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UK compared with Uganda


Uganda compared to British Isles

Making Comparisons.  Crunching Numbers.        Revised Figures
How does Uganda compare to UK?  It might seem silly to make such a comparison as each person’s take on Uganda, UK or for that matter, any place, will be quite different.  What this page seeks to do is to give you facts and figures rather than stories and anecdotes.

UK and Uganda – two small places in a big world.
For a start, we forget how big a continent is Africa.  Uganda may look a small country on the map but it is almost the same size (236,000 sq km) to UK (245,000 sq km).  Uganda has less people (37 millions) than UK (64 millions).  But whilst in UK most people live in towns and cities, in Uganda, many still live in the countryside, though the towns are rapidly growing.  In UK migrants are a sensitive issue, increasing at a net rate of 2.5 per 1000 people per year, though the large majority have a legal right to stay.  Instead in Uganda people leave.  There is a net outflow of 0.7/1000.  There are 250,000 refugees from civil wars in neighbouring countries.

A different way of birth.
Uganda has so many more youngsters (49% under 15 years old compared to 17% in UK).  This is because Uganda’s birth rate is so much higher (44/1000 people compared to UK’s 11/1000, and Haiti 22/1000), and while British ladies bear only 1.9 babies on average (Haiti 2.7), their Ugandan sisters are having 5.9!

A different way of death.
But at the other end of life, UK is well ahead.  UK life expectancy at birth is 80 years, while in Uganda it is only 55 (Haiti 63).  Wanda and Bill both should be dead if they were average Ugandans.  The key in Uganda is to survive infancy.  Then things look a bit brighter, for infant mortality in Uganda is 59 deaths per 1000 live births, thirteen times that if UK (4.4 deaths/1000).  The Ugandan murder rate (10.5 per 100,000) is ten times that of UK (1.0, Haiti 10.2).  With HIV/AIDS too there is a world of difference.  Though large improvements have been made in recent years, still ~33,000 Ugandans die of it each year, when in UK, with twice as many people, less than 600 die.  In Britain, each case is a personal tragedy.  In Uganda, it is a national disaster as well.

A different way of earning.
We certainly earn our money differently, Ugandans largely in agriculture and Britons largely in the services.  For one, the economy generates coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco; for the other, banking, insurance, financial services, tourism, media and cultural services.

Economic Indicator Uganda UK
Labour in Agriculture 82% 1½%
Labour in Industry 5% 15%
Labour in Services 13% 83½%
GDP /person (Purchase Power Parity) $2,100 $41,200

There is no doubt about it, Uganda is a poorer country by a very long way.  Gross Domestic Product per person in Uganda is $2,100.  For UK it is $41,200.  Interestingly though, UK is a less unequal nation in terms of income, the top 10% having 31% of national income, whereas in Uganda, the top 10% have 39% (Haiti 48%!).

We all like to talk
There are now as more mobiles than there are people – 1.2 phones per person on average. Where have you put your 0.2?  And for every 100 of us, 90 are internet users.  In Uganda, there are now 17 internet users per 100 people, and rapidly increasing.  But phones – mobile phone usage has far overtaken use of landlines.  There are 57 mobiles per 100 and the number is fast growing.  (Haiti 68/100.)  Just as well, as getting around in Uganda is still not that easy.  For a country of similar size to UK, it has only 3,300 km paved roads, compared to UK’s total of 394,000 km.

A similar way of faith?
Statistics on religious faith can be misleading.

Religion Uganda UK
Roman Catholic 42% 8%
Christian other 42% 34%
Muslim 12% 5%
Other 3% 3%
None or unspecified 1% 50%

UK and Uganda are quite different.   In UK, most people who call themselves Christians do not go.  Regular church attendance is ~10%.  The numbers of people who are explicitly declaring themselves as having no religion is rapidly rising.

In Uganda, things are more complex.  There are a lot of committed Christians, but many are not.    There is a social Christianity that is acceptable in a way that being an atheist is not, being a spirit worshipper is old fashioned and being a Muslim is too tribally specific.  But this social Christianity is not strong enough to expel corruption from the nation, or reduce tribalism to a minor harmless phenomenon.

