About 500 B.C., Bantu-speaking peoples migrated to the area now called Uganda. By the 14th century, three kingdoms dominated,Buganda (meaning "state of the Gandas"), Bunyoro, and Ankole. Uganda was explored in 1844 by Europeans as well as Arab traders. An Anglo-German agreement of 1890 declared it to be in the British sphere of influence in Africa. The Imperial British East Africa Company was chartered to develop the area, but the company did not prosper financially. A British protectorate was proclaimed in 1894.

Uganda became independent on October 9, 1962. Sir Edward Mutesa, the king of Buganda, was elected the first president, and Milton Obote, the first prime minister. With the help of Colonel Idi Amin, Prime Minister Obote seized control of the government from President Mutesa in 1966.

On January 25, 1971, Colonel Amin deposed President Obote. Obote went into exile in Tanzania. Amin expelled Asian residents and launched a reign of terror against Ugandan opponents, torturing and killing tens of thousands. In 1976, he had himself proclaimed "President for Life." In 1977, Amnesty International estimated that 300,000 may have died under his rule.

After Amin held military exercises on the Tanzanian border in 1978, angering Tanzania's president, Julius Nyerere, a combined force of Tanzanian troops and Ugandan exiles loyal to former president Obote invaded Uganda and chased Amin into exile in Saudi Arabia in 1979.

President Obote led his People's Congress Party to victory in 1980 elections that opponents charged were rigged. On July 27, 1985, army troops staged a coup and took over the government. Obote fled into exile. The military regime installed General Tito Okello as chief of state.

The National Resistance Army (NRA), an opposition group led by Yoweri Museveni, kept fighting after it had been excluded from the new regime. It seized Kampala on January 29, 1986, and Museveni was declared president. Museveni transformed Uganda into an economic miracle, preaching a philosophy of self-sufficiency and anti-corruption. A ban on political parties was lifted in 1996, and the Museveni won 72% of the vote, reflecting his popularity due to the country's economic recovery.

Uganda waged a successful campaign against AIDS, dramatically reducing the rate of new infections through an intensive public health and education campaign. Museveni won re-election in March 2001 with 70% of the vote.

In 1999, Uganda and Rwanda quarreled over strategy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and began fighting each other. The two countries mended their differences in 2002. Uganda also signed a peace accord with the Congo in September 2002 and withdrew its remaining troops in May 2003.

In July 2005, parliament amended the constitution to eliminate term limits, which allowed President Museveni another term in office. In February 2006, Museveni was re-elected with 59% of the vote.

Uganda's long battle against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), an extremist rebel group based in Sudan, showed signs of abating in August 2006 when rebels agreed to declare a truce. Between 8,000 and 10,000 children have been abducted by the LRA to form the army of Joseph Kony. The boys are turned into soldiers and the girls into sex slaves. Up to 1.5 million people in northern Uganda have been displaced because of the fighting and fear that their children will be abducted. Kony and three other LRA leaders have been indicted on charges of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. The LRA and the government signed a permanent cease-fire in February 2008. Kony failed to show up to sign the agreement several times.

Parliament introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in November 2009. The legislation would implement the death penalty on gay individuals. The proposed bill met fierce condemnation from the European Union and the United States. Parliament did not act on the bill, and it became increasingly unpopular following the January 2011 murder of Ugandan gay-rights activist David Kato. In May, the government shelved the bill.

Musveni was elected to a fourth term in February 2011 elections. Opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, alleged fraud in the election. In April, protests over rising food and fuel prices and corruption broke out in Kampala. The government responded killing five people and wounding dozens. Besigye, a leading figure in organizing the protests, was arrested and shot. He fled to Kenya upon release from jail for medical treatment.

In October 2011, Uganda's foreign minister and two other members of the ruling party resigned to face corruption charges. Following allegations that oil companies paid bribes to ministers, President Yoweri Museveni denied that his government engaged in fraud when handing out oil contracts.

In May 2012, one of the Lord's Resistance Army's top military strategists and commander, Caesar Acellam, was captured by Ugandan soldiers.

In November 2013, the Kampala Council ousted the opposition Democratic Party Mayor Erias Lukwago over allegations of incompetence and abuse of office.

In December 2013, Parliament passed an anti-gay bill increasing the punishment for homosexual acts to include life imprisonment.

In February 2014, President Museveni signs the anti-gay bill into law.

© 2014 World Ministries International