Rwanda

Rwanda

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Rwanda icon or icon, officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 with a population of approximately 11.4 million (2011). Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator
Equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

, and is bordered by Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

, Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

, Burundi
Burundi
Burundi , officially the Republic of Burundi , is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Its capital is Bujumbura...

 and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

. All of Rwanda is at high elevation, with a geography dominated by mountains in the west, savanna
Savanna
A savanna, or savannah, is a grassland ecosystem characterized by the trees being sufficiently small or widely spaced so that the canopy does not close. The open canopy allows sufficient light to reach the ground to support an unbroken herbaceous layer consisting primarily of C4 grasses.Some...

 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
Hutu
The Hutu , or Abahutu, are a Central African people, living mainly in Rwanda, Burundi, and eastern DR Congo.-Population statistics:The Hutu are the largest of the three peoples in Burundi and Rwanda; according to the United States Central Intelligence Agency, 84% of Rwandans and 85% of Burundians...

, Tutsi
Tutsi
The Tutsi , or Abatutsi, are an ethnic group in Central Africa. Historically they were often referred to as the Watussi or Watusi. They are the second largest caste in Rwanda and Burundi, the other two being the Hutu and the Twa ....

, and Twa
Great Lakes Twa
The Great Lakes Twa, also known as Abatwa or Ge-Sera, or in English Batwa, are a pygmy people who are generally assumed to be the oldest surviving population of the Great Lakes region of central Africa, though currently they live as a Bantu caste...

. These groups share a common culture and language and are classified as social groups rather than tribe
Tribe
A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

s. Christianity is the largest religion in the country, and the principal language is Kinyarwanda, spoken by most Rwandans. Rwanda follows a presidential system
Presidential system
A presidential system is a system of government where an executive branch exists and presides separately from the legislature, to which it is not responsible and which cannot, in normal circumstances, dismiss it....

 of government. The President is Paul Kagame
Paul Kagame
Paul Kagame is the sixth and current President of the Republic of Rwanda. He rose to prominence as the leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front , whose victory over the incumbent government in July 1994 effectively ended the Rwandan genocide...

 of the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Rwandan Patriotic Front
The Rwandan Patriotic Front abbreviated as RPF is the current ruling political party of Rwanda, led by President Paul Kagame. It governs in a coalition with other parties...

 (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
Stone Age
The Stone Age is a broad prehistoric period, lasting about 2.5 million years , during which humans and their predecessor species in the genus Homo, as well as the earlier partly contemporary genera Australopithecus and Paranthropus, widely used exclusively stone as their hard material in the...

 and iron
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 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
German colonial empire
The German colonial empire was an overseas domain formed in the late 19th century as part of the German Empire. Short-lived colonial efforts by individual German states had occurred in preceding centuries, but Imperial Germany's colonial efforts began in 1884...

 colonised Rwanda in 1884, followed by Belgium
Belgian colonial empire
The Belgian colonial empire consisted of three colonies possessed by Belgium between 1901 and 1962: Belgian Congo , Rwanda and Burundi...

, 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
Rwandan Patriotic Front
The Rwandan Patriotic Front abbreviated as RPF is the current ruling political party of Rwanda, led by President Paul Kagame. It governs in a coalition with other parties...

 (RPF) launched a civil war
Rwandan Civil War
The Rwandan Civil War was a conflict within the Central African nation of Rwanda between the government of President Juvénal Habyarimana and the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front...

 in 1990, which was followed by the 1994 Genocide
Rwandan Genocide
The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people in the small East African nation of Rwanda. Over the course of approximately 100 days through mid-July, over 500,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate...

, 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
Subsistence agriculture
Subsistence agriculture is self-sufficiency farming in which the farmers focus on growing enough food to feed their families. The typical subsistence farm has a range of crops and animals needed by the family to eat and clothe themselves during the year. Planting decisions are made with an eye...

. Coffee and tea are the major cash crops for export. Tourism
Tourism in Rwanda
Tourism in Rwanda is rapidly increasing since the genocide that took place in 1994.Rwanda is located in central Africa and has much history and natural beauty. There are many interesting sights to see, with many guided tours to choose from. Each tour group is led by an experienced guide that...

 is a fast-growing sector and is now the country's leading foreign exchange earner, the most popular activity being the tracking of mountain gorilla
Mountain Gorilla
The Mountain Gorilla is one of the two subspecies of the Eastern Gorilla. There are two populations. One is found in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Central Africa, within three National Parks: Mgahinga, in south-west Uganda; Volcanoes, in north-west Rwanda; and Virunga in the eastern Democratic...

s. 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
Imigongo
Imigongo is an art form popular in Rwanda that is produced using cow dung. It is a traditional Rwandan art form made by the women. Often in black & white, and red, popular themes include the spiral and geometric designs that are painted on walls, pottery, and canvass.During the 1994 Genocide the...

, a unique cow dung art.

History



Humans moved into what is now Rwanda following the last ice age, either in the Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 period around ten thousand years ago, or in the long humid period which followed, up to around 3000 BC. Archaeological excavations have revealed evidence of sparse settlement by hunter gatherers in the late stone age
Stone Age
The Stone Age is a broad prehistoric period, lasting about 2.5 million years , during which humans and their predecessor species in the genus Homo, as well as the earlier partly contemporary genera Australopithecus and Paranthropus, widely used exclusively stone as their hard material in the...

, followed by a larger population of early Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 settlers, who produced dimpled pottery
Pottery
Pottery is the material from which the potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery . Pottery also refers to the art or craft of the potter or the manufacture of pottery...

 and iron tools. These early inhabitants were the ancestors of the Twas, a group of aboriginal pygmy hunter-gatherers who remain in Rwanda today. Between 700 BC and 1500 AD, a number of Bantu groups migrated into Rwanda, and began to clear forest land for agriculture. The forest-dwelling Twas lost much of their habitat and were forced to move on to the slopes of mountains. Historians have several theories regarding the nature of the Bantu migrations; one theory is that the first settlers were Hutu
Hutu
The Hutu , or Abahutu, are a Central African people, living mainly in Rwanda, Burundi, and eastern DR Congo.-Population statistics:The Hutu are the largest of the three peoples in Burundi and Rwanda; according to the United States Central Intelligence Agency, 84% of Rwandans and 85% of Burundians...

s, while the Tutsi
Tutsi
The Tutsi , or Abatutsi, are an ethnic group in Central Africa. Historically they were often referred to as the Watussi or Watusi. They are the second largest caste in Rwanda and Burundi, the other two being the Hutu and the Twa ....

s migrated later and formed a distinct racial group, possibly of Cushitic origin. An alternative theory is that the migration was slow and steady, with incoming groups integrating into rather than conquering the existing society. Under this theory, the Hutu and Tutsi distinction arose later and was a class distinction rather than a racial one.
The earliest form of social organisation in the area was the clan (ubwoko). Clans existed across the Great Lakes region
African Great Lakes
The African Great Lakes are a series of lakes and the Rift Valley lakes in and around the geographic Great Rift Valley formed by the action of the tectonic East African Rift on the continent of Africa...

