Roughly the size of Oregon, Uganda is located in east central Africa. Originally settled by hunter-gatherers thousands of years ago, Uganda was subsequently populated by Bantu, Nilotic and Ateker people. Arab traders first made contact with Uganda in the 1800s, followed by British explorers and missionaries. By 1888, British control spread throughout the country, and in 1894, Uganda was placed under formal British protection. The country remained under British control until 1961, when it was granted internal self-government. On October 9, 1962, Uganda gained full independence. Over the next several years, political control teetered between those in favor of a centralized state and those favoring a loose federation of kingdoms. In 1966, Prime Minister Milton Obote suspended the constitution, assumed all government powers, and removed the ceremonial president and vice president. This paved the way for a series of leaders and abuses that followed for the next several decades. In January 1971, armed forces commander Idi Amin overthrew Obote and quickly gave himself absolute power. His rule as characterized by extreme human rights abuses and a rapidly declining economy. Finally, Tanzanian troops backed by Ugandan exiles overthrew Amin in 1979.
Lay of the Land: Located in east central Africa, Uganda has been called the “Pearl of Africa.” A lush land well watered by lakes, rivers, and heavy annual rainfall, only the northeastern corner of the country is insufficiently irrigated. Southeastern Uganda forms an arc around the northwestern part of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake. In the west is Lake Mobuto Sese Seko (formerly Lake Albert); along with Lake Idi Amin (formerly Lake Edward), it forms part of the border with Democratic Republic of the Congo. Between the two western lakes rise the magnificent Ruwenzori Mountains, also called the Mountains of the Moon because of their bluish tinge.
Hunter-gatherers settled Uganda thousands of years ago. Around 1500 AD, Bantu tribes from central and western Africa came to occupy the southern areas of the country. They used agriculture, ironworking and social organization that eventually led to the development of centralized kingdoms.
Diplomatic relations between the US and Uganda were established on October 9, 1962, with Olcott H. Deming as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim. New credentials were presented when Uganda became a republic, on January 6, 1964.
The US hopes to provide development assistance to reduce poverty in Uganda by focusing on health, education and agriculture. The US also provides large amounts of humanitarian assistance to populations without access to adequate food supplies because of conflict, drought and other factors. Both the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have major programs to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Peace Corps Volunteers are active in primary teacher training and HIV/AIDS programs. Other programs promote trade and investment, curb environmental degradation, encourage the peaceful resolution of local and international conflicts, and promote honest and open government. US-Ugandan relations also benefit from significant contributions to health care, nutrition, education, and park systems from US missionaries, non-governmental organizations, private universities, HIV/AIDS researchers, and wildlife organizations.
US imports from Uganda totaled $57.7 million in 2010 while US exports to Uganda totaled $94.4 million.
Uganda-Iran Oil Deal Angers US
According to the State Department, “Serious human rights problems in the country included arbitrary and politically motivated killings; vigilante killings; politically motivated abductions; mob and ethnic violence; torture and abuse of suspects and detainees; harsh prison conditions; official impunity; arbitrary and politically motivated arrest and detention; incommunicado and lengthy pretrial detention; restrictions on the right to a fair trial and on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and religion; restrictions on opposition parties; electoral irregularities; official corruption; violence and discrimination against women and children, including female genital mutilation (FGM), sexual abuse of children, and the ritual killing of children; trafficking in persons; violence and discrimination against persons with disabilities and homosexuals; restrictions on labor rights; and forced labor, including child labor.”
Note: The Embassy in Kampala was established on Oct 9, 1962, with Olcott H. Deming as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.
A career Senior Foreign Service Officer whose career has included several postings in Southern Asia will be the next ambassador to the small Himalayan nation of Nepal. President Barack Obama nominated Scott H. DeLisi to the post on November 17, 2009, subject to Senate confirmation. A native of Minnesota who grew up in South St. Paul, DeLisi earned a B.A. in 1977 and a J.D. in 1980, both from the University of Minnesota. Nepal, a landlocked country sandwiched between large powers India and China, has recently emerged from a decade long civil war, and became a republic in 2008.
Jerry P. Lanier was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to Uganda on August 4, 2009. In an October 19, 2009, cable released by WikiLeaks, Lanier praised Uganda’s progress, but warned that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s “autocratic tendencies, as well as Uganda's pervasive corruption, sharpening ethnic divisions, and explosive population growth are eroding Uganda's status as an African success story."