The land of a thousand hills, with endless expansive lush mountains and diverse natural beauty lies with in the great lakes region of central Africa and boasts a moderate climate. Mountains dominate the centre and west of the country, while the east consists of savannah, plains and swamps.
Where is Rwanda?
Rwanda is bordered by Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, Burundi to the south and the Democratic republic of Congo to the west. Despite being landlocked and one of Africa’s smallest countries, 26,338 sq km, Rwanda has an incredible treasure trove of diversity that requires protection. The Albertine-rift eco- zone (ARE), a region that stretches across six countries with Rwanda as its epi-centre, is of particular importance as it has an exceptional level of species endemism. Scientists regard it as having the highest levels of diversity on the continent.
The nature lover will be impressed by the variety and the rarity of what can be observed visiting Rwanda, but there is more to Rwanda than protected mountain gorillas and Albertine endemics. The shores of Lake Kivu boast some of the best inland beaches in Africa and offer an opportunity to explore the many small islands of Lake Kivu.
Kigali, the capital and conference hub of east Africa, forms a central stepping stone to various destinations with in the country and cent5ral and east Africa. The city is green, vibrant, safe and brews superb home grown tea and coffee.
Although Rwanda is all too often associated with the 1994 genocide that resulted in the mass murder of as much as 20% of the country’s total population, the country is taking giant strides towards cultural recovery and investment in the future.
In 1959, 3 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 a state-orchestrated genocide, in which Rwandans killed up to a million of their fellow citizens, including approximately three-quarters of the Tutsi population. The genocide ended later that same year when the predominantly Tutsi RPF, operating out of Uganda and northern Rwanda, defeated the national army and Hutu militias, and established an RPF-led government of national unity. Approximately 2 million Hutu refugees – many fearing Tutsi retribution – fled to neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and former Zaire.
Since then, most of the refugees have returned to Rwanda, but several thousand remained in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, the former Zaire) and formed an extremist insurgency bent on retaking Rwanda, much as the RPF did in 1990. Rwanda held its first local elections in 1999 and its first post-genocide presidential and legislative elections in 2003. Rwanda in 2009 staged a joint military operation with the Congolese Army in DRC to rout out the Hutu extremist insurgency there, and Kigali and Kinshasa restored diplomatic relations. Rwanda also joined the Commonwealth in late 2009. In January 2013, Rwanda assumed a non permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2013-14 terms.
Rwanda hosts over 12,337,138 people, it is the 73rd largest country in the world by population. It is the 147th largest country in the world by area with 26,338 square kilometers.
Kinyarwanda only (official, universal Bantu vernacular) 93.2%, Kinyarwanda and other language(s) 6.2%, French (official) and other language(s) 0.1%, English (official) and other language(s) 0.1%, Swahili (or Kiswahili, used in commercial centers) 0.02%, other 0.03%, unspecified 0.3% (2002 est.)