Geography and climate


Uganda lies on the elevated basin, which rises between the eastern and western branches of the Great Rift Valley. Most of the country is over 1000m in altitude, and the topography is generally quite flat. The most mountainous part of Uganda is the Kigezi region in the southwest. Along the Congolese border the 70km-long and 30km-wide Rwenzori Mountains form the highest mountain range in Africa; Margherita Peak (5 109m), is exceeded only by the freestanding Mt. Kenya and Mt. Kilimanjaro. Other large mountains in Uganda include the volcanic Virunga range on the border with Rwanda and Congo, and Mt. Elgon, a vast extinct volcano at the Kenyan border.

With the exception of the semi-desert in the extreme northeast, most of Uganda is well watered and fertile. Almost 25 % is covered by water. Lake Victoria is second in the world and start of the world’s longest river, the Nile. Other large lakes are Lakes Albert, Edward, George and Kyoga. Lake Albert is the lowest point in Uganda, 621m altitude.

Its elevated altitude tempers Uganda’s equatorial climate. In most parts of the country, the daily maximum temperature is between 20 and 27 and the minimum is between 12 and 18. The highest temperatures in Uganda occur on the plains immediately east of Lake Albert (for example in Murchison Falls and Budongo). Most parts of Uganda receive an annual rainfall of between 1000 and 2000mm. In western Uganda and the Lake Victoria region it can rain at almost any time of the year. As a rough guide, however, the wet seasons are from mid September to November and from March to May. The wettest months are April, May, October and November.

Entebbe in Feb: Average max 26 °C, average min 18 °C, rainfall 95 mm.

Masindi in Feb: 31 °C, 12 °C, 50 mm. Fort Portal in Feb: 27 °C, 13 °C, 75 mm.



Most Bantu languages use a variety of prefixes to form words so that several similar words are made from a common root:

mu- an individual  (muganda)

ba- people collectively  (baganda)

bu- the land they occupy  (buganda)

and the religions and customs are kiganda

The name Uganda should be Buganda, but the Kiswahili-speaking guides the Europeans used has the prefix u- as equivalent to of bu- and therefore referred to the Ganda kingdom as Uganda.


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Country facts

Country name: Republic of Uganda.

Capital: Kampala.

Independence: 9 October 1962 (from UK).

Population: 31,4 million (July 2008).

Area: Total: 236 040 sq km, land 199 710 (half the size of Sweden).

Ethnic groups: Baganda 16.9%, Banyakole 9.5%, Basoga 8.4%, Bakiga 6.9%, Iteso 6.4%, Langi 6.1%, Acholi 4.7%, Bagisu 4.6%, Lugbara 4.2%, Bunyoro 2.7%, other 29.6% (2002 census).

Religions: Roman Catholic 41.9%, Protestant 42% (Anglican 35.9%, Pentecostal 4.6%, Seventh Day Adventist 1.5%), Muslim 12.1%, other 3.1%, none 0.9% (2002 census).

Languages: English (official), Ganda or Luganda, other Niger-Congo languages, Nilo-Saharan languages, Swahili, Arabic.

Time difference: +2 CET (2 hours earlier than Sweden)(+3 UTC).

Sunrise: 07:00 in Kampala 3 Feb. Sunset: 19:06 in Kampala 3 Feb.

International telephone country code: +256

International airport: Entebbe (EBB).

International car code: EAU

Electricity: 240 Volt, 50 Hz. Plug type G (British 3-pin)!g.htm

Currency: Ugandan shilling (UGX) 1000 UGX = 3:76 SEK

Visa: It is simpler and cheaper to buy a Visa upon arrival at Entebbe Airport. Before 2008 there were transit visa for USD 15, and single-entry visa for USD30, but now (2008) it has been changed; both now cost USD 50. Therefore we have to buy a single entry or transit visa at arrival, then another single-entry visa entering from Rwanda. Total cost USD 100 (multiple-entry visa are USD 200, increased from 80 in 2007). See official website.

Uganda has no embassy in Sweden, but one in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Inflation rate: 6.8% (2007 est.)

International disputes: Uganda is subject to armed fighting among hostile ethnic groups, rebels, armed gangs, militias, and various government forces that extend across its borders; Uganda hosts 209,860 Sudanese, 27,560 Congolese, and 19,710 Rwandan refugees, while Ugandan refugees as well as members of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) seek shelter in southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Garamba National Park; LRA forces have also attacked Kenyan villages across the border.