, with around twenty that existed in the area that is now Rwanda. The clans were not limited to genealogical lineages or geographical area, and most included Hutus, Tutsis, and Twas. From the 15th century, the clans began to coalesce into kingdoms. By 1700, around eight kingdoms existed in present-day Rwanda, the largest ones being Bugesera, Gisaka, the northern part of the Kingdom of Burundi, and the early Kingdom of Rwanda. The Kingdom of Rwanda, ruled by the Tutsi Nyiginya dynasty, became increasingly dominant from the mid-eighteenth century, as the Kings centralised power and expanded the kingdom militarily, taking control of several smaller kingdoms. The kingdom reached its greatest extent during the nineteenth century under the reign of King Kigeli Rwabugiri
Kigeli IV of Rwanda
Kigeri IV was the ruler of the Kingdom of Rwanda from 1853 to 1895. He was a Tutsi with the birth name Rwabugiri. He established an army equipped with guns and prohibited most foreigners from entering his kingdom....

. Rwabugiri conquered a number of smaller states and expanded the kingdom west to the shores of Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu is one of the African Great Lakes. It lies on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, and is in the Albertine Rift, a part of the Great Rift Valley. Lake Kivu empties into the Ruzizi River, which flows southwards into Lake Tanganyika...

 and north into what is now Uganda. He also initiated administrative reforms; these included ubuhake
Ubuhake
Ubuhake is the name given to the social order in Rwanda and Burundi from approximately the 15th century to 1958. It has been frequently compared to European feudalism. Based on cattle distribution, it was, however, a much smaller system than the one of uburetwa, which affected a much larger...

, a cattle clientship which allowed a small number of Hutus privileged status, and uburetwa, a system of Hutu forced labour. Rwabugiri's changes caused a rift to grow between the Hutu and Tutsi populations. The Twas were better off than in pre-Kingdom days, with some becoming dancers in the royal court, but their numbers continued to decline.

The Berlin Conference of 1884 assigned the territory to Germany
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 as part of Ruanda-Urundi
Ruanda-Urundi
Ruanda-Urundi was a Belgian suzerainty from 1916 to 1924, a League of Nations Class B Mandate from 1924 to 1945 and then a United Nations trust territory until 1962, when it became the independent states of Rwanda and Burundi.- Overview :...

, marking the beginning of the colonial era. It was then united with the German territory of Tanganyika
Tanganyika
Tanganyika , later formally the Republic of Tanganyika, was a sovereign state in East Africa from 1961 to 1964. It was situated between the Indian Ocean and the African Great Lakes of Lake Victoria, Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika...

 to form German East Africa
German East Africa
German East Africa was a German colony in East Africa, which included what are now :Burundi, :Rwanda and Tanganyika . Its area was , nearly three times the size of Germany today....

. Explorer Gustav Adolf von Götzen
Gustav Adolf von Götzen
Count Gustav Adolf von Götzen was a German explorer and Governor of German East Africa. He was the second European to set foot in Rwanda, after Dr Oscar Baumann, and later presided over the bloody quashing of the Maji Maji Rebellion in what is now Tanzania.- Early life :Götzen studied law at the...

, who later became Governor of German East Africa, was the first European to significantly explore the country in 1894; he crossed from the south-east to Lake Kivu and met the King. Germany appointed a Resident
Resident (title)
A Resident, or in full Resident Minister, is a government official required to take up permanent residence in another country. A representative of his government, he officially has diplomatic functions which are often seen as a form of indirect rule....

 for Rwanda in 1907, and German missionaries
Mission (Christian)
Christian missionary activities often involve sending individuals and groups , to foreign countries and to places in their own homeland. This has frequently involved not only evangelization , but also humanitarian work, especially among the poor and disadvantaged...

 and military personnel began to arrive in the country shortly thereafter. The Germans did not significantly alter the societal structure of the country, but exerted influence by supporting the King and the existing hierarchy and placing advisers at the courts of local chiefs. They also observed and perpetuated the ethnic divisions of the country; they favoured the Tutsis as the ruling class and aided the monarchy in putting down rebellions of Hutus who did not submit to Tutsi control. In 1916, during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 (WWI), Belgian
Belgian colonial empire
The Belgian colonial empire consisted of three colonies possessed by Belgium between 1901 and 1962: Belgian Congo , Rwanda and Burundi...

 forces defeated the Germans and took control of Ruanda-Urundi.

In 1919, following the end of WWI, the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 declared Rwanda a mandate territory
League of Nations mandate
A League of Nations mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I, or the legal instruments that contained the internationally agreed-upon terms for administering the territory on behalf of the League...

 under the control of Belgium. Belgium's involvement was far more direct than that of Germany; they introduced large-scale projects in education, health, public works, and agricultural supervision. As the population of the country grew, Belgium introduced new crops and improved agricultural techniques to try to reduce the incidence of famine. This was unsuccessful in preventing the Ruzagayura famine of 1943–1944, which claimed the lives of up to one-third of the population. Belgium also maintained the existing class system, promoting Tutsi supremacy. The Belgian authorities considered the Hutus and Tutsis different races and, in 1935, introduced identity cards labelling each individual as either Tutsi, Hutu, or Twa. While it had previously been possible for particularly wealthy Hutus to become honorary Tutsis, the identity cards prevented any further movement between the classes.


Belgium continued to rule Rwanda as a UN Trust Territory
United Nations Trust Territories
United Nations trust territories were the successors of the remaining League of Nations mandates and came into being when the League of Nations ceased to exist in 1946. All of the trust territories were administered through the UN Trusteeship Council...

 after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, with a mandate to oversee independence
Decolonization of Africa
The decolonization of Africa followed World War II as colonized peoples agitated for independence and colonial powers withdrew their administrators from Africa.-Background:...

. Two rival groups emerged, the Tutsi elite who favoured early independence under the existing system, and the Hutu emancipation movement led by Grégoire Kayibanda
Grégoire Kayibanda
Grégoire Kayibanda was the first elected and second President of the Republic of Rwanda. He led Rwanda's struggle for independence from Belgium, and replaced the Tutsi monarchy with a republican form of government. He asserted Hutu majority power.-Early life and education:Grégoire Kayibanda was...

, which sought an end to "Tutsi feudalism". The Belgians dropped their long-standing support for the existing hierarchy by favouring the Hutu party. Tension between the two groups escalated through the 1950s, culminating in the 1959 Rwandan Revolution: Hutu activists began killing Tutsis, forcing more than 100,000 to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. In 1962, the now pro-Hutu Belgians held a referendum and elections in which the country voted to abolish the monarchy. Rwanda was separated from Burundi and gained independence under Kayibanda in 1962. Cycles of violence took place during the following years. Rebel exiled Tutsis attacked from neighbouring countries and Hutus retaliated with large-scale slaughter and repression of Tutsis within Rwanda.

In 1973 Juvenal Habyarimana
Juvénal Habyarimana
Juvénal Habyarimana was the third President of the Republic of Rwanda, the post he held longer than any other president to date, from 1973 until 1994. During his 20-year rule he favored his own ethnic group, the Hutus, and supported the Hutu majority in neighboring Burundi against the Tutsi...

