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Country Profile

Area: 197,058,000 sq km (93,104 sq miles)
Population: 31.9 million (UN, 2008)
Capital City: Kampala (population 1.3 million)
People: Over 20 tribes. Baganda (17%), Banyankole (8%), Basoga (8%), Iteso (8%), Acholi and Langi. Small Asian and European communities.
Language(s): English is the official language. Swahili and Luganda widely spoken.
Religion(s): Christianity, with a sizeable Muslim minority.
Currency: Uganda shilling (Ush)
Head of State: President Yoweri Museveni (elected February2011)
Prime Minister/Premier: Patrick Amama Mbabazi
Foreign Minister: Sam Kutesa
Membership of international groupings/organisations: East African Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), African Union (AU), Commonwealth, United Nations (UN) –, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

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Basic Economic Facts

GDP: US$17billion (2010)
GDP per capita: US$ 501 (2010)
Annual Growth: 5.2% (2010)
Inflation: 9.4% (August 2011)
Exchange rate: 2391 Ush = $1 (May 2011) 3943 Ush = £1 (May 2011)
Major Industries: agriculture (coffee, tea, fish, fresh flowers, tobacco), mining, construction, manufacturing, textiles services.
Major trading partners: Kenya, UK, South Africa, India. UAE
Uganda’s economy has grown consistently at an impressive rate for over two decades. Growth in the 1990s averaged 7% a year, well above the average for Africa. Sound macroeconomic policies and liberal, market oriented policy reforms enabled a structural transformation of the economy which has driven growth in the manufacturing, trading and services sectors. Since 1999, GDP growth has slowed 5.5%, but the quality of growth has improved: higher value added services (e.g. telecoms) and industrial sectors (e.g. small manufacturing) now account for three-quarters of GDP compared to less than half a decade ago. However, most Ugandans still rely heavily on agriculture, which supports 80% of the population. Plantains, cassava, sweet potatoes and maize are the major subsistence crops. Commodity exports include coffee, fish, tea, tobacco and cotton. Uganda’s GDP is around US $17 billion.

Uganda has weathered the global crisis reasonably well and growth this year is expected to be around 6.5%. Its growth trajectory and macroeconomic management have been impressive. The short term economic outlook remains stable, but challenging with food crop inflation (at 42% in July 2011) and the decline in the value of the Ugandan Shilling being particular concerns. In the longer term, projected oil revenues of US$2 billion a year could transform the economy and there are reasonable prospects for double digit growth rates. But further challenges to Uganda’s prosperity could come from in high population growth rates, weak job creation and growing inequalities. The Ugandan Government also needs to improve public infrastructure, economic governance, tackle corruption and enable private sector growth if it is to realise its aspiration of becoming a middle income country.
IMF Country Reports - Uganda (

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Uganda developed from the 19th century kingdom of Buganda, which was declared a British protectorate in 1894. The protectorate was extended to other traditional kingdoms in 1896 and the rest of the country brought under central administration by 1914. British administration followed the principles of indirect rule, which included special measures of autonomy for the Baganda. African representation in government increased steadily after 1945. This met some resistance from the traditionalists and separatists among the Baganda. Uganda became independent in October 1962 under a constitution that safeguarded the autonomy of Baganda and the other kingdoms. Milton Obote, leader of the Uganda People's Congress (UPC), was elected Prime Minister, with the Kabaka (Buganda monarch) as non executive President.

Obote moved against the Kabaka in 1966. A new centralised constitution stripped the kingdoms and monarchical institutions of their powers. In 1971 Obote was ousted in a military coup. Idi Amin then established a brutal dictatorship which lasted until 1979. It was finally removed with military assistance from Tanzania. Hastily organised elections in 1980 returned Obote's UPC to power on a disputed mandate. 'Obote II' relied heavily on the support of the army and soon became embroiled in a savage guerrilla war against Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Army (NRA). Obote was overthrown in an army coup in 1985. General Tito Okello established a short-lived military council but in January 1986, the NRA occupied Kampala and Museveni was installed as President. One million Ugandans had been killed by war; two million uprooted as refugees; 500,000 seriously injured; and the economy was in ruins.

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East African Community (EAC)

The new EAC was formally launched in January 2001. It has a parliament, the East African Legislative Assembly, and a secretariat in Arusha (Tanzania). A Common Market protocol came into effect on 1 July 2010. As a member of IGAD (comprising Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan), Uganda has taken an active interest in the Somali peace process and has deployed over 5,000 troops in Somalia as the initial component of an African Union peace support operation.