Some figures have been given for Haiti, as this is where Bill currently works.




1. kirsty - 6 December 2008

i think all this is wrong but the pictures are well cool!!!!!!!!!!!

2. Bill - 8 December 2008

Kirsty, glad you like some of the pictures, more on Flickr. But do tell us, is working alongside Ugandan Christians to bring health care to the rural poor such a wrong thing?

3. Kenneth Tumukunde "KUNDE" - 25 August 2009

Bill, I think Kirsty has never been to Uganda, all above is true… very true

4. Camilla - 10 January 2010

I lived in Uganda for almost 4 years of my life and i would agree that these statistics are correct, although some are perhaps misleading in the way they are written. You do find that most Ugandans are christians or believe in some kind of God. I would say this could be because the majority are relatively poor and therefore need something to base thier hopes on.

Bill - 12 January 2010

Hi Camilla, thanks for the interest. Indeed, most Ugandans have fairly strong religious identification, though serious faith is the practice of a (still substantial) minority. As for belief being driven by poverty – consider why is the proportions of Americans who believe so much higher than Europeans? It is a function of their different cultural histories don’t you think? Anyway, living here makes you think afresh, doesn’t it!

5. Anonymous - 6 April 2010

Thanks for the seemingly good and accurate comparisons.
Camilla,I think christianity is not just for poor people.The UK was more powerfull and prosperous when it was a practical christian nation.America is doing quite well too with its huge number of christians and has since taken over the mantle of leadership from the UK.South Korea is one of the most economically stable nations on earth with millions of devoute christians.

Just for the record,am a ugandan.

6. O - 6 April 2010

Thanks for the seemingly good and accurate comparisons.
Camilla,I think christianity is not just for poor people.The UK was more powerfull and prosperous when it was a practical christian nation.America is doing quite well too with its huge number of christians and has since taken over the mantle of leadership from the UK.South Korea is one of the most economically stable nations on earth with millions of devoute christians.

Just for the record,am a ugandan.

7. kiyemba A. - 30 April 2010

i don’t think it’s a right idea to compare a 3rd world country to a 1st world country cos all the results will be full of biasness

Bill - 1 May 2010

Agandi Kiyembo sebo. We do understand the statistical pitfalls of such comparisons. But the two nations are more different still than the mere figures indicate. The figures are pointers, not moral judgements. But thanks for teh comments. Bill and Wanda

8. smith - 28 May 2010

Religion or no religion Uganda and all Ugandans are pooor where as UK is rich.


9. Anonymous - 2 August 2011
Bill and Wanda - 4 August 2011

Sorry, as we do not know the source of this spreadsheet, we are compelled to decline. Bill and Wanda.

10. nadia - 19 February 2012

i am a ugandan but i think you got it all wrong when you stated that 78000 die each year of HIV as this is very untrue . last year it was recorded that only 2450 had died of the HIV and no wonder why uganda was awarded the HIV fighter award by the all africa congress any way can not explain much perhaps next time you think of stating things make sure you are very sure .

Bill Lovett - 3 March 2012

Nadia, it is correct to say that Uganda has made BIG improvements. And the Government takes this seriously. However, I have looked for more up to date sources, and I have figure of 78000 with 74000. The death toll is coming down, but not as fast as some would have us beleive. Keep up you part in the fight agaist HIV/AIDS, and thanks for commenting.

11. Anonymous - 22 September 2012

Thanks for the comparisons – very useful for my primary aged children to understand Uganda.

12. Christopher - 7 May 2013

I like those comparissions……keep on updating us.

13. I.K - 15 September 2013

You colonised it and stole watever you wanted n now yo doing yo fake comparisons…..komanyoko

14. Anonymous - 9 January 2014

How did we lose touch?

15. mugisha - 21 February 2014

muslims are not few as you have stated above

16. Ida - 10 March 2014

It is very misleading for you to think that Christianity is for the poor. Jesus died for all human kind rich and poor and that is why you will find that some Christians are poor and some are not and vice versa.

In Uganda there are very prominent Christians who are not poor. I will mention a few though the First Lady , the former Prime minister Nsibambi. I could go on and on to mention some even in the UK and the USA Who are very rich and Christians.

