Uganda - Tips

Uganda Bureau of African Affairs
June 2007

Background Note: Uganda

Flag of Uganda is six equal horizontal bands of black - top - yellow, red,
black, yellow, and red; white disk is superimposed at center and depicts
red-crested crane facing hoist side.

PROFILE

OFFICIAL NAME:
Republic of Uganda

Geography
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.
Climate: 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.

People
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.

Government
Type: Republic.
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.
Political 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.

Economy
GDP (nominal, 2005/2006): $9.4 billion.
Inflation rate (annual headline or CPI, 2005/2006): 6.6%.
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.
Industry: Types--processing of agricultural products (cotton ginning, coffee
curing), cement production, light consumer goods, textiles.
Trade: Exports (2005/2006)--$887.5 million: 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 (2005
/2006)--$1.99 billion: capital equipment, vehicles, petroleum, medical
supplies, chemical, cereals. Major suppliers--OPEC countries, Kenya, EU,
India, South Africa, U.S.
Fiscal year: July 1-June 30.

PEOPLE AND HISTORY
Africans 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 absolute power.

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 higher.

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 forces.

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 support.

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.

GOVERNMENT
The 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 currently are 332 members of parliament, of which
79 are women. 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.

Principal Government Officials
President and Commander in Chief--Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
Vice President--Dr. Gilbert Bukenya
Prime Minister--Apollo Nsibambi
Foreign Minister--Sam Kutesa
Minister of Defense--Crispus Kiyonga
Ambassador to the United States--Perezi K. Kamunanwire

Uganda maintains an embassy in the United States at 5909 16th Street NW,
Washington, DC 20011 (tel. 202-726-7100).

POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Since assuming power, Museveni and his government have largely put an end to
the human rights abuses of earlier governments, initiated substantial
economic liberalization and general press freedom, and instituted economic
reforms in accord with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and
donor governments.

The vicious and cult-like Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which seeks to
overthrow the Ugandan Government, has murdered and kidnapped civilians in the
north and east since 1986. Although the LRA does not threaten the stability
of the government, LRA violence at one time displaced up to 1.7 million
people, creating a humanitarian catastrophe, particularly when they were
forced into internally displaced persons (IDP) camps for their own
protection. The Uganda Peoples Defense Force (UPDF) launched "Operation Iron
Fist" against LRA rebels in northern Uganda in 2002 and conducted operations
against LRA sanctuaries in southern Sudan with the permission of the Sudanese
Government. The Sudanese Government had previously supported the LRA.

There have been significant new developments in this conflict since January
2006. With the signing of the Sudanese "Comprehensive Peace Agreement," the
Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) was created. To protect this fragile
peace from LRA incursions in southern Sudan, Riek Machar, a GOSS Vice
President, launched efforts to broker a peace agreement between the
Government of Uganda and the LRA in July 2006. Those talks are ongoing and
represent the first time there has been meaningful progress in ending this
conflict. As a result, many northern Ugandans are leaving the IDP camps and
returning to their villages.

In 1998, Uganda deployed a sizable military force to eastern Democratic
Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.), ostensibly to prevent attacks from Ugandan
rebel groups operating there. There were widespread allegations that Ugandan
military and civilian officials were involved in the illegal exploitation of
D.R.C. natural resources. After much international pressure, Uganda withdrew
its troops from D.R.C. in June 2003. Relations with the D.R.C., however,
continue to be frosty. When the LRA left southern Sudan and relocated to
eastern Congo in September 2005, Museveni threatened to enter D.R.C. and go
after the LRA if neither Congo nor the UN peacekeepers in the region would
take action. The recent peace talks have taken a lot of steam out of those
threats, however, and Uganda seems focused on seeing the talks to conclusion.

ECONOMY
Uganda's economy has great potential. Endowed with significant natural
resources, including ample fertile land, regular rainfall, and mineral
deposits, it appeared poised for rapid economic growth and development at
independence. However, chronic political instability and erratic economic
management produced a record of persistent economic decline that left Uganda
among the world's poorest and least-developed countries.

Since assuming power in early 1986, Museveni's government has taken important
steps toward economic rehabilitation. The country's infrastructure--notably
its transportation and communications systems that were destroyed by war and
neglect--is being rebuilt. Recognizing the need for increased external
support, Uganda negotiated a policy framework paper with the IMF and the
World Bank in 1987. It subsequently began implementing economic policies
designed to restore price stability and sustainable balance of payments,
improve capacity utilization, rehabilitate infrastructure, restore producer
incentives through proper price policies, and improve resource mobilization
and allocation in the public sector. These policies produced positive
results. Inflation, which ran at 240% in 1987 and 42% in June 1992, was 5.4%
for fiscal year 1995-96 and 5.1% in 2003.

Investment as a percentage of GDP was estimated at 20.3% in 2003 compared to
13.7% in 1999. Private sector investment, largely financed by private
transfers from abroad, was 14.9% of GDP in 2002. Gross national savings as a
percentage of GDP was estimated at 6.4% in 2003. The Ugandan Government has
also worked with donor countries to reschedule or cancel substantial portions
of the country's external debts.

Agricultural products supply nearly all of Uganda's foreign exchange
earnings, with coffee (of which Uganda is Africa's leading producer)
accounting for about 19% and fish 17% of the country's exports in 2002.
Exports of non-traditional products, including apparel, hides, skins,
vanilla, vegetables, fruits, cut flowers, and fish are growing, while
traditional exports cotton, tea, and tobacco continue to be mainstays.

