oa Africa Insight - Country profile - Uganda

Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-2804



Uganda, a land-locked country lying astride the equator, more than 2 000 km from the Indian Ocean, has had a very unsettled political history since independence. It became independent on 9 October 1962, after having been one of the British East African territories for nearly 70 years. The national boundaries forms a physiographic unity but encompass numerous disparate tribal and language groups, with the result that there is much cultural diversity and socio-political disunity. At the turn of the fifteenth century, most of the present country was under the control of Bunyoro, a pastoral state, territorially large but administratively weak. There were three other notable kingdoms: Buganda, a small agricultural and highly centralized kingdom on the northern shore of Lake Victoria; and Toro and Ankole, which were smaller and geographically isolated. The next three centuries witnessed constant rivalry between Buganda and Bunyoro, and by the late eighteenth century, when the first Arab traders and European explorers arrived, Buganda had displaced the formerly dominant Bunyoro. Its position was strengthened by the British, who, in return for help in bringing other parts of the country under British rule, transferred sizeable portions of Bunyoro territory to Buganda, from which the name of the Uganda protectorate was derived.

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