English is the official language in Uganda; however, Luganda is most commonly used. Still, there are over 40 languages spoken throughout Uganda, and like all other things it differs from one region to the next. The Luganda language hails from the Bantu-speaking people that arrived here so long ago and is the language most taught in schools throughout the central region together with English. Luganda is the first language of the Buganda region, which makes up around seven million of the population. Swahili, oddly enough, is the second official language.
Uganda uses the shilling (UGX), which is made up of 100 cents. Some hotels, safari and rafting companies do accept US dollars, but other currencies can’t be used. It is easy to exchange foreign currencies at banks, airports and forex bureaux. American dollar notes that are older than 2001 will not be accepted and lower exchange rates will be offered on anything smaller than US$50. There are a number of international banks in Kampala, including Barclay’s and Standard Chartered. ATMs are available throughout Kampala and at the airport but are difficult to find elsewhere. Credit cards can be used in most large hotels and many tour operators but are not accepted elsewhere. Travelers’ checks can’t be exchanged in Uganda.
Uganda runs on East Africa Time (EAT), which is three hours ahead of GMT (GMT +3).
Electricity in Uganda is used at 230-245V with type G plug sockets, which are British-style three-pin plugs. Visitors that will be using appliances that use a different voltage will need a transformer, while those with a different plug type will need an adaptor.
The dialing code for Uganda is +256, with area codes different between each area. The top mobile providers in Uganda are MTN, Uganda Telecom Mobile, Zain and Orange Uganda Limited. Those that wish to use their own mobile phone can get a SIM card for a reasonably cheap price provided the phone is not locked. Mobile phone coverage is excellent in Kampala and Entebbe but there is little or no coverage elsewhere. Internet cafés can be found even in remote areas and third-generation (3G) mobile broadband service is available in Kampala and Entebbe.
Duty-free cigarettes, alcohol and perfume can be purchased by international travelers when leaving the Entebbe International Airport. Customs allowances depend on the country passengers will be arriving into, with US passengers over the age of 21 being able to bring in up 200 cigarettes, 100 cigars, one liter of alcohol and up to US$800 of articles if in Uganda for more than 48 hours.
The Uganda Tourism Board, 42 Windsor Crescent, Kololo, Kampala: +256-414-342-197 or http://www.visituganda.com/
Embassies in Uganda
US Embassy, Kampala: +256-414-259-791 German Embassy, Kampala: +256-414-501-111 Belgium Embassy, Kampala: +256-414-349-559 French Embassy, Kampala: +256-414-304-500 Danish Embassy, Kampala: +256-312-263-211 Irish Embassy, Kampala: +256-417-713-000 Swedish Embassy, Kampala: +256-417-700-800 Italian Embassy, Kampala: +256-417-250-450 British High Commission, Kampala: +256-312-312-000
Consulates in Uganda
Austrian Consulate, Kampala: +256-417-235-796 Canadian Consulate, Kampala: +256-417-258-141 Finnish Consulate, Kampala: +256-417-500-969 Spanish Consulate, Kampala: +256-417-344-454 Swiss Consulate, Kampala: +256-417-233-854 Greek Consulate, Kampala: +256-417-286-961
Emergency services: 999 or +256-414-342-222