top of page

A Guide to Uganda's 10 Biggest Cities

Updated: May 7

Embarking on a journey through Uganda's diverse urban landscape unveils a tapestry woven with cultural richness, economic vibrancy, and geographical diversity. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into Uganda's ten largest cities, each offering a unique blend of history, modernity, and distinctive local flavors.

From the bustling streets of Kampala, the nation's cosmopolitan capital, to the serene ambiance of other major urban centers, this exploration provides insights into the topography, cultural heritage, economic significance, and lifestyle variations across Uganda's diverse cities. Join us as we traverse through these dynamic hubs, offering an immersive glimpse into the heartbeat of Uganda's urban life.

Kampala, Uganda’s Capital

The sprawling metropolis of Kampala stands as Uganda's largest and most populous capital city, boasting a population of approximately 1,680,000 residents. The city's administrative layout comprises distinct political divisions, including Kampala Central Division, Kawempe Division, Makindye Division, Nakawa Division, and Rubaga Division, each contributing to the city's diverse cultural fabric.

Fascinatingly, Kampala experiences a significant annual population growth rate of about 4.03 percent, positioning it among the African cities witnessing substantial demographic surges. This rapid growth underscores Kampala's status as a pivotal hub, showcasing a compelling blend of urban development, cultural dynamism, and demographic shifts within Uganda's landscape.

Mbarara City

Situated in the scenic Western region of Uganda, Mbarara City proudly holds the distinction of being the country's second-largest urban center, following closely after Kampala in terms of size and significance. This vibrant city encompasses six distinctive divisions: Kakoba, Kamukuzi, Nyamitanga, Biharwe, Kakiika, and Nyakayojo, each contributing its unique essence to the city's cultural mosaic.

Renowned for its rich cultural heritage, Mbarara City serves as a melting pot of traditions, bustling economic activities, and diverse communities. Its strategic location in the Western part of Uganda not only enhances its regional prominence but also positions it as a pivotal hub for trade, education, and cultural exchange within the country.

Mbarara City stands as a central commercial hub and administrative nucleus for a significant portion of Uganda's southwestern districts. Recognizing its pivotal role, the Ugandan government elevated Mbarara to city status in May 2019, acknowledging its growing significance and influence within the region.

As of the national population census conducted in August 2014, Mbarara City boasted a population of 195,013 residents. This numerical representation highlights the city's pivotal position as a bustling urban center, catering not only to commercial activities but also serving as a focal point for district administration, underscoring its importance within Uganda's southwestern landscape.

Jinja City

Jinja, nestled in Uganda's Eastern Region along the northern shores of Lake Victoria, holds the prestigious title of Africa's tourism capital. Notably, on July 1, 2020, the Ugandan government granted city status to several communities, among them Jinja, marking a significant milestone in the city's history and development.

This transformational shift saw Jinja expanding to encompass the former Jinja Municipality, Bugembe Town Council, Mafubira sub-county, and Budondo sub-county, meeting the prerequisites for attaining city status. Anticipated to reach a population of approximately 300,000 residents by October 2020, the newly designated city of Jinja is poised for growth and progress, promising to further elevate its status as a prominent urban center within Uganda's Eastern Region.

Gulu City

Gulu City, nestled in the northern region of Uganda, assumes a pivotal role as the administrative and commercial epicenter of the Gulu District. As of mid-year 2020, the anticipated population distribution across the city's divisions is projected to total approximately 177,400 residents, showcasing its dynamic and evolving urban landscape.

Comprising several integral divisions, Gulu City's estimated population breakdown includes: Bar Dege with an expected populace of 47,700, Laroo with approximately 32,300 residents, Layibi housing an anticipated 43,900 individuals, and Pece with an estimated population of 53,500. This demographic delineation underscores the city's diverse neighborhoods and communities, each contributing to Gulu's vibrant cultural tapestry and urban development.

Hoima City

Situated in the western region of Uganda, Hoima stands tall as the principal municipal, administrative, and commercial nucleus of its district.

As projected by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), the mid-year population of Hoima in 2020 was estimated to reach 122,700 residents. Notably, between the years 2014 and 2020, UBOS anticipates a steady rise in Hoima's population, indicating an average annual growth rate of approximately 3.54 percent. This burgeoning growth underscores the city's evolving significance and economic dynamism within the region, highlighting its role as a prominent urban center experiencing notable demographic expansion.

Masaka City

Nestled in Uganda's Buganda Region, west of Lake Victoria, lies the city of Masaka, serving as the administrative hub for Masaka District. The city's historical journey commenced in 1953 with the establishment of Masaka Township, signifying its early development as an urban center.

Progressively evolving, Masaka was designated as a town council in 1958 and elevated to municipality status in 1968, marking pivotal stages in its growth and governance structure. Excitingly, a significant milestone awaits Masaka, as per a decision by Uganda's Cabinet in 2019. Scheduled for transformation, Masaka is poised to attain city status, an anticipated transition set to take effect from July 2023. This impending elevation underscores the city's remarkable journey and forthcoming role as an emerging urban center within the region.

Lira City

As per the national population census conducted in August 2014, Lira, situated in the Northern Region of Uganda, was reported to have a population totaling 99,059 individuals. This census data offers insight into the city's demographic makeup at that specific point in time, portraying Lira's population size within the Northern Region during the assessment conducted in 2014.

Mbale City

Located in Uganda's Eastern region, Mbale stands as the central municipal, administrative, and commercial nucleus for both the neighboring subregion and Mbale District.

In a significant decision by the Ugandan Cabinet in 2019, Mbale was slated to attain city status starting in July 2021. However, in a subsequent update within the same year, the Cabinet revised the date for city status advancement, shifting it to 1 July 2020.

As of the national population census conducted in 2014, Mbale had a recorded population of 96,189 residents. This statistical figure provides a snapshot of Mbale's population at that specific period, capturing its demographic size within the Eastern region of Uganda at the time of the census.

Arua City

Arua, situated in the northwest region of Uganda, rests at an elevation of approximately 4,300 feet (1,310 meters). Positioned approximately 12 miles (19 km) east from the shared border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Arua serves as a significant urban center within the region.

According to the projections by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), the midyear population estimate for Arua in 2020 was anticipated to reach approximately 72,400 residents. Notably, Arua features an airport and enjoys road connectivity to Moyo and Nebbi, underscoring its strategic transportation links within the region and its importance as a hub for travel and trade.

Certainly, concluding the list of Uganda's largest cities, Kampala, the capital city, emerges as the largest urban center, followed by Mbarara city and Jinja. These cities not only stand out in terms of size but also hold significant importance as developed urban hubs within Uganda.

With their diverse economic activities, cultural richness, and infrastructural advancements, Kampala, Mbarara, and Jinja represent some of the most developed cities in Uganda. Their prominence isn't solely confined to size but extends to their contributions to the country's economic growth, cultural heritage, and overall urban development. Exploring their multifaceted attributes showcases their pivotal role as key centers of commerce, administration, culture, and progress within Uganda's dynamic landscape.

37 views0 comments


bottom of page