The Ssese Islands are inhabited by the Bantu speaking Bassese tribe, closely related to the Baganda and the Basoga, and speaking a similar, though distinct language. Prior to 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 metres (2.5 acres), to over 40 kilometres (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. Overfishing is a huge concern on these and other islands in Lake Victoria. Other industries include agriculture, forestry and tourism. Livestock farming is practiced on the islands. It is estimated that 3,000 cattle, 250,000 poultry (chicken and ducks), 1,235 goats and 7,000 pigs are kept on the islands.
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