It is a landlocked country bordering South Sudan to the north, Kenya to the east, Tanzania to the south, Rwanda to the south-west, and, to the west, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After Ethiopia, it has the second-largest population of any landlocked country in the whole world.
The name of the country derives from the Kingdom of Buganda, a vast area in the south of Uganda that includes the capital city Kampala. The history of Buganda begins with the Kitara Empire, which held a significant swathe of the African Great Lakes area – from Albert and Kyoga in the north to the southern Tanganyika and Victoria. Buganda was located on Lake Victoria’s northern shores. Oral tradition describes many other empires and invasions until the 1830s, which is when the first Arab traders arrived.
Although it is landlocked, Uganda has a number of extraordinarily large lakes. In addition to Albert, Kyoga, Tanganyika, and Victoria, there are Turkana, Edward, and George. The country is situated almost entirely within the basin of the Nile. During the 1880s, British explorers travelled here to find the source of the world’s longest river. Once they had achieved this, they were instructed by the British Government to begin entering into trade agreements, as the Imperial British East Africa Company.
Another significant geographical feature of Uganda is its sixty protected areas, among which are ten national parks. Of these, both Bwindi and Rwenzori Mountains National Park are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Conservation efforts are ongoing and wildlife highlights include mountain gorilla, chimpanzee, monkeys, black-and-white colobus, elephant, golden cat, jackal, and giant forest hog. Keen birders can enjoy looking out for over 350 species of feathery friends, such as crested crane, Uganda’s national bird.
At the time of writing, Bwindi is home to 340 mountain gorillas, about half of the population worldwide. This means that it is a fabulous destination for gorilla trekking. In fact, Uganda is one of the only three countries where this activity is possible – the other two are Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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