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Introduction

Uganda's incredible environmental diversity boasts attractions from lush forests containing rare gorillas, to the snow-capped peaks of the Rwenzori mountains to vast island-strewn Lake Victoria. This provides ample opportunities for unmatchable safaris, mountain treks and whitewater rafting. Yet Uganda certainly doesn't lack urban appeal. The country's cities reflect the ongoing growth and stability that have played an integral role in its development since the mid 1980s.

Beginning in the 14th century, Buganda, Bunyoro, Toro, Ankole and Busoge became Uganda's primary kingdoms. Uganda remained relatively isolated until the mid 19th century at which point Arab traders and European explorers established contact. After the Treaty of Berlin in 1885, Buganda, as it was known, became a British protectorate. A loose coalition led Uganda to independence in 1962. The dictatorial regime of Idi Amin came to power, followed by that of Milton Obote. A guerrilla army led by Yoweri Museveni overthrew his government. Despite an overwhelming HIV/AIDS epidemic and a rebellion by the Lord's Resistance Army, increased aid and investment began flowing into Uganda.

Uganda has a population of 30.3 million. Many of its traditional ethnic groups remain today, forming a rich and complex cultural population ranging from the Bugandan to the Pygmies. Musical histories are particularly prevalent, with many groups having unique musical histories passed from generation to generation on instruments such as the harp and the xylophone. While about two-thirds of the population is Christian, there is still a sizable population that practices animism or Islam. Cooking in Uganda is generally centered on sauces made with beans or meat; beef, mutton and goat are especially common.

The best time to visit Uganda is late December to late February or June to September, as the weather at this time of year is generally hot and dry. Overall, the climate is highly agreeable, reflecting the combination of medium altitudes based on the equator. Uganda's international airport is in Entebbe, just southwest of the capital, Kampala. However, the major port of entry for air travel is the Kenyan capital of Nairobi from which it is easy to reach Uganda by bus. Within Uganda travel is fairly easy by bus, air and car.

Kampala has undergone a great deal of development to become a bustling metropolis. It now boasts a wide range of modern amenities and is developing at one of the fastest paces in Africa. In both the old and reconstructed buildings and the newly built ones, electricity is common and reliable, the water system produces clean water, and goods are readily available in both street markets and stores. In fact, Kampala is now brimming with fine restaurants, high quality hotels, nightclubs and casinos.


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