Mammals: 342 species (132 large mammals and the remainder smaller; 94 bat species, 70 rats and mice, 33 shrews and otter shrews, 8 gerbils, 4 elephant shrews and 1 golden mole.



Uganda is arguably the most attractive country in Africa to birdwatchers, not only because of the unusually high number of species recorded within its borders, but also because it offers easy access to several bird-rich habitats that are difficult to reach elsewhere. Uganda’s remarkable avian diversity – 1008 species in an area similar to Great Britain – can be attributed to its location at a transitional point between the East African savannah, the west African rainforest and the semi-desert of the north.

Indicative of Uganda’s transitional location is the fact that only one bird is endemic to the country, the somewhat nondescript Fox’s Weaver. However, if you take only East Africa into consideration, then roughly 150 bird species are found only in Uganda. This list includes 7 of the 20 hornbill species found in the region, 5 out of 14 honeyguides, 7 out of 21 woodpeckers, 11 out of 36 bulbuls and greenbuls, 5 out of 20 bush shrikes, as well as 13 thrushes, 11 warblers, 10 flycatchers, 8 sunbirds, 8 weavers, 8 finches, 4 tinkerbirds, 4 pigeons, 3 kingfishers, 3 sparrowhawks, 3 cuckoos and 3 nightjars.

Most of these “Uganda specials” are west African and Congolese forest birds that would be very difficult to see elsewhere, for the simple reason that the other countries are poorly developed for tourism. The rainforest of western Uganda must be seen as the country’s most important habitat, and the one that is of greatest interest to birdwatchers, particularly if they are already reasonably familiar with typical East African birds. The most alluring forest in terms of localised species is probably Semliki, closely rivalled by Budongo, Kibale and Bwindi.

There are 37 Albertine Rift bird endemics. All 37 of these have been recorded in DRC, and 9 are endemic to that country since their range is confines to the western escarpment forests. More than 20 are resident in each of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, while 2 extend their range southward into western Tanzania. All 24 of the Albertine Rift endemics recorded in Uganda occur in Bwindi NP. Other important sites in Uganda are the Rwenzori Mountain with 17 Albertine Rift endemics, the Virungas with 14 and the Echuya Forest with 12.

All but one of the 29 endemics that occur on the eastern escarpment have been recorded in Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest. The largest block of montane forest in east Africa is in the Itombwe Mountains in DRC, inaccessible for tourists for time being.

Several Albertine Rift forest endemics share stronger affinities with extant or extinct Asian genera than they do with any other living African species, affirming the great age of these forests, which are thought to have flourished during prehistoric climatic changes that caused temporary deforestation in lower-lying areas such as the Congo Basin. The Congo Bay Owl, African Green Broadbill and the Grayer’s Cuckoo-shrike, for instance, might be classed as living fossils – isolated relics of migrant Asian stock that has been superseded elsewhere on the continent by indigenous genera evolved from a common ancestor.


List of Ugandan ARE's:

Handsome Francolin  B M E R

Rwenzori Turaco B M E R

Rwenzori Nightjar B R

Dwarf Honeyguide B *

African Green Broadbill B *

Kivu Ground Thrush B *

Red-throated Alethe B E R

Archer’s Robin Chat B M E R

Collared Apalis B M E R K

Mountain Masked Apalis B M R

Grauer’s Scrub Warbler B M R *

Grauer’s Warbler B

Neumann’s Warbler B

Red-faced Woodland Warbler B M E R K

Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher B

Chapin’s Flycatcher B *

Rwenzori Batis B M E R

Stripe-breasted Tit B M R

Blue-headed Sunbird B R K

Regal Sunbird B M E R

Purple-breasted Sunbird B R K

Dusky Crimsonwing B M E R K

Shelley’s Crimsonwing B M R

Strange Weaver B M E R


B = Bwindi NP, M = Mgahinga, E = Echuya, K = Kibale, * = of global conservation concern.


