Uganda, landlocked country on the equator in East Africa. The country contains a varied landscape of savanna, dense forests, and tall mountains, as well as almost half of Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa, and the primary source of the Nile River. Uganda is an ethnically diverse nation with a deeply ingrained intellectual and artistic culture.
Geography of Uganda:
Area: 241,038 sq km
Costline: 0 Km
Highest Point: Margherita Peak (Mount Stanley);
5,109 m/16,762 ft
Uganda is bordered by Kenya to the east; Sudan to the north; Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the west; and Rwanda, Tanzania, and Lake Victoria to the south and southeast.
Uganda is a country of remarkable physical contrasts. It forms a plateau declining gradually from 1,300 m (4,300 ft) in the south to 750 m (2,460 ft) in the north. The southern portion is a forest zone, although much of it has been cleared for farms. Much of the north is open savanna (grassland with sparse trees and shrubs), though it also contains semidesert. There are small areas of bamboo and rain forests. The Western Rift of the Great Rift Valley, a series of cracks more than 5,000 km (3,000 mi) in length along which the Earth’s crust is splitting apart, runs through western Uganda. Mountains rise on the eastern and western borders of Uganda, 13 of which are more than 4,100 m (13,500 ft) tall.
The Ruwenzori Range, on the border with Democratic Republic of the Congo, contains seven peaks that are covered with snow year-round. The highest is Margherita Peak of Mount Stanley, at 5,109 m (16,762 ft) tall, the third tallest mountain in Africa. Glaciers on Ruwenzori peaks are only 60 km (40 mi) from tropical forests and 100 km (60 mi) from dry savannas. Except for the Ruwenzori Range, which was formed by an uplift of Earth’s crust as it split along the Western Rift Valley, all of Uganda’s mountains are volcanic in origin. Earthquakes, occasionally quite severe (up to 7 on the Richter scale), are common in the Western Rift Valley.
Rivers and Lakes
Most lakes and rivers in Uganda form a drainage basin for the Nile River, whose principal source is Lake Victoria in the southeast. The Nile winds through Uganda and exits from the north of the country into Sudan. The other large lakes are Lake Albert, Lake Edward, and Lake Kyoga. The Nile is partly navigable in Uganda. Boats cannot pass through the Bujagali Falls near Lake Victoria nor through Kabalega Falls, near Lake Albert, where the Nile passes through an opening less than 6 m (20 ft) wide.
Plant and Animal Life
Uganda has a wide variety of plant life, from mvuli trees and elephant grass of the plateau to dry thorn scrubs, acacia trees, and euphorbia shrubs of the northeast, as well as papyrus in swamps, which surround many of the country’s lakes. The country also has spectacular wildlife, including elephants, lions, leopards, gorillas, chimpanzees, rhinoceroses, antelopes, zebras, Rothschild’s giraffes, and crocodiles.
People, Languages and Religion
As a result of migration and intermarriage, most Ugandans have ancestors from a variety of Uganda’s 34 ethnic groups, although people customarily identify with just a single group. European missionary activity in the 19th century led to widespread conversion to Christianity. About 41 percent of the people of Uganda are Roman Catholics, and 40 percent are Protestants, most belonging to the Church of Uganda (Anglican).