Worldwide Travel Information (area) World Countries > Africa > Rwanda
RwandaRwanda is a sovereign state in central and east Africa. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
All of Rwanda is at high elevation, with a geography dominated by mountain in the west, savanna in the east, and numerous lakes throughout the country. The climate is temperate to subtropical, 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 The Twa are a forest-dwelling pygmy people who descend from Rwanda's earliest inhabitants, but scholars disagree on the origins of and differences between the Hutu and Tutsi some believe that they are derived from former social castes, while others view them as being races or tribes.
Christianity is the largest religion in the country, and the principal language is Kinyarwanda which is spoken by most Rwandans. Rwanda has a presidential system of government. The president is Paul Kagame of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), who took office in 2000. Rwanda has low corruption compared with neighbouring countries, but human rights organisations allege suppression of opposition groups, intimidation, and restrictions on freedom of speech. The country has been governed by a strict administrative hierarchy since precolonial times; there are five provinces, which are delineated by borders drawn in 2006.
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, massacring a large number of Tutsi and ultimately establishing an independent Hutu dominated state in 1962. The Tutsi led Rwandan Patriotic Front 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 Rwandan 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; Rwanda is one of only two countries in which mountain gorillas can be visited safely, and visitors are prepared to pay high prices for gorilla tracking permits. 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.