Uganda – the Pearl of Africa

woman with oranges in Kampala stretching her leg
A woman carrying oranges on her head in Kampala stretching her leg before carrying on walking again

Uganda is often referred to as “The pearl of Africa” but what does that actually mean? Due to the country’s geographical location tugged in between Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC and South Sudan – Uganda consists a bit of them all! In the north-eastern corner of Uganda where Kidepo Game Reserve is situated, you find the same semi arid savanna as you will find in southern Sudan and western Ethiopia or even northern kenya. Actually the desert-like landscapes around Lake Turkana is just across the border to Kenya.

On the Western border though, Uganda’s landscapes are similar to those in the Eastern DRC, Rwanda and Burundi – lush green with verdant hills and even some of the highest mountains in Africa – the mighty Ruwenzoris – with Mount Stanley at a height of 5109 meter (16,762 ft) being the third highest in all of Africa. The mountains are occasionally identified with the legendary “Mountains of the moon”, depicted in antiquity as the source of the Nile River.

In the south Uganda borders Burundi and Tanzania and in the south west it borders Kenya. Uganda is in the African Great Lakes region and the southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria shared with Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda also lies within the Nile Basin and has a varied but generally a modified equatorial climate.

Much of the south of Uganda is very much influenced by Lake Victoria, one of the world’s biggest lakes, which contains many islands. The Ssese Islands in the Ugandan part of the lake probably the most famous, with big potential for further tourism.

Most important cities are located in the south, near this lake, including the capital Kampala and the nearby city of Entebbe. Besides Lakes Victoria Uganda also possesses Lake Kyoga, there are Lake Albert, Lake Edward and the smaller lake George.

The landscapes in Uganda are beautiful and extremely varied and the flora and fauna world class! Bird watchers will be in a “birders paradise” with more than 1000 species of birds and of course the Mountain Gorillas are probably the most famous and unique attractions of Uganda’s many attributes and qualities.

Uganda’s remarkable avian diversity can be attributed to its location between the East African savanna, West African rainforests and semi-desert of the north. The country has only two endemics which only occur in the country, but if you only take East Africa into consideration, there are 150 species to be found only in Uganda. Migrant birds are present from November to April.

Great blue Turaco in Kakamega forest
The Great blue Turaco live in Central African countries like Uganda and DR Congo and a few places in Western Kenya

The Buganda kingdom

Two men building a brick wall in Kampala
Masons building a brick wall in Kampala

Uganda is named after the Buganda kingdom, which encompasses a large portion of the south of the country. The Kingdom of Buganda is one of three territories in Uganda. Buganda is the largest of four regions in Uganda. It’s a kingdom within the republic.

The people of Uganda were hunter-gatherers until 1,800 to 2,300 years ago, when Bantu speaking populations migrated to the southern parts of the country.

The official languages are English and Swahili although any other language may be used as a medium of instruction in schools or other educational institutions or for legislative, administrative or judicial purposes as may be prescribed by law.