, who claimed that the government had become too corrupt, ineffective, and violent, staged a military coup
1973 Rwandan coup d'état
The 1973 Rwandan coup d'état was a coup d'état staged by Juvenal Habyarimana against incumbent president Grégoire Kayibanda....

 and became President. Several top-ranking officials were killed, including Kayibanda and his wife. In the years following the coup, Rwanda enjoyed relative economic prosperity and a lessened amount of violence against Tutsis, although pro-Hutu discrimination continued. The Twas remained marginalised, and by 1990 were almost entirely forced out of the forests by the government; many became beggars. Rwanda's population had increased from 1.6 million people in 1934 to 7.1 million in 1989, leading to competition for land.

In 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Rwandan Patriotic Front
The Rwandan Patriotic Front abbreviated as RPF is the current ruling political party of Rwanda, led by President Paul Kagame. It governs in a coalition with other parties...

 (RPF), a rebel group composed mostly of Tutsi refugees, invaded northern Rwanda from Uganda, initiating the Rwandan Civil War
Rwandan Civil War
The Rwandan Civil War was a conflict within the Central African nation of Rwanda between the government of President Juvénal Habyarimana and the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front...

. The Rwandan government, supported by troops from France, was initially successful in suppressing the rebels, but the RPF regrouped and captured territory in the north; for the next year and a half, neither side was able to gain a decisive advantage. The war weakened Habyarimana's authority and in 1992 mass demonstrations forced him to enter a coalition with domestic opposition parties and seek peace with the RPF. Despite continuing ethnic strife, including Hutu displacement from RPF-controlled areas and violence against Tutsis in the south, the two sides agreed to a cease-fire in 1993 and negotiated a peace settlement
Arusha Accords
The Arusha Accords were a set of five accords signed in Arusha, Tanzania on August 4, 1993, by the government of Rwanda and the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front , under mediation, to end a three-year Rwandan Civil War...

 in Arusha
Arusha
Arusha is a city in northern Tanzania. It is the capital of the Arusha Region, which claims a population of 1,288,088, including 281,608 for the Arusha District . Arusha is surrounded by some of Africa's most famous landscapes and national parks...

, Tanzania.


The cease-fire ended on 6 April 1994 when Habyarimana's plane was shot down near Kigali Airport, killing the President and Cyprien Ntaryamira
Cyprien Ntaryamira
Cyprien Ntaryamira , was President of Burundi from 5 February 1994 until his death when his plane was shot down on 6 April 1994.-Biography:...

, the President of Burundi. It is still unknown who launched the attack; each side blamed the other. The shooting down of the plane served as the catalyst for the Rwandan Genocide
Rwandan Genocide
The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people in the small East African nation of Rwanda. Over the course of approximately 100 days through mid-July, over 500,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate...

, which began within a few hours. Over the course of approximately 100 days, between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed in well-planned attacks on the orders of the interim government. Many Twas were also killed, despite not being directly targeted. The Tutsi RPF restarted their offensive, and took control of the country methodically by cutting off government supply routes and encircling
Encirclement
Encirclement is a military term for the situation when a force or target is isolated and surrounded by enemy forces. The German term for this is Kesselschlacht ; a comparable English term might be "in the bag"....

 Kigali. The international response to the Genocide was limited, with major powers reluctant to strengthen the already overstretched UN peacekeeping force
United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda
The United Nations Assistance Mission In Rwanda was a mission instituted by the United Nations to aid the implementation of the Arusha Accords, signed August 4, 1993, which were meant to end the Rwandan Civil War. The mission lasted from October 1993 to March 1996...

. The RPF took control of Kigali on 4 July and the whole country by 18 July 1994. A coalition government was sworn in under a transitional constitution with Pasteur Bizimungu
Pasteur Bizimungu
Pasteur Bizimungu was the fifth President of Rwanda from 19 July 1994 until 23 March 2000. He is considered belonging to the Hutu caste/ethnic group and was born in the Gisenyi prefecture of Rwanda. Bizimungu worked within the Hutu MRND regime which ruled Rwanda , including as director general of...

 as President.

The new regime faced immediate problems, with approximately two million Hutus having fled to neighbouring countries, in particular Zaire
Zaire
The Republic of Zaire was the name of the present Democratic Republic of the Congo between 27 October 1971 and 17 May 1997. The name of Zaire derives from the , itself an adaptation of the Kongo word nzere or nzadi, or "the river that swallows all rivers".-Self-proclaimed Father of the Nation:In...

, fearing RPF reprisals for the Genocide. Thousands died in epidemics of diseases common in refugee camps, such as cholera
Cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...

. The Rwandan army launched a series of attacks on the camps in 1996 in retaliation to crossborder shelling from the camps by militia. Following these attacks most refugees returned to Rwanda. A period of reconciliation and justice began in late 1994, with the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is an international court established in November 1994 by the United Nations Security Council in Resolution 955 in order to judge people responsible for the Rwandan Genocide and other serious violations of international law in Rwanda, or by Rwandan...

 (ICTR) and the reintroduction of Gacaca, a traditional village court system. During the 2000s the government replaced the flag, anthem, and constitution, re-drew the local authority boundaries, and the country joined the East African Community
East African Community
The East African Community is an intergovernmental organisation comprising the five east African countries Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. Pierre Nkurunziza, the President of the Republic of Burundi, is the current Chairman of the East African Community. The EAC was originally...

 and the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

. Rwanda's economy and tourist numbers grew rapidly during the decade, and the country's Human Development Index
Human Development Index
The Human Development Index is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of "human development" and separate "very high human development", "high human development", "medium human development", and "low human development" countries...

 grew by 3.3%, the largest increase of any country.

Politics and government


Rwanda is a presidential
Presidential system
A presidential system is a system of government where an executive branch exists and presides separately from the legislature, to which it is not responsible and which cannot, in normal circumstances, dismiss it....

 unitary republic, based upon a multi-party system
Multi-party system
A multi-party system is a system in which multiple political parties have the capacity to gain control of government separately or in coalition, e.g.The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in the United Kingdom formed in 2010. The effective number of parties in a multi-party system is normally...

. The current constitution
Constitution of Rwanda
The Constitution of Rwanda was adopted by referendum on May 26, 2003. It replaced the older Constitution of 1991.The Constitution provides for a presidential system of government, with separation of powers between the three branches. It condemns the Rwandan Genocide in the preamble, expressing hope...

 was adopted following a national referendum in 2003, replacing the transitional constitution which had been in place since 1994. The President of Rwanda is the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and has broad, unilateral powers to create policy, administer government agencies, exercise the prerogative of mercy
Prerogative of mercy (Rwanda)
The prerogative of mercy is a form of pardon which can be exercised by the President of Rwanda. The prerogative is one of the powers of the president defined by the Constitution of Rwanda, which came into effect in 2003 following a national referendum....

, command the armed forces
Rwandan Defence Forces
The Rwanda Defence Forces is the national army of Rwanda. Largely composed of former Rwandan Patriotic Army fighters, it comprises The High Command Council of the Rwanda Defence Forces; the General Staff of the Rwanda Defence Forces; the Rwanda Land Force; the Rwanda Air Force; and ...

, negotiate and ratify treaties, sign presidential orders, and declare war or a state of emergency. The President is elected by popular vote every seven years, and appoints members of the Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Rwanda
-List of Prime Ministers of Rwanda:-Affiliations:*Parmehutu - Party of the Hutu Emancipation Movement*MRND - National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development...

 and all other members of Cabinet
Council of Ministers of Rwanda
The Rwandan Council of Ministers consists of representatives from the Parliament who are appointed by the president.-Members of the Council of Ministers:Source...

