Spain is not Uganda. Discuss.

Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy sent a text to his finance minister in the midst of negotiations on the terms of a bailout for Spain's banks. Urging him to hold out for a good deal, it said: "We're the number four power in Europe. Spain is not Uganda." The remark caused a storm of protest in Uganda and some ironic tweets pointing out Ugandan economic success. So how do the two countries compare?

Pilgrims near Cadiz, a street in Kampala
Spain Uganda

Sources: World Bank, United Nations, International Monetary Fund, CIA World Factbook, BBC country profiles


46.4 million

33.8 million


505,988 sq km (195,363 sq miles)

241,038 sq km (93,072 sq miles)


24% (2012 Q1)

4.2% (World Bank, 2009, based on Ugandan data)

GDP growth, 2010



Main exports

Tractor in Spain

Machinery, motor vehicles, agricultural products, wine

Coffee harvest in Lira district

Coffee, fish, tea, tobacco, cotton, corn, beans.

Life expectancy

79 years (men), 85 years (women)

54 years (men), 55 years (women)

Gross national income per capita, 2010 (adjusted to reflect local living costs)



Views from the street

Drama graduate Andres Granda, 27, who lives in Murcia, last week got a job in an ice cream parlour after more than a year of being unemployed.

"Every month I was unemployed it got harder. I was saying to myself 'Come on, you're 27 years old. You are wasting your youth.' Nearly all my friends who have jobs had to leave Murcia to get work. There are two kinds of moods in Spain now, depression and anger."

Kobusinge Maureen, 25, says she was lucky to get a job as a brewery marketing assistant two years after graduating in business administration.

"Most of my friends from university are still looking for work. If someone knows someone in a company then it helps them to get a job. I was able to get mine through a relative. The economy is not stable but we always find our way through things."

Tweets on the Rajoy text


[Spain is not Uganda] seems obvious. Only in Spain could we take heart from a bailout - more respect for Uganda, less for our politicians.


Patrick Smith, editor of newsletter Africa Confidential

"[The text message] connotes old-fashioned European thinking from almost the 19th Century, that there are all these different worlds within the world and Africa is out there, completely cut off and bumbling along. If you go to Africa today, there's a lot of people, many of them European, touting for business, trying to get in on the economic growth. The claimed unemployment figure of 4.2% seems extremely low - most countries in the region are recording unemployment at 15-20% and youth unemployment at 30-40%. But it's a developing economy and an entirely different ballgame from Europe, which is like the geriatric continent trying to manage old age gracefully, whereas Africa is young and growing fast."

Famous living people

Penelope Cruz

Tennis star Rafael Nadal, actress Penelope Cruz and novelist Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Michael Kiwanuka

Singer Michael Kiwanuka (UK-born to Ugandan parents), Nasa space scientist Kwatsi Alibaruho (US-born, Ugandan national) and President Yoweri Museveni

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