Kampala is the largest city and capital of Uganda. The city is divided into five boroughs that oversee local planning: Kampala Central Division, Kawempe Division, Makindye Division, Nakawa Division and Lubaga Division. The city is coterminous with Kampala District.

History of Kampala

Mutesa I, the Kabaka (king) of Buganda, had chosen the area that was to become Kampala as one of his favorite hunting grounds. The area was made up of hills and wetlands. It was an ideal breeding ground for various game, particularly a species of antelope, the impala (Aepyceros melampus). When the British arrived in the area they called one of the hills ‘The Hill of the Impala’ due to the large presence of impala. The native Baganda used this reference in their local dialect (Luganda) – ‘Akasozi K’empala. It is worth noting that it is not unusual for Luganda to adopt the soundings of English words into the language – for example a car in Luganda is ‘emotoka’ (a motor car). So K’empala formally became ‘Kampala’ with repeated usage, and when the British colonial rulers needed a name for the city they adopted this reference.
The city grew as the capital of the Buganda kingdom, from which several buildings survive, including the Kasubi Tombs (built in 1881), the Lubiri Palace, the Buganda Parliament and the Buganda Court of Justice. Severely damaged in the Uganda-Tanzania War, the city has since then been rebuilt with constructions of new buildings including hotels, banks, shopping malls, educational institutions, hospitals and improvement of war torn buildings and infrastructure. Traditionally, Kampala was a city of seven hills, but over time it has come to have a lot more


The main campus of Makerere University, one of East and Central Africa’s premier institutes of higher learning, can be found in the Makerere Hill area of the City. Kampala is also home to the headquarters of the East African Development Bank, located on Nakasero Hill.
Kampala is said to be built on seven hills, although this is not quite accurate.
  1. The first hill in historical importance is Kasubi Hill, which is where the Kasubi Tombs of the previous Kabakas are housed.
  2. The second is Mengo Hill where the present Lubiri (Kabaka’s Palace) is and the Headquarters of the Buganda Court of Justice and of the Lukiiko, Bugand’s Parliament (Bulange).
  3. The third is Kibuli Hill, which is home to the Kibuli Mosque. Islam was brought to Uganda before Christianity.
  4. The fourth is Namirembe Hill, home to the Namirembe Anglican Cathedral. The Protestants were the first of the Christian missions to arrive.
  5. The fifth is Lubaga Hill, where the Rubaga Catholic Cathedral is, and was the headquarters of the White Fathers.
  6. The sixth Nsambya Hill, was the headquarters of the Mill Hill Mission. It now houses Nsambya Hospital.
  7. The seventh is Kampala Hill, (also known as Old Kampala), meaning “the hill of the impala” and whence Kampala got its name, is where the ruins of Lugard’s Fort were. However, the ruins were in 2003 when the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) started on reconstruction of a large mosque (15,000-person capacity) on land that included the fort. The mosque was begun by Idi Amin but was never completed. The fort was then relocated to a nearby area, a move that has since been a source of controversy between the Historic Buildings Conservation Trust (HBCT) of Uganda and the UMSC. The UMSC was given the gazetted land as a gift by President Idi Amin in 1972 during its inauguration.
The city spread to Nakasero Hill where the administrative centre and the wealthiest residential area are. Nakasero is also the location of the most upscale hotels in the city including:
  • The Grand Imperial Hotel
  • The Kampala Hilton Hotel
  • The Kampala Intercontinental Hotel
  • The Imperial Royale Hotel
  • The Kampala Serena Hotel
  • The Kampala Sheraton Hotel
  • The Kampala Speke Hotel
There is also Tank Hill, where the water storage tanks that supply the city are located. Mulago Hill is the site of Mulago Hospital, the largest hospital in Uganda. The city is now rapidly expanding to include Makindye Hill and Konge Hill. Makindye Division incorporating Kibuli, Tank Hill and Makindye now has over 300,000 residents. Medical provision in this part of town, being more recently developed, is limited. Hospitals include Kibuli Hospital, St. Francis Hospital Nsambya and the International Hospital Kampala (IHK). Philanthropic health services are provided by Hope Clinic Lukuli situated between Tank Hill, Makindye and Konge. Kololo Hill to the east of Nakasero, is the highest hill in the city, at 1,300 metres (4,300 ft) above sea level. The Uganda Museum is located at the foot of Kololo Hill in the neighborhood called Kamwokya.

City expansion

n 2001, the city limits were substantially expanded to include many of the surrounding communities within the city; including: Namirembe, Naakulabye, Kasubi, Bwaise, Kawempe, Kikaaya, Mpererwe, Lubaga, Nateete, Busega, Mutundwe, Ndeeba, Katwe, Kibuli, Kabalagala, Ntinda, Kiwaatule, Kisaasi; Najjanankumbi; Nakawa, Kyambogo, Nagulu, Bugoloobi, Mbuya, Luzira, Port Bell and Butabika.
The eastern and northeastern suburbs of Banda, Kireka, Bweyogerere, Namanve Kirinnya, Namugongo, Kyaliwajjala, Bulindo and Nsasa, among others, were carved out into a separate municipality called Kira Municipality. Today, Kira Municipality is the second largest town in Uganda with an estimated population of about 180,000 in 2011.[2]
Other features of the city include the Uganda Museum, Ugandan National Theatre, Nakasero Market and St. Balikuddembe Market (formerly Owino Market). Kampala is also known for its nightlife, which includes several casinos, notably Casino Simba in the Garden City shopping center, Kampala Casino and Mayfair Casino. Entebbe International Airport is located at Entebbe, 22 miles (35 km) away, while Port Bell on the shores of Lake Victoria is 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) away.
Kampala hosts one of only seven Bahá’í houses of worship in the world. It is known as the Mother Temple of Africa and is situated on Kikaya Hill on the outskirts of the city. Its foundation stone was laid in January, 1958; it was dedicated on January 13, 1961. See Bahá’í Faith in Uganda.
The Ahmadiyya Central Mosque in Kampala is the central mosque of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which has six minarets and can hold up to 9,000 worshippers.[3]
Kampala going westwards has Kabaka’s Lubiri, the palace of the king of Buganda. Buganda is one of the oldest kingdoms in Africa, dating back to the late 13th century. Other landmarks include the Kasubi tombs, the magnificent mosque at old Kampala, Namirembe and Rubaga Cathedral, at the very edge there is Kasumba Square Mall at the intersection of Northern Bypass and Busega roundabout.

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