Kagera (region)

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Mkoa wa Kagera  (Swahili)
Karagwe District
Karagwe District
Location in Tanzania
Location in Tanzania
Coordinates: 1°55′S 31°18′E / 1.917°S 31.300°E / -1.917; 31.300Coordinates: 1°55′S 31°18′E / 1.917°S 31.300°E / -1.917; 31.300
Country Tanzania
 • Regional CommissionerBrig. Gen. Michael Gaguti
 • Total35,686 km2 (13,778 sq mi)
 • Total2,458,023
 • Density69/km2 (180/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+3 (EAT)
Area code(s)028
HDI (2018)0.501[1]
low · 18th of 25

Kagera is an administrative region in Tanzania. It is located on the western shore of Lake Victoria in the northwestern area of the country. Kagera borders Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya, which is on the other side of Lake Victoria. The region was known as West Lake before June 1979. The regional capital is the city of Bukoba.

The attempted annexation of Kagera by Uganda in 1979 triggered the Uganda–Tanzania War.

On 10 September 2016, the region was struck by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake , the strongest earthquake ever recorded in Tanzania.[2]


Kagera is located south of the equator, between 1°00' and 2°45' south latitudes. Longitudinally, it is between 30°25' and 32°40' east of Greenwich. Out of the region's total area of 40,838 square kilometres (15,768 sq mi), 11,885 square kilometres (4,589 sq mi) is covered by the waters of Lake Victoria, Lake Ikimba, Lake Burigi, and the Ngono and Kagera rivers.[3] The region's total area is just 446 square kilometres (172 sq mi) less than that of Switzerland. Kagera is Tanzania's fifteenth-largest region and accounts for approximately 3.3 percent of Tanzania's total land area of 885,800 square kilometres (342,000 sq mi).[4] It has reasonably fertile old soils, but overuse in some parts of the region has led to soil exhaustion and a need to use fertiliser.[citation needed]

The regional capital Bukoba is about 1,400 kilometres (870 mi) from Dar es Salaam.

The region shares borders with Uganda to the north, Rwanda and Burundi to the west, the region of Kigoma to the south, and the region of Geita to the east. The region is known for its agriculture, its beautiful lush landscapes, and its wildlife. The Kagera River forms the region's border with Rwanda.

Districts and Population[edit]

The region is administratively divided into eight districts:

Districts of Kagera
Map District Population
Kagera-Region.svg Biharamulo District 323,486 5,627
Bukoba Rural 289,697
Bukoba Urban 128,796
Karagwe District 332,020 7,716
Kyerwa District 321,026
Missenyi District 202,632 2,709
Muleba District 540,310 10,739
Ngara District 320,056 3,744
Total 2,458,023 40,838

According to the 2012 national census, the region had a population of 2,458,023, which was lower than the pre-census projection of 2,763,329.[5]: page 2  For 2002–2012, the region's 3.2 percent average annual population growth rate was tied for the third-highest in the country.[5]: page 4  It was also the ninth-most densely populated region, with 97 people per square kilometre.[5]: page 6 


The region takes its name from the Kagera River, which flows from Rwanda through northern Tanzania before entering Lake Victoria. Formerly known as the West Lake region, it was renamed Kagera after the Uganda-Tanzania War.

Cultural history[edit]

For a period of about five centuries, Kagera was home to nine different kingdoms with highly hierarchical societies. Before European colonialism, coffee was a traditional crop in the area, used for its stimulant properties and in local cultural rituals. During colonial times, coffee was transformed into a cash crop. Bananas were a staple food in the region. Although there was a gender-based division of labour in the traditional Bahaya society, women of the time were not thought to be inferior to men. In fact women commanded special respect in all traditional rituals. For example, upon the death of a head of a family (Nyin'enju), during the following inheritance rituals, the "Main Inheritor" (Omusika) had to have a female counterpart selected from among his sisters to share his authority. Similarly, upon the death of a reigning king, during the crowning of the next king, there had to be a "sister to the nation" (Kinyany'engoma) who was also selected from among his sisters.

The kings lived in elaborate palaces and were respected as the direct link to gods of their kingdoms. The authority of the nine kingdoms (Kihanja, Karagwe, Kiziba, Misenye, Bugabo, Kyamtwara, Ihangiro, Bukara and Biharamulo) was diminished when Germans colonised Tanzania in 1885 and supported the Haya, the ethnic group of Bukoba and Muleba Districts over the other districts. However, the local kings held on to power. The demise of these kingdoms came after Tanzania gained its independence and president Nyerere considered them detrimental to national unity.

There was a chief called Omukama (the word meant a king or chief) who could be born with that authority. Some prominent chiefs in Kagera include Kyamukuma, who is a last[clarification needed] chief in Misenye (currently Missenyi District).[6] Other chiefs include Rumanyika of Karagwe, Ruhinda, Kahigi and other inferior chiefs. Kahigi is among the chiefs who waived their territories by collaborating with German colonialists.

Cultural tours are available for tourists visiting Kagera and can be accessed from the region's capital of Bukoba. These tours include visits to the region's national parks/nature reserves etc.

During German rule Dr. M. Zupitza, then serving as the local medical officer, encountered the plague outbreak in Kiziba (1897–1898). In cooperation with Dr. Robert Koch, he confirmed that the cause was the same bacteria as the outbreak in Bombay.

When authority was transferred to the British who supplanted the Germans, Kagera was open to Lutheran missionary activity. Other Christian denominations including the Roman Catholic church later arrived. Their legacy is seen in the many churches in the region.

Wildlife and national parks[edit]

The Kagera region has abundant wildlife, including baboons, Giraffe, Elands, Crocodiles, Hippopotamus, Warthog, Birds Family like African Fish Eagles, Hamacopes, Weaves, Clanes, White greate Pelicana, Marabour stock, Provers, Ibilis Hadada, Commorants Kingfisher, Heroin, and other Paints in Bwanjai, Mutagata host water Spring, Waterfalls in Rusumo, Kamachumu Bugonzi and Rubare Kyamunene Bukoba, Hiking in Kamachumu plateaus.

Kagera is home to Biharamulo, Burigi, Ibanda and Rumanyika and Orugundu (Game reserv)s) 2019 Burigi, Biharamulo game reserve and lake Burigi and Kimis was upgraded to become a National park with the Burigi-Chato National Park. Again Rumanyika was gazzeted as Rumanyika Karagwe National Park and Ibanda Kyerwa National Park.

A national park is situated on Rubondo Island and a wildlife sanctuary is based on Saa Nane Island. Akagera National Park is located near the region, in Rwanda.


  1. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". hdi.globaldatalab.org. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  2. ^ "Sh1.4 billion raised for earthquake survivors". The Citizen. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  3. ^ National Sample Census of Agriculture 2002/03: Volume Vr: Regional Report: Kagera Region, Tanzania National Bureau of Statistics, December 2007, page 1[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Field Listing: Area, The World Factbook, United States Central Intelligence Agency
  5. ^ a b c Population Distribution by Administrative Units, United Republic of Tanzania, 2013 Archived 2013-06-12 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Seth, Niyikiza [The new Haya Transformation, The legacy of Babumbilo (2014)]

External links[edit]