thence into Lake Albert on the Congolese border . It then runs northwards into Sudan. One small area on the eastern edge of Uganda is drained by the Turkwel river, part of the internal drainage basin of Lake Turkana.
Although generally equatorial, the climate is not uniform as the altitude modifies the climate. Southern Uganda is wetter with rain generally spread throughout the year. At Entebbe on the northern shore of Lake Victoria, most rain falls from March to June and the November/December period. Further to the north a dry season gradually emerges; at Gulu about 120km from the Sudanese border, November to February is much drier than the rest of the year. The north eastern Karamoja region has the driest climate and is prone to droughts in some years. Ruwenzori in the south west on the border with Congo (DRC) receives heavy rain all year round. The south of the country is heavily influenced by one of the world's biggest lakes, Lake Victoria, which contains many islands. It prevents temperatures from varying significantly and increases cloudiness and rainfall. Most important cities are located in the south, near Lake Victoria, including the capital Kampala and the nearby city of Entebbe.
Uganda is divided into 80 districts, spread across four administrative regions: Northern, Eastern, Central and Western. The districts are subdivided into counties. A number of districts have been added in the past few years, and eight others were added on July 1, 2006. Most districts are named after their main commercial and administrative towns. Each district is divided into sub-districts, counties, sub-counties, parishes and villages.
During 1990 - 2001, the economy grew because of continued investment in the rehabilitation of infrastructure, improved incentives for production and exports, reduced inflation, gradually improved domestic security, and the return of exiled Indian-Ugandan entrepreneurs between 1990 and 2001. Ongoing Ugandan involvement in the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, corruption within the government, and slippage in the government's determination to press reforms raise doubts about the continuation of strong growth. In 2000, Uganda qualified for the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief initiative worth $1.3 billion and Paris Club debt relief worth $145 million. These amounts combined with the original HIPC debt relief added up to about $2 billion. Growth for 2001 - 2002 was solid despite continued decline in the price of coffee, Uganda's principal export. According to IMF statistics, in 2004 Uganda's GDP per-capita reached $300, a much higher level than in the Eighties but still at half of Sub-Saharan African average income of 600 dollars per year. Total GDP crossed the 8 billion dollar mark in the same year.
With the Uganda securities exchange established in 1996, several equities have been listed. The Government has used the stock market as an avenue for privatisation. All Government treasury issues are listed on the securities exchange. The Capital Markets Authority has licensed 18 brokers, asset managers and investment advisors including names like African Alliance, AIG Investments, Renaissance Capital and SIMMS. As one of the ways of increasing formal domestic savings, Pension sector reform is the centre of attention (2007).
The most widely spoken local language in Uganda is Luganda spoken predominantly in the urban concentrations of Kampala, the capital city, and in towns and localities in the Buganda region of Uganda which encompasses Kampala. The Lusoga and Runyankore languages follow, spoken predominantly in the south-eastern & south-western parts of Uganda respectively.
Swahili, a widely used language throughout eastern and central east Africa, was approved as the country's second official national language in 2005, though this is somewhat politically sensitive. Though the language has not been favoured by the Bantu-speaking populations of the south and southwest of the country, it is an important lingua franca in the northern regions. It is also widely used in the police and military forces, which may be a historical result of the disproportionate recruitment of northerners into the security forces during the colonial period. The status of Swahili has thus alternated with the political group in power. For example, Amin, who came from the northwest, declared Swahili to be the national language.
According to the census of 2002, Christians made up about 84% of Uganda's population. The Catholic Church has the largest number of adherents (41.9%), followed by the Anglican Church of Uganda (35.9%). The next most reported religion of Uganda is Islam, with Muslims representing 12% of the population.
The Census lists only 1% of Uganda's population as following Traditional Religions, and 0.7% are classified as 'Other Non-Christians,' including Hindus. Judaism is also practised in Uganda by a small number of native Ugandans known as the Abayudaya. One of the seven Bahá'í Houses of Worship is located on the outskirts of Kampala. See also Bahá'í Faith in Uganda.
Uganda has a very young population, with a median age of 15 years.
According to the World Refugee Survey 2008, published by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Uganda hosted a population of refugees and asylum seekers numbering 235,800 in 2007. The majority of this population came from Sudan (162,100 persons), but also included refugees and asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (41,800), Rwanda (21,200), Somalia (5,700) and Burundi (3,100).
Cricket has experienced massive rapid growth and is the most popular sport in Uganda. Recently in the Quadrangular Tournament in Kenya, Uganda came in as the underdogs and went on to register a historic win against arch rivals Kenya. Uganda also won the World Cricket League Division 3 and came fourth place in the World Cricket League Division 2.
Rugby Union has also experienced rapid growth in Uganda over the last decade. This development produced a major result when Uganda were victorious in the 2007 Africa Cup, beating Madagascar in the final.
Respect for human rights in Uganda has been advanced significantly since the mid-1980s. There are, however, numerous areas which continue to attract concern.
Conflict in the northern parts of the country continues to generate reports of abuses by both the rebel Lord's Resistance Army and the Ugandan army. The number of internally displaced persons is estimated at 1.4 million. Torture continues to be a widespread practice amongst security organizations. Attacks on political freedom in the country, including the arrest and beating of opposition Members of Parliament, has led to international criticism, culminating in May 2005 in a decision by the British government to withhold part of its aid to the country. The arrest of the main opposition leader Kizza Besigye and the besiegement of the High Court during a hearing of Besigye's case by a heavily armed security forces before the February 2006 elections led to condemnation.
Recently, grassroots organizations have been attempting to raise awareness about the children who were kidnapped by the Lord's Resistance Army to work as soldiers or be used as wives. Thousands of children as young as eight were captured and forced to kill. The documentary film Invisible Children illustrates the terrible lives of the children, known as night commuters, who left their villages and walked many miles each night to avoid abduction.
Freedom for homosexual relationships continues to be a matter of contention. Such relationships are illegal and denounced as a foreign import, despite the well known native traditions which predated the European colonization, such as those openly practised at the court of the Buganda royalty.
The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants reported several violations of refugee rights in 2007, including forcible deporations by the Ugandan government and violence directed against refugees.