Uganda will host the Commonwealth Local Government Conference in May 2013. Samuel Kavuma of Uganda was in 2010 appointed to the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group, which presented its recommendations for reform in the Commonwealth to Commonwealth leaders at CHOGM in Australia in October 2011. Ugandans won the Commonwealth Essay Competition in 1989 and 2007. Dorcas Inzikuru took the Commonwealth Games Women’s 3,000 Metres Steeplechase record in the Melbourne Games in 2006.
Uganda is a landlocked East African country lying astride the equator. It is bordered (clockwise from north) by Sudan, Kenya, United Republic of Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kampala (capital, pop. 1.51m in 2010), Gulu (216,200), Lira (182,800), Jinja (97,300), Kasese (93,300), Mbarara (91,900), Kitgum (87,100), Mbale (80,700), Njeru (73,500), Arua (70,900), Entebbe (67,300), Masaka (66,900), Kabale (56,500), Iganga (55,500), Koboko (55,300), Tororo (53,800), Mukono (53,600), Hoima (53,300) and Mityana (49,500).
Some 70,750km of roads radiate from Kampala, 23% of which are paved. The railway network extends over 260km. At the end of 1993, passenger services between Kampala and Kenya were resumed after a break of 15 years. Entebbe International Airport is 35km south-west of Kampala.
Uganda is a member of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, African Union, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, East African Community, Non-Aligned Movement, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, United Nations and World Trade Organization. Uganda was a member, with Kenya and United Republic of Tanzania, of the East African Community, which from 1967 had a common market and many shared services but collapsed in 1977. The three countries again embarked on developing regional cooperation in 1993, bringing about progressive harmonisation of standards and policies across a wide range of activities, and launching a new East African Community in January 2001 and East African Customs Union in January 2005. The Community was enlarged in July 2007 when Burundi and Rwanda became members. Uganda is also a member of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, which was established in 1986 by the six countries in the Horn of Africa to combat drought and desertification and promote food security in the region.
Water, with swampland, covers nearly 20% of the surface area. The largest lakes include Lake George, Lake Kyoga, and parts of Lakes Victoria, Albert and Edward. From its source in Lake Victoria, the White Nile flows northwards through the country. Mountains include the high Rwenzori range in the west (Margherita Peak on Mount Stanley is 5,110m) and Mount Elgon (4,253m) in the east.
Equatorial, tempered with breezes and showers. Cooler in the higher areas. Heavy rain from March to May, and in October and November. Little rainfall in the north-east; though north-east parts of the country experienced unusually heavy rainfall in the latter part of 2007 with heavy flooding displacing tens of thousands of people.
The most significant issues are: draining of wetlands for agricultural use; overgrazing, soil erosion and deforestation; water hyacinth infestation in Lake Victoria; and poaching.
Much of the country, being so well-watered, is richly fertile; there is arid semi-desert in the north-east. Most of the country’s vegetation is savannah with tropical forests in areas of high rainfall. Drought-resistant bush, grasses and succulents grow in the north-east. Forest covers 15% of the land area, having declined at 2.3% p.a. 1990–2010. Arable land comprises 33% and permanent cropland 11% of the total land area.
Uganda has 7,200 sq km of national parks and game reserves, reflecting the extraordinary diversity of the country which comprises lakes, swamps, dense grassland, woodland, rolling plains, forests and mountains. There is a rich variety of wildlife, including elephants, Uganda kob, buffaloes, lions, rhinos, mountain gorillas and chimpanzees – 338 species of mammals and 830 species of birds.