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Repubulika y'u Rwanda
République Rwandaise
Republic of Rwanda
Flag of Rwanda Coat of arms of Rwanda
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Liberty, Cooperation, Progress
Anthem: Rwanda nziza
Location of Rwanda
Capital Kigali
1°57′ S 30°4′ E
Largest city Kigali
Official language(s) French, Kinyarwanda, English, Swahili
Prime Minister
republic; pres. multi-party system
Paul Kagame
Bernard Makuza
- Date
From Belgium
July 1, 1962
• Total

• Water (%)

26,338 km² ( 144th)
{{{areami²}}} mi²

• 2004 est.
• ? census

• Density

7,954,013 ( 91st)

281/km² ( 33)
• Total
• Per capita
2003 estimate
10,462 ( 123)
1,268 ( 144)
HDI ( 2003) 0.450 ( 159th) – low
Currency Rwandan franc ( RWF)
Time zone
• Summer ( DST)
EET ( UTC+2)
not observed ( UTC+2)
Internet TLD .rw
Calling code +250
Rwanda is a small landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of central Africa. It is bordered by Uganda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania. Its fertile and hilly terrain, which gives it the title "Land of a Thousand Hills" ( French: Pays des Mille Collines), supports the densest populations in continental Africa. It is best known to the outside world for the 1994 Rwandan genocide that resulted in the deaths of up to one million people. Before this, it was known mostly as the habitat of mountain gorillas.

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History - Contents

Prior to European colonization, Rwanda was the site of one of the region's most complex monarchical systems. The earliest known inhabitants of the region were the Twa, a Pygmy people. They were largely replaced and absorbed by Bantu tribes during Bantu migrations.In 1895 Rwanda became a German province. The Germans, however, were at first completely dependent on the existing government. The German authority kept the indigenous administration system by applying the same type of indirect rule established by the British Empire in the Ugandan kingdoms. After Germany's loss in World War I, the protectorate was taken over by Belgium with a League of Nations mandate. Belgian rule in the region was far more direct and harsh than that of the Germans. However, the Belgian colonizers did realize the value of native rule. Backed by Christian churches, the Belgians used the minority Tutsi upper class over lower classes of Tutsis and Hutus. Belgian-forced labor policies and stringent taxes were mainly enforced by the Tutsi upper class, whom the Belgians used as buffers against people's anger, thus further polarising the Hutu and the Tutsi. Many young peasants, in order to escape tax harassment and hunger, migrated to neighboring countries. They moved mainly to Congo but also to Ugandan plantations, looking for work.After World War II Rwanda became a UN trust territory with Belgium as the administrative authority. Through a series of processes, including several reforms, the assassination of King Mutara III Charles in 1959 and the fleeing of the last Nyiginya clan monarch, King Kigeri V, to Uganda, the Hutu gradually gained more and more power until, upon Rwanda's independence in 1962, the Hutu held virtually all power.In 1990, the Tutsi-dominated Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) invaded Rwanda from Uganda. During the course of the fighting, top Rwandese government officials, mainly Hutu, began secretly training young men into informal armed bands called interehamwe ("coming together"). Government officials also launched a radio station that began anti-Tutsi propaganda. The military government of Juvénal Habyarimana responded to the RPF invasion with pogroms against Tutsis, whom it claimed were trying to re-enslave the Hutus. In August 1993 the government and the RPF signed a cease-fire agreement known as the Arusha accords in Arusha, Tanzania to form a power sharing government, but fighting between the two sides continued. The United Nations sent a peacekeeping force named the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda ( UNAMIR), under the leadership of Canadian General Roméo Dallaire. UNAMIR was vastly underfunded and under-staffed.During the armed conflict, the RPF was blamed for the bombing of Kigali. These attacks were in reality done by the Hutu army as part of a campaign to create a reason for a political crackdown and ethnic violence. On April 6 1994, President Habyarimana was assassinated [1] when his Falcon 50 trijet was shot down while landing in Kigali. It remains unclear who was responsible for the assassination – most credible sources point to the presidential guard, spurred by Hutu nationalists fearful of losing power, although others believe that Tutsi rebels were responsible, possibly with the help of Belgian mercenaries. Over the next three months, the military and interahamwe militia groups killed between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates in the Rwandan Genocide. The RPF continued to advance on the capital, and occupied the northern, the east and the southern parts of the country by June. Thousands of civilians were killed in the conflict. U.N. member states refused to answer UNAMIR's requests for increased troops and money. Meanwhile, French troops were dispatched to stabilize the situation under Opération Turquoise, but resulted in exacerbating the situation and evacuating only foreign nationals.On July 4th, 1994, the war ended as the RPF entered the capital Kigali. In the resulting Great Lakes refugee crisis over 2 million Hutus fled the country after the war, fearing Tutsi retribution. Most have since returned, although some Hutus remained in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including some militia members that became involved in the First Congo War and Second Congo War. In 1996, Rwanda and Uganda invaded eastern Congo in an effort to eliminate the interahamwe groups operating there and to gain influence in the region, sparking the First Congo War.Today, Rwandans continue to struggle with the legacy of genocide and war. 2004 marked the ten year aniversary with a ceremony in Kigali. Rwandan genocidal leaders are on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, in the Rwandan National Court system, and, most recently, through the informal Gacaca village justice program. The current Rwandan government, led by Paul Kagame has become increasingly militant and opposed to dissent.

