If Uganda isn’t already on your bucket list of travel destinations, it definitely should be. While you’re there, you can walk through the streets of the beautiful and bustling capital city of Kampala. You can adventure through Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, whose thick, green canopies truly allow the park to live up to its name. You can see elephants, lions, giraffes and gorillas from the back of a safari vehicle. And best of all, you can meet the beautiful people who make up this pearl of a country.
While you’re in Uganda, you will also see the reality of poverty that the country continues to face. To this day, Uganda struggles with extreme poverty, child malnutrition, poor sanitation, access to electricity and education completion. But, despite the challenges it faces, Uganda has made great progress and has so much hope and goodness to share with the world. That’s why we’d like to share some fun facts about Uganda with you today. As you read this blog, may you be filled with hope and an even more profound understanding of what life is like for the nearly 126,000 Compassion-assisted children who live there?
Key Facts About Uganda
Here are some quick, interesting facts you should know about Uganda.
- Population: 43,252,966
- Capital: Kampala
- Official language: English and Swahili
- Area: 93,065 square miles, which is slightly smaller than the state of Oregon
Economy: Agriculture is one of the most important sectors of the Ugandan economy. 72% of the workforce is employed in agriculture. Top agricultural products in Uganda include coffee, tea, cotton and flowers, which also are some of the country’s top exports. Other important industries include sugar processing and cement and steel production. While Uganda’s economy has improved in recent years, 21.4% of the population still lives below the poverty line.
Culture and Traditions of Uganda
Some of the most fun facts about Uganda centre on the country’s culture and traditions. Uganda is home to many ethnic groups and dozens of different languages, making its culture both interesting and diverse. It’s also a nation filled with religious history, colourful clothes and close family ties. Let’s jump in!
Religion: While Uganda is a predominantly Christian nation, the country’s constitution provides for religious freedom. Currently, 45.1% of the population identifies as Protestant, 39.3% as Catholic and 13.7% as Muslim. The rest of its people either practice an Indigenous religion or are not religious. Islam was the first outside religion to be brought into Uganda. Then, during the colonial period, Protestantism and Catholicism were brought into the country by missionaries. Rivalry, and at times hostility, has been sharper between Protestants and Catholics than it has been between Christians and Muslims.
Clothing: Ugandan clothing is representative of the country’s population — it’s diverse. If you visit Uganda, you’ll see lots of different styles represented. Wealthier people tend to dress in modern Western fashion while other less-affluent people often dress more traditionally. The “kanzu” is a traditional item of clothing for men. It’s a long tunic that’s often white or creamy. It was originally brought to Buganda, a kingdom presently located in southern Uganda, by Arab traders in the 19th century. However, now men all over the country wear kanzus. For women, the most famous traditional clothing item is called a “gomesi.” A gomesi is a long dress that has triangular shoulder pads, a square net and a cloth hanging from one hip. While women all across Uganda wear gomesis, they also originated among the Baganda and Basoga people.
General culture: Uganda is made up of many different ethnic groups that influence the culture. The largest group is the Baganda (the people of Buganda, also called the Ganda), which makes up 17% of the population. They mostly live in the southern part of the country. Historically, the country has struggled with ethnic divisions. But today, relations between the different groups are relatively harmonious. There are common interests, like football (soccer) and cricket, and common values, like the importance of family and lineage.
Music and Dance of Uganda
With the many different ethnic groups and languages found in Uganda comes a variety of musical traditions and preferences. There are so many different traditions that we could write a whole blog post about them! So, we’ll just start by sharing a couple of Uganda’s most famous music and dance customs today.
“Ekitaguriro” is the main traditional style of music in western Uganda. It originates from the Banyankore people. The main instruments used in ekitaguriro are the “omukuri” (flute) and the “engoma” (drum). The ekitaguriro music and dance honour the longhorn cattle found in this region. It is danced by both women and men. The dancers follow the beat of the drum, mimicking the foot sounds, rhythms and movements of the beloved cattle.
In central Uganda, which is mostly inhabited by Baganda people, common musical instruments include the “ngalabi” (a long, round drum), the “endongo” (a harp-like instrument) and the “adungukadigindi” (a fiddle). “Baakisimba” is one of the dances performed in this region. The dance mimics the drunken movements of the king who ruled the Buganda region in the early 1800s. At the time, referring to a king as “drunk” was taboo, so people simply said he was “happy” and began mimicking his swaying movements. The tradition still holds, and the Baganda people still dance the baakisimba today.
Food and Drink of Uganda
The food and drink of Uganda are simply delicious. Most Ugandan people only eat two meals each day: lunch and dinner. It’s not uncommon for breakfast to be only a cup of tea or porridge. Food staples include bananas or plantains, millet, cassava, sweet potatoes, chicken and beef and more. Many of these ingredients you’ll find in the popular food and drinks listed below.
Matooke is a traditional Ugandan dish. Many Ugandans eat it every day. Matooke is not only the name of the green banana but also of a savoury dish. The dish is made by peeling the green bananas, which haven’t yet become sweet, and cooking them in water or steaming them in banana leaves. It’s a little bit like mashed potatoes, just made with bananas! Learn how to make your matooke with peanut sauce today!
Luwombo is another popular, traditional dish made in Uganda. It is a stew-like meal made of meat (such as chicken, beef or fish) that is soaked in peanut sauce. Sometimes vegetables like mushrooms, potatoes or carrots are added. Then, the ingredients are wrapped up in banana leaves and steamed for hours. Often, Luwombo is served with matooke!
Mandazi is a yummy treat that Ugandans — and many other Africans — love to eat. Essentially, it’s an African doughnut. It is fried bread that is often sweetened with coconut milk and shaped into triangles or circles. Sometimes cinnamon and sugar are added to make them extra tasty. You can eat them by themselves or dip them in tea or juice. Sounds yummy, right? Learn how to make your mandazi!
Tea is not only one of Uganda’s most important agricultural products and exports, but it’s also a popular drink! However, when ordering a cup of tea in Uganda, just know that it often comes spiced. Ginger tea is particularly popular!
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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 e-visas website. You can also apply for these, and other types of visas, 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 the 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 Uganda for tourism purposes or business purposes or medical purposes. The applicant needs to mention the purpose of his visit. Uganda tourist visas and Uganda work visas are 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.