. The incumbent President is Paul Kagame
Paul Kagame
Paul Kagame is the sixth and current President of the Republic of Rwanda. He rose to prominence as the leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front , whose victory over the incumbent government in July 1994 effectively ended the Rwandan genocide...

, who took office under the transitional government arrangements in 2000 and won elections in 2003
Rwandan presidential election, 2003
A presidential election was held in Rwanda on 25 August 2003. Paul Kagame easily won the election against a weak opposition.-Source:*...

 and 2010
Rwandan presidential election, 2010
A presidential election was held in Rwanda on 2010, the second since the Rwandan civil war. The incumbent President Paul Kagame, of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, was re-elected for a second term.-Background:...

.

The Parliament
Parliament of Rwanda
The Parliament of Rwanda consists of two chambers:*The Senate *The Chamber of Deputies Prior to 2003 the Parliament of Rwanda was unicameral...

 consists of two chambers. It makes legislation and is empowered by the constitution to oversee the activities of the President and the Cabinet. The lower chamber is the Chamber of Deputies
Chamber of Deputies of Rwanda
The Chamber of Deputies is the lower house of the bicameral national legislature of Rwanda.It was created under the new Constitution adopted by referendum in 2003....

, which has 80 members serving five-year terms. Twenty-four of these seats are reserved for women, elected through a joint assembly of local government officials; another three seats are reserved for youth and disabled members; the remaining 53 are elected by universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

 under a proportional representation
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

 system. Following the 2008 election
Rwandan parliamentary election, 2008
A parliamentary election was held in Rwanda from 15 September to 18 September 2008. There were 80 seats at stake in the Chamber of Deputies, 53 directly elected and 27 indirectly elected. No opposition parties participated in the election...

, there are 45 female deputies, making Rwanda the only country with a female majority in the national parliament. The upper chamber is the 26-seat Senate
Senate of Rwanda
The Parliament of Rwanda has two chambers. The upper house is the Senate ...

, whose members are selected by a variety of bodies. A mandatory minimum of 30% of the senators are women. Senators serve eight-year terms.
Rwanda's legal system is largely based on German
Law of Germany
The modern German legal system is a system of law which is founded on the principles laid out by the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, though many of the most important laws as for example most regulations of the civil code were developed prior to the 1949 constitution...

 and Belgian
Law of Belgium
The law of Belgium is very similar to that of neighboring France, with Belgium having adopted the Napoleonic code which governs French society. Belgian law also derives from the Constitution of Belgium and the European Convention on Human Rights....

 civil law systems and customary law. The judiciary is independent of the executive branch, although the President and the Senate are involved in the appointment of Supreme Court judges. Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 have praised the Rwandan government for progress made in the delivery of justice including the abolition of the death penalty, but also allege interference in the judicial system by members of the government: politically motivated appointment of judges, misuse of prosecutorial power, and pressure on judges to make particular decisions. The constitution provides for two types of court—ordinary and specialised. Ordinary courts are the Supreme Court, the High Court, and regional courts, while specialised courts are military courts and the traditional Gacaca courts, which have been revived to expedite the trials of genocide suspects.

Rwanda has low corruption levels; in 2010, Transparency International
Transparency International
Transparency International is a non-governmental organization that monitors and publicizes corporate and political corruption in international development. It publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index, a comparative listing of corruption worldwide...

 ranked Rwanda as the 66th cleanest out of 178 countries in the world, and 8th out of 47 in Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

. The constitution provides for an Ombudsman
Ombudsman
An ombudsman is a person who acts as a trusted intermediary between an organization and some internal or external constituency while representing not only but mostly the broad scope of constituent interests...

, whose duties include prevention and fighting of corruption. Public officials (including the President) are required by the constitution to declare their wealth to the Ombudsman and to the public.

The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) has been the dominant political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 in the country since 1994. The RPF has maintained control of the presidency and the Parliament in national elections, with the party's vote share consistently exceeding 70%. The RPF is seen as a Tutsi-dominated party but receives support from across the country, and is credited with ensuring continued peace, stability, and economic growth. Human rights organisations claim that the government suppresses the freedoms of opposition groups by restricting candidacies in elections to government-friendly parties, suppressing demonstrations, and arresting opposition leaders and journalists.

Rwanda is a member of the UN, the African Union
African Union
The African Union is a union consisting of 54 African states. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity...

, and La Francophonie. Rwanda seeks closer ties with neighbouring countries in East Africa and with the English speaking world. To this end, Rwanda joined the East African Community in 2007, and the Commonwealth of Nations in 2009. Relations with the Democratic Republic of Congo remain tense following Rwanda's involvement in the First
First Congo War
The First Congo War was a revolution in Zaire that replaced President Mobutu Sésé Seko, a decades-long dictator, with rebel leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila. Destabilization in eastern Zaire that resulted from the Rwandan genocide was the final factor that caused numerous internal and external actors...

 and Second Congo War
Second Congo War
The Second Congo War, also known as Coltan War and the Great War of Africa, began in August 1998 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo , and officially ended in July 2003 when the Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo took power; however, hostilities continue to this...

s. The Congolese army alleges Rwandan attacks on their troops, while Rwanda blames the Congolese government for failing to suppress Hutu rebels in North and South Kivu provinces.

Administrative divisions


Rwanda has been governed by a strict hierarchy since precolonial times. Before colonisation, the King (Mwami) exercised control through a system of provinces, districts, hills, and neighbourhoods. The current constitution divides Rwanda into provinces
Provinces of Rwanda
Image:Rwanda Provinces 2006.png|left|300pxpoly 211 66 216 74 223 76 230 102 262 85 306 169 296 177 277 166 247 178 241 188 209 179 193 160 176 155 172 127 167 123 140 119 131 107 153 84 174 84 189 74 204 79 Northern Province, Rwanda...

 , districts
Districts of Rwanda
The Provinces of Rwanda are subdivided into 30 districts . Each district is in turn divided into sectors. Until 2001, the districts had been called communes...

 , cities, municipalities, towns, sectors
Sectors of Rwanda
Sectors are the third level administrative subdivision in the African nation of Rwanda. The Provinces of Rwanda are subdivided into 30 districts . Each district is in turn divided into sectors. There are 416 Sectors...

 , and cells , with each subdivision and its borders established by Parliament.

The five provinces act as intermediaries between the national government and their constituent districts to ensure that national policies are implemented at the district level. The "Rwanda Decentralization Strategic Framework" developed by the Ministry of Local Government assigns to provinces the responsibility for "coordinating governance issues in the Province, as well as monitoring and evaluation." Each province is headed by a governor, appointed by the President and approved by the Senate. The districts are responsible for coordinating public service delivery and economic development. They are divided into sectors, which are responsible for the delivery of public services as mandated by the districts. Districts and sectors have directly elected councils, and are run by an executive committee selected by that council. The cells are the smallest political unit, providing a link between the people and the sectors. All adult resident citizens are members of their local cell council, from which an executive committee is elected. The city of Kigali
Kigali
Kigali, population 965,398 , is the capital and largest city of Rwanda. It is situated near the geographic centre of the nation, and has been the economic, cultural, and transport hub of Rwanda since it became capital at independence in 1962. The main residence and offices of the President of...

 is a provincial-level authority, which coordinates urban planning within the city.

