Rwanda is a landlocked country in Central Africa.
The official name of the country is the Republic of Rwanda.
Rwanda has four official languages: English, French, Kinyarwanda and Swahili.
As of 1 January 2017, the population of Rwanda was estimated to be 12,033,749 people.
It is the 145th largest country in the world in terms of land area with 26,338 square kilometers (10,169 square miles).
Kigali is the capital and largest city of Rwanda. It is near the nation’s geographic center. The city is Rwanda’s economic, cultural, and transport hub.
The landscape is reminiscent of a tropical Switzerland. Its dominant feature is a chain of mountains of rugged beauty that runs on a north-south axis and forms part of the Congo-Nile divide.
The entire country is at a high altitude: the lowest point is the Rusizi River at 950 meters (3,117 feet) above sea level.
Mount Karisimbi is an inactive volcano in the Virunga Mountains It is the highest mountain in Rwanda rising to a height of 4,507 meters (14,787 feet) above sea level.
The network of protected areas in Rwanda covers about 9% of the national territory. It is made up of 3 national parks, plus other types of protected areas.
Volcanoes National Park lies in northwestern Rwanda. The national park is known as a haven for the rare and endangered mountain gorilla and golden monkeys. It is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains (Karisimbi, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo), and spans 160 square kilometers (62 square miles) covered in rainforest and bamboo.
Akagera National Park covers 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) in eastern Rwanda, along the Tanzanian border. It was founded in 1934 to protect animals and vegetation in three ecoregions: savannah, mountain and swamp. The park is named for the Kagera River which flows along its eastern boundary feeding into several lakes the largest of which is Lake Ihema.
The Nyungwe rainforest is located in southwestern Rwanda. This rainforest is probably the best preserved montane rainforest in Central Africa. It is located in the watershed between the basin of the river Congo to the west and the basin of the river Nile to the east. From the east side of the Nyungwe forest comes also one of the branches of the Nile sources.
Numerous lakes dot the landscape, with Lake Kivu being the largest and making up most of Rwanda’s western border. Lake Kivu is approximately 90 km (56 mi) long and 50 km (31 mi) at its widest. The lake has a maximum depth of 475 m (1,558 ft) and a mean depth of 220 m (722 ft), making it the world’s eighteenth deepest lake by maximum depth, and the ninth deepest by mean depth.
The Kigali Genocide Memorial commemorates the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. The remains of over 250,000 people are interred there. There is a visitor centre for students and those wishing to understand the events leading up to the events of 1994. The Centre is a permanent memorial to those who fell victim to the genocide and serves as a place in which the bereaved could bury their family and friends. The Centre is managed and run by the Aegis Trust and the Kigali City Council.
Opened in 2012, the privately run Inema Arts Center is a collective of 10 resident artists and guests. It’s quickly established itself as the foremost modern art gallery in Kigali. As well as paintings, sculptures and contemporary takes in traditional crafts, there are dance and music performances several days a week and courses. Much of the art is for sale (and can be shipped internationally), but if you’re not buying, you’re welcome just to admire. There’s a small on-site café.
Human occupation of Rwanda is thought to have begun shortly after the last ice age.
By the 16th century, the inhabitants had organized into a number of kingdoms.
The Kingdom of Rwanda dominated from the mid-18th century, with the Tutsi kings conquering others militarily, centralising power and later enacting anti-Hutu policies.
Germany colonised Rwanda in 1884 as part of German East Africa, followed by Belgium, which invaded in 1916 during the First World War.
Both European nations ruled through the kings and perpetuated a pro-Tutsi policy.
The Hutu population revolted in 1959. They massacred numerous Tutsi and ultimately established an independent, Hutu-dominated state in 1962.
The Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front launched a civil war in 1990. Social tensions erupted in the 1994 genocide, in which Hutu extremists killed an estimated 500,000 to 1.3 million Tutsi and moderate Hutu. The RPF ended the genocide with a military victory.
Civil war and genocide at that time left Rwanda’s economy and social fabric in shambles. The years that followed have been characterized by reconstruction and ethnic reconciliation.
Rwanda is a rural country with about 90% of the population engaged in (mainly subsistence) agriculture.
It is the most densely populated country in Africa; is landlocked; and has few natural resources and minimal industry.