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Uganda Culture, Geography and History
Culture and Customs of Uganda
Uganda is home to many different tribal groups, and a wide variety of different customs and traditions can be observed depending on where you travel in Uganda. Spontaneous dance and song is a hallmark of African culture and this is not an exception in Uganda, where tribes and villages will often greet groups of newcomers with rousing song and dance. Greeting others is a very important part of Ugandan culture and not greeting or acknowledging someone you are passing or meeting can be seen as impolite, especially in rural areas and villages. Shaking hands is an appropriate greeting when meeting someone for the first time and often both hands are given for a handshake.
Food or drink is often extended to visitors, even though many Ugandans have very little, and it is viewed as impolite to decline an offer of food or hospitality. Accept willingly and graciously eat or drink what has been offered to you. Generally, most of Uganda’s population lives in rural or regional centres, although urban areas are rapidly expanding and modern influences are infiltrating Ugandan society at a fast rate. With this modernisation, some of the old ways are dying out as younger Ugandans become more adept at using technology, although many still live tribal lives based on hunting and agriculture.
Geography and Environment of Uganda
Uganda sits in East Africa and shares borders with Sudan, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Kenya. Despite being landlocked, Uganda still has access to fresh water via surrounding lakes (Lake Victoria, Lake Edward and Lake Albert). As a well-watered country with rich soil, much of Uganda’s land is used for agriculture and cash crops. Coffee, cotton, tea and tobacco plantations are common sights, as are farms of plantains, corn and cassava. The rest of the country is a combination of woodlands, swamp, forest and savanna, as well as pockets of protected nature reserves and national parks.
History and Government of Uganda
Inhabited by hunter-gatherer tribes for centuries, it's thought that the Hamitic people from neighbouring countries arrived sometime before 1000 AD, bringing with them knowledge of animal husbandry and agriculture. Migration from neighbouring countries continued, with tribespeople from Kenya and Tanzania flowing into Uganda well into the 16th century, as well as Arab traders moving inland from the coast and Christian missionaries arriving during the 1800s.
Uganda came under colonial rule during the late 1800s, and was known as the Kingdom of Uganda under British rule. Colonial rule continued for many years until independence was granted in 1962. From 1971 to 1979, Uganda came under the rule of Idi Amin, hallmarked by a time of economic decline and human rights violations. By the time Amin had fled to Libya, many Ugandans were suffering from extreme economic hardship and social difficulties. Conflicts with neighbouring countries in the 80s and 90s created more turmoil and upheaval, although more recently, Ugandans have enjoyed a time of relative peace with an improved economy largely due to an increase in tourist numbers and agricultural export.
Uganda at a glance
- Kampala (population 773,463)
- 34.6 million
- Swahili, English, Ganda
- (GMT+03:00) Nairobi
- Type G (Irish/British 3-pin)
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