The present borders were drawn in 2006 with the aim of decentralising power and removing associations with the old system and the genocide. The previous structure of 12 provinces centred around the largest cities was replaced with five provinces based primarily on geography. These are Northern Province, Southern Province, Eastern Province, Western Province, and Kigali Province in the centre.

Geography




At 26338 square kilometres (10,169.2 sq mi), Rwanda is the world's 148th-largest country. It is comparable in size to Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

 or the state of Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 in the United States, and it is a little larger than Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

. The entire country is at high altitude: the lowest point is the Ruzizi River
Ruzizi River
The Ruzizi , is a river which flows from Lake Kivu to Lake Tanganyika in Central Africa, descending rapidly from about 1,500 metres above sea level to about 770 metres above sea level over its length...

 at 950 metres (3,117 ft) above sea level. Rwanda is located in Central/Eastern Africa, and is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

 to the west, Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

 to the north, Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

 to the east, and Burundi
Burundi
Burundi , officially the Republic of Burundi , is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Its capital is Bujumbura...

 to the south. It lies a few degrees south of the equator
Equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

 and is landlocked
Landlocked
A landlocked country is a country entirely enclosed by land, or whose only coastlines lie on closed seas. There are 48 landlocked countries in the world, including partially recognized states...

. The capital, Kigali, is located near the centre of Rwanda.

The watershed between the major Congo
Congo Basin
The Congo Basin is the sedimentary basin that is the drainage of the Congo River of west equatorial Africa. The basin begins in the highlands of the East African Rift system with input from the Chambeshi River, the Uele and Ubangi Rivers in the upper reaches and the Lualaba River draining wetlands...

 and Nile drainage basin
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

s runs from north to south through Rwanda, with around 80% of the country's area draining into the Nile and 20% into the Congo via the Ruzizi River. The country's longest river is the Nyabarongo
Nyabarongo River Wetlands
The Nyabarongo is a river running from the centre to the south-east of Rwanda. The Nyabarongo is a tributary of the Nile, which empties into the Kagera River which, in turn, flows into Lake Victoria...

, which rises in the south-west, flows north, east, and south-east before merging with the Ruvubu to form the Kagera
Kagera River
The Kagera River, also Akagera River, is an East African river, forming part of the upper headwaters of the Nile and carrying water from its most distant source....

; the Kagera then flows due north along the eastern border with Tanzania. The Nyabarongo-Kagera eventually drains into Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria is one of the African Great Lakes. The lake was named for Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, by John Hanning Speke, the first European to discover this lake....

, and its source in Nyungwe Forest is a contender for the as-yet undetermined overall source
Source (river or stream)
The source or headwaters of a river or stream is the place from which the water in the river or stream originates.-Definition:There is no universally agreed upon definition for determining a stream's source...

 of the Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

. Rwanda has many lakes, the largest being Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu is one of the African Great Lakes. It lies on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, and is in the Albertine Rift, a part of the Great Rift Valley. Lake Kivu empties into the Ruzizi River, which flows southwards into Lake Tanganyika...

. This lake occupies the floor of the Great Rift Valley
Great Rift Valley
The Great Rift Valley is a name given in the late 19th century by British explorer John Walter Gregory to the continuous geographic trench, approximately in length, that runs from northern Syria in Southwest Asia to central Mozambique in South East Africa...

 along most of the length of Rwanda's western border, and with a maximum depth of 480 metres (1,575 ft), it is one of the twenty deepest lakes in the world. Other sizeable lakes include Burera, Ruhondo, Muhazi
Lake Muhazi
Lake Muhazi is a long thin shallow lake in the east of Rwanda. The bulk of the lake lies in the Eastern Province, with the western end forming the border between the Northern and Kigali Provinces. It is a flooded valley lake, lying predominantly in an east to west direction, but with numerous...

, Rweru
Lake Rweru
Lake Rweru is a lake close to the northernmost point of Burundi in central Africa. The northern shore of the lake forms part of Burundi's border with Rwanda.-References:...

, and Ihema, the last being the largest of a string of lakes in the eastern plains of Akagera National Park
Akagera National Park
The Akagera National Park covers 1,200km² in eastern Rwanda, against 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...

.
Mountains dominate central and western Rwanda; these mountains are part of a series of mountain chains which flank the Albertine branch of the Great Rift Valley; this branch runs from north to south along Rwanda's western border. The highest peaks are found in the Virunga Mountains
Virunga Mountains
The Virunga Mountains are a chain of volcanoes in East Africa, along the northern border of Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. The mountain range is a branch of the Albertine Rift, a part of the Great Rift Valley. They are located between Lake Edward and Lake Kivu...

 volcano chain in the north-west; this includes Mount Karisimbi
Mount Karisimbi
Mount Karisimbi is an inactive volcano in the Virunga Mountains on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. At , Karisimbi is the highest of the eight major mountains of the mountain range, which is a part of the East African Rift Valley...

, Rwanda's highest point, at 4507 metres (14,787 ft). This western section of the country, which lies within the Albertine Rift montane forests
Albertine Rift montane forests
The Albertine Rift montane forests ecoregion, of the Tropical moist broadleaf forest Biome, are in the heart of Afromontane tropical Africa.-Location and description:...

 ecoregion, has an elevation of 1500 metres (4,921 ft) to 2500 metres (8,202 ft). The centre of the country is predominantly rolling hills, while the eastern border region consists of savanna
Savanna
A savanna, or savannah, is a grassland ecosystem characterized by the trees being sufficiently small or widely spaced so that the canopy does not close. The open canopy allows sufficient light to reach the ground to support an unbroken herbaceous layer consisting primarily of C4 grasses.Some...

, plains and swamps.

Climate



Rwanda has a temperate
Temperate
In geography, temperate or tepid latitudes of the globe lie between the tropics and the polar circles. The changes in these regions between summer and winter are generally relatively moderate, rather than extreme hot or cold...

 tropical highland
Tropical climate
A tropical climate is a climate of the tropics. In the Köppen climate classification it is a non-arid climate in which all twelve months have mean temperatures above...

 climate, with lower temperatures than is typical for equatorial countries due to the high elevation. Kigali, in the centre of the country, has a typical daily temperature range between 12 °C (53.6 °F) and 27 °C (80.6 °F), with little variation through the year. There are some temperature variations across the country; the mountainous west is generally cooler than the lower-lying east. There are two rainy seasons in the year; the first runs from February to June and the second from September to December. These are separated by two dry seasons: the major one from June to September, during which there is often no rain at all, and a shorter and less severe one from December to February. Rainfall varies geographically, with the west and northwest of the country receiving more precipitation annually than the east and southeast.

Biodiversity




In prehistoric times montane forest occupied one third of the territory of present-day Rwanda. Naturally occurring vegetation is now mostly restricted to the three National Parks, with terraced agriculture
Terrace (agriculture)
Terraces are used in farming to cultivate sloped land. Graduated terrace steps are commonly used to farm on hilly or mountainous terrain. Terraced fields decrease erosion and surface runoff, and are effective for growing crops requiring much water, such as rice...

 dominating the rest of the country. Nyungwe
Nyungwe Forest
Nyungwe Forest National Park is a national park in southwestern Rwanda, located south of Lake Kivu on the border with Burundi. The park was established in 2004 and covers an area of approximately 970 km² of rainforest, bamboo, grassland, swamps, and bogs. The nearest town is Cyangugu, 54 km to the...

