Kagera Region is located in the northwestern corner of Tanzania, known as West Lake Region before June 1979. Bukoba, Kagera Region's capital, is a fast growing town situated on the shore of Lake Victoria. Bukoba lies only 1 degree south of the Equator and is Tanzania's second largest port on the lake. The region neighbors Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and lies across the lake from Kenya. It is possible to arrive in Kagera by air from Mwanza, road from Rwanda or Uganda or by ferry from Mwanza.
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. It was during this time that coffee was introduced as a cash crop and bananas were introduced as a staple food. Women of the time were thought to be inferior to men and were treated as virtual slaves. 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 Chirstian denominations including the Roman Catholic church later arrived. Their legacy is seen in the many churches in the region.