Uganda is a country in east Africa, surrounded by Kenya (to the east), Congo (to the west), and Tanzania and Rwanda (to the south). This country lies across the equator and comprises three different geographical areas: a verdant plateau with rolling hills, a desert area, and swamp-filled lowlands. Uganda embraces Lake Victoria (source of the White Nile) and the green Ruwenzori Mountains (which endangered mountain gorillas call home).
Uganda is sunny for most of the year, with an average annual temperature of 26ºC and a maximum temperature of around 29ºC. The dry period runs from December to February and June to August, while the rain lasts from March to May and again from October to November.
Uganda, often referred to as ‘the Pearl of Africa’, is perhaps best known for its endangered gorillas, who inhabit the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Mgahinga National Park. It is also home to Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa, which it shares with Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. Uganda is a frequent choice for travellers seeking to take part in fun safaris; some of its best known parks include Kidepo, Lake Mburo, and the Kibale Forest National Park.
From 500 B.C. to 1300 A.D., the Bantu-speaking people commenced their migration to this area, establishing the state of Buganda. In the late 19th century, the British took control of the area and renamed it Uganda. In 1962, Uganda gained its independence, with Bugandan King, Mutesa II, becoming President and Milton Obote being declared President and abolishing all tribal kingdoms. In 1971, military leader Idi Amin overthrew Obote, ruling for eight years; during his rule, some 300,000 people were killed. In 1979, Amin was forced out of Uganda after Tanzanian troops invaded the area, spurred on by his previous attacks in Tanzania. In 1993, the kingdom of Buganda and other kingdoms were restored by an amendment to the constitution. In 2000, Uganda joined Tanzania and Kenya to form the East African Community.
Uganda’s many mountains, rivers, lakes and forest give rise to many ecosystems, where a host of plants and animals thrive. Winston Churchill once spoke effusively about the flora and fauna, marvelling at the variety, colour and profusion of life in these lands. Uganda is ranked as one of the top ten countries in the world in terms of biodiversity, as per the Convention of Biological Diversity. The highlands are filled with long grass and forest areas, the southwest is rich with cultivated plants and the north is home to short grass and stately borassus palms. Mvuli tree forests abound, as do tall elephant grasses. The fauna in this verdant country is equally diverse and includes a plethora of animal, bird, fish and insects. Gorillas, chimpanzees and black rhinoceros are among the most popular animals to be seen at safaris, though giraffes, hippopotami, crocodiles, zebras, antelopes, gazelles and topis also form part of the moving spectacle that is life in the wild. Some of Uganda’s most beautiful birds include the heron, the weaver, and the crowned crane (which is the national emblem). Famous fish, meanwhile, include tilapia, elephant snout fish and the Nile perch.
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