REPUBLIC OF UGANDA
Profile / History / People / Government / Economy/
Area: 241,040 sq. km. (93,070 sq. mi.); about the size of Oregon.
Cities: Capital--Kampala (1991 pop. 774,214). Other cities--Jinja, 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.); insouthwest, rainfall 130 cm. (50 in.) or more. Two dry seasons: Dec.-Feb. and June-July.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Ugandan(s).
Population (1995): 19 million.
Annual growth rate (1994): 2.9%.
Ethnic groups: African 99%, European, Asian, Arab 1%.
Religions: Christian 66%, Muslim 16%, traditional and other 18%.
Languages: English (official); Luganda and Swahili widely used; other Bantu andNilotic languages.
Education: Attendance (1995, primary school enrollment, public and private)--56%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--81/1,000. Life expectancy--37 yrs.
Type: No-party "Movement" system.
Constitution: The new Constitution was ratified on July 12, 1995, and promulgatedon October 8, 1995. Uganda held its first presidential election under the 1995Constitution on May 9, 1996, followed by parliamentary elections on June 27, 1996. TheConstitution provides for an executive president, to be elected every five years, but withsignificant requirements for parliamentary approval of presidential actions.
Independence: October 9, 1962.
Branches: Executive--president, vice president, prime minister, cabinet.Legislative--parliament. There are 214 directly elected representatives and specialindirectly elected seats for representatives of women 39, youth 5, workers 3, disabled 5,and the army 10. Judiciary -- magistrates courts, High Court, Court ofAppeals, SupremeCourt.
Administrative subdivisions: 45 districts (6 recently authorized).
Political parties (political party activity is largely suspended): Uganda People'sCongress (UPC), Democratic Party (DP), Conservative Party (CP).
Suffrage: Universal adult.
National holiday: Independence Day, Oct. 9.
Flag: Six horizontal stripes--black, yellow, red, black, yellow, red with thenational emblem, the crested crane, in a centered white circle.
GDP (1994): $5.155 billion.
Inflation rate (December 1996): Approx. 4.4%.
Natural resources: Copper, cobalt, limestone.
Agriculture: Cash crops--coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, sugarcane, cut flowers,vanilla. Food crops--bananas, corn, cassava, potatoes, millet, pulses (largelyself-sufficient in food). Livestock and fisheries--beef, goat meat, milk, nile perch,tilapia.
Industry: Types--processing of agricultural products (cotton ginning, coffeecuring), cement production, light consumer goods, textiles.
Trade (1995-96): Exports--$624.5 million: coffee, cotton, tobacco, tea. Majormarket--EU. Imports (1994-95)--$1.193 billion: petroleum products, machinery, cotton,textiles, metals, transportation equipment. Major suppliers--OPEC countries, EU.
Exchange rate (March 1998): Uganda shillings 1,155=US $1.
Fiscal year: July 1-June 30.
Africans of three main ethnic groups--Bantu, Nilotic, and Nilo-Hamitic constitute mostof the population. The Bantu are the most numerous and include the Baganda, which, withabout 3 million members (18% of the population), constitute the largest single ethnicgroup.
The people of the southwest comprise 30% of the population, divided into five majorethnic groups: the Banyankole and Bahima,10%; the Bakiga, 8%; the Banyarwanda, 6%; theBunyoro, 3%; and the Batoro, 3%). Residents of the north, largely Nilotic, are the nextlargest group, including the Langi, 6% and the Acholi, 4%. In the northwest are theLugbara, 4%, and the Karamojong, 2% occupy the considerably drier, largely pastoralterritory in the northeast. Europeans, Asians, and Arabs make up about 1% of thepopulation with other groups accounting for the remainder. Uganda's population ispredominately rural, and its density is highest in the southern regions.
Until 1972, Asians constituted the largest nonindigenous ethnic group in Uganda. Inthat 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, Asianshave slowly returned. About 3,000 Arabs of various national origins and small numbers ofAsians live in Uganda. Other nonindigenous people in Uganda include several hundredWestern missionaries and a few diplomats and business people.
When Arab traders moved inland from their enclaves along the Indian Ocean coast of EastAfrica and reached the interior of Uganda in the 1830s, they found several Africankingdoms with well-developed political institutions dating back several centuries. Thesetraders were followed in the 1860s by British explorers searching for the source of theNile River. Protestant missionaries entered the country in 1877, followed by Catholicmissionaries in 1879.
In 1888, control of the emerging British "sphere of interest" in East Africawas assigned by royal charter to the Imperial British East Africa Company, an arrangementstrengthened in 1890 by an Anglo-German agreement confirming British dominance over Kenyaand Uganda. The high cost of occupying the territory caused the company to withdraw in1893, and its administrative functions were taken over by a British commissioner. 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 electionsheld on March 1, 1961. Benedicto Kiwanuka of the Democratic Party became the first ChiefMinister. Uganda maintained its Commonwealth membership.
