The Bantu people arrived in the region of what is now Uganda a few thousand years ago. They set up several kingdoms which included the Empire of Kitara, the Kingdom of Buganda and the Kingdom of Ankole. They were a hunter-gather tribe and lived in relative harmony until outsiders entered their mountainous territory. Arab traders arrived in the 1830s, followed by the first missionaries and British explorers in the 1860s. The country fell under British Rule in 1888 when the British government gave the British East Africa Company control of Uganda. It became an official British protectorate (colony) in 1894 and remained a British colony until 1962 when Uganda became an independent nation.

The British introduced cotton and tea growing to the region and by 1914 Uganda was exporting large amounts of cotton and tea as well as coffee. After World War II, the governor Sir John Hall promoted mining in Uganda and in 1954, a hydroelectric plant was opened at Owen Falls on the Nile.

The missionaries introduced a formal schooling system into Uganda and literacy among local people became more common. From the end of the 19th century, many Asians had migrated to Uganda and formed a middle class of traders and shopkeepers.

Uganda became independent from Britain on 9 October 1962 and the first constitution was federalist. The first President of Uganda was Mutesa, King of Buganda and the first Prime Minister was Milton Obote. However, Obote had no intention of sharing power with the President and in 1966 he staged a coup. President Mutesa fled the country and Obote took over; becoming a ruthless dictator.

In January 1971, Obote was in Singapore attending a meeting when Idi Amin staged a coup. Amin took control of the country in 1971 and ran it as a despot dictator. About 300 000 people were killed by Amin’s government and the Asian population was forced to flee the country; leaving behind their properties and wealth which Amin shared among his cronies. Amin is regarded as one of the worst political tyrants of the 20th century.

With the loss of the skills of the Asian middle class, the murders of many hardworking Ugandan labourers and professionals aswell as widespread corruption and international sanctions, the Uganda economy went into a downward spiral. Infrastructure such as roads and water supply deteriorated and the people went through a period of extreme hardship.

To detract attention from the poor state of affairs in his country, Amin invaded Tanzania in October 1978. It was an act that would ultimately destroy him. The Tanzanian army retaliated and Amin’s forces fled. Amin was brought to justice for his terrible crimes but he fled abroad and went into exile. He died in 2003.

Sadly, Amin’s downfall did not bring peace and stability to Uganda. Obote was reinstated as Prime Minister in a rigged election whereupon he set up the National Resistance Army (NRA) which controlled large parts  of western Uganda and eventually the capital of Uganda and parts of the north.

Obote oversaw an oppressive regime; imprisoning anyone who opposed him and muzzling the press. Western journalists were expelled from the country.

Obote’s armed forces were eventually persuaded to lay down their arms and a form of political stability was established during the 1990s. The economy grew with the return of many professionals and Asians who’d been forced to flee the country under Amin and Obote rule.

Today, Uganda remains a strong agricultural hub in Africa and a large exporter of coffee. Its economy has been growing steadily and there’s a general sense of peace and stability in the country. Uganda tourism is a strong driver of political stability.

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