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Land of Milk.
Mbarara at Sundown.jpg
Motto: Ebirungi Biruga Omutuutu (Good things come from sweat)
Mbarara is located in Uganda
Location in Uganda
Coordinates: 00°36′48″S 30°39′30″E / 0.61333°S 30.65833°E / -0.61333; 30.65833
Country Flag of Uganda.svg Uganda
Region Western Region of Uganda
Sub-region Ankole sub-region
District Mbarara District
Founded 1901
Township 1957
Municipality 1974
 • Mayor Wilson Tumwiine
Population (2014 Census)
 • Total 195,013[1]
Time zone +3 (East African Standard Time)

Mbarara is a town in the Western Region of Uganda. It is the main municipal, administrative, and commercial center of Mbarara District and the site of the district headquarters. It is also the largest urban centre in the Western Region.[citation needed]


Mbarara is about 290 kilometres (180 mi), by road, southwest of Kampala, Uganda's capital and largest city.[2] Mbarara is an important transport hub, lying west of Masaka on the road to Kabale, near Lake Mburo National Park. The coordinates of the Mbarara central business district are 00 36 48S, 30 39 30E (Latitude:-0.6132; Longitude:30.6582).[3]


In 2002, the national census estimated the population of the town at 69,400. The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) estimated the population at 82,000 in 2010. In 2011, UBOS estimated the mid-year populatiation at 83,700.[4] In August 2014, the national population census put the population at 195,013.[1]


The town started growing rapidly since it was the capital of western Uganda and had roads connecting to Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

It was later destroyed seriously during the 1979 Tanzania-Ugandan war that removed Amin from the presidency. Together with Masaka, they were the most destroyed towns in Uganda.

Mbarara is looking forward to a city status and on 1 July 2014 the neighboring subcounties of Biharwe, Kakiika and Nyakayojo were consolidated to it so that it can have the required population and size to get the City status. The town is also looking forward to getting the sub-counties of Rwanyamahembe, Birere, Masha, Bubaare and Rugando consolidated to get enough space of expansion with a Metropolitan containing suburbs of Bwizibwera, Rugando, Kashaka and Kaberebere. With this land, if granted, Mbarara will be the Largest City in Uganda by size and Second Largest City in Uganda by Population.

Growth and expansion[edit]

Mbarara came from behind and developed to surpass Entebbe, Masaka, Gulu, and Jinja as the second-largest town in Uganda after Kampala and also second to Kampala in importance, industry, and infrastructure,[5] 3rd largest town in Uganda by population after Kampala and Kira and the fastest growing town in Uganda followed by Gulu.

Starting with 2000, modern buildings have been established including malls, arcades, plaza, and hotels. Modern hospitals have also been constructed including Mbarara Hospital, which is now a National Referral Hospital, Mbarara Community Hospital a private hospital located in Kyamugorani, Kakiika Division,[6] and Mayanja Memorial Hospital located in Nyamityobora Kakoba Division.[7]

In July 2014, Biharwe, Nyakayojo and Kakiika became part of the town, giving it more space for expansion. With this vast area, modern buildings and residential houses, industries and general infrastructure, Mbarara is striving to be designated a City.

On 7 August 2015 the Uganda cabinet approved Mbarara Municipality alongside other 5 municipalities to be granted a city status. As of 14 August 2015, the town is waiting for the approval of the parliament and the President.


Mbarara is a centre of various educational institutions starting from Baby Care, up to University and other tertiary institutions.


Mbarara is the home of Mbarara University of Science & Technology (MUST), founded in 1989. There were many educational institutions well before then, including Bishop Stewart Teacher Training College now known as Bishop Stuart University which is located on Kakoba Hill, southeast of downtown. Other institutions of learning in the town include Maryhill High School, an all-girl school. Mbarara High School (MHS) and Ntare School are both all-boys schools. Built during the colonial days, these three schools were state boarding schools whose graduates go on to make major contributions to today's Uganda. Alumni of these schools include President Museveni (Ntare), Mzee Boniface Byanyima (MHS), Sam Kutesa, Minister of Foreign Affairs (MHS), and the academic Sam Nahamya PhD (MHS). Winnie Byanyima, the current Director of Gender Issues at the UNDP headquarters in New York City is a native of Mbarara. She had her early education in area schools. She represented the town in the Ugandan Parliament from 1994 until 2004.

