Uganda country profile

  • 21 May 2015
  • From the section Africa
Map of Uganda

Since the late 1980s Uganda has rebounded from the abyss of civil war and economic catastrophe to become relatively peaceful, stable and prosperous.

In the 1970s and 1980s Uganda was notorious for its human rights abuses, first during the military dictatorship of Idi Amin from 1971-79 and then after the return to power of Milton Obote, who had been ousted by Amin.

During this time up to half a million people were killed in state-sponsored violence.

After becoming president in 1986 Yoweri Museveni introduced democratic reforms and was credited with substantially improving human rights, notably by reducing abuses by the army and the police.

Western-backed economic reforms produced solid growth and falls in inflation in the 1990s, and the discovery of oil and gas in the west of the country boosted confidence.

The global economic turndown of 2008 hit Uganda hard, given its continuing dependence on coffee exports, and pushed up food prices.

This galvanised the opposition, which disputed Mr Museveni's victory in the 2011 presidential elections and went to to organise street protests about the cost of living and political freedoms.

The president has also come under fire for Uganda's military involvement, along with five other countries, in neighbouring DR Congo's 1998-2003 civil war.


DR Congo accuses Uganda of maintaining its influence in the mineral-rich east of the country. Uganda says DR Congo has failed to disarm Ugandan rebels on its soil.

Until relatively recently, the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in northern Uganda were blighted by one of Africa's most brutal rebellions.

The cult-like Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony, began its activities more than 20 years ago and its forces became notorious for abducting children to serve as sex slaves and fighters. At the height of the conflict, nearly two million people in northern Uganda were displaced.

The LRA was forced out of Uganda in 2005/06 and since then has wreaked havoc in the Central African Republic, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

With the LRA's departure, northern Uganda has undergone a positive transformation. Thousands of former LRA fighters and abductees have left the group and been reintegrated through Uganda's Amnesty Commission.

Some critics have wondered why the conflict went on for so long and questioned Mr Museveni's commitment to ending the insurgency. The government in turn has pointed to progress since 2011, when the US committed itself to tracking down LRA bases in nearby countries.

Uganda has won praise for its vigorous campaign against HIV/Aids. This has helped to reduce the prevalence of the virus - which reached 30% of the population in the 1990s - to single-digit figures.

The country has gained international attention for its hardening anti-homosexual attitudes, culminating in anti-gay legislation introduced in 2014.

Image caption Uganda is home to equatorial glaciers found in the Rwenzori mountains, which form the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo

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