There are about forty distinct tribes, each with its own language or dialect. However, they fall into two main groups – the Bantu tribes and languages who are thought to have originated from West Africa, and the Nilo-Hamitic tribes and languages who are believed to have migrated from north eastern Africa, including Egypt.

The Bantu and Nilo-Hamitic languages are linguistically completely different and do not share common roots.

The Bantu tribes mainly inhabit central, southern and western Uganda, the Baganda being the largest and most powerful tribe. The Nilo-Hamitic tribes live mainly in northern and eastern Uganda, with the Iteso being the largest tribe.

English is the official language of Uganda. Unlike Kenya and Tanzania, Swahili is not commonly spoken except in the Police and Army.



PLEASE NOTE: These facts and figures are always being re-estimated and updated. The figures on this page may not always be correct. 

  • Uganda now has a population of about 43 million (compared with only 5 million in 1950 – it has the third highest population growth in the world).
  • Nearly half the population is under 15 years old. Only 2% are over 65.
  • Life expectancy is less than 55.
  • 6.5% (1.4 million) have HIV/AIDS.
  • 33% of rural people don’t have access to clean water.
  • 27% of Ugandans live on less than $1.25 a day.
  • 20% have never been to school; about 70% are literate.
  • 40% of children aged 10-14 are working (mostly at home, cultivating, looking after livestock and looking after younger siblings).
  • Only 25% of Ugandans live in towns. Soroti, the main town in Teso, is the 25th largest town in Uganda and has a population of 50,000.


Refugees in Uganda

Although Uganda is one of the smallest countries in Africa, it has the third largest population of refugees in the world (about 1.4 million, which is over 3% of Uganda’s population). It is said to be one of the best countries in the world to be a refugee in because of the government’s enlightened and generous policies.