Kinyarwanda, French, English
Rwandan franc (RWF)
Facts about Rwanda
Rwanda officially the Republic of Rwanda, is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million (2011). Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. All of Rwanda is at high altitude, with a geography dominated by mountains in the west, savanna in the east, and numerous lakes throughout the country. The climate is temperate, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons every year.
The population is young and predominantly rural, with a density among the highest in Africa. Rwandans form three groups: the Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa. These groups share a common culture and language and are classified as social groups rather than tribes. Christianity is the largest religion in the country, and the principal language is Kinyarwanda, spoken by most Rwandans. Rwanda follows a presidential system of government. The incumbent President is Paul Kagame of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). The government receives electoral support from across the community, and corruption levels are low relative to other Sub-Saharan African countries, although human rights organisations allege suppression of opposition groups.
Hunter gatherers settled the territory in the stone and iron ages, followed later by Bantu settlers. The population coalesced, first into clans and then into kingdoms. The Kingdom of Rwanda dominated from the mid-eighteenth century, with the Tutsi Kings conquering others militarily, centralising power, and later enacting anti-Hutu policies. Germany colonised Rwanda in 1884, followed by Belgium, which invaded in 1916 during World War I. Both European nations ruled through the Kings and perpetuated pro-Tutsi policy. The Hutu population revolted in 1959, establishing an independent Hutu state in 1962. The Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) launched a civil war in 1990, which was followed by the 1994 Genocide, in which Hutu extremists killed an estimated 500,000 to 1 million Tutsi and moderate Hutu. The RPF ended the genocide with a military victory.
Rwanda's economy suffered heavily during the 1994 Genocide, but has since strengthened. The economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture. Coffee and tea are the major cash crops for export. Tourism is a fast-growing sector and is now the country's leading foreign exchange earner, the most popular activity being the tracking of mountain gorillas. Music and dance are an integral part of Rwandan culture, particularly drums and the highly-choreographed Intore dance. Traditional arts and crafts are produced throughout the country, including imigongo, a unique cow dung art.