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Uganda: Composition and Distribution
Country Study > Chapter 2 > The Society and Its Environment > Population > Composition and Distribution


Ministry of Planning and Economic Development officials estimated that nearly 50 percent of the population was under the age of 15 and the median age was only 15.7 years in 1989 The sex ratio was 101.8 males per 100 females. The dependency ratio -- a measure of the number of young and old in relation to 100 people between the ages of fifteen and sixty -- was estimated at 104.

Uganda's population density was found to be relatively high in comparison with that of most of Africa, estimated to be fiftythree per square kilometer nationwide. However, this figure masked a range from fewer than thirty per square kilometer in the north-central region to more than 120 in the far southeast and southwest, and even these estimates overlooked some regions that were depopulated by warfare.

In late 1989, nearly 10 percent of the population lived in urban centers of more than 2,000 people. This figure was increasing in the late 1980s but remained relatively low in comparison with the rest of Africa and was only slightly higher than Uganda's 1969 estimate of 7.3 percent. Rural-to-urban migration declined during the 1970s as a result of deteriorating security and economic conditions. Kampala, with about 500,000 people, accounted for almost one-half of the total urban population but recorded a population increase of only 3 percent during the 1980s. Jinja, the main industrial center and second largest city, registered a population of about 55,000 -- an increase of 10,000 from the 1980 population estimate. Six other cities -- Kabale, Kabarole, Entebbe, Masaka, Mbarara, and Mbale -- had populations of more than 20,000 in 1989. Urban migration was expected to increase markedly during the 1990s.

Uganda was the focus of migration from surrounding African countries until 1970, with most immigrants coming from Rwanda, Burundi, and Sudan. In the 1970s, immigrants were estimated to make up 11 percent of the population. About 23,000 Ugandans were living in Kenya, and a smaller number had fled to other neighboring countries. Emigration increased dramatically during the 1970s and was believed to slow during the 1980s.

In 1989 Uganda reported 163,000 refugees to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Most of these were from Rwanda, but several other neighboring countries were also represented. At the same time, Zaire and Sudan registered a total of nearly 250,000 refugees from Uganda.

Data as of December 1990

Last Updated: December 1990

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Uganda was first published in 1990. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Uganda Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 29 of 169


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