The economy of Uganda, which was devastated during the Idi Amin regime of the 1970s and the subsequent civil war, made a significant comeback beginning in the mid-1980s, when economic reforms aimed at dampening inflation and boosting production and export earnings were undertaken. The country is overwhelmingly agricultural, and farming employs over 80% of the workforce. Most of the farms are small in size. The chief food crops are cassava, sweet potatoes, corn, millet, and pulses. The principal cash crops are coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, cut flowers, and sugarcane. Large numbers of poultry, cattle, goats, and sheep are raised. There is a sizable fishing industry, and much hardwood (especially mahogany) is cut.
Copper ore, once the leading mineral resource, has been virtually mined out. Other minerals extracted on a small scale include cobalt, tin and iron ores, beryl, tungsten, and gold. Uganda's few manufactures are limited mainly to processed agricultural goods, but they also include textiles, chemical fertilizer, and steel. There is a large hydroelectric plant (Nalubaale Power Station) at Owen Falls, located on the Victoria Nile where it leaves Lake Victoria, as well as other hydroelectric facilities.
Uganda has two main rail lines; one traverses the southern part of the country, the other connects Tororo on the Kenya border with Gulu in the north. The country is linked by rail with Mombasa, Kenya, on the Indian Ocean. The annual value of Uganda's imports is usually considerably higher than the value of its exports. The principal exports are coffee (which accounts for the bulk of export revenues), fish and fish products, tea, cotton, horticultural products, and gold. The leading imports are capital equipment, vehicles, petroleum, medical supplies, and cereals. The main trade partners are Kenya, European Union countries, the United Arab Emirates, and South Africa.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.