The Ssese Islands comprise 84 islands which occupy the northwestern corner of Lake Victoria, and the second-largest freshwater lake in the world. The largest island in the archipelago is called Bugala. Kalangala serves as the headquarters of the district that carries the same name (Kalangala District). It is located approximately 51 kilometers (32 miles) across water, southwest of Entebbe. The coordinates of the district are: 0° 26′ 0.00″S, 32° 15′ 0.00″E (Latitude:-0.4333; Longitude: 32.2500).
The islands lie in two main groups. The south west is referred to as the Bugala Group; the north eastern group is referred to as the Koome Group, after Komag Island, the largest in that group. The two groups are separated by the Koome Channel.
Other islands in the Bugala Group include: Bubeke, Bufumira, Bugaba, Bukasa, Buyova, Funye and Serinya. The main islands in the Koome Group are: Damba, Koome and Luwaji.
The Ssese Islands are inhabited by the Bantu people speaking Bassese tribe, closely similar to the Baganda and the Basonga, The arrival of Europeans; the islands were one of the most important spiritual centers of the region. About forty-three (50%) of the islands are inhabited. The islands vary in size from less than 10,000 square meters (2.5 acres), to over 40 kilometers (25 mi) in length for the largest island, Bugala Island.
The principal industry in the Ssese Islands is fishing for the huge Nile Perch, with much of the catch being exported. Over fishing is a huge concern on these and other islands in Lake Victoria. Other industries include agriculture, forestry, charcoal production and tourism..
BIDCO, a private palm oil processor based in Jinja District, on the mainland, owns 15,000 acres (6,100 hectors) In addition, out grower farmers grow palm oil on contract with BIDCO and sell their produce to the processor. In 2010, the palm oil plant began generating 1.5MW of electricity through the burning of Bagasse and some of the oil. The power supplies of the oil processing plant and the excess is sold to Kalangala, the largest town on the islands.
Also logging is another economic activity that is practiced on the Ssese Islands.
Flora and Fauna
The Ssese Island is the biggest island of Bugala boast of the Lutoboka Central Forest Reserve gazette in 1948 consisting of 378 hectares which is a home to a variety of animals including primates like birds over 300 species and a number of tree species, which are not easily accessible on the mainland. This has led to the evolution of a nascent but growing tourism industry on the islands. Infrastructure is still rudimentary but is slowly improving.