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Brief History

Uganda, officially known as the Republic of Uganda, was a British colony that gained independence on October 9, 1962. Uganda takes its name from the Buganda kingdom, which encompassed a portion of the south of the country including the capital Kampala. The dictatorial regime of Idi Amin (1971-1979) and the guerrilla war and human rights abuses under Milton Obote (1980-1985) were all responsible for hundreds of thousands of lives. The rule of Yoweri Museveni since 1986 has brought relative stability and economic growth to Uganda. During the 1990s, the government promulgated non-party presidential and legislative elections. In January 2009, Uganda assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2009-2010 term.

Geography

Uganda, capital Kampala, is a landlocked country located in Eastern Africa, west of Kenya, covering an area of 241,038 square kilometers. Once known as "The Pearl of Africa", Uganda lies in the heart of Sub-Saharan 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. Uganda’s climate is tropical, generally rainy with two dry seasons (December to February, June to August), and semiarid in the northeast. It is a well-watered country with many lakes and rivers. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, which is also bordered by Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda is rich in some natural resources such as copper, cobalt, hydropower, limestone, salt, arable land, and gold.

People

Uganda has a population of 33,398,682. It is home to many different ethnic groups, none of whom forms a majority of the population, such as Baganda, Banyakole, Bakiga, etc... The official language is English. Ganda or Luganda (most widely used of the Niger-Congo languages), other Niger-Congo languages, Nilo-Saharan languages, Swahili, and Arabic are other spoken languages. The literacy rate is 66.8%. Its religions are distributed among 41.9% Roman Catholic, 42% Protestant, 12.1% Muslim, 3.1% other, 0.9% none (2002). Indian nationals are the most significant immigrant population; members of this community are primarily Ismaili or Hindu.

Government

The government of Uganda is subject to a republic system. Its legal system is based on English common law and customary law. It accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdictions with reservations. President Lt. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, since seizing power on 26 January 1986, is both chief of state and head of government. The prime minister is Apolo Nsibambi (since 5 April 1999). Uganda’s official currency is the Shilling where 2250 shillings are equivalent to US$1.

Economy

For decades, Uganda’s economy suffered from devastating economic policies and instability, leaving Uganda as one of the world's poorest countries, with 35% of the population below the poverty line (2001) and the GDP per capita being US$1,300 (2009). Since 1986, the government - with the support of foreign countries and international agencies - has acted to rehabilitate and stabilize the economy by undertaking currency reform, raising producer prices on export crops, increasing prices of petroleum products, and improving civil service wages. The policy changes are especially aimed at dampening inflation and boosting production and export earnings. In 2008, Uganda recorded 7% growth despite the global downturn and regional instability.

Uganda has substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, small deposits of copper, gold, and other minerals, and recently discovered oil. The country has largely untapped reserves of both crude oil and natural gas. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy, employing about 82% of the work force. Agricultural products include tea, cotton, tobacco, cassava (tapioca), potatoes, corn, millet, pulses, cut flowers, beef, goat meat, milk, poultry and coffee, which accounts for the bulk of export revenues. Growth continues to be solid, despite variability in the price of coffee, Uganda's principal export. However, agriculture has been surpassed by the Services sector with a percentage of 52.8% (2009).

In 2000, Uganda was included in the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief initiative worth $1.3 billion and Paris Club debt relief worth $145 million which combined to an amount of two billion dollars, but in 2006 the Ugandan Government successfully paid all its debts to the Paris Club which meant that it was no longer in the (HIPC) list. The global economic downturn has hurt Uganda’s exports; however, Uganda’s GDP growth is still relatively strong due to past reforms and sound management of the downturn (6.6% in 2009).

Uganda has an inflation rate of 12.6% (2009) and Gross Nation Income (GNI) of US$418.66.


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