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.