Uganda, officially the Republic of Uganda (Swahili: Jamhuri ya Uganda), is a landlocked country in East-Central Africa. It is bordered to the east by Kenya, to the north by South Sudan, to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the south-west by Rwanda, and to the south by Tanzania. The southern part of the country includes a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, shared with Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda is in the African Great Lakes region. Uganda also lies within the Nile basin and has a varied but generally a modified equatorial climate.
Uganda is located in southeast Africa between 1º N and 4º N latitude, and 30º E and 35º E longitude, its geography is very diverse consisting of volcanic hills, mountains, and lakes. The country sits at an average of 900 meters above sea level. Both the eastern and western borders of Uganda have mountains. The Ruwenzori mountain range contains the highest peak in Uganda, which is named Alexandra and measures 5,094 meters.
Much of the south of the country is heavily influenced by one of the world’s biggest lakes, Lake Victoria, which contains many islands. Most important cities are located in the south, near this lake, including the capital Kampala and the nearby city of Entebbe.
Lake Kyoga is in the centre of the country and is surrounded by extensive marshy areas.
Although landlocked, Uganda contains many large lakes. Besides Lakes Victoria and Kyoga, there are Lake Albert, Lake Edward, and the smaller Lake George.
Uganda lies almost completely within the Nile basin. The Victoria Nile drains from Lake Victoria into Lake Kyoga and thence into Lake Albert on the Congolese border. It then runs northwards into South Sudan. An area in eastern Uganda is drained by the Suam River, part of the internal drainage basin of Lake Turkana. The extreme north-eastern part of Uganda drains into the Lotikipi Basin, which is primarily in Kenya.
Uganda has 60 protected areas, including ten national parks: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Rwenzori Mountains National Park (both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Kibale National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Mount Elgon National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Semuliki National Park.
Uganda is home to a vast number of species, including a population of mountain gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, gorillas and golden monkeys in the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, and hippos in the Murchison Falls National Park.
“Uganda is a fairy-tale. You climb up a railway instead of a beanstalk, and at the end there is a wonderful new world,” wrote Sir Winston Churchill, who visited the country during its years under British rule and who called it “the pearl of Africa.” Indeed, Uganda embraces many ecosystems, from the tall volcanic mountains of the eastern and western frontiers to the densely forested swamps of the Albert Nile River and the rainforests of the country’s central plateau.
Uganda gained independence from the UK on 9 October 1962 with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and Queen of Uganda. In October 1963, Uganda became a republic but maintained its membership in the Commonwealth of Nations.
Uganda is a member of the East African Community (EAC), along with Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. According to the East African Common Market Protocol of 2010, the free trade and free movement of people is guaranteed, including the right to reside in another member country for purposes of employment. This protocol, however, has not been implemented because of work permit and other bureaucratic, legal, and financial obstacles. Uganda is a founding member of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) an eight-country bloc including governments from the Horn of Africa, Nile Valley and the African Great Lakes. Its headquarters are in Djibouti City. Uganda is also a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Uganda traditionally depends on Kenya for access to the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa. Efforts have intensified to establish a second access route to the sea via the lakeside ports of Bukasa in Uganda and Musoma in Tanzania, connected by railway to Arusha in the Tanzanian interior and to the port of Tanga on the Indian Ocean.
There are 35 airports in Uganda. Commercial airlines operate scheduled passenger services out of four airports. Uganda has an international airport, Entebbe International Airport, which is located 25 miles (40 km) south-west of Kampala. In 2017 the airport traffic hit 1.53 million passengers, 8% more than the previous year. A second international airport, Hoima International Airport, is currently under construction.
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