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“The Pearl of Africa” is a phrase popularized by Winston Churchill when he described his impression of Uganda after his trip in 1907. Some sources however credit one of the earliest explorers into Uganda, Henry Morton Stanley, as the first person to refer to Uganda as the Pearl of Africa in 1871. Regardless of who came up with the phrase, both men had similar reasons for this reference; Uganda’s natural beauty- the lakes, mountain ranges, wildlife, the people and their culture.
So why Uganda is still referred to as the Pearl of Africa today? Let’s start with the natural beauty Uganda offers. We start off with the famous Lake Victoria- the largest lake in Africa, the largest tropical lake in the world and the world’s second largest freshwater lake. Lake Victoria is also the source of the longest river in the world, the River Nile. The Source of the Nile monument in Jinja is a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike.
The wild life is another unique feature that attests to Uganda being the Pearl of Africa. From the rare mountain gorilla species in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park to the biggest number of bird species in Africa in Queen Elizabeth National Park, to the Big Five [lions, elephants, buffalos, rhinos, leopards] and all sorts of smaller animals in Uganda’s other national parks. Don’t forget the lush mountains, the green forests, and the gorgeous waterfalls along the Nile.
Of course, the Pearl would not be complete without its people. Ugandans’ hospitality is a well-known fact in the region. You will not find a more welcoming, hospitable, and friendly people anywhere in East Africa. Even with the diverse culture spread over the different tribes, everyone is ready with a smile for everyone; even a stranger.
It was no mistake that Uganda was named as ‘the best country to visit’ by Lonely Planet in 2012 or as ‘one of the best travel destinations for 2013’ by the National Geographic. Uganda is truly the Pearl.
Photo Credit: stttijn