With significance for all Ugandan cities, Mbarara was the host to the 2004 Annual General Meeting of the Uganda Local Governments Association on 1 October, which saw the changing of the organisation to its current structure in order to represent all Ugandan local governments. Mbarara remains an active member of this governmental association.[8]


The following financial institutions maintain branches in Mbarara:


Most people who live in Mbarara are pedestrians. They walk from the nearby places and head to town for work. The other popular means of transport in Mbarara are Boda Bodas. They carry people from their place of residence to work places. The transport charge when travelling within Mbarara is between UGX 1000-3000.

Taxis and public cars are not common within Mbarara. They are mainly destined for long journeys. However, very few 5 seater public cars have started operations within the city. They are available only on two routes that is the Katete, Mbarara route and the Ruharo route.

Mbarara is a transport hub of Western Uganda

Mbarara Bypass Road[edit]

Main article see; Mbarara Northern bypass road.

As part of the modernization of the Mbarara-Katuna Road (2011 - 2015), a new northern bypass road is planned for the town. The bypass will start from the Coca-Cola Plant on Mbarara-Masaka Road at Makenke, pass through Rwebishuri, Nkokonjeru and join the Mbarara-Kabale Road at Katatumba Resort, about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi), southwest of the central business district. The bypass is expected to decongest the city center by taking the long-distance trucks destined for and coming from Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, off the Mbarara city streets. The 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) road is expected to cost about €170 million (US$210 million), of which the European Union is expected to lend about €122 million (US$153 million) with the government funding the balance from its own resources.[9] (Official Exchange Rate: US$1 = Sh2,500). Construction has started with Reynolds Construction Company leading the way.

Points of interest[edit]

The following Points of Interest lie within the city limits or close to its edges:





Social services[edit]



  • Mbarara Airport - A public airport, located about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi), by road northwest of town
  • Mbarara Bypass Road - A 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) bypass road, currently under construction, circling the northern half of the city.

Financial services[edit]

The following financial institutions maintain branches in Mbarara:


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b UBOS (27 August 2014). "The Population of The Regions of the Republic of Uganda And All Cities And Towns of More Than 15,000 Inhabitants". Quoting Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS). Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "Map Showing Kampala And Mbarara With Distance Marker". Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  3. ^ Google (1 July 2015). "Location of Mbarara at Google Maps" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  4. ^ "Estimated Population of Mbarara Town In 2002, 2010 & 2011" (PDF). Uganda Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Pelikan, Archive (30 July 2013). "Mbarara The Second Largest City In Uganda". Pelikan. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  6. ^ AllAfrica, Archive (4 April 2004). "Mbarara gets a 2 Billion hospital". All Africa. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  7. ^ AllAfrica, Archive (3 April 2004). "Museveni launches Mayanja Memorial Hospital". All Africa. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  8. ^ "About ULGA". Uganda Local Governments Association(ULGA). Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  9. ^ Newvision, Archive (26 May 2010). "Mbarara Gets Sh459 Billion Bypass". New Vision. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  10. ^ Wafula, Paul (11 February 2012). "South Africa Firm Plans To Invest Sh6.5 Billion In New Brewery". Daily Nation. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  11. ^ "SABMiller Opens Second Brewery In Uganda". 22 August 2013. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  12. ^ Vision, Reporter (24 September 2012). "China To Build US$100 Million Steel Plant In Mbarara". Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  13. ^ Turyakira, Fred (28 December 2010). "Private Hospitals Urged To Implement Government Programmes". New Vision. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  14. ^ "About Mayanja Memorial Hospital". Mayanja Memorial Hospital Foundation. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  15. ^ "About Uganda Bible Institute". Uganda Bible Institute. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 00°36′48″S 30°39′30″E / 0.61333°S 30.65833°E / -0.61333; 30.65833