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Uganda, so aptly named the Pearl of Africa is located in Eastern Africa, within two branches of the Great Rift Valley. Rich in biodiversity, inhabited by a warm people, the country shares borders with Sudan to the north, Kenya to the east, Tanzania to its south, Democratic Republic of Congo to the west, and Rwanda to the South West. Part of its southern border surrounds the northern shores of Lake Victoria. Its altitude (excluding the Rwenzori and Elgon mountains), is between 900 and 1500 meters with an average height of 1000 above sea level.

The country enjoys steady (and pleasant) temperatures all year round with temperatures between 20 and 27 degrees by day, owing to its position along the equator. Night temperatures vary between 15 and 19 degrees. The country enjoys two rain seasons- around mid-year and towards the end of the year.

Uganda is an independent republic that only recently returned to a multi party system of governance after a constitutional amendment in 2005 caused a change from the Movement system of government that had been in practice since 1986. The president is the head of state and the chief of the military forces. He heads an Executive that is complemented by the Judiciary and Parliament. The basic unit of administration is the Local Council, headed by a chairperson. Local Councils go up from Level 1 to 5, which is the district level. There are 76 districts in Uganda, and every district has an elected chairman.

Uganda has a fully liberalized economy with an average annual growth of 5-6% over the last two decades. About 85% of the population derives its livelihood from agriculture- mostly subsistence in nature. A few more Ugandans are gainfully employed in the services and manufacturing industries. Tourism is also a significant contributor to the country’s economy, as is the export of agricultural produce. Mining is not as significant an industry as it is in some neighbouring countries, but that should change after the recent discovery of commercially viable deposits of oil in western Uganda.

According to estimates, Uganda’s population stands at about 28 million, with a growth rate of 4%- one of the highest in the world. The majority of the population is rural-based. The country boasts over 40 tribes spread out in over 70 districts. English is the official language, although Luganda is the most widely spoken local language. Kiswahili is also commonly used in eastern and northern parts of Uganda. At least 80% of Ugandans are professed Christians, with 16% are Muslims. About 4% are traditionalists, although it is not unusual to find locals who subscribe to both Christian and traditional ways of worship.

Uganda has enjoyed relative calm for the last twenty years, except for Northern Uganda, which has been ravaged by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels since 1987. However, negotiations for a peaceful resolution of this conflict have been on-going since mid-2006, and a return to peace is not far off.

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