Official name – Republic of Uganda.
Location – Eastern Africa, west of Kenya.
Area – Total: 236,580 sq km, land: 199,710 sq km, water: 36,330 sq km. Landlocked.
The capital city and major towns – Kampala. Major cities and towns Gulu, Lira, Jinja, Mbale, Mbarara, Masaka.
Borders – A landlocked country on the equator in East Africa, Uganda is bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo (formally Zaire) to the west, Sudan to the north, Kenya to the east and Rwanda and Tanzania to the south.
Climate – Uganda’s temperatures are moderate throughout the year. In Kampala, near Lake Victoria, average daily temperatures range from 18 to 25 [degrees] C. There are two dry seasons (December to February, June to August); semi-arid in the northeast.
Population – 45 million people
Ethnic make-up – Baganda 16.9%, Banyakole 9.5%, Basoga 8.4%, Bakiga 6.9%, Iteso 6.4%, Langi 6.1%, Acholi 4.7%, Bagisu 4.6%, Lugbara 4.2%, Bunyoro 2.7%, other 29.6% (2002 census)
Religion – Roman Catholic 41.9%, Protestant 42% (Anglican 35.9%, Pentecostal 4.6%, Seventh Day Adventist 1.5%), Muslim 12.1%, other 3.1%, none 0.9% (2002 census)
Language – English is the official language, and Swahili is also spoken. There are some 40 indigenous languages the most common being Luganda and Luo.
Communications – The country code for Uganda is +256. Telephone, telex, fax and airmail services connect Uganda to all parts of the world. International direct dialling is available in all major centres. Public call boxes in post offices and main towns operate on a card system, available from most small shops. Several cellular phone companies operate in Uganda and roaming works near most major cities and towns. Internet cafes are plentiful in major city centres.
Business hours – Business hours are generally from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm on weekdays with a lunch break between 1 and 2pm. Some businesses open on Saturday morning.
Currency – The unit of currency is the Uganda shilling (UGS or USh). 1 Ugandan shilling = 100 cents. The US dollar is traditionally the hard currency of preference, but Euro and Pounds Sterling are also widely accepted. Hard currency cash can be changed for local currency at banks and private bureau de change in all large towns, but travellers’ cheques are not widely accepted outside Kampala. Local currency can be drawn against Visa and other major credit cards at selected ATMs in Kampala, at Entebbe International Airport, and in a few other large towns.
Currency Exchange – Most hotels offer forex facilities, though sometimes at disadvantageous rates. Forex facilities remain open at the main airports.
Banking – Banks and bureau de change are available at airports and in all major towns. Banking hours are from Monday – Friday 8.30 am – 2.00 pm (some banks open on Saturday morning).
Credit cards and traveller’s cheques – Some credit cards are accepted in major hotels, and American Express is the most widely accepted.
Tipping – Tipping is appreciated. Most hotels and restaurants include a 10% service charge.
Time – GMT +3 all year round. Uganda maintains an almost constant 12 hours of daylight. Sunrise is typically 6.30 am and sunset at 6.45 pm.
Electricity – 220-240 volts AC.
Water – Ugandan is not recommended to drink. Bottled water is readily available.
Landscape – Mostly plateau, with a rim of mountains. The lowest point is Lake Albert (621 m) and the highest point: is Margherita Peak on Mount Stanley (5,110 m).
The national parks and reserves – The national parks of Uganda (11, 023 sq km) have been set aside as wildlife and botanical sanctuaries. There are 10 national parks and several game reserves. The main national parks are; Bwindi Impenetrable, Kibale, Kidepo Valley, Lake Mburo, Mgahinga Gorilla, Mount Elgon, Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth, Ruwenzori, and Semuliki.
National museums and historical sites – The Uganda National Museum, Kampala; Bigo Bya Mugenyi, Kabaka Mwanga’s Lake, The Kakoro Rock Paintings, Kamukazi, The Kasubi Tombs, Masaka Hill, The Mparo Tombs, Mubende Hill, The Munsa Earthworks, The Namugongo Shrine, The Nkokonjeru Tomb, Ntusi, Numagabwe Cave, The Nyero Rock Paintings.
Flora – The vegetation of Uganda can be divided into; forest, moist savannah, dry savannah, semi-desert, aquatic vegetation, afro-alpine moorland and grassland.
Fauna – The East African plains support some of the last great herds of wildlife left in the world, offering a greater number and diversity of species than any other continent: Uganda offers 50 large mammal species all members of the Big Five (elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and rhinoceros) and she is particularly famous for her primates – especially the mountain gorillas (western lowland, eastern lowland and mountain). There are also 300 species of butterflies.
Avifauna – Uganda offers over 1000 avian species including many migratory species from Europe and Asia.
Entry requirements – A valid passport. Most visitors to Uganda require a visa to enter the country. Three-month single-entry tourist visas are available from all Ugandan embassies (price subject to nationality).
Health certification – Visitors arriving from areas affected by yellow fever and cholera require certificates of inoculation. Malaria and bilharzia are endemic.
Vaccinations – Several vaccinations are recommended for visitors to Uganda (check with your doctor in advance).
Malaria – Malaria is endemic in tropical Africa and protection against it is necessary.
HIV/AIDS – HIV/AIDS is a serious problem throughout Africa.
Medical insurance – Travellers to Uganda are recommended to obtain medical insurance before arrival.
Security – Uganda is a safe country to travel in. Ugandans are warm-hearted and generous people and are eager to help visitors get the most out of their stay. Uganda is a politically stable, multi-democratic country. As in all countries, a little common sense goes a long way and reasonable precautions should still be taken, such as locking valuables in the hotel safe and not walking alone at night.
Travelling to Uganda
- By air – Entebbe International Airport, which lies 40 km from the capital Kampala, is serviced by several international airlines.
- Driving – Driving (international driving licence required) in Uganda is on the left-hand side and traffic signs are international.
- Public transport – Buses and taxis operate in most towns. Price is open to negotiation and should be decided in advance.
Dressing – Uganda has no winter and lightweight clothing is worn all year round. It is considered insulting by local tradition to dress scantily or improperly. Daytime temperatures are generally warm to hot, and evenings are cooler, especially at high altitudes.
Do’s and don’ts – It is an offence to deface a Ugandan banknote; urinate in public; sunbath topless; hire a prostitute; buy or take drugs; remove wildlife products from Uganda, export products made from elephant, rhino or sea turtle derivatives, or to remove coral. Swearing and blasphemy are inadvisable. Visitors are requested to stand when the Ugandan anthem is played, or the national flag is raised or lowered. They are also advised that photographing the president without prior permission or any military installation is not permitted.
Photography – It is considered courteous to ask people if you may take their picture before doing so, particularly in the more far-flung rural areas. A small (token) payment for the photograph may be expected, rather more as a form of polite appreciation than anything else.
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You need a visa to enter Uganda. You can either get a visa on arrival at the airport, or before you travel. You can apply for single entry and transit visas on the evisas website. You can also apply for these, and other types of visa, at the Uganda High Commission in London.
The charge for the visa on arrival is US$50 in cash while the charge for processing the E-visa application yourself via the correct Uganda government website (http://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html) is US$52.53 including credit card fee.
Single Entry Visa is allowed to Indian travellers who wish to stay in Uganda for a short period. … Indians who travel to a Uganda for tourism purpose or business purpose or medical purpose. The applicant needs to mention the purpose of his visit. Uganda tourist visa and Uganda work visa are the single-entry visas.
The official processing duration for a Ugandan visa as per the official Ugandan Consulates’ site is 14 business days. However, this duration does vary between 2 and 15 days depending on the Embassy to be contacted.