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Uganda Overview

Uganda is located on the equator in East Africa, bordering South Sudan to the North, Kenya and Tanzania to the East, Rwanda to the South and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the West.  It is a stunning country, home to the highest mountain range in Africa, the source of the mighty Nile, and the majestic mountain gorilla, one of the rarest animals on the planet.  The people in Uganda are incredibly friendly and the scenery is so striking that it often looks like an oil painting!

In the 1970s and 1980s Uganda was notorious for its human rights abuses, first during the military dictatorship of Idi Amin from 1971-79 and then after the return to power of Milton Obote, who had been ousted by Amin.  During this time up to half a million people were killed in state-sponsored violence.

Since the late 1980s Uganda rebounded from the abyss of civil war and economic catastrophe to become relatively peaceful and stable.  A rebel group called the Lords Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony, threatened to destablise the progress made, devastating the North of the country in the late 90s and early 2000s, but this region is now largely stable.   The global economic turndown of 2008 hit Uganda hard pushing up prices for food and other staple goods.

Read more about Uganda


Key Facts
54 / 55
life expectancy (m / f)
percentage of population under 30
position on UNDP Human Development Index (out of 187 countries)

Capital: Kampala

Major languages: English (official), Swahili (official), Luganda, various Bantu and Nilotic languages

Major religions: Christianity, Islam

Main exports: Coffee, fish and fish products, tea; tobacco, cotton, corn, beans, sesame


Education and Employment
complete primary education
youth unemployment

Uganda, like many sub-Saharan African countries, faces major challenges to build up its education system.  At the most fundamental level it has to provide enough places for one of the world’s fastest growing populations. There are more Ugandans under the age of 18 than there are adults.  Many of the challenges facing schools are really about wider, non-educational questions of infrastructure – access to mains electricity, reliable payment system for teachers and basic school equipment such as text books.

Youth unemployment in Uganda is the highest in Africa. A recent study, ‘Lost opportunity? Gaps in youth policy and programming in Uganda’, published by ActionAid, put youth unemployment at 62%, although the African Development Bank says it could be as high as 83%.

Uganda has the world’s largest percentage of young people under 30 – 78% – according to the to the 2012 State of Uganda population report by the UN Population Fund. The “youth bulge” in Uganda’s population has been recognised by the UN, with skills training and job creation among the targets suggested in drafts for the post-2015 development goals.

Source: BBC, Guardian

access to safe drinking water
adult HIV prevalence

Uganda made commendable progress during the 1990s to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. The proportion of pregnant women attending antenatal care clinics who were HIV-positive fell from a high of 18% in 1992 to around 6% in 2000.

The success was due to a variety of measures that enabled changes in sexual behaviour, as well as provision of care and support services. Over that period, the reduction in HIV prevalence was particularly rapid in urban areas and Uganda was one of the first countries in the world to report a decline in the rate of new infections and a contracting epidemic.

However, the data since the late 1990s show a worrying, upward trend in the number of new infections. Hence, while Uganda may earlier on have been well under way to reverse or halt the spread of HIV, the situation today is deteriorating. The recent epidemic expansion in the absolute number of new infections is related to high population growth, but indicators also show persistently high levels of risky behaviour (e.g., multiple partners and decreased condom use), and only 32% of young people aged 15-24 have comprehensive knowledge about HIV. This is, in part, due to US-backed aid and religious organisations that promote abstinence over condom use as a prevention for contracting HIV.

Source: UNDP