Uganda Table of Contents

In 1990 the Ugandan government estimated the nation's population to be 16.9 million people; international estimates ranged as high as 17.5 million. Most estimates were based on extrapolations from the 1969 census, which enumerated approximately 9.5 million people. The results of the 1980 census, which counted 12.6 million people, were cast in doubt by the loss of census data in subsequent outbreaks of violence.

Life expectancy in 1989 averaged fifty-three years, roughly two years higher for women than men. The population was increasing by over 3.2 percent per year, a substantial increase over the rate of 2.5 percent in the 1960s and significantly more than the 2.8 percent growth rate estimated for most of East Africa. At this rate, Uganda's population was expected to double between 1989 and the year 2012. The crude birth rate, estimated to be 49.9 per 1,000 population, was equivalent to other regional estimates. Fertility ratios, defined as the number of live births per year per 1,000 women between the ages of sixteen and fortyfive years, ranged from 115 in the south to more than 200 in the northeast. In general, fertility declined in more developed areas, and birth rates were lower among educated women.

The crude death rate was 18 per 1,000 population, equivalent to the average for East Africa as a whole. Infant mortality in the first year of life averaged 120 per 1,000 population, but some infant deaths were not reported to government officials. Deaths from AIDS were increasing in the late 1980s. Death rates were generally lower in highaltitude areas, in part because of the lower incidence of malaria.

Composition and Distribution

Ministry of Planning and Economic Development officials estimated that nearly 50 percent of the population was under the age of 15 and the median age was only 15.7 years in 1989. The sex ratio was 101.8 males per 100 females. The dependency ratio--a measure of the number of young and old in relation to 100 people between the ages of fifteen and sixty--was estimated at 104.

Uganda's population density was found to be relatively high in comparison with that of most of Africa, estimated to be fiftythree per square kilometer nationwide. However, this figure masked a range from fewer than thirty per square kilometer in the north-central region to more than 120 in the far southeast and southwest, and even these estimates overlooked some regions that were depopulated by warfare.

In late 1989, nearly 10 percent of the population lived in urban centers of more than 2,000 people. This figure was increasing in the late 1980s but remained relatively low in comparison with the rest of Africa and was only slightly higher than Uganda's 1969 estimate of 7.3 percent. Rural-to-urban migration declined during the 1970s as a result of deteriorating security and economic conditions. Kampala, with about 500,000 people, accounted for almost one-half of the total urban population but recorded a population increase of only 3 percent during the 1980s. Jinja, the main industrial center and second largest city, registered a population of about 55,000--an increase of 10,000 from the 1980 population estimate. Six other cities--Kabale, Kabarole, Entebbe, Masaka, Mbarara, and Mbale-- had populations of more than 20,000 in 1989. Urban migration was expected to increase markedly during the 1990s.

Uganda was the focus of migration from surrounding African countries until 1970, with most immigrants coming from Rwanda, Burundi, and Sudan. In the 1970s, immigrants were estimated to make up 11 percent of the population. About 23,000 Ugandans were living in Kenya, and a smaller number had fled to other neighboring countries. Emigration increased dramatically during the 1970s and was believed to slow during the 1980s.

In 1989 Uganda reported 163,000 refugees to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Most of these were from Rwanda, but several other neighboring countries were also represented. At the same time, Zaire and Sudan registered a total of nearly 250,000 refugees from Uganda.

Ethnic Diversity and Language

For more recent population estimates, see Facts about Uganda.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress