People and Culture

Kikorongo traditional music and dancing. Image By UCOTA


Uganda has a population of approximately 34.5 million people (2011 estimate) with the most populous city being the capital, Kampala, at 1.6 – 1.8 million (2011 estimate). The majority of the population live in the central and south western regions, the northern regions are much more sparsely populated.
Uganda is home to 14 distinct ethnic groups with the most populous being the Baganda, making up roughly 20% of the total population, they are centred around Kampala. The others, in order of estimated population, are: Banyakole (Mbarara town), Basoga (Jinja-Iganga), Bakiga (Kabale/Bwindi), Itseo (Soroti), Langi (Lira), Acholi (Gulu), Bagisu (Mount Elgon), Batoro (Fort Portal), Alur, Lugbara (West Nile), Bunyoro (Masindi), Bakonzo (Rwenzori), Batwa (Semuliki, Kisoro).


The official language of Uganda is English which is spoken as a second language by most educated Ugandans and used as a lingua franca. There are 33 other local languages which come from three main language groups. Most are part of the Bantu language group, but some languages from the north of the country belong to the Nilotic and Cushitic groups. Alongside English many Ugandans speak some KiSwahili as a trade language, It was introduced by Arab slave traders who spread away from the coast and into Uganda.


Christianity is the dominant religion, it’s followed by 85% of the population of Uganda. Roughly half of these followers adhere to the Catholic faith and the other half follow the Protestant faith. Christianity was introduced by European explorers and missionaries during the era of colonialism. The next largest religion is Islam, followed by 11% of the population, which was introduced by the Arab slave traders.
Other notable but rather less dominant religions include the Bahá’í faith which has its mother temple for Africa in Kampala, Hinduism witch has many temples in Kampala and Jinja, and a small number of people follow Judaism.
The Karamojong who live in the north eastern corner of Uganda on the edge of Great Rift Valley, adhere to traditional animist faith practices with very little acceptance of any of the other faiths introduced to Uganda. Christians and Muslim’s live largely in harmony, with very little disruption and mutual respect for each other’s faiths.