The name Gulu is a both for the city of Gulu and the District of Gulu. Gulu City is the commercial and administrative centre of Gulu District.
Gulu District is a district in the Northern Region of Uganda. The district headquarters are located in the city of Gulu, which is also the district's chief commercial centre.
The coordinates of the city of Gulu are 2°46'54.0"N 32°17'57.0"E. The distance from Gulu to Kampala, Uganda's capital and largest city, is approximately 333 kilometres (207 mi) by road. Gulu is served by Gulu Airport.
During the British Bagool rule in the 18th and 19th centuries, northern Uganda was less developed compared to the rest of the country. The people were conscripted into the army and the police. Many were sent to fight in the first and second World Wars.
In the 1960s, many Sudanese, Rwandese, and Congolese refugees settled in the city.
The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) under the leadership of Joseph Kony sprang up in the 1990s after Auma/Lakwena went to Kenya. The LRA became increasingly violent in Gulu and surrounding communities. Up to 15,000 children, known as "night commuters", were fleeing into the city for safety every evening. In 1996, the Ugandan government ordered all civilians in northern Uganda to relocate to internally displaced person (IDP) camps. Several organizations, such as Stop the Genocide in Northern Uganda, called these camps "concentration camps" and demanded their immediate closure. At one time, an estimated two million people lived in these camps. In April 2009, all the IDP camps were closed and the people were allowed to return to their villages. By July 2009, an estimated 1,452,000 people (80.7 percent of those living in the camps) had voluntarily left the camps to return home. Since the spring of 2007, there has been relative peace in the region as the LRA became a much less significant threat.
The national census in 2002 estimated Gulu's population at 119,430. The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) estimated the population at 149,900 in 2010. In 2011, UBOS estimated the mid-year population at 154,300. The 2014 population census put the population at 152,276.
Gulu is the home of Gulu University, which has a wide range of programs including agriculture, medicine, business management, and conflict resolution. It is one of the three public universities in the Northern Region, the others being Muni University in Arua and Lira University in Lira. Gulu University is the parent institution of the Gulu University School of Medicine, one of the nine accredited medical schools in Uganda as of February 2015. The Uganda Management Institute, a government-owned tertiary teaching and research institution in management and administration, has a campus in Gulu. Gulu also hosts University of the Sacred Heart Gulu, a private university affiliated with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Gulu.
There are three hospitals in the city: St. Mary's Hospital Lacor, the Gulu Regional Referral Hospital, and Gulu Independent Hospital.
The city is served by Gulu Airport, which has a tarmac runway that measures 10,314 feet (3,144 m). Gulu Airport is the second biggest airport in Uganda after Entebbe International Airport.
Gulu has a station on the metre gauge railway that connects Tororo and Pakwach, which had been out of service since 1993. Rift Valley Railways funded the clearing of vegetation and the repair of infrastructure, thus allowing the first commercial train for 20 years to run through Gulu on 14 September 2013.
The home venue for Gulu United FC is Pece War Memorial Stadium, which has a capacity of 3,000 people. The stadium was built by the British in 1959, with long-delayed renovations starting in April 2017.
Places of worship
Predominant among the places of worship are Christian facilities for communities including the: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Gulu (Catholic Church), Church of Uganda (Anglican Communion), Presbyterian Church in Uganda (World Communion of Reformed Churches), Baptist Union of Uganda (Baptist World Alliance), Assemblies of God, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are also Muslim mosques.
Water and sanitation
With loans obtained from the World Bank and KfW, the government of Uganda in 2020, completed Phase I of the Gulu Water Supply and Sanitation Project. The project required USh82.3 billion (US$22+ million) to be implemented. With the improvements, Gulu City has storage capacity of 42,000,000 cubic metres (1.1×1010 US gal) of potable water. In addition, at least 42 public toilets have been built, capable of accommodating 250 people simultaneously. A new sewage sludge treatment plant in Cubu has been constructed.
Phase II of the project involves establishment of a drinking water intake plant, upstream of Karuma Hydroelectric Power Station, with pumping capacity of 10,000 cubic metres (2,600,000 US gal) daily. This new potable water source will supply 341,000 people in Gulu and neighboring communities. It also includes the expansion of safe sanitation services to 170,000 new customers. KfW and the CDC Group are expected to fund the second stage, starting in June 2021.
Gulu District is bordered by Lamwo District to the north, Pader District and Omoro District to the east, Oyam District to the south, Nwoya District to the southwest, and Amuru District to the west. The district headquarters in the city of Gulu are approximately 333 kilometres (207 mi), by road, north of Uganda's capital city, Kampala. The coordinates of the district are, near the city of Gulu are:02°49'50.0"N, 32°19'13.0"E (Latitude:2.830556; Longitude:32.320278).
As of November 2019, the district was one of the eight districts that constituted the Acholi sub-region, the historical homeland of the Acholi ethnic group. The district is composed of Aswa County and the Gulu Municipal Council. The economic activity of 90 per cent of the population in the district is subsistence agriculture.
The district has been the location of much of the fighting between the Ugandan army and the Lord's Resistance Army. Over 90 percent of the population has returned to their villages after more than two decades of living in what were known as "Internally Displaced People Camps".
The national census conducted in 2002 put the population at 193,337. In the 2014 national census and household survey, the population of Gulu District was enumerated at 275,613.
The district is the birthplace of the Poet and writer Okot p'Bitek.