TRAVEL & TOURISM
It is easier to make friends and settle in Uganda than in the Nordic countries, a new survey reveals.
Uganda ranks fifth among the top 10 countries globally where expatriates easily make new friends and generally feel at home, according to the ExpatInside survey.
The study is conducted annually by InterNations, an international community and information site for people who live and work abroad.
The survey notes that while many people struggle to find friends when they move abroad, Uganda "has always been an excellent destination for expats looking to find friends easily".
This is the fourth year running that Uganda, dubbed the 'Pearl of Africa' by Sir Winston Churchill, is ranking high in hospitality. The latest survey shows an increase in terms of the ease of making new friends in Uganda, from 68% in 2017 to 75% in 2018.
It particularly quotes an emigrant from the US, who describes Ugandans as "incredibly friendly".
Mexico emerged the best country for making friends abroad, followed by Bahrain, Serbia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Uganda, Colombia, Taiwan, Israel and Portugal. In contrast, however, the survey shows an interesting trend - it is hard to make friends in all Nordic countries.
Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Estonia are some of the countries where expatriates found it hardest to make friends.
The researchers asked more than 18,000 expatriates representing 178 nationalities and living in 187 countries or territories to provide information on various aspects of immigrant life, their gender, age and nationality.
On a scale of one to seven, participants were asked to rate up to 48 different aspects of life abroad, including personal satisfaction among other "emotional topics," such as quality of life, ease of settling in, family life, finance and cost of living.
The findings show that more than half the respondents in Uganda (52%) agree that the general friendliness is "very good".
Even though Uganda is a multilingual community, the survey did not find this to be an impasse to hospitality.
"It might be helpful that living in the country without speaking the local language seems to get progressively easier. Uganda ranks third place in the world in this respect, only behind Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates," the survey states.
Generally, only 57% of expatriates worldwide found it easy to make new friends abroad and an even lower share of 45% say making friends with the locals in their new country of residence is easy.
Researchers concluded that the results highlight the positive impact a good social network can have on people moving abroad.
"Expatriates living in nine out of the top 10 countries not only find it easy to make friends, but they are also substantially happier with their life in Uganda than the global average," the study says.
'A plus for Uganda'
The chairperson of the Parliamentary committee on tourism, trade and industry, Kasule Robert Sebunya, commented on the survey findings.
"This is a plus for Uganda," he said.
"There are countries that are good and well-developed, but their people are hostile. Here, it is the reverse. It means our tourists feel safe because Ugandans are naturally welcoming."
Lilly Ajarova, the chief executive officer of Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), concurred with Sebunya.
"As a tourism promoter, UTB is delighted that Uganda ranks high among the friendliest countries for travellers. This is a unique selling point for Uganda, which we intend to maximise," she said.
"Ugandans are traditionally hospitable people. Even in the smallest villages, local people will go out of their way to make a visitor feel at home."
Have a look at Uganda's beauty
There is plenty of stuff to marvel at when you come to Uganda.
For example, you might chance on the country's emblem - the graceful Crested Crane at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (the Zoo) in Entebbe.
How about one of the Big Five game? You might hear the elephants trumpeting from a distance in one of the game parks on a memorable safari inside Murchison Falls National Park.
We also have other giants, including the mostly herbivorous, semiaquatic mammal in the form of hippopotamuses.
You will definitely catch them enjoying an afternoon dip in the cool waters of Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Wonder what it feels like standing against the backdrop of breathtaking scenery? These visitors of Mt. Elgon in eastern Uganda can tell you . . .
The Pearl of Africa oozes beauty.
Check out this crater lake in western Uganda . . .
And the flora and fauna thrive on this land of beauty.
If you chance on a safari drive, you will most likely catch the sight of buffaloes grazing peacefully inside Murchison Falls National Park.
. . . or perhaps those graceful necks of the land's tallest animals in this very park.
Take in the awesomeness of this endowed land of Africa! A breath-grasping shot above Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Karamoja sub-region in northern Uganda is scenic.
A lioness yawns at Entebbe Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) in Entebbe.
Another enjoys a siesta in the shade as a mate fixes her gaze on an unseen element.
Have you longed to see one of these spotted beauties?
You can get an up-close-and-personal experience with a leopard at UWEC.
And the giant rhinocerous . . .
Uganda is truly the Pearl of Africa!