District is located in northern Uganda between longitude 30-32 degrees east; latitude 02-4 degrees north. Amuru and Nwoya Districts border Gulu District in the west and southwest respectively, Lamwo district in the northeast, Pader district in the east, Lira district in the southeast and Oyam district in the south.
The total land area of Gulu District is 3,428.42 sq. km (1.44% of the Uganda land size). 96.9 sq. km (0.8%) is open waters. The District headquarters is 332 km by road from Kampala and through the Great North Road gives access to the Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Key Geographical Information
The relief of Gulu consists of complex low landscape with relatively uniform topography marked by few sharp contrasts like Oroko and Ajulu hills to the north, Ayamo, Awere and Omoro hills in the east (Omoro County). Generally, the altitude ranges between 1000 -1200 meters above sea level.
According to Langlands classifications (1974), the soil of Gulu consists of ferruginous soil with a high percentage of sandy soils and therefore susceptible to erosion. Due to its sandy nature, the soil has low water retention capacity and high rate of water infiltration. The soils are usually deep with little differentiation into clearly defined zones and possess fine granular structure, others moulded into large, weak coherent clods that are very porous. Gulu district is endowed with vast fertile soils like in Orapwoyo in Odek and Adak in Lalogi and this has resulted into very high crop yields.
The up and down wrapping of underground rocks accompanied by faulting, shearing and jointing has influenced the drainage pattern in the district to form a dendrite drainage pattern. Here many rivers and streams are held responsible for the formation of this drainage pattern. The major ones are those flowing into the Nile, which include rivers: Aswa, Unyama, and Tochi.
The type of climate experienced in Gulu consists of dry and wet seasons. The average total rainfall received is 1,500 mm per annum with the monthly average rainfall varying between 1.4 mm in January and 230 mm in August.
Normally the wet season extends from April to November with the highest peaks during May, August and October, while the dry season begins in November and extends up to March. The average maximum temperature is 50 degrees centigrade and the minimum being 18 degrees centigrade. Relative humidity is high during the wet season and low in the dry season.
The vegetation of Gulu as classified by Langland (1974) consists of intermediate savannah grassland. This type of vegetation is that found between the moist and the dry savannah. The vegetation type is characterized by open canopy of trees of 10 - 12 metres high and underlying grasses of 80 centimetres high. The trees are fire resistant and are therefore able to regenerate themselves after being burnt with fire. The common tree species here include; Acacia, Focus Natalensis, contyetum, Banasus, Aethicpum (Fanpalm) while the common grasses include; imperate cylindice, Hypemaria Rufa, Digitria scalarum. There are also some herths like Bidens Pilosa, Ageralum Coinzolds, Amarathus species and Latana Camara.
However, human activities have tended to interfere with the natural vegetation of the place and this has led to the development of secondary vegetation. The common tree and grass species here include Eucalyptus, Jacaranda, Cupressus, Theruvaian, Pienes, Hibscus, Bougain Vilae and Flamboyant
The major rock types that form the geology of the district are composed of remnants of low surfaces and scarps related to rift and sediments of the western rift valley. Often, focus in these areas is zone of Tors and inselbergs.
Limited reconnaissance and geological investigations were carried out in some parts of the district and some minerals were found to occur. Chalcopyrite copper mineral is found to occur in granitic gneisses at Lawiyadul area 10 kilometres North of Gulu town. Clay suitable for good quality roofing tiles and bricks are found to occur in almost all parts of the district. Stone quarry, several rocks have been identified to have good quality for building and construction industries.