Most industry is related to agriculture. The industrial sector is being
rehabilitated to resume production of building and construction materials,
such as cement, reinforcing rods, corrugated roofing sheets, and paint.
Domestically produced consumer goods include plastics, soap, cork, beer, and
soft drinks.

Uganda has about 30,000 kilometers (18,750 mi.), of roads; some 2,800
kilometers (1,750 mi.) are paved. Most radiate from Kampala. The country has
about 1,350 kilometers (800 mi.) of rail lines. A railroad originating at
Mombasa on the Indian Ocean connects with Tororo, where it branches westward
to Jinja, Kampala, and Kasese and northward to Mbale, Soroti, Lira, Gulu, and
Kapwach, though the routes west of Kampala and north of Mbale currently are
not in use. Uganda's important road and rail links to Mombasa serve its
transport needs and also those of its neighbors-Rwanda, Burundi, and parts of
Congo and Sudan. An international airport is at Entebbe on the shore of Lake
Victoria, some 32 kilometers (20 mi.) south of Kampala.

FOREIGN RELATIONS
The Ugandan Government generally seeks good relations with other nations
without reference to ideological orientation. Relations with Rwanda, Congo
and Sudan have sometimes been strained because of security concerns.
President Museveni has been active in attempts implement a peace agreement
Burundi and has supported peace initiatives in Sudan and Somalia.

In the past, neighbors were concerned about Uganda's relationship with Libya,
which had supplied military equipment and bartered fuel to Uganda. In
addition to its friendly ties to Western nations, Uganda has maintained ties
with North Korea. Uganda's has strained relations with Sudan because of past
Sudanese support for the LRA. The LRA seeks to overthrow the Uganda
Government and has inflicted brutal violence on the population in northern
Uganda, including rape, kidnapping, torture, and murder. In 2002 Uganda and
Sudan reestablished diplomatic ties and signed a protocol permitting the UPDF
to enter southern Sudan and engage the LRA. The protocol must be renewed
periodically.

Another rebel group operating in western Uganda and eastern Democratic
Republic of the Congo, near the Rwenzori Mountains, the Allied Democratic
Forces (ADF), emerged as a localized threat in 1996 and inflicted substantial
suffering on the population in the area. It has largely been defeated by the
UPDF and the affected areas of western Uganda have been secured. Remnants of
the ADF remain in eastern Congo.

DEFENSE
The Uganda Peoples Defense Force (UPDF)--previously the National Resistance
Army--constitutes the armed forces of Uganda. Prior to 2000, U.S. military
forces participated with the UPDF in training activities under the African
Crisis Response Initiative. U.S. military assistance was terminated in 2000
as a result of the Ugandan incursion into the D.R.C. Following the June 2003
UPDF withdrawal of troops from the D.R.C., the U.S. restarted limited
nonlethal military assistance.

U.S.-UGANDAN RELATIONS
Although U.S.-Ugandan relations were strained during the rule of Idi Amin in
the 1970s, relations improved after Amin's fall. In mid-1979, the United
States reopened its embassy in Kampala. Relations with successor governments
were cordial, although Obote and his administration rejected strong U.S.
criticism of Uganda's human rights situation.

Bilateral relations between the United States and Uganda have been good since
Museveni assumed power, and the United States has welcomed his efforts to end
human rights abuses and to pursue economic reform. Uganda is a strong
supporter of the global war against terrorism. The United States is helping
Uganda achieve export-led economic growth through the African Growth and
Opportunity Act and provides a significant amount of development assistance.
At the same time, the United States is concerned about continuing human
rights problems and the pace of progress toward the establishment of genuine
political pluralism.

U.S. development assistance in Uganda has the overall goal of reducing mass
poverty. Most U.S. program assistance is focused in the areas of health,
education and agriculture. Both the U.S. Agency for International Development
(USAID) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have major programs to
fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Other programs promote trade and investment,
curb environmental degradation, encourage the peaceful resolution of local
and international conflicts, and promote honest and open government. The
United States also provides large amounts of humanitarian assistance to
populations without access to adequate food supplies because of conflict,
drought and other factors.

U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers are active in primary teacher training and HIV/
AIDS programs. The Department of State carries out cultural exchange
programs, brings Fulbright lecturers and researchers to Uganda, and sponsors
U.S. study and tour programs for a wide variety of officials from government,
non-governmental organizations and the private sector. Through Ambassador's
Self-Help Fund, local groups in poor areas receive assistance for small
projects with a high level of community involvement.

U.S.-Ugandan relations also benefit from significant contributions to health
care, nutrition, education, and park systems from U.S. missionaries,
non-governmental organizations, private universities, HIV/AIDS researchers,
and wildlife organizations. Expatriate Ugandans living in the U.S. also
promote stronger links between the two countries.

Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Steven A. Browning
Deputy Chief of Mission--Andrew G. Chritton
Public Affairs Officer--Alyson Grunder
Director, USAID--Margot Ellis

The U.S. Embassy in Uganda is at 1577 Ggaba Road, Kampala; tel. 259791/2/3/5;
fax: 259-794.

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans
traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public
Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency
regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political
disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.
Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about
terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that
pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings
are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad
should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet
web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution,
Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs
Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a
safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For
additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/
Citizen/Topics/Travel/International.shtml.

The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens who traveling or residing
abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or
at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your
presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an
emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security
conditions.

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained
by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular
toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of
State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport
information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service
representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00
a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP
(877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the
most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A
booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS
publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://
www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global
access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background
Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of
Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies
working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov

Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market
information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free
export counseling, help with the export process, and more.
STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides
authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from
the Federal government. The site includes current and historical
trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities,
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