Image courtesy of Roger de la Harpe www.africaimagery.com
Uganda’s great natural beauty led Winston Churchill to call it ‘the pearl of Africa’. From the moment the visitors lands at Entebbe’s international airport, with its breathtaking equatorial location on the forested shore of island-strewn Lake Victoria, it is clear that Uganda is no ordinary safari destination. Dominated by an expansive golf course leading down to the lakeshore, and a century-old botanical garden alive with the chatter of acrobatic monkeys and colorful tropical birds, Entebbe itself is the least obviously urban of all comparably sized African towns.
Just 40km distant, sprawled across seven hills, there is the capital Kampala. The bright modern feel of this bustling, cosmopolitan city reflects the ongoing economic growth and political stability that has characterized Uganda since 1986. Since the late 1980s, Uganda has managed to move on from the abyss of civil war and the economic catastrophe of the Idi Amin days and the return to power of Milton Obote. Human rights have greatly improved and the country has launched a successful campaign to fight the AIDS virus. However, military action and tentative peace talks have not halted the massacres and mutilations perpetrated by the Lord's Resistance Army against civilians in the north. which has resulted in the displacement of more than 1.6 million people and the killings and kidnapping of tens of thousands in the course of nearly two decades.
Ecologically, Uganda is where the East African savannah meets the West African jungle. Abundant wildlife (including the famous mountain gorillas) and an excellent climate contribute to the attractions here and, although visitor facilities cannot yet compete with those of neighboring Kenya
, the annual number of tourists to Uganda is rising steadily. Where else but in this lush country can one observe lions prowling the open plains in the morning and track chimpanzees through the rainforest undergrowth the same afternoon, then the next day navigate tropical channels teeming with hippos and crocs before setting off into the misty mountains to stare deep into the eyes of a mountain gorilla?
Uganda shares borders with Sudan
to the north, Kenya
to the east, Lake Victoria to the southeast, Tanzania
to the south and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west. Kampala is on the shores of Lake Victoria, and the White Nile flowing out of the lake traverses much of the country. The varied scenery includes tropical forest and tea plantations on the slopes of the snow-capped Ruwenzori Mountains, the arid plains of the Karamoja, the lush, heavily populated Buganda, the rolling savannah of Acholi, Bunyoro, Tororo and Ankole, and the fertile cotton area of Teso.
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