Major Towns and Cities


Kampala is Uganda’s capital and largest city located in the central region. The city is located a few kms from L. Victoria shores on Port Bell and was originally formed covering 7 hills of Old Kampala, Mengo, Kibuli, Lubaga, Namirembe, Kasubi and Nsambya but has since then expanded beyond.
Before colonial time, Kabaka Mutesa 1 had gazetted that area as a hunting ground due to its great population of antelopes especially the impala. When Europeans came, they named it a hill of Impalas which the Baganda translated into ‘akasozi k’empala’ that was later named Kampala. It is also hear where most of the administrative offices are located including state house, National Television, ministerial offices and the Uganda parliament.


The town of Entebbe is located at the shores of L. Victoria about 40km south west of Kampala. It is also home to Uganda’s only international airport and gateway to the country. Entebbe also has the second presidential home (state house) where the president stays when he is not in his up country home or Kampala.
The town derived its name from a Luganda word ’Entebe’ which means a seat / chair. The place is where the Baganda chiefs used to seat while solving legal conflicts. The area was also adopted by the colonial government as the administrative center of the country.
Today Entebbe shelters the Uganda Wildlife Education center and the prominent Botanical gardens that are key tourist destinations. The town is also known for the dramatic rescue of 100 hostages kidnapped by the resistance group of the PFLP-EO and Revolutionary Cells (RZ) organizations by the Israel forces.
During the 2002 national census, Entebbe’s population was estimated at about 55,100 people. In 2010, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) estimated the population of the town at 76,500. In 2011, UBOS estimated the population of Entebbe at approximately 79,700.


Jinja is another town located along the shores of L. Victoria about 87 km by road east of Kampala and is Uganda’s oldest industrial center. The town is arguably the 2nd largest and busiest town after Kampala though some sources give it the 3rd place after Mbarara. It is where the Owen falls dam; the country’s main electricity plant is located enabling the blossoming of a number of industries.
The town of Jinja started as a small fishing village along the Nile and derived its name from a local Luganda and Lusoga word ‘ejjinja’ which means a rock / stone. This was adopted due to the presence of the huge rocks near the Rippon falls also known as the Owen falls. Jinja is the largest city / town in the eastern region and is considered the capital of Busoga kingdom.
In 1991, the national population census estimated the district population at about 289,500. The national census in 2002 estimated the population of the district at about 387,600, with an annual population growth rate of 2.7%. In 2012, the population of Jinja District was estimated at approximately 501,300.


Mbale town is the capital of the Bamasaba people and is located about 245 km by road north east of Kampala. The town is the largest commercial and business center for this sub region with business men coming as far as Kenya to conduct business here.
The national census of 1991 estimated the district population at about 240,900. Eleven years later, in 2002, the national census that year put the population in the district at 332,600, with an annual population growth rate of 2.5%. In 2012, the mid-year population of Mbale District was estimated at 441,300. A new national population census is planned for August 2014. The district population is 92% rural. The main ethnic group in the district is the Bamasaba or Bagisu. The main language spoken in the district is Lugisu also known as Lumasaba.


Gulu town is the main business and commercial capital for the Acholi sub-region and the northern region as a whole and is located about 340 km by road north of Kampala. The town derived its name from an Acholi word which means ‘pot’ referring to its location in a depression of a prehistoric flood plain.
In 1991, the national population census was estimated the population of the population at about 211,800. The national census conducted in 2002 put the district population at approximately 298,500. The district population has been growing at an annual growth rate of 2.9%, between 2002 and 2012. In 2012 the population of Gulu District was estimated at about 396,500.


Mbarara town is one of the largest towns in Uganda located about 290 km south west of Kampala. It is the largest city in the western region and the capital of Ankole Sub region. It is also the major transit town for tourists to the western national parks of Bwindi and Queen Elizabeth while its close proximity to L. Mburo National park assures visitors of shopping opportunities.
The town is also home to the remains of the Ankole kingdom palace and the Nkokonjeru royal tombs for the Ankole kings are about 2 km from the town center. There is also Igongo cultural center that shelters most of the cultural objects and literature for the Ankole kingdom as well as the newly launched 1520AD eclipse monument on the Biharwe hill.

In 1991, the national census estimated the population of the district at about 267,500. The 2002 national census estimated the district population at about 361,500, with an estimated growth rate of about2.2%. Of these, 51% were female and 49% were male. 55% of the district population is aged between 0 and 18 years. In 2012, the district population was estimated at approximately 445,600.

Leave a Reply