Uganda

Driving Directions Uganda

UGANDA is a landlocked republic in east-central Africa. The Equator runs through the south of the country, and for the most part, it is a richly fertile land, well-watered with a pleasant climate. Uganda is a plateaux country, mountains, lakes, and plains, presenting a great variety of land­scapes and vegetation.

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Almost half of Lake Victoria lies within Uganda’s territory, while the country’s western border extends along the Great Rift Valley, in which lie Lake Albert and Lake Edward. Other smaller lakes include George, Kyoga, and Kwanza. The White Nile flows from Lake Victoria across the northern part of the country.

High mountains, including Mount Elgon (an extinct volcano), arise on or near the eastern border. Simultaneously, the southwest is occupied by the snow-capped Ruwenzori Mountains’ massif, which reaches heights of 5,109 meters or 16,762 feet.

Tropical forests clothe the lower slopes of the Ruwenzori Mountains, which also support tea plantations. Elsewhere, natural vegetation varies from savannah grassland to marshland and scrubland in the more arid areas. The lowlands around Lake Victoria, once forested, have now mostly been cleared for cultivation. A good variety of African wildlife is found in Uganda, including chimpanzees, lions, elephants, leopards, and rhinoceros.

Thanks to its high elevation (averaging 900 meters or 3,000 feet above sea level), equatorial Uganda enjoys a relatively temperate climate with warm rather than sweltering conditions. Temperatures on the mountain peaks are cold with snow. Elsewhere, rainfall is most significant in the south, becoming progressively lighter towards the north.

Most people are engaged in agriculture, and the main subsistence crops are plantains, cassava, and sweet potatoes. Coffee is the main cash crop and accounts for over 90 percent of its exports, although cotton and tea are also substantial.

Forestry is also important, and the major export is mahogany, but the bulk of the country’s wood is used as fuel. Virtually all of Uganda’s power is produced by hydroelectricity, with the plant on the Victoria Nile being of major importance. Copper mining used to be important but has declined, and other mineral reserves have not yet been exploited.

However, attempts are being made to expand the tea plantations in the west, develop a copper mine, and introduce new industries to Kampala. Since 1986, Uganda has slowly been rebuilding its shattered economy despite some resurgence of earlier violence.

Google maps™ Uganda

Uganda is a landlocked country, lies on the great plateau of east-central Africa, straddling the equator. Surrounding the plateau are rows of volcanoes along the eastern and western branches of the Great Rift Valley. Its location on the middle of the African Tectonic Plate is a relatively stable geological position. Recently, however, the warping that created the western rift valley has led to an accumulation of waters in the lower zone to the east that now forms Lake Victoria’s basin along the southern border.

Lakes Albert, Edward, and George are troughs in the western Great Rift Valley system, while Lakes Victoria and Kyoga are shallow basins on the plateau. Uganda shares Lake Albert and Lake Edward with the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Lake George, connected to Lake Edward by the Kazinga Channel, is wholly within Uganda.

Lake Victoria is the second-largest freshwater lake globally, with its water volume estimated to be about 2,760 trillion liters (729 trillion gallons). Only Lake Superior in North America is more considerable. Lake Victoria has an indented coast with many deep gulfs and tributary outlets. Of Lake Victoria’s 69,484 square kilometers (26,828 square miles), 20,430 square kilometers (11,749 square miles) are in Uganda; the remainder is divided between Kenya and Tanzania. Within the lake are many archipelagos, reefs, and more than two hundred species of fish. The Sese Archipelago, a chain of sixty-two islands in the lake southwest of Kampala, contains inhabitants known as the Basese, most of whom are fishermen. The Basese are a distinct tribal group with their language, culture, and folklore. The densely populated Ukerewe is the largest of the islands. It rises over 200 meters (650 feet) above the lake’s surface.

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Uganda has two national parks, which have been designated as UNESCO Natural World Heritage Sites. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, located in southwestern Uganda, contains more than 160 species of trees and more than 100 species of ferns. It also serves as a habitat for the mountain gorilla, which is an endangered species. Ruwenzori Mountains National Park covers the central part of the Ruwenzori mountain chain in the west and includes its highest peak. The park contains glaciers, waterfalls, and lakes and also serves as a habitat for many endangered species and unique plant life, such as the giant heather.

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