The Republic of Uganda is in East Africa and is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.
Kampala is the capital city. Major cities include Jinja, Mbale and Mbarara.
Uganda's terrain consists of plateau and mountains. Principal rivers are the Albert Nile and the Victoria Nile. Uganda's lakes are Lake Victoria on the borders with Kenya and Tanzania, Lakes Albert and Edward on the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Lakes George and Kyoga.
The climate is tropical with dry and rainy seasons.
A variety of landscapes are found in Uganda's National Parks: lakes, rivers, mountains, glaciers, rainforest, savannah plains and swamps.
Parks include Mount Elgon, Kibale Forest, Kidepo Valley, Lake Mburo, Mgahinga Gorilla, Murchison Falls, Semuliki and Queen Elizabeth. Bwindi National Park and the Rwenzori Mountain Park are on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Uganda's National Parks and Game Reserves are home to many animals: antelopes, elephants, giraffes, gorillas, leopards, lions, monkeys, zebras and around a thousand species of birds.
The mountain gorilla is an endangered species. The Kigezi Game Reserve was set up for the protection of the mountain gorilla while the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Gorilla Sanctuary was established to protect the lowland mountain gorilla.
The tallest building in Kampala is the Sheraton hotel with fourteen floors. As well as modern buildings there are villas and iron-roofed bungalows. Jinja, Uganda's second largest city has a number of Asian-style buildings, the legacy of Uganda's Asian community. (2003)
Ugandan round buildings can be seen at the country's World Heritage site, The Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi in the Kampala district. The tombs, constructed of wood, thatch, reed and wattle and daub, were established in 1884, and were originally the palace of the Kabakas of Buganda (built 1882).
The population of Uganda was estimated at 27,269,482 in 2005.
English is the official language. Luganda, Swahili, other Bantu and Nilotic languages are spoken.
Around sixty percent of the people are Christian, sixteen percent are Muslim and eighteen percent have indigenous African beliefs.
Staple foods eaten in Uganda are plantains, corn, millet and sorghum. Vegetables grown include beans, sweet potatoes and cassava. Cassava, a root vegetable, can be made into dumplings (fufu). Fruit and groundnuts are available.
Soups and stews are supplemented with goat's meat, beef and fish. Chicken is also eaten.
People in southern Uganda use hot spices and eat chapati bread because of the historical presence of an Indian population. In the west of the country, where cattle are widely reared, dairy products are an important part of the diet. In times of drought millet and sorghum are popular as they are relatively easy to grow.
Sorghum is used to make beer for local consumption.
Uganda has been inhabited since the Stone Age. Evidence of early man has been found in Nsongezi and Sango Bay.
Over the years Bantu people migrated to the area; later, other peoples settled in the region. By the fourteenth century various kingdoms were established including the Bantu kingdom of Buganda and those of Ankole and Toro.
Arab traders arrived in Uganda in the 1830s and in the 1860s British explorers crossed into the country looking for the source of the Nile. Missionaries followed and by the end of the 1880s the British East Africa Company was trading in Uganda.
An Anglo-German agreement was signed in 1890 assigning Uganda and Kenya to Britain; the British continued to rule Uganda until independence in 1962.
Soon after independence Dr Milton Obote took control of the country. Obote abolished the Buganda monarchy and exiled Kabaka Mutesa II, the Head of State.
In 1971, Obote's military Chief of Staff, Idi Amin, staged a coup exiling Obote to Tanzania. During Amin's rule many hundreds of thousands of people were killed and fifty thousand Asians were exiled.
The 1979 war between Uganda and Tanzania put an end to Amin's reign. Eventually Obote came back to power but was ousted by another coup in 1985. Museveni, who led the National Resistance Army, opposed to Obote, became Uganda's President in 1986.
In the years following independence Uganda suffered political instability that, in turn, caused economic problems and the build up of a huge debt. The Ugandan economy also suffered a loss of business expertise when Idi Amin expelled the Asian Ugandan community in 1972. These people were successful in many areas of Ugandan trade and industry and since 1986 the government has promoted the return of Asian Ugandan entrepreneurs.
Today, agriculture accounts for over eighty percent of the working population; thirteen percent work in services and five percent work in industry. Agricultural products for export are coffee (the most important cash crop), tea, sugarcane, vanilla, cotton and cut flowers. Important industries include brewing, food processing, tobacco, cotton, textiles and cement. Uganda has large deposits of copper and cobalt.
Eco-tourism is seen as a way of developing the tourist industry but at the same time conserving the environment. The National Parks and Game Reserves are promoted but care is taken with the environment and wildlife. For example, Uganda's gorillas are an asset to the tourist industry but only six tourists are allowed to visit a group of gorillas a day. (2003)
Music and dance are a traditional part of Ugandan culture; the oral tradition of story-telling closely linked with music.
The work of Okot p'Bitek's was related to the oral tradition. Okot p'Bitek (1931-1982), born in Gulu in Northern Uganda was a famous poet (Song of Lawino, Song of Ocol) and novelist (White Teeth). After attending university in the UK he taught at universities in Makerere (Uganda), Nairobi, Iowa and Texas and was responsible for many initiatives in the arts.
Football is Uganda's most popular sport. Other popular sports are basketball, rugby, hockey and cricket.
Uganda competes successfully in the Olympic Games, especially track and field events.
Christmas, Easter and New Year (1 January) are public holidays. Muslim religious days include Eid Al Fitr (End of Ramadan) and Eid Al Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice).
Other days which are celebrated include Independence Day, 9 October (1962) and National Heroes Day, 9 June.