, the largest tract of forest, contains 200 species of tree as well as orchids and begonia
Begonia
Begonia is a genus in the flowering plant family Begoniaceae and is a perennial. The only other members of the family Begoniaceae are Hillebrandia, a genus with a single species in the Hawaiian Islands, and the genus Symbegonia which more recently was included in Begonia...

s. Vegetation in the Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park
For the park in Hawaii, see Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.Volcanoes National Park lies in northwestern Rwanda and borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The national park is known as a haven for the mountain gorilla...

 is mostly bamboo
Bamboo
Bamboo is a group of perennial evergreens in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family....

 and moorland, with small areas of forest. Akagera, by contrast, has a savanna ecosystem in which acacia
Acacia
Acacia is a genus of shrubs and trees belonging to the subfamily Mimosoideae of the family Fabaceae, first described in Africa by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1773. Many non-Australian species tend to be thorny, whereas the majority of Australian acacias are not...

 is the dominant flora. Some plant species are endemic to Akagera.

The greatest diversity of large mammals is found in the three National Parks, which are designated conservation areas. Akagera contains typical savanna animals such as giraffes and elephants, while Volcanoes is home to an estimated one third of the worldwide mountain gorilla
Mountain Gorilla
The Mountain Gorilla is one of the two subspecies of the Eastern Gorilla. There are two populations. One is found in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Central Africa, within three National Parks: Mgahinga, in south-west Uganda; Volcanoes, in north-west Rwanda; and Virunga in the eastern Democratic...

 population. Nyungwe Forest boasts thirteen primate species including chimpanzee
Chimpanzee
Chimpanzee, sometimes colloquially chimp, is the common name for the two extant species of ape in the genus Pan. The Congo River forms the boundary between the native habitat of the two species:...

s and Ruwenzori colobus
Black-and-white colobus
Black-and-white colobuses are Old World monkeys of the genus Colobus, native to Africa. They are closely related to the brown colobus monkeys of genus Piliocolobus. The word "colobus" comes from Greek κολοβός kolobós , and is so named because its thumb is a stump.Colobuses are herbivorous, eating...

 arboreal monkeys; the Ruwenzori colobus move in groups of up to 400 individuals, the largest troop size of any primate in Africa.

There are 670 bird species in Rwanda, with variation between the east and the west. Nyungwe Forest, in the west, has 280 recorded species, of which 26 are endemic to the Albertine Rift; endemic species include the Ruwenzori Turaco
Ruwenzori Turaco
The Ruwenzori Turaco is a species of bird in the Musophagidae family. It is monotypic within the genus Ruwenzorornis.It is found in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.-References:...

 and Handsome Francolin
Handsome Francolin
The Handsome Francolin, Pternistis nobilis is a large, up to 35 cm long, terrestrial forest francolin with a dark reddish brown plumage, grey head, red bill and legs, brown iris, bare red orbital skin and rufous grey below. Both sexes are similar. The female is slightly smaller than male...

. Eastern Rwanda, by contrast, features savanna birds such as the Black-headed Gonolek
Black-headed Gonolek
The black-headed gonolek is a species of bird in the Malaconotidae family. It is found in Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.Its natural habitats are dry savanna, subtropical or...

 and those associated with swamps and lakes, including stork
Stork
Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long, stout bills. They belong to the family Ciconiidae. They are the only family in the biological order Ciconiiformes, which was once much larger and held a number of families....

s and Pied Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher
The Pied Kingfisher is a water kingfisher and is found widely distributed across Africa and Asia. Their black and white plumage, crest and the habit of hovering over clear lakes and rivers before diving for fish makes it distinctive. Males have a double band across the breast while females have a...

s.

Economy




Rwanda's economy suffered heavily during the 1994 Genocide, with widespread loss of life, failure to maintain the infrastructure, looting and neglect of important cash crops. This caused a large drop in GDP and destroyed the country's ability to attract private and external investment. The economy has since strengthened, with per-capita GDP (PPP
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

) estimated at $
Geary-Khamis dollar
The Geary-Khamis dollar, more commonly known as the international dollar, is a hypothetical unit of currency that has the same purchasing power that the U.S. dollar had in the United States at a given point in time. It is widely used in economics. The years 1990 or 2000 are often used as a...

1,284 in 2011, compared with $416 in 1994. Major export markets include China, Germany and the United States. The economy is managed by the central National Bank of Rwanda
National Bank of Rwanda
The National Bank of Rwanda is the central bank of Rwanda. The bank was founded in 1964 and is quartered in Kigali; it operates Rwanda's principal securities exchange, the Rwanda Over The Counter Exchange.-History:...

 and the currency is the Rwandan franc
Rwandan franc
The Rwandan franc is the currency of Rwanda. It is subdivided into 100 centimes.-History:...

; in June 2010, the exchange rate was 588 francs to the United States dollar. Rwanda joined the East African Community in 2007 and there are plans for a common East African shilling, which could be in place by 2012.

Rwanda is a country of few natural resources, and the economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture
Subsistence agriculture
Subsistence agriculture is self-sufficiency farming in which the farmers focus on growing enough food to feed their families. The typical subsistence farm has a range of crops and animals needed by the family to eat and clothe themselves during the year. Planting decisions are made with an eye...

 by local farmers using simple tools. An estimated 90% of the working population farms, and agriculture comprised an estimated 42.1% of GDP in 2010. Since the mid 1980s, farm sizes and food production have been decreasing, due in part to the resettlement of displaced people. Despite Rwanda's fertile ecosystem, food production often does not keep pace with population growth, and food imports are required.

Crops grown in the country include coffee, tea, pyrethrum
Pyrethrum
Pyrethrum refers to several Old World plants of the genus Chrysanthemum which are cultivated as ornamentals for their showy flower heads. Pyrethrum is also the name of a natural insecticide made from the dried flower heads of C. cinerariifolium and C...

, bananas, beans, sorghum
Sorghum
Sorghum is a genus of numerous species of grasses, one of which is raised for grain and many of which are used as fodder plants either cultivated or as part of pasture. The plants are cultivated in warmer climates worldwide. Species are native to tropical and subtropical regions of all continents...

 and potatoes. Coffee and tea are the major cash crops for export, with the high altitudes, steep slopes and volcanic soils providing favourable conditions. Reliance on agricultural exports makes Rwanda vulnerable to shifts in their prices. Animals raised in Rwanda include cows, goats, sheep, pigs, chicken and rabbits, with geographical variation in the numbers of each. Production systems are mostly traditional, although there are a few intensive dairy farms around Kigali. Shortage of land, water shortage, insufficient and poor quality feed and regular disease epidemics with insufficient veterinary service are major constraints that restrict output. Fishing takes place on the country's lakes, but stocks are very depleted, and live fish are being imported in an attempt to revive the industry.

The industrial sector is small, contributing 14.3% of GDP in 2010. Products manufactured include cement, agricultural products, small-scale beverages, soap, furniture, shoes, plastic goods, textiles and cigarettes. Rwanda's mining industry is an important contributor, generating US$93 million in 2008. Minerals mined include cassiterite
Cassiterite
Cassiterite is a tin oxide mineral, SnO2. It is generally opaque, but it is translucent in thin crystals. Its luster and multiple crystal faces produce a desirable gem...

