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COUNTRY PROFILE

This year Uganda celebrates 56 years of independence from UK.  It is a landlocked country about the same size as UK with a population of over 41 million estimated in 2016.  It is situated on the equator in sub-saharan Africa and is the location of the source of the Nile. The currency is Ugandan shillings approx 5,000UGX to £1. The official first language is English although Swahili and Lugandan are widely spoken.  Life expectancy is 54 years (men) and 57 years (women).

Uganda’s main exports are coffee, fish, tea, tobacco, cotton, corn, beans and sesame.  The discovery of oil near Lake Albert is viewed as a source of future wealth but currently, the key question for the government is how this wealth can be shared across the nation.

Uganda has won praise for its campaign against HIV/AIDS and the prevalence of the virus has fallen from 30% of the population in the 1990s to single digit figures (BBC). In 2003 of the 2 million known orphans, an estimated 940,000 were orphaned through AIDS (Unicef). According to Unicef, these children are very resilient and will bounce back from vulnerability provided there are proper interventions.

In the 1970s and 1980s Uganda was notorious for its human rights abuses, first during the military dictatorship of Idi Amin 1971-79 and then the return to power of Milton Obote. In 1986 Yoweri Museveni became president and has introduced democratic reforms at a steady pace and been credited with substantially improving human rights.  The economy became relatively stable and prosperous but the recent downturn hit Uganda hard given its continuing dependence on coffee exports pushing up food prices. It remains vulnerable to changes in the world prices for coffee, its main export earner.  (www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa).