Kagera Region is one of Tanzania's 30 administrative regions. The region is located in the northwestern corner of Tanzania on the western shore of Lake Victoria. The region neighbors Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi and lies across the lake from Kenya. The region was known as the West Lake Region before June 1979. The regional capital is the city of Bukoba. According to the 2012 national census, the region had a population of 2,458,023, which was lower than the pre-census projection of 2,763,329. For 2002-2012, the region's 3.2 percent average annual population growth rate was tied for the third highest in the country. It was also the ninth most densely populated region with 97 people per square kilometer.
Kagera region was formerly known as West Lake region. It was renamed Kagera region after the Uganda-Tanzania War when Idi Amin attempted to annex the region in 1978. The region takes its name from the Kagera River, which flows from Rwanda through northern Tanzania before it enters Lake Victoria, to emerge as the Nile, the longest river in the world.
For a period of about five centuries Kagera Region were split into nine different kingdoms with a highly hierarchical society. Before European colonialism, coffee was a traditional crop in the area, used for its stimulant properties and in local cultural rituals. It was during colonial times time that coffee was transformed into a cash crop. Bananas were used as a staple food in the region, long before the White man came. 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 and were not treated as virtual slaves. In fact women commanded special respect in all traditional rituals. For example, during the 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) were diminished when Germans colonized Tanganyika 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 saw them detrimental to national unity.
Cultural tours are available for tourist visiting Kagera and can be accessed from the regions capital Bukoba. These tours include visits to the regions national parks/nature reserves etc..
It was under German rule that Dr. M. Zupitza, then serving as the local medical officer, encountered the plague outbreak in Kiziba (1897–1898). In cooperation with Dr. Robert Koch, they confirmed that the cause was the very 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.