, wolframite
Wolframite
Wolframite WO4, is an iron manganese tungstate mineral that is the intermediate between ferberite and huebernite . Along with scheelite, the wolframite series are the most important tungsten ore minerals. Wolframite is found in quartz veins and pegmatites associated with granitic intrusives...

, gold and coltan
Coltan
Coltan is the industrial name for columbite–tantalite, a dull black metallic mineral from which the elements niobium and tantalum are extracted. The niobium-dominant mineral is columbite, hence the "col" half of the term...

, which is used in the manufacture of electronic and communication devices such as mobile phones.


Rwanda's service sector suffered during the late-2000s recession as banks reduced lending and foreign aid projects and investment were reduced. The sector rebounded in 2010, becoming the country's largest sector by economic output and contributing 43.6% of the country's GDP. Key tertiary contributors include banking and finance, wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants, transport, storage, communication, insurance, real estate, business services and public administration including education and health. Tourism
Tourism in Rwanda
Tourism in Rwanda is rapidly increasing since the genocide that took place in 1994.Rwanda is located in central Africa and has much history and natural beauty. There are many interesting sights to see, with many guided tours to choose from. Each tour group is led by an experienced guide that...

 is one of the fastest-growing economic resources and is now the country's leading foreign exchange earner, generating US$214 million in 2008, up by 54% on the previous year. Despite the Genocide, the country is increasingly perceived internationally as a safe destination; 980,577 people visited the country in 2008, up from 826,374 in 2007. The country's most popular tourist activity is the tracking of mountain gorillas, which takes place in Volcanoes National Park. Other attractions include Nyungwe Forest, home to chimpanzees, Ruwenzori colobus and other primates, the resorts of Lake Kivu, and Akagera, a small savanna reserve in the east of the country.

Media and communications



The largest radio and television stations are state-run. Most Rwandans have access to radio and Radio Rwanda
Radio Rwanda
Radio Rwanda is a radio station of the Rwandan Office of Information , a government information agency that also owns Rwandan Television ....

 is the main source of news throughout the country. Television access is limited mostly to urban areas. The press is tightly restricted and newspapers routinely self-censor to avoid government reprisals. Restrictions were increased in the run-up to the Rwandan presidential election of 2010, with two independent newspapers, Umuseso and Umuvugizi, being suspended for six months by the High Media Council.

Rwandatel
Rwandatel
Rwandatel is 80% Libyan owned Rwandan telecommunications company. It lost its license to provide mobile and 3G services on 4 April. According to the Rwanda regulator , the decision has nothing to do with the uprising in Libya. The telecommunications company of Rwanda...

 is the country's oldest telecommunications group, providing landline
Landline
A landline was originally an overland telegraph wire, as opposed to an undersea cable. Currently, landline refers to a telephone line which travels through a solid medium, either metal wire or optical fibre, as distinguished from a mobile cellular line, where transmission is via radio waves...

s to 23,000 subscribers, mostly government institutions, banks, Non Government Organisations and embassies. Private landline subscription levels are low. As of 2011, mobile phone penetration in the country is 35%, up 1% on the previous year. The leading provider is MTN, with around 2.5 million subscribers, followed by Tigo with 700,000. A third mobile phone service, run by Rwandatel, had its licence revoked in April 2011 by the industry regulator, following the company's failure to meet agreed investment commitments. Internet penetration is low but rising rapidly; in 2009 there were 4.5 internet users per 100 people, up from 2.1 in 2007. In 2011, a 2300 kilometres (1,429.2 mi) fibre optic telecommunications network was completed, intended to provide broadband services and facilitate electronic commerce. This network is connected to SEACOM, a submarine
Submarine communications cable
A submarine communications cable is a cable laid on the sea bed between land-based stations to carry telecommunication signals across stretches of ocean....

 fibre-optic cable connecting communication carriers in southern and eastern Africa. Within Rwanda the cables run along major roads, linking towns around the country. Mobile provider MTN also runs a wireless internet service accessible in most areas of Kigali via pre-paid subscription.

Infrastructure


The Rwandan government prioritised funding of water supply development during the 2000s, significantly increasing its share of the national budget. This funding, along with donor support, caused a rapid increase in access to safe water; in 2008, 73% of the population had access to safe water, up from about 55% in 2005. The country's water infrastructure consists urban and rural systems which deliver water to the public, mainly through standpipes in rural areas and private connections in urban areas. In areas not served by these systems, hand pumps and managed springs are used. Despite rainfall exceeding 100 centimetres (39.4 in) annually in many areas, little use is made of rainwater harvesting. Access to sanitation
Water supply and sanitation in Rwanda
Water supply and sanitation in Rwanda is characterized by a rapid increase in access over the past years in rural areas, aided by a clear government policy and significant donor support...

 remains low; the United Nations estimates that in 2006, 34% of urban and 20% of rural dwellers had access to improved sanitation
Improved sanitation
According to the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation by the World Health Organization and UNICEF the following are considered as "improved" sanitation:* connection to a public sewer* connection to a septic system* pour-flush latrine...

. Government policy measures to improve sanitation are limited, focusing only on urban areas. The majority of the population, both urban and rural, use public shared pit latrines for sanitation.

Rwanda's electricity supply was, until the early 2000s, generated almost entirely from hydroelectric sources; power stations on Lakes Burera and Ruhondo provided 90% of the country's electricity. A combination of below average rainfall and human activity, including the draining of the Rugezi wetlands for cultivation and grazing, caused the two lakes' water levels to fall from 1990 onwards; by 2004 levels were reduced by 50%, leading to a sharp drop in output from the power stations. This, coupled with increased demand as the economy grew, precipitated a shortfall in 2004 and widespread loadshedding. As an emergency measure, the government installed diesel generator
Diesel generator
A diesel generator is the combination of a diesel engine with an electrical generator to generate electrical energy....

s north of Kigali; by 2006 these were providing 56% of the country's electricity, but were very costly. The government enacted a number of measures to alleviate this problem, including rehabilitating the Rugezi wetlands, which supply water to Burera and Ruhondo and investing in a scheme to extract methane gas from Lake Kivu, expected to increase the country's power generation by a factor of twenty. Only 6% of the population had access to electricity in 2009.

The government has increased investment in the transport infrastructure of Rwanda
Transport in Rwanda
The transport system in Rwanda centres primarily around the road network, with paved roads between the capital, Kigali and most other major cities and towns in the country...

 since the 1994 Genocide, with aid from the United States, European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, Japan and others. The transport system centres primarily around the road network, with paved roads between Kigali and most other major cities and towns in the country. Rwanda is linked by road to other countries in East Africa, such as Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, as well as to the eastern Congolese cities of Goma
Goma
Goma is a city in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the northern shore of Lake Kivu, next to the Rwandan city of Gisenyi. The lake and the two cities are in the western branch of the Great Rift Valley, and Goma lies only 13 to 18 km due south of the crater of the active...

 and Bukavu
Bukavu
Bukavu is a city in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo , lying at the extreme south-eastern extent of Lake Kivu, west of Cyangugu in Rwanda, and separated from it by the outlet of the Ruzizi River. It is the capital of the Sud-Kivu province and as of 2009 it had an estimated population of...

