Situated in eastern Africa, Uganda is mostly a plateau, a compact country occupying an area of 236,580 square kilometers, roughly the size of Great Britain or the state of Oregon in the United States. It lies astride the Equator and has a fine mild climate with copious rainfall that is experienced three times a year and sunny months. The country is bordered by Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). to the west, with the Rwenzori ranges which span a length of 60 km forming an imposing natural border with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).. Geographers have now extended the theory that other sources of the Nile could include the distant chilly streams that escape from the icy caps of the Rwenzori ranges on top of the mountain as well as the Akagera River from Rwanda which empties its waters into Lake Victoria in Uganda. To the south lies Tanzania, a member state of the East African Community of which Uganda is one.
Tanzania also shares the massive Lake Victoria waters with Uganda and Kenya. Uganda harnesses about half of this natural resource. To the north is the Sudan, an arid country that takes in most of the waters of the Nile from Uganda and Kenya to the east. Kenya is Uganda’s biggest trading partner in the world and the easiest route to the Indian Ocean. River Nile, the longest river in the world, snakes through the heart of the country before veering north westwards into the Sudan. The Nile begins its 4,000-mile journey at Jinja, 50 km east of Kampala, right at the headwaters of Lake Victoria, before hurtling in a fit of rapids and falls on its lengthy journey to the Mediterranean Sea.
It was at Jinja, on the Buganda side of the river, that in 1862 the British explorer, John Hannington Speke, stood in awe looking at the falls after making tortured and frustrated journeys and fruitless arguments with fellow explorers Burton and Grant. The mystery of the source of the Nile had finally been solved. An obelisk now marks the spot from which Speke stood.
Right north of the Rwenzoris is Lake Albert a slimy rectangular rift lake through which the border between Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). passes. In addition, right at the tip of this lake in the north the Nile forces its way through a narrow rock crevice barely 20 feet wide before baling out in a large pool as it hurtles on northwards. A route choked by papyrus which covers most of Lake Kyoga precedes the journey to the falls.
In addition, at the southwestern tip of Uganda are three extinct volcanic mountains: Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo which are part of the Virunga ranges of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).. Muhabura, which is the highest of the three, stands at a majestic height with an impressive single cone which is often shrouded in fog. At the top of this cone is a crater lake. Gahinga is the shortest of the three and its is known worldwide for its troops of about 300 – 600 gorillas -the last in the world- which feed on the luxuriant green found on the mountain. Gorilla tracking is a lucrative tourism business in Uganda that lets a few tourists booked on a first come first served basis enjoy the privilege of coming face to face with the most ferocious looking giant apes of the world. Sabyinyo is a double-coned mountain and forms part of a labyrinth that demarcates the border between Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
A saucer like depression of Lake Victoria dominates Central Uganda. From the headwaters of the lake at Jinja Uganda harnesses electricity, some of which is exported to neighbouring Kenya. As the Nile flows north, it runs into the palm-shaped Lake Kyoga in the middle. The papyrus-congested lake is home to thousands of fisher folk who live on floating islands of papyrus while fishing for a living. North of Kyoga are flat savannah areas which are occupied by wandering cattle keepers. It gets very hot during the dry season.
In eastern Uganda, one interesting geographical feature is Mountain Elgon, an extinct volcano that forms a natural border with Kenya. The Elgon is a wonderful but ecologically fragile tourist attraction which has been invaded by Bagishu peasants who are short of land and in need of farming plots. The Bagishu, otherwise known as Bamasaaba people, are a flamboyant tribe known for their rigorously enforced circumcision rite that takes place in even years. Feasting, drumming and dances which verge on the obscene go on for weeks as men with knives circumcise young boys with chalk painted faces in an a ordeal that requires more than painstaking manly courage to endure.
For a number of years a number of minerals such as asbestos, talc, vermicule and dolomite have been known to exist although their actual commercial potential has never been established