Uganda : Society


Population density (per sq. km): 


Life expectancy: 
59 years
Primary enrolment: 
91% (2011)

41,490,000 (2016); 15 per cent of people live in urban areas and five per cent in urban agglomerations of more than one million people; growth 3.3 per cent p.a. 1990–2013; birth rate 43 per 1,000 people (49 in 1970); life expectancy 60 years (50 in 1970 and 48 in 1990). The rural population predominates, with most settlement concentrated around Lake Victoria.

The majority of the population consists of Bantu peoples (Baganda 17 per cent, Banyankore ten per cent, Basoga eight per cent, Bakiga seven per cent, Bagisu five per cent, Bunyoro three per cent) in the west, south and east; and most of the rest of Nilotic peoples (Iteso seven per cent, Langi six per cent, Acholi five per cent, Lugbara four per cent, Alur, Karimojong and Kakwa) in the north and parts of the east; with minorities of Asians and refugees from neighbouring countries (2002 census).


The official languages are English and Kiswahili; Kiswahili and Luganda are widely spoken and there are several other African languages.


Mainly Christians (Roman Catholics 42 per cent, Anglicans 36 per cent, Pentecostals five per cent), Muslims 12 per cent, and most of the rest holding traditional beliefs, which often coexist with other religions (2002 census).


Public spending on health was two per cent of GDP in 2014. Trained medical assistants (many of whom practise privately) make up (to some extent) for the lack of doctors. Formal health facilities, which are adequate everywhere except in the north of the country, are mostly provided by non-governmental organisations. Some 75 per cent of the population uses an improved drinking water source and 34 per cent have access to adequate sanitation facilities (2012). Infant mortality was 44 per 1,000 live births in 2013 (133 in 1960).

The chief causes of death among adults are AIDS-related illnesses, tuberculosis, malaria and illnesses related to maternity; among children, malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea. Uganda was the first African country openly to confront the menace of AIDS; the government runs a comprehensive information campaign directed at the general public. In 2013, 7.4 per cent of people aged 15–49 were HIV positive.


Public spending on education was two per cent of GDP in 2014. There are seven years of primary education starting at the age of six, followed by six years of secondary, with cycles of four and two years. The government phased in free primary schooling from 1997 and free secondary from 2007. Some 25 per cent of pupils complete primary school (2014). The school year starts in February.

Makerere University (1922) and Mbarara University of Science and Technology (1989) are the longest-established public universities. Kyambogo University (2003), Gulu University (2004) and Busitema University (2007) were founded in the 2000s. The principal private universities include Busoga University (1999), Islamic University in Uganda (1988), Kampala International University (2001), Uganda Christian University (1997) and Uganda Martyrs University (1993). The female–male ratio for gross enrolment in tertiary education is 0.30:1 (2011). Literacy among people aged 15–24 is 87 per cent (2010).


English-language dailies include New Vision (state-owned) and Daily Monitor. The EastAfrican and The Observer are published weekly.

Uganda Broadcasting Corporation operates public radio and TV services and, since liberalisation of the media in 1993, many private radio stations and TV channels have been launched.

Some six per cent of households have TV sets (2007). There are 17 personal computers per 1,000 people (2006).


Country code 256; internet domain ‘.ug’. There are public phones in most towns and mobile phone coverage extends to all main towns; internet cafés are found in most large towns.

For every 1,000 people there are six landlines, 441 mobile phone subscriptions and 162 internet users (2013).

Public holidays: 

New Year’s Day, Liberation Day (26 January), International Women’s Day (8 March), Labour Day (1 May), Uganda Martyrs’ Day (3 June), National Heroes’ Day (9 June), Independence Day (9 October), Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Religious festivals whose dates vary from year to year include Good Friday, Easter Monday, Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan) and Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice).