Rwanda, formally the Republic of Rwanda, is a sovereign state in central and east Africa and one of the continent’s smallest republics. Rwanda is surrounded by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is located a few degrees south of the Equator. Rwanda is located in the African Great Lakes area and is extremely elevated, with mountains to the west and savanna to the east, as well as several lakes across the nation. Each year, the climate ranges from moderate to subtropical, with two wet seasons and two dry seasons.
The population is youthful and largely rural, having one of Africa’s highest population densities. Rwandans are descended from a single cultural and linguistic group, the Banyarwanda, which is divided into three subgroups: Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa. The Twa are a forest-dwelling pygmy people who are descendants of Rwanda’s first occupants. Scholars dispute on the origins and differences between the Hutu and Tutsi; some say the differences stem from past social classes within a single people, while others believe the Hutu and Tutsi arrived in the country separately and from distinct areas.
The country’s main religion is Christianity; the primary language is Kinyarwanda, which is spoken by the majority of Rwandans, with English and French acting as official languages. Rwanda is governed under a presidential system. Paul Kagame of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) was elected president in 2000. In comparison to neighboring nations, Rwanda has minimal corruption today, however human rights organizations allege persecution of opposition parties, intimidation, and limits on freedom of expression. Since pre-colonial times, the country has been administered by an organized administrative hierarchy; there are five provinces demarcated by borders set in 2006. Rwanda is one of just two nations in the world with a female majority in the national legislature.
Hunter-gatherers colonized the area throughout the stone and iron eras, and were subsequently followed by Bantu peoples. The people was organized first into clans, later into kingdoms. From the mid-eighteenth century, the Kingdom of Rwanda prevailed, with Tutsi monarchs conquering others militarily, consolidating control, and subsequently adopting anti-Hutu policies. Rwanda was colonized by Germany in 1884 as part of German East Africa, and was later attacked by Belgium during World War I. Both European countries controlled via their kings and maintained a pro-Tutsi attitude. In 1959, the Hutu people revolted. They slaughtered many Tutsi before establishing a separate, Hutu-dominated state in 1962. In 1990, the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front declared civil war. The 1994 genocide, in which Hutu extremists slaughtered an estimated 500,000 to 1.3 million Tutsi and moderate Hutu, heightened social tensions. With a military triumph, the RPF brought the genocide to a stop.
Rwanda’s economy suffered greatly during the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, although it has since recovered. The economy is mostly dependent on subsistence agriculture. Coffee and tea are the most important export revenue crops. Tourism is a rapidly expanding industry that is currently the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner. Rwanda is one of just two nations where people may safely see mountain gorillas, and visitors must pay for gorilla tracking licenses. Rwandan culture is rich in music and dance, notably drumming and the highly choreographed intore dance. Throughout the land, traditional arts and crafts are created.
Rwanda’s population was estimated to be 11,262,564 in 2015 by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda. The population was 10,515,973 according to the 2012 census. The population is young: according to the 2012 census, 43.3 percent of the population was under the age of 15, and 53.4 percent were between the ages of 16 and 64. According to the CIA World Factbook, the annual birth rate in 2015 was projected to be 40.2 births per 1,000 people, with a death rate of 14.9. Life expectancy in the country is 59.67 years (61.27 years for females and 58.11 years for males), ranking 26th out of 224 nations and territories. The country’s sex ratio is reasonably equal.
Rwanda’s population density is among the highest in Africa, with 445 people per square kilometer (1,150/sq mi). Historians such as Gérard Prunier think that population density had a role in the 1994 massacre. The population is mostly rural, with a few major cities scattered across the nation; homes are equally distributed throughout the country. The country’s only sparsely inhabited areas are savanna land in the former province of Umutara and Akagera National Park in the east. Kigali is the biggest city, with a population of about one million people. Its fast growing population puts a strain on its infrastructure development. Gisenyi, which is close to Lake Kivu and the Congolese city of Goma, has a population of 126,000 people, according to the 2012 census. Other significant towns with populations under 100,000 people include Ruhengeri, Butare, and Gitarama. The urban population increased from 6% of the total population in 1990 to 16.6% in 2006; however, by 2011, the percentage had fallen somewhat to 14.8 percent.
Rwanda has been a unified state since pre-colonial times, and the population is made up of only one cultural and linguistic group, the Banyarwanda; this is in contrast to most modern African states, whose borders were drawn by colonial powers and do not correspond to ethnic boundaries or pre-colonial kingdoms. The Banyarwanda people are divided into three groups: Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa. According to the CIA World Factbook, the Hutu made up 84 percent of the population in 2009, the Tutsi 15 percent, and the Twa 1 percent. The Twa are a pygmy group descended from Rwanda’s first occupants, although academics disagree on the origins and differences between the Hutu and Tutsi. According to anthropologist Jean Hiernaux, the Tutsi are a distinct race with “long and narrow heads, faces, and noses”; others, such as Villia Jefremovas, think there is no apparent physical difference and that the classifications were not historically strict. The Tutsi were the governing elite in precolonial Rwanda, descended from whom the monarchs and majority of chiefs were from, whereas the Hutu were agriculturalists. The present administration opposes the Hutu/Tutsi/Twa division and has eliminated it from identification cards. The 2002 census was the first since 1933 that did not divide Rwandans into three categories.
The most common religion in Rwanda is Roman Catholicism, although there have been major changes in the country’s religious demography after the genocide, with numerous converts to Evangelical Christian religions and, to a lesser extent, Islam. According to the 2012 census, Roman Catholics made up 43.7 percent of the population, Protestants (excluding Seventh-day Adventists) 36.7 percent, Seventh-day Adventists 11.8%, and Muslims 2.0 percent; 0.2 percent claimed no religious views, and 1.3 percent did not declare a religion. Traditional religion, although being practiced by barely 0.1 percent of the population, continues to have an impact. Many Rwandans associate the Christian God with the indigenous Rwandan God Imana.
Rwanda is the 149th-largest nation in the world, with a land area of 26,338 square kilometers (10,169 square miles), and the fourth-smallest on the African continent after Gambia, Swaziland, and Djibouti. Its size is similar to that of Burundi, Haiti, and Albania. The Rusizi River, at 950 metres (3,117 feet) above sea level, is the lowest point in the nation. Rwanda is situated in Central/Eastern Africa, bordering to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the north by Uganda, to the east by Tanzania, and to the south by Burundi. It is landlocked and located a few degrees south of the equator. Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, is situated near the country’s center.
The watershed between the main Congo and Nile drainage basins runs across Rwanda from north to south, with about 80% of the country’s land flowing into the Nile and 20% into the Congo through the Rusizi River and Lake Tanganyika. The longest river in the nation is the Nyabarongo, which originates in the south-west and travels north, east, and southeast until joining the Ruvubu to create the Kagera; the Kagera then runs straight north along Tanzania’s eastern border. The Nyabarongo-Kagera ultimately flows into Lake Victoria, and its source in Nyungwe Forest is a candidate for the Nile’s total source, which is still unknown. Rwanda contains many lakes, the biggest of which being Lake Kivu. With a maximum depth of 480 metres (1,575 ft), this lake occupies the Albertine Rift bottom along much of Rwanda’s western border and is one of the world’s twenty deepest lakes. Burera, Ruhondo, Muhazi, Rweru, and Ihema are other major lakes in Akagera National Park, with the last being the largest in a series of lakes on the park’s eastern lowlands.
Rwanda’s center and western regions are dominated by mountains. They are part of the Albertine Rift Mountains, which flank the East African Rift’s Albertine branch, which runs from north to south along Rwanda’s western border. The tallest peaks are located in the northwest Virungavolcano range, which includes Mount Karisimbi, Rwanda’s highest point at 4,507 meters (14,787 ft). The Albertine Rift montane forests ecoregion encompasses the western part of the nation. It is located at a height of 1,500 to 2,500 meters (4,921 to 8,202 ft). The country’s center is mostly made up of rolling hills, while the eastern border area is made up of savanna, plains, and swamps.
Because of its high elevation, Rwanda has a moderate tropical highland climate with lower temperatures than usual for equatorial nations. Kigali, in the country’s center, has a normal daily temperature range of 12 to 27 degrees Celsius (54 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit), with minimal fluctuation throughout the year. Temperatures vary throughout the nation; the hilly west and north are typically colder than the low-lying east. The year is divided into two rainy seasons: the first from February to June and the second from September to December. These are separated by two dry seasons: one long and severe one from June to September, when there is frequently no rain at all, and one shorter and less severe one from December to February. Rainfall varies regionally, with the west and northwest getting more precipitation than the east and southeast. The pattern of the rainy seasons has shifted as a result of global warming. According to a study by the Strategic Foresight Group, climate change has decreased the number of wet days observed in a year while increasing the frequency of heavy rainfall. Farmers’ production has been reduced as a result of these developments. Strategic Foresight also describes Rwanda as a rapidly warming nation, with an increase in average temperature of 0.7 °C to 0.9 °C during the last fifty years.
During the 1994 genocide, Rwanda’s economy suffered greatly, with extensive loss of life, inability to maintain infrastructure, theft, and neglect of key cash crops. This resulted in a significant decrease in GDP and harmed the country’s capacity to attract private and foreign investment. Since then, the economy has grown, with per-capita GDP (PPP) estimated at $1,784 in 2015, up from $416 in 1994. China, Germany, and the United States are major export markets. The central National Bank of Rwanda manages the economy, and the Rwandan franc is the currency; in August 2015, the exchange rate was 755 francs to the US dollar. Rwanda joined the East African Community in 2007, and has approved a proposal for monetary union among the five member countries, which may lead to a single East African shilling in the future.
Rwanda has limited natural resources, therefore the economy is mostly dependent on subsistence agriculture by local farmers using basic equipment. In 2014, agricultural accounted for an estimated 90 percent of the working population, while agriculture accounted for an estimated 32.5 percent of GDP. With tiny parcels of land and steep hills, farming methods are simple. Farm sizes and food output have been declining since the mid-1980s, owing in part to resettlement of displaced people. Despite Rwanda’s rich environment, food production often falls short of population growth, necessitating food imports.
Matoke (green bananas), which occupy more than a third of the nation’s cropland, potatoes, beans, sweet potatoes, cassava, wheat, and maize are among the subsistence crops produced in the country. The main income crops for export are coffee and tea, which thrive in the high elevations, steep slopes, and volcanic soils. Rwanda’s reliance on agricultural exports renders it susceptible to price fluctuations. Cows, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, and rabbits are among the animals farmed in Rwanda, with numbers varying by region. Although there are a few intensive dairy farms near Kigali, production methods are largely traditional. Land and water scarcity, inadequate and poor-quality feed, and frequent disease outbreaks with limited veterinary services are significant limitations that limit production. Fishing is done in the country’s lakes, but supplies are low, therefore live fish are imported to try to restore the business.
The industrial sector is tiny, accounting for 14.8% of GDP in 2014. Cement, agricultural products, small-scale drinks, soap, furniture, shoes, plastic items, textiles, and cigarettes are all produced. Rwanda’s mining sector contributes significantly, earning US$93 million in 2008. Cassiterite, wolframite, gold, and coltan, which is utilized in the production of electrical and communication equipment such as mobile phones, are among the minerals extracted.
During the late-2000s recession, Rwanda’s service industry suffered as bank lending, foreign assistance programs, and investment were curtailed. The industry recovered in 2010, becoming the country’s biggest sector by economic production and accounting for 43.6 percent of GDP. Banking and finance, wholesale and retail commerce, hotels and restaurants, transportation, storage, communication, insurance, real estate, business services, and public administration, including education and health, are important tertiary contributors. Tourism is one of the country’s fastest-growing economic resources, having overtaken agriculture as the country’s largest foreign currency generator in 2007. Despite the legacy of the genocide, the country is becoming regarded as a safe destination on a global scale. In 2013, there were 864,000 visitor arrivals, up from 504,000 in 2010. Tourism revenue was $303 million in 2014, up from $62 million in 2000. Mountain gorilla tracking in the Volcanoes National Park was the biggest source to this income; Rwanda is one of only two nations where mountain gorillas may be visited securely; the gorillas draw thousands of tourists each year, who are willing to pay hefty fees for permits. Other attractions include Nyungwe Forest, which is home to chimps, Ruwenzori colobus, and other primates, Lake Kivu resorts, and Akagera, a tiny savanna reserve in the country’s east.