Kagera Region

Kagera Region (Mkoa wa Kagera in Swahili) is an administrative region of Tanzania that is located on the western shore of Lake Victoria in the north-west of the country. Kagera borders Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya, which is on the other side of Lake Victoria. The regional capital city is Bukoba.

Kagera Region
Valleys with large forest and grass hills.
Karagwe District
North east Tanzania. Lake Victoria to east, Uganda to north, and Rwanda to west.
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
Regions of TanzaniaKagera
 • Regional CommissionerBrig. Gen. Michael Gaguti
 • Total35,686 km2 (13,778 sq mi)
 • Land25,513 km2 (9,851 sq mi)
 • Water10,173 km2 (3,928 sq mi)  27%
 • Rank16 of 31
1,400 m (4,600 ft)
Highest elevation
1,917 m (6,289 ft)
Lowest elevation1,135 m (3,724 ft)
 • Total2,789,577
 • Rank3 of 31
 • Density78/km2 (200/sq mi)
Ethnic groups
 • TribesWahaya, Wanyambo, Washubi, Wahangaza, Waha, Wazinza, Warongo, and others.
Time zoneUTC+3 (EAT)
Area code028
ISO 3166 codeTZ-05
HDI (2019)0.501[1]
low · 18th of 25
WebsiteOfficial website


The region derives its name from the Kagera River.

During colonization the region was a district called West Lake, that was a part of the Lake Province, that included the Geita, Mwanza, Shinyanga, Tabora, Simiyu, and Mara, regions. After independence Lake Province was broken up into regions, with Kagera and part of Geita becoming the West Lake Region. Following the Kagera War in 1979, the West Lake Region was renamed the Kagera Region.[2]


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).[3] 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.

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


Kagera borders Uganda to the north, Rwanda and Burundi to the west, and the Tanzanian regions Kigoma to the south and Geita to the east. The Kagera River forms the region's border with Rwanda. The region lies in the middle of 30°25' and 32°40' east, and 1°00' and 2°45' south. The total area is 35,686 square kilometres (13,778 sq mi), of which 25,513 square kilometres (9,851 sq mi) is land and 27 percent, and 10,173 square kilometres (3,928 sq mi) is water. Much of the water is that of the great lake, Victoria, as well as lakes Ikimba, Burigi, Ngono and the Kagera River. Kagera is Tanzania's fifteenth-largest region and accounts for approximately 3.3 percent of Tanzania's land area of 885,800 square kilometres (342,000 sq mi). The regional capital Bukoba is about 1,500 kilometres (930 mi) from Dar es Salaam.[2]


Lying on the Kivu Rift, the western of the two branches of the East African Rift which transverses Tanzania, Kagera experiences significant seismic activity. On 10 September 2016, the region was struck by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in which 17 people died, and at least 250 others were injured.[4][5]

Kagera is known for its agriculture, its lush landscapes and its wildlife. It has reasonably fertile old soils but climate change has led to soil exhaustion and a need to use fertiliser.[6]

Wildlife and national parksEdit

The Kagera Region has abundant wildlife, including baboons, giraffe, elands, crocodiles, hippopotamus, warthog. Birdlife includes African fish eagles, hammerkops, marabou stork, cormorants. kingfishers, and herons.

Kagera is home to Biharamulo, Burigi, Ibanda and Rumanyika and Orugundu game reserves. A national park is situated on Rubondo Island and a wildlife sanctuary is based on Saa Nane Island. In 2019, Burigi, Biharamulo game reserve, and Lakes Burigi and Kimis were upgraded to become a national park with the Burigi-Chato National Park. Rumanyika was gazetted as Rumanyika Karagwe National Park and Ibanda Kyerwa National Park.[7]

Administrative divisionsEdit


Kagera Region is divided into eight districts, each administered by a council:

Districts of Kagera
Map District Population
  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

In 2016 the Tanzania National Bureau of Statistics report there were 2,789,577 people in the region, from 2,458,023 in 2012.[8][9]


  1. ^ "Subnational HDI (v5.0)". Global Data Lab. Nijmegen, Netherlands: Institute for Management Research Radboud University Nijmegen. Archived from the original on 5 July 2022. Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Historia ya Mkoa wa Kagera" [History of Kagera Region]. Mkoa wa Kagera (in Swahili). Bukoba, Tanzania: Ofisi ya Mkuu wa Mkoa Kagera. 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  3. ^ Seth, Niyikiza [The new Haya Transformation, The legacy of Babumbilo (2014)]
  4. ^ Mulibo, Gabriel D. (1 November 2019). "Investigation of macroseismic intensity of the Mw5.9 September 10, 2016 Kagera earthquake: Implications for site effect amplification". Journal of African Earth Sciences. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: Elsevier. 159: 103568. doi:10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2019.103568. ISSN 1464-343X. Retrieved 2 July 2022.
  5. ^ Bashaya, Phinias (14 September 2016). "Sh1.4 billion raised for earthquake survivors". The Citizen (Tanzania). Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: Mwananchi Communications. Retrieved 2 July 2022.
  6. ^ Li, Chaodong; Li, Zhanbin; Yang, Mingyi; Ma, Bo; Wang, Baiqun (9 March 2021). Tchounwou, Paul (ed.). "Grid-Scale Impact of Climate Change and Human Influence on Soil Erosion within East African Highlands (Kagera Basin)". International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 18 (5): 2775. doi:10.3390/ijerph18052775. ISSN 1660-4601. Retrieved 2 July 2022.
  7. ^ "Tanzania National Parks" (PDF). Dodoma, Tanzania: Tanzania National Parks Authority. January 2021. Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 July 2022. Retrieved 10 July 2022.
  8. ^ 2012 Population and Housing Census - Population Distribution by Administrative Areas (PDF) (Report). Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: National Bureau of Statistics. 1 March 2013. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 March 2022. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  9. ^ 2016 Makadirio ya Idadi ya Watu katika Majimbo ya Uchaguzi kwa Mwaka 2016, Tanzania Bara [Population Estimates in Administrative Areas for the Year 2016, Mainland Tanzania] (PDF) (Report) (in Swahili). Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: National Bureau of Statistics. 1 April 2016. Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 December 2021. Retrieved 3 July 2022.

External linksEdit