Politics - Contents

After its military victory in July 1994, the Rwandese Patriotic Front organized a coalition government similar to that established by President Juvénal Habyarimana in 1992. Called the Broad Based Government of National Unity, its fundamental law is based on a combination of the constitution, the 1993 Arusha accords, and political declarations by the parties. Habyarimana's National Movement for Democracy and Development was outlawed.Political organizing was banned until 2003. The first post-war presidential and legislative elections were held in August and September 2003, respectively.

Provinces - Contents

Map of Rwanda
Map of Rwanda
Rwanda is currently divided into five provinces:
  • North Province
  • East Province
  • South Province
  • West Province
  • Kigali Province
Prior to 1 January 2006, Rwanda was composed of twelve provinces, but these were abolished in full and redrawn as part of a program of decentralization and reorganization.

Geography - Contents

Nyungwe Forest
Nyungwe Forest
This small country is located near the center of Africa, a few degrees south of the Equator. It is separated from the Democratic Republic of the Congo by Lake Kivu and the Ruzizi River valley to the west; it is bounded on the north by Uganda, to the east by Tanzania, and to the south by Burundi. The capital, Kigali, is located in the centre of the country.Rwanda's countryside is covered by grasslands and small farms extending over rolling hills, with areas of rugged mountains that extend southeast from a chain of volcanoes in the northwest. The divide between the Congo and Nile drainage systems extends from north to south through western Rwanda at an average elevation of almost 9,000 feet. On the western slopes of this ridgeline, the land slopes abruptly toward Lake Kivu and the Ruzizi River valley, and constitutes part of the Great Rift Valley. The eastern slopes are more moderate, with rolling hills extending across central uplands at gradually reducing altitudes, to the plains, swamps, and lakes of the eastern border region. Therefore the country is also fondly known as " Land of a Thousand Hills" ( Pays des milles collines).

Climate - Contents

Rwanda is a tropical country; its high elevation makes the climate temperate. In the mountains, frost and snow are possible. The average daily temperature near Lake Kivu, at an altitude of 1,463 meters (4,800 feet) is 23°C (73°F). Rwanda is considered the lightning capital of the world, due to intense daily thunderstorms during the two rainy seasons (February-May and September-December). Annual rainfall averages 83 centimeters (31 in.) but is generally heavier in the western and northwestern mountains than in the eastern savannas.

Economy - Contents

A Rwandan market
A Rwandan market
Rwanda is a rural country with about 90% of the population engaged in (mainly subsistence) agriculture. It is landlocked with few natural resources and minimal industry. Primary exports are coffee and tea. It has a low GNP, resulting in it being listed as a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC)

Demographics - Contents

Films - Contents

  • Hotel Rwanda (2004) dramatization based on the true story of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who housed over a thousand threatened Tutsis refugees during the 1994 genocide.
  • Sometimes In April (2005) dramatization of the 1994 genocide focusing on the experiences of an intermarried Hutu-Tutsi family
  • Shooting Dogs (2005) dramatization Based on a true story. A Catholic priest and a young idealistic English teacher find themselves caught in the 1994 Rwandan genocide
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