Great Lakes regional conflict

Uganda played an active role in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 1996 and was one of five signatories to the 1999 Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement. Under the terms of the 2002 Luanda Agreement between Uganda and DRC, Uganda completed the withdrawal of its troops in June 2003.

Relations with Rwanda suffered over the DRC, culminating in clashes between the Ugandan and Rwandan armies at Kisangani (DRC) in 1999 and 2000. Tension was bolstered by mutual accusations of support for dissidents. The UK facilitated a series of meetings between Presidents Museveni and Kagame between 2001 and 2004 which have helped to ease the strains. Relations are now much improved across the region.


In early 2004, UNSCR 1533 established an Arms Embargo monitoring mechanism for Eastern DRC, with the primary aim of denying arms to militia groups and identifying those trying to supply such groups.

Uganda's Relations with the UK

Visits Outwards

The UK has a strong bilateral relationship and a significant development partnership with Uganda. There are frequent contacts, the most recent ones were:
-- September 2011: HRH the Duke of Wessex
-- February 2009: Ivan Lewis, Under Secretary of State for International Development
-- November 2007: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall
-- November 2007: then Prime Minister Gordon Brown
-- November 2007: David Miliband, then Foreign Secretary
-- May 2006: Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for International Development
-- April 2005: Hilary Benn, then Secretary of State for International Development
-- August 2005: Lord Bach, then Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

Visits Inwards

-- March 2009: President Museveni
-- March 2009: the Hon Sam Kutesa, Minister of Foreign Affairs
-- September 2008: Hon Amama Mbabazi, Minister of Security
-- March 2008: President Museveni
-- March 2008: the Hon Sam Kutesa, Minister of Foreign Affairs
-- 2007: two visits by the Hon Sam Kutesa, Minister of Foreign Affairs including as a Guest of Government in September

British High Commission in Kampala (

UK Nationals

An estimated 3,000 UK nationals live and work in Uganda.

Cultural Relations

The British Council in Uganda is the focal point for cultural relations between Britain and Uganda.

British Council: Uganda (


For recent statements of UK government policy towards Uganda see Hansard (, and enter Uganda in the search engine.

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Uganda is a land-locked country lying on the equator in central Africa. It shares borders with Sudan, DRCongo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya. 20% of the country is covered by inland lakes. The rest ranges through tropical rain forest to savannah with mountains on the western border. The climate is tropical.

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Trade and Investment with the UK

The UK exported £50m worth of goods to Uganda in 2009 and is among Uganda’s top 10 sources of imports. The UK is one of the leading investors in Uganda, with investments worth.The UK is Uganda’s largest Foreign Direct Investor with investments worth $1.1bn.

UK Trade & Investment Country Profile: Uganda (


Uganda has made significant strides in reducing numbers living below the poverty line (from 56% in 1992/3 to around 23% now in most parts (except Northern Uganda where it is still high at 40%)). But despite the progress made, the vast majority of Ugandans remain poor (three quarters live on less than US$2 a day.. Primary school enrolment rose from 62% to 86%, putting Uganda on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals for education, though there have been problems with the drop-out rate. There have been improvements in healthcare indicators and significant success in tackling HIV/AIDS.HIV prevalence has been reduced to 6.4%, although the number of new infections is on the increase. Uganda also has many other challenges, including its high population growth rate, one of the biggest in Africa.

Uganda was the first country to receive HIPC debt relief in 1998, and achieved Completion Point in April 2000. Debt relief is currently worth about $100m annually. Lower interest rate and export earnings forecasts have seen the key debt: export ratio rise from 150% to around 300% but debt service ratios as a percentage of domestic revenues (c. 10%) remain well below the critical threshold.

United Nations Development Programme (
World Bank (
The UK is one of Uganda's largest bilateral donors and we will spend an average of £98 million per year in Uganda until 2015.

Uganda is one of DFID's largest programmes in Africa. DFID also have a 5 year £100 million programme to support development in the north.

DFID Country Profile - Uganda (

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A key, and controversial, feature of Uganda's politics since 1986 was the so-called 'no party' political system, or Movement System. Uganda's 1995 constitution provided for political participation and voting but prohibited political parties from sponsoring candidates. A Referendum in 2000 found 91% in favour of continuing the Movement system, although turnout was low and the pro multiparty side had limited opportunity to present their case. Museveni won 74% of the vote in the 1996 elections and 69% of the vote in 2001. The 2001 elections were marred in places by violence and intimidation and Museveni's main rival, Dr Kizza Besigye, subsequently left the country to spend the next four years in South Africa.