In succeeding years, supporters of a centralized state vied with those in favor of aloose federation and a strong role for tribally based local kingdoms. Politicalmaneuvering climaxed in February 1966, when Prime Minister Milton Obote suspended theconstitution, assumed all government powers, and removed the president and vice president.In September 1967, a new constitution proclaimed Uganda a republic, gave the presidenteven greater powers, and abolished the traditional kingdoms. On January 25, 1971, Obote'sgovernment was ousted in a military coup led by armed forces commander Idi Amin Dada. Amindeclared himself president, dissolved the parliament, and amended the constitution to givehimself absolute power.
Idi Amin's 8-year rule produced economic decline, social disintegration, and massivehuman rights violations. The Acholi and Langi tribes were particular objects of Amin'spolitical persecution because Obote and many of his supporters belonged to those tribesand constituted the largest group in the army. In 1978, the International Commission ofJurists estimated that more than 100,000 Ugandans had been murdered during Amin's reign ofterror; some authorities place the figure much higher.
In October 1978, Tanzanian armed forces repulsed an incursion of Amin's troops intoTanzanian territory. The Tanzanian force, backed by Ugandan exiles, waged a war ofliberation 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 governmentwith Yusuf Lule as president. This government adopted a ministerial system ofadministration and created a quasi-parliamentary organ known as the National ConsultativeCommission (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 replacedPresident Lule with Godfrey Binaisa. In a continuing dispute over the powers of theinterim presidency, Binaisa was removed in May 1980. Thereafter, Uganda was ruled by amilitary commission chaired by Paulo Muwanga. The December 1980 elections returned the UPCto 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. Intheir efforts to stamp out an insurgency led by Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Army(NRA), they lay waste to a substantial section of the country, especially in the Luweroarea north of Kampala.
Obote ruled until July 27, 1985, when an army brigade, composed mostly of Acholi troopsand commanded by Lt. Gen. Basilio Olara-Okello, took Kampala and proclaimed a militarygovernment. Obote fled to exile in Zambia. The new regime, headed by former defense forcecommander Gen. Tito Okello (no relation to Lt. Gen. Olara-Okello), opened negotiationswith the insurgent forces of Yoweri Museveni and pledged to improve respect for humanrights, end tribal rivalry, and conduct free and fair elections. In the meantime, massivehuman rights violations continued as the Okello government murdered civilians and ravagedthe countryside in order to destroy the NRA's support.
Negotiations between the Okello government and the NRA were conducted in Nairobi in thefall of 1985, with Kenyan President Daniel Moi seeking a cease-fire and a coalitiongovernment in Uganda. Although agreeing in late 1985 to a cease-fire, the NRA continuedfighting, seized Kampala in late January 1986, and assumed control of the country, forcingOkello to flee north into Sudan. Museveni's forces organized a government with Museveni aspresident.
Since assuming power, the government dominated by the political grouping created byMuseveni and his followers, the National Resistance Movement (NRM), has largely put an endto the human rights abuses of earlier governments, overseen the successful efforts of ahuman rights commission established to investigate previous abuses, initiated substantialpolitical liberalization and general press freedom, and instituted broad economic reformsafter consultation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and donorgovernments. A constitutional commission was named to draft a new constitution, which wasdebated and ratified by a popularly elected constituent assembly on July 12, 1995 andpromulgated by President Museveni on October 8, 1995.
Under the transitional provisions of the new constitution, the "movementsystem" will continue for five years, including explicit restrictions on activitiesof political parties, which are nonetheless active. The Constitution also calls for areferendum in the fourth year (the year 2000) to determine whether or not Uganda willadopt a multi-party system of democracy.
Insurgent groups, the largest of which--the Lord's Resistance Army--receives supportfrom Sudan--harass government forces and murder and kidnap civilians in the north andwest. They do not, however, threaten the stability of the government. Due to Sudanesesupport of various guerrilla movements, Uganda severed diplomatic relations with Sudan onApril 22, 1995, and contacts between the Government of Uganda and the National IslamicFront-dominated Government of Sudan remain limited.
The executive consists of officials who predominantly espouse movement political views.Yoweri Museveni is the President and Minister of Defense, Dr. Specioza Wandira Kazibwe isthe Vice President, and Kintu Musoke is the Prime Minister. The Minister of ForeignAffairs is Eriya Kategaya.
Legislative responsibility is vested in the 276-person parliament, whose members wereelected in June 1996. The Ugandan judiciary operates as an independent branch ofgovernment and consists of magistrates courts, the high court, the court of appeals (whichalso hears constitutional cases as the "constitutional court") and the SupremeCourt.
Principal Government Officials
President and Minister of Defense--Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
Vice President--Dr. (Mrs.) Specioza W. Kazibwe
Prime Minister--Kintu Musoke
Foreign Minister--Eriya Kategaya
Ambassador to the United States--Edith G. Ssempala
Uganda maintains an embassy in the United States at 5909 16th Street NW, Washington, DC20011 (tel. 202-726-7100).
Uganda's economy has great potential. Endowed with significant natural resources,including ample fertile land, regular rainfall, and mineral deposits, it appeared poisedfor rapid economic growth and development at independence. Yet, chronic politicalinstability and erratic economic management produced a record of persistent economicdecline that left Uganda among the world's poorest and least-developed countries.