Uganda's 10 most commonly sought after birds:
African Green Broadbill
Green-breasted Pitta
Nahan's Francolin
Brown-chested Plover
Karamoja Apalis
Black Bee-eater
Rwenzori Turaco
Red-fronted Antpecker
Purvell's Illadopsis


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Country facts

Country name: Republic of Rwanda (Former: Ruanda, German East Africa)

Climate: Temperate, with two rainy seasons (“the big rains” mid-February to the beginning of June and  “the small rains” from mid-September to mid-December. It is generally drier in the east than in the west and the north. The mountains are mild with frost and snow as possibilities.

Lowest point: Rusizi River 960 m, highest: Volcan Karisimbi 4 519 m.

Capital: Kigali

Independence: 1 July 1962 (from Belgium-administered UN trusteeship)

Population: 10,2 million (July 2008). It is the most densely populated country in Africa and the population has doubled in 20 years. Population growth 2.8%.

Area: Total: 26 338 sq km, land 24 948 (6 % of Sweden, smaller than Småland)

Ethnic groups: Hutu (Bantu) 84%, Tutsi (Hamitic) 15%, Twa (Pygmy) 1%

Religions: Roman Catholic 56.5%, Protestant 26%, Adventist 11.1%, Muslim 4.6%, indigenous beliefs 0.1%, none 1.7% (2001)

Languages: Kinyarwanda (official) universal Bantu vernacular, French (official), English (official), Kiswahili (Swahili) used in commercial centres

Time difference: +1 CET (1 hour earlier than Sweden)(+2 UTC).

Sunrise: 06:07 in Kigali 3 Feb. Sunset: 18:19 in Kigali 3 Feb.

International telephone country code: +250

International car code: RWA

Electricity: 230 Volt, 50 Hz. Plug type C (European 2-pin)!c.htm

and J (Swiss 3-pin)!j.htm

Currency: Rwandan Franc (RWF)   1000 RWF = 11:15 SEK

Visa: Not needed for Swedes. See offficial website.

Inflation rate: 9.4% (2007 est.)


In 1959, three years before independence from Belgium, the majority ethnic group, the Hutus, overthrew the ruling Tutsi king. Over the next several years, thousands of Tutsis were killed, and some 150,000 driven into exile in neighbouring countries. The children of these exiles later formed a rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and began a civil war in 1990. The war, along with several political and economic upheavals, exacerbated ethnic tensions, culminating in April 1994 in the genocide of roughly 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The Tutsi rebels defeated the Hutu regime and ended the killing in July 1994, but approximately 2 million Hutu refugees - many fearing Tutsi retribution - fled to neighbouring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zaire. Since then, most of the refugees have returned to Rwanda, but several thousand remained in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC; the former Zaire) and formed an extremist insurgency bent on retaking Rwanda, much as the RPF tried in 1990. Despite substantial international assistance and political reforms - including Rwanda's first local elections in March 1999 and its first post-genocide presidential and legislative elections in August and September 2003 - the country continues to struggle to boost investment and agricultural output, and ethnic reconciliation is complicated by the real and perceived Tutsi political dominance. Kigali's increasing centralization and intolerance of dissent, the nagging Hutu extremist insurgency across the border, and Rwandan involvement in two wars in recent years in the neighbouring DRC continue to hinder Rwanda's efforts to escape its bloody legacy.



Rwanda’s mountainous topography is a product of its position on the eastern rim of the Albertine Rift Valley, part of the Great Rift Valley. Lake Kivu, which forms the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), is effectively a large sump hemmed in by the Rift Valley. The western escarpment is also the watershed between Africa’s two largest drainage systems; the Nile and the Congo.

Western and central Rwanda are characterised by a seemingly endless vista of steep mountains, interspersed with several substantial lakes. Much of this part of the country lies at elevations of between 1 500 and 2 500m. In the far east of the country the terrain is lower lying, with the Kagera River and associated network of swamps, the most remote source of the world’s longest river, the Nile. Much of this ecosystem is protected within Akagera NP.



Rwanda naturally supports a widely varied fauna, but the rapid human population growth in recent decades has resulted in the extirpation of most large mammal species outside of a few designated conservation areas; the Volcanoes Park, Akagera Park and Nyungwe Forest.

Rwanda has a bird list of incredible 670 species in an area smaller than Belgium and a human population density of 387/, highest in Africa and close to the density in The Netherlands. Nyungwe alone supports 280 bird species including 26 Albertine Rift endemics.


Erling Jirle 10 Aug 2008. Updated 10 Aug 2008.