After 2001 calls for multi-party democracy in Uganda became more persistent. In July 2005 a further referendum was held to decide on the political system. This time the government supported the change and secured a 92% vote in favour of restoring multi-partyism. The opposition boycotted the referendum and turnout was low (47%).

Parliament voted in August 2005 to lift the constitutional two-term limit on the office of President to allow unlimited terms. Museveni therefore stood again in elections held in February 2006, the first multi-party elections since 1980, and won with 59% of the vote. His nearest challenger, Dr Kizza Besigye, gained 37%. The NRM won 191 of 215 parliamentary seats in the main ballot; the rest of the 305-strong parliament was made up of 69 District Women’s Representatives and representatives of the Ugandan Army, the youth, persons with disabilities, and workers, a large majority of whom represent the NRM.

Besigye returned to Uganda from exile in South Africa in October 2005. He was arrested on treason and rape charges three weeks later, which led to violent street protests in Kampala and elsewhere in Uganda. While in detention he was nominated as the Presidential candidate for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). He was obliged to simultaneously defend himself in the High Court on the criminal charges and campaign on behalf of the FDC and his own Presidential candidacy. The arrest and detention of such a major opposition figure, as well as the blocking of campaign rallies and unequal access to state resources, raised some concerns about the election process. The EU Observation Mission and the Commonwealth Observer Group concluded that the election had represented the will of the people, despite identifying significant flaws in the campaign process.

The 2011 presidential election comfortably returned Museveni was comfortably returned for another five year term. He won around 68% of the popular vote, whilst Dr Besigye (the nearest challenger from the field of seven opposition candidates) won around 26%. The parliamentary election saw the NRM win 263 seats, against a combined opposition total of 58 and 53 independents. the EU Electoral Observation Mission and the Commonwealth Observer Group both highlighted some improvements in the overall conduct and transparency of the elections since 2006 but also drew attention to avoidable shortcomings in their organisation. They also noted the exercise of the power of incumbency and the need for further progress to create a level playing field for elections.

Uganda staged a successful Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in November 2007, hosting more than 50 heads of state and government including Queen Elizabeth II.

Northern Uganda

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) conducted an insurgency in the Acholi area of Northern Uganda from 1986-2006. This has involved a brutal campaign of atrocities against the local Acholi and Langi population, often in punishment for failure to support their cause. Almost 2 million people from Gulu, Kitgum and Pader Districts in northern Uganda fled their homes to Internally Displaced Persons camps for protection. Successive Ugandan military campaigns against the LRA failed to end the conflict. Following the issue of International Criminal Court arrest warrants for the top five LRA leaders, the majority of the LRA moved to a new base in north eastern DRC. In May 2006 the government of Southern Sudan offered to mediate between the LRA and the Ugandan government. Peace Talks between the two parties took place in Juba, Southern Sudan. The Juba Peace Talks were aided by the appointment of the former President of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano, as Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General to the LRA affected region. The Juba Peace Talks led to a negotiated peace deal being agreed by both sides, however despite many opportunities Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA, has refused to sign the agreement. Kony’s refusal to sign the Final Peace Agreement (FPA), led to the Governments of Uganda, DRC and Southern Sudan launching military action against the LRA in December 2008. This action aimed to bring pressure on Kony to sign up to the FPA. The FPA remains unsigned and Kony and the LRA continue to attack the local civilian populations in north-eastern DRC, South Sudan and in CAR.

BBC News Country Profile: Uganda (

BBC News: Africa (

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Uganda's human rights record improved enormously after Museveni came to power in 1986. It still has a reasonably free media, though this freedom is occasionally curtailed when the government perceives a conflict with national interest. It also has active civil society organisations. Rule of law problems remain, including poor policing and questionable activities by security agencies such as allegations of illegal detention, torture and politically motivated harassment. Recent demonstrations in Kampala, including those led by the Baganda Kingdom in September 2009, and opposition led protests over commodity prices in May 2011, have been met with a brutal response from security services. The judiciary has proved itself to be independent and a strong critic of government, but has come under intense political pressure and faced increasing intimidation from security services. The worst cases of human rights abuse have occurred in Northern Uganda where, for many years (during the LRA conflict) the general public was not provided with adequate protection from either the rebels or the military. The Ugandan military has also faced accusations of human rights abuses in the Karamoja region.

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Last Updated: November 2011

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