Before independence, Uganda was a prosperous and cohesive country. Its great beauty led Winston Churchill to refer to it as the ‘Pearl of Africa’, but by the mid-1980s Uganda lay shattered and bankrupt, broken by political instability, mass murder and military tyranny. Despite the killings and brutality, Ugandans have proven their resilience and the country is now considered to be a much safer place to visit. However, even rose-coloured glasses won’t hide the country’s huge debt, AIDS crisis and less than desirable human rights record. It’s advisable to ask for local advice before travelling to areas near the borders of Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan, due to occasional uprisings by rebel troops.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) is situated in Central Africa and crosses the equator in the north-central region. The third largest country in Africa, it is surrounded by many countries including Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Rwanda.
Since 1994 the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been troubled by ethnic strife and civil war, exacerbated by a massive inflow of refugees from the fighting in Rwanda and Burundi. The government of former president Mobutu Sese Seko was toppled by a rebllion led by Laurent Kabila in 1997; his regime was subsequently challenged by a Rwanda and Uganda backed rebellion the following year and a cease fire against the opposing regime was met in 1999, but sporadic fighting continues. Kabila was assassinated in January 2001 and his son Joseph was named head of state. The new president quickly began to express his support for ending the war.

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