After the turmoil of the Amin era, the country began a program of economic recovery in1981 that received considerable foreign assistance. From mid-1984 on, however, overlyexpansionist fiscal and monetary policies and the renewed outbreak of civil strife led toa setback in economic performance.
Since assuming power in early 1986, the government of President Museveni has takenimportant steps toward economic rehabilitation. The country's infrastructure--notably itstransportation and communications systems which were destroyed by war and neglect--isbeing rebuilt. Recognizing the need for increased external support, Uganda negotiated apolicy framework paper with the IMF and the World Bank in 1987. It subsequently beganimplementing economic policies designed to restore price stability and sustainable balanceof payments, improve capacity utilization, rehabilitate infrastructure, restore producerincentives through proper price policies, and improve resource mobilization and allocationin the public sector. By 1990, these policies were beginning to produce results.Inflation, which ran at 240% in 1987 and 42% in June 1992, was 3.4% in 1994/95 and 5.4%for fiscal year 1995/96.
Investment as a percentage of GDP is estimated at 18.3% in 1995/96 compared to 17.9% in1994/95. Private sector investment, largely financed by private transfers from abroad, was12.3% of GDP in 1995/96. Gross National Savings as a percentage of GDP was estimated at20.9% in 1995/96. The Ugandan Government also has worked with donor countries toreschedule or cancel substantial portions of the country's external debts.
Agricultural products supply nearly all of Uganda's foreign exchange earnings, withcoffee alone (of which Uganda is Africa's leading producer) accounting for about 65% ofthe country's exports in 1995/96. Exports of hides, skins, vegetables, fruits, cutflowers, and fish are growing, and cotton, tea, and tobacco continue to be mainstays.
Most industry is related to agriculture. The industrial sector is being rehabilitatedto resume production of building and construction materials, such as cement, reinforcingrods, corrugated roofing sheets, and paint. Domestically produced consumer goods includeplastics, soap, cork, beer, and soft drinks.
Uganda has about 30,000 kilometers (18,750 mi.), of roads; some 2,800 kilometers (1,750mi.) are paved. Most radiate from Kampala. The country has about 1,350 kilometers (800mi.) of rail lines. A railroad originating at Mombasa on the Indian Ocean connects withTororo, where it branches westward to Jinja, Kampala, and Kasese and northward to Mbale,Soroti, Lira, Gulu, and Kapwach. Uganda's important road and rail links to Mombasa serveits transport needs and
also those of its neighbors--Rwanda, Burundi, and parts of Zaire and Sudan. Aninternational airport is at Entebbe on the shore of Lake Victoria, some 32 kilometers (20mi.) south of Kampala.
U.S.-Ugandan relations were strained and ultimately all but broken during Idi Amin'srule. In 1973, persistent security problems and increasingly difficult operatingcircumstances forced withdrawal of U.S. Peace Corps volunteers and the termination ofbilateral U.S. economic assistance. In November 1973, after repeated public threatsagainst U.S. embassy officials and after the expulsion of Marine security guardsresponsible for protecting U.S. Government property and personnel, the embassy was closed.In 1978, Congress legislated an embargo of all U.S trade with Uganda.
Relations improved after Amin's fall. In mid-1979, the United States reopened itsembassy in Kampala. Relations with successor governments were cordial, although Obote andhis administration rejected strong U.S. criticism of Uganda's human rights situation.Bilateral relations between the United States and Uganda have been good since Museveniassumed power, and the United States has welcomed his efforts to end human rights abusesand to pursue economic reform. At the same time, the United States remains concerned aboutcontinuing human rights problems and the pace of progress toward the establishment ofpolitical pluralism.
In the early-to mid-1980s, the United States provided about $10 million in assistanceto Uganda annually, mostly in the form of humanitarian aid (food, medical supplies,hospital rehabilitation, and disaster relief) and agricultural equipment needed to promoteeconomic recovery in the food and cash crop sectors of Uganda's rural economy. The U.S.Agency for International Development currently is funding a multifaceted developmentprogram at a level of about $50 million per year, both direct assistance and Food forPeace commodities.
The U.S. Information Agency has carried out a cultural exchange program aiding theNational Theater and other cultural institutions, bringing Fulbright professors to teachat Makerere University, and sponsoring U.S. study and tour programs for many governmentofficials. U.S. Peace Corps maintains volunteers in the country working in smallenterprise development, natural resources management, and education.
Significant contributions to Ugandan health care, nutrition, education, and parksystems from U.S. missionaries, non-governmental organizations, private universities, AIDSresearchers, and wildlife organizations have brought long-term benefits to U.S.-Ugandanrelations.
Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Nancy J. Powell
Deputy Chief of Mission--Peter Michael McKinley
Public Affairs Officer--Virgil Bodeen
Director, USAID--Donald Clark
The U.S. embassy in Uganda is in the British High Commission Building on ParliamentAvenue, Kampala (tel. 259792/3/5) (fax: 259-794).
For more information, visit the State Department's home page.
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