; the country's most important trade route is the road to the port of Mombasa
Mombasa
Mombasa is the second-largest city in Kenya. Lying next to the Indian Ocean, it has a major port and an international airport. The city also serves as the centre of the coastal tourism industry....

 via Kampala
Kampala
Kampala is the largest city and capital of Uganda. The city is divided into five boroughs that oversee local planning: Kampala Central Division, Kawempe Division, Makindye Division, Nakawa Division and Lubaga Division. The city is coterminous with Kampala District.-History: of Buganda, had chosen...

 and Nairobi
Nairobi
Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya. The city and its surrounding area also forms the Nairobi County. The name "Nairobi" comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nyirobi, which translates to "the place of cool waters". However, it is popularly known as the "Green City in the Sun" and is...

. The principal form of public transport in the country is share taxi
Share taxi
A share taxi is a mode of transport that falls between taxis and conventional buses. These informal vehicles for hire are found throughout the world. They are smaller than buses, and usually take passengers on a fixed or semi-fixed route without timetables, usually leaving when all seats are filled...

. Express routes link the major cities and local service is offered to most villages along the main roads. Coach
Coach (vehicle)
A coach is a large motor vehicle, a type of bus, used for conveying passengers on excursions and on longer distance express coach scheduled transport between cities - or even between countries...

 services are available to various destinations in neighbouring countries. The country has an international airport
Kigali International Airport
Kigali International Airport , formerly known as Gregoire Kayibanda International Airport, but sometimes referred to as Kanombe International Airport, is the primary airport serving Kigali, the capital of Rwanda...

 at Kigali that serves one domestic and several international destinations. As of 2011 the country has no railways, although funding has been secured for a feasibility study into extending the Tanzanian Central Line
Central Line (Tanzania)
The Central Line is the most important railway line in Tanzania apart from TAZARA. It runs west from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika via Dodoma...

 into Rwanda. There is no public water transport between the port cities on Lake Kivu, although a limited private service exists.

Demographics




2010 estimates place Rwanda's population at 11,055,976. The population is young: an estimated 42.7% are under the age of 15, and 97.5% are under 65. The annual birth rate is estimated at 40.2 births per 1,000 inhabitants, and the death rate at 14.9. The life expectancy is 56.8 years (58.1 years for females and 55.4 years for males), which is the 33rd lowest out of 224 countries and territories. The sex ratio of the country is relatively even.

At 408 PD/km2, Rwanda's population density is amongst the highest in Africa. Historians such as Gérard Prunier
Gérard Prunier
Gérard Prunier is a French academic and historian specializing in the Horn of Africa and East Africa.Prunier received a PhD in African History in 1981 from the University of Paris. In 1984, he joined the CNRS scientific institution in Paris as a researcher. He later also became Director of the...

 believe that the 1994 genocide can be partly attributed to the population density. The population is predominantly rural, with a few large towns; dwellings are evenly spread throughout the country. The only sparsely populated area of the country is the savanna land in the former province of Umutara and Akagera National Park in the east. Kigali is the largest city, with a population of around one million. Its rapidly-increasing population challenges its infrastructural development. Other notable towns are Gitarama, Butare
Butare
Butare is a city in the Southern Province of Rwanda and capital of Huye district. It was the capital of the former Butare Province, Rwanda, that was dissolved on January 1, 2006....

, and Gisenyi
Gisenyi
Gisenyi is a city in Rubavu district in the Western Province of Rwanda. Gisenyi is contiguous with Goma, the city across the border in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The population of the city is about 106 000 .-Description:...

, all with populations below 100,000. Rural to urban migration
Urbanization
Urbanization, urbanisation or urban drift is the physical growth of urban areas as a result of global change. The United Nations projected that half of the world's population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008....

, which was very low before 1994, now stands at 4.2% per year.

Rwanda has been a unified state since pre-colonial times with only one ethnic group, the Banyarwanda
Banyarwanda
Banyarwanda actually means the people of Hutu, Tutsi and Batwah. Some lived on the present territory of the DRC before colonization, while others have migrated from neighboring Rwanda in waves. They live in the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo....

; this contrasts with most modern African states, whose borders were drawn by colonial powers
Colonisation of Africa
The colonisation of Africa has a long history, the most famous phase being the European Scramble for Africa during the late 19th and early 20th century.- Ancient colonialism :...

 and did not correspond to ethnic boundaries or pre-colonial kingdoms. Within the Banyarwanda people, there are three separate groups, the Hutus (84% of the population as of 2009), Tutsis (15%) and Twas (1%). Unlike the disparate ethnic groups of neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania, these three groups share a common culture and language and are classified as social groups rather than tribe
Tribe
A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

s. The Tutsis were traditionally the ruling class, from whom the Kings and the majority of chiefs were derived, while the Hutus were agriculturalists. The Twas are a pygmy people thought to descend from Rwanda's earliest inhabitants. The current government discourages the Hutu/Tutsi/Twa distinction, and has removed the classification from identity cards.


The majority of Rwandans are Catholic Christian, but there have been significant changes since the Genocide, with many conversions to Evangelical Christian faiths and Islam. As of 2006, Catholics represented 56.5 % of the population, Protestants 37.1 % (of whom 11.1 % were Seventh Day Adventists) and Muslims 4.6 %. 1.7 % claimed no religious beliefs. Traditional African religion, despite officially representing only 0.1 % of the population, retains an influence. Many Rwandans view the Christian God
God in Christianity
In Christianity, God is the eternal being that created and preserves the universe. God is believed by most Christians to be immanent , while others believe the plan of redemption show he will be immanent later...

 as synonymous with the traditional Rwandan God Imana
Imana
Imana, is the Creator deity in Banyarwanda mythology in Rwanda. In current-day usage, the term refers to the Christian God. Ancient Banyarwanda believed in one God, the creator "Imana"....

.

The country's principal language is Kinyarwanda, which is spoken by most Rwandans. The major European language introduced during colonialism
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

 was French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, since "Ruanda
Ruanda-Urundi
Ruanda-Urundi was a Belgian suzerainty from 1916 to 1924, a League of Nations Class B Mandate from 1924 to 1945 and then a United Nations trust territory until 1962, when it became the independent states of Rwanda and Burundi.- Overview :...

" was a part of the Belgian colonial empire
Belgian colonial empire
The Belgian colonial empire consisted of three colonies possessed by Belgium between 1901 and 1962: Belgian Congo , Rwanda and Burundi...

. The German language
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, introduced during the period of German colonisation
German East Africa
German East Africa was a German colony in East Africa, which included what are now :Burundi, :Rwanda and Tanganyika . Its area was , nearly three times the size of Germany today....

 did not survive very long though and its influence is limited to a few germanism
Germanism
Germanism can mean or be confused with any of the following:* German loan words and expressions in English* Pan-Germanism* Germanisation* Germanism...

s in the Kinyarwanda language. The influx of former refugees from Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

 and elsewhere during the late 20th century has created a linguistic divide between the English-speaking population and the French-speaking remainder of the country. Kinyarwanda, English and French are all official languages. Kinyarwanda is the language of government and English is the primary educational medium. Swahili
Swahili language
Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

, