About Rwanda

Rwanda, the land of a thousand hills, is a land locked country in Central Africa, most famous for its hilly and mountainous slopes. It is among the East African countries with Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania – Rwanda and Burundi are the smallest in the community – Rwanda is boarded by Democratic Republic of Congo in the west, Burundi in the south, Uganda in the north.

It’s one of the smallest countries of the African mainland. Rwanda’s natural borders touch with Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda.

Location:
Rwanda is in East/Central Africa, east of Democratic Republic of the Congo with Uganda to its north and Burundi to the south. Rwanda also shares its eastern border with Tanzania.

Land Boundaries:
Burundi 290 km, Democratic Republic of the Congo 217 km, Tanzania 217 km, and Uganda 169 km.

Geography:
Size 26,338 sq km slightly smaller than Maryland, US. Rwanda has a temperate climate with two rainy seasons from February to April and November to January. The temperature is mild in mountains with frost and snow possible at higher altitudes. Rwanda’s terrain consists of mostly grassy uplands and hills with a mountainous altitude declining from west to east. Its lowest point is the Rusizi River at 950 m and its highest point is Volcan Karisimbi which stands at 4,519 m. Rwanda is a land locked country and most of its population is rural.

Population:
Just under 10 million people live in Rwanda making it the most densely populated country in Africa. Life expectancy is around 49 years. Birth rate is on average 5.37 per woman. Literacy rate is just over 70%.

Languages:
Kinyarwanda (official) which is a universal Bantu vernacular; French (official); English (official), and Kiswahili (Swahili) which is used in commercial centers.

Ethnic Groups:
Hutu (Bantu) 84%, Tutsi (Hamitic) 15%, and Twa (Pygmy) 1%

Religion:
Roman Catholic 56.5%, Protestant 26%, Adventist 11.1%, Muslim 4.6%, indigenous beliefs 0.1%, and none 1.7% (2001)

Brief Political History:
In 1959, three years before independence from Belgium, the majority ethnic group, the Hutus, overthrew the ruling Tutsi king. Over the next several years, thousands of Tutsis were killed, and some 150,000 driven into exile in neighboring countries. The children of these exiles later formed a rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and began a civil war in 1990. The war, along with several political and economic upheavals, exacerbated ethnic tensions, culminating in April 1994 in the genocide of roughly 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The Tutsi rebels defeated the Hutu regime and ended the killing in July 1994, but approximately 2 million Hutu refugees – many fearing Tutsi retribution – fled to neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and the former Zaire. Since then, most of the refugees have returned to Rwanda, but several thousand remained in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (the former Zaire) and formed an extremist insurgency bent on retaking Rwanda, much as the RPF tried in 1990. Despite substantial international assistance and political reforms – including Rwanda’s first local elections in March 1999 and its first post-genocide presidential and legislative elections in August and September 2003 – the country continues to struggle to boost investment and agricultural output, and ethnic reconciliation is complicated by the real and perceived Tutsi political dominance. Kigali’s increasing centralization and intolerance of dissent, the nagging Hutu extremist insurgency across the border, and Rwandan involvement in two wars in recent years in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to hinder Rwanda’s efforts to escape its bloody legacy.

Economic Overview:
Rwanda is a poor rural country with about 90% of the population engaged in (mainly subsistence) agriculture. It is the most densely populated country in Africa and is landlocked with few natural resources and minimal industry. Primary foreign exchange earners are coffee and tea. The 1994 genocide decimated Rwanda’s fragile economic base, severely impoverished the population, particularly women, and eroded the country’s ability to attract private and external investment. However, Rwanda has made substantial progress in stabilizing and rehabilitating its economy to pre-1994 levels, although poverty levels are higher now. GDP has rebounded and inflation has been curbed. Despite Rwanda’s fertile ecosystem, food production often does not keep pace with population growth, requiring food imports. Rwanda continues to receive substantial aid money and obtained IMF-World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative debt relief in 2005-06. Rwanda also received Millennium Challenge Account Threshold status in 2006. Kigali’s high defense expenditures have caused tension between the government and international donors and lending agencies. Energy shortages, instability in neighboring states, and lack of adequate transportation linkages to other countries continue to handicap growth.

Quick Facts About Rwanda

Kigali is the capital city of Rwanda – it is among the cleanliest and organized city in Africa due to its good accommodation, roads amidst good security.

Rwanda’s mountainous landscape has earned it the nickname “Land of a Thousand Hills.” – The visit to Rwanda will expose you to Mount. Sabinyo, Mount. Karisimbi, Mount Visoke, Mount. Mgahinga and so on. On a clear day, the summits of the mentioned Virunga ranges are well seen.

Currently, Rwanda is head by president Paul Kagame – is the sixth and current President of Rwanda having taken office in 2000 when his predecessor, Pasteur Bizimungu, resigned. Kagame previously commanded the rebel force that ended the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.

Rwanda is attitudinally crossed at 2 degrees – the country is crossed by a line from east to west.

Kigali International Airport is the major entry for international visitors – it is formerly known as Gregoire Kayibanda International Airport, but sometimes referred to as Kanombe International Airport, is the primary airport serving Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.

Rwanda’s flag is colored blue, yellow and green – the flag is dotted with the sun in the blue column.

Blue represents happiness and peace, yellow economic development and mineral wealth, green hope of prosperity and natural resources; the sun symbolizes unity, as well as enlightenment and transparency from ignorance.

On 1st July 1962, Belgium, with United Nations oversight, granted full independence to Rwanda.

In 1994, Rwanda experience a civil war which cost the lives of a thousand people – Tutsi and the Hutu – In the weeks after April 6, 1994, 800,000 men, women, and children perished in the Rwandan genocide, perhaps as many as three quarters of the Tutsi population. At the same time, thousands of Hutu were murdered because they opposed the killing campaign and the forces directing it.

Lake Kivu is Rwanda’s largest lake – It lies on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda, and is in the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift thus a rift valley lake. Lake Kivu empties into the Ruzizi River, which flows southwards into Lake Tanganyika.

Rwanda’s national anthem is known as “Rwanda Nziza” (Kinyarwanda for “Beautiful Rwanda”)

Below is the first stanza:

Rwanda, our beautiful and dear country

Adorned of hills, lakes and volcanoes

Motherland, would be always filled of happiness

Us all your children: Abanyarwanda

Let us sing your glare and proclaim your high facts

You, maternal bosom of us all

Would be admired forever, prosperous and

Cover of praises.