It also depends on how one defines poverty and who defines poverty.

I would have wanted one to include the following – that in Uganda most people own their houses irrespective of their state and that quite a number can produce from their land and do not have to go to the supermarket for everything. That we still have the culture of supporting each other even our parents as opposed to leaving parents in an old people’s home. There are other parameters that the writer could have mentioned in favour of Uganda over UK to make the comparison objective.

Bill - 13 March 2014

You are quite right, Jesus came for all, rich and poor. And this is not about country A= good, Country B= bad. This is about visitors from UK understanding more easily the differences between two countries. Not about making value judgements.

17. KYASANKU ASUMAN - 4 September 2014

You right

18. Anonymous - 4 December 2014

Stop being mean to this poor Man and women they helped me learn abut Uganda

19. Anonymous - 14 June 2015

I’m doing a project on Uganda for school and I found this website very helpful, thanks!

Bill - 15 June 2015

Thanks for your kind comment. As I now work elsewhere in the world, I do not revise these figures frequently.

20. Gilbert - 25 May 2016

The comparison between Britain and Uganda is one that has to factor in the history of both nations and the subsequent contributing factors .
Uganda only became independent in 1962 after the same country that you are comparing it with had colonised , squandered , brutalised , enslaved , manipulated , brain washed, killed and created divisions that have till today become the bedrock of Uganda’s social and political unrest .

These religions are not those that were know or practiced by the Ugandan people’s before the invasion of the colonial gangstas in the disguise of missionaries. These religions were then used to enforce control to the minds of the indigenous peoples and become submissive as there livelihood was being desimetted and resources squandered .

These resources then went on to increase the wealth of Britain hence the difference in the per capita and the GDP of both countries .

The failures in infrastructure development and social services in Uganda are highly based on the government’s limited resources plus the corruption and embezzlement that has engulfed the state .The failure of the judicial system in combating these vices has only fuelled impunity.

The unfair and imposed terms of trade plus the IMF and donour conditioned loans and grants have further led the country in a state of disrepair .

For the above reasons and more , I believe that your comparison between these two countries may be accurate statistically but does not highlight the fundamental factors that have led to this huge difference in wealth , health , mortality , growth and development between the two countries .

Your comparison could be seen as the(UK) aggressor ,oppressor and thief vs the oppressed(Uganda) .

Bill - 25 May 2016

Hi Gilbert, thanks for your input. Yes, there are trade inequalities that have not helped Uganda. You imply that the missionaries had much more power than they really had. Indeed, their work made the impact of the colonial regime less hard. And the colonial era is a long time ago now. Uganda as made progress, but not as much as say Malaysia, which received independence from Britain at a similar time. The reasons for disparities in economic development are complex indeed. Best wishes.

21. Samuel Muchwa - 9 June 2016

Good job. Would you compare geographical/enviromental aspect as well?

Bill - 10 June 2016

Good suggestion. But to get beyond the obvious generalities, I would have to make this posting very long. And many of the differences relate to differences in geographic location, rather than differences/similarities between societies.

22. Sam - 21 October 2017

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”- Mark Twain ( who attributed it to the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli)

Useless figures & very misleading analysis: “Gross Domestic Product per person in Uganda is $2,100. For UK it is $41,200. Interestingly though, UK is a less unequal nation in terms of income, the top 10% having 31% of national income, whereas in Uganda, the top 10% have 39%”

Labour in Agriculture 82% vs. 1½%.
Those 82% people in agriculture mostly don’t buy food. And in villages, barter trade still goes on. In villages, basically there is no such a thing as monthly house rent.

Those who live in Kampala city and those in villages, need totally different amounts of money to meet their basic needs, therefore when you use their incomes to calculate which country is less unequal nation in terms of income, by using top 10% having a certain percentage of the national income, you are compairing apples with oranges.

Where do you even get reliable income data from a villager that depends on his/her small gardens and who doesn’t file income revenue with the government at the end of the year?.

Bill - 23 October 2017

Hi Sam, thank you for your reply and your concern. Indeed, there are problems with measuring economic activity in non-monetised areas. But Uganda’s rural economy is not so hidden or chaotic as to prevent economic activity is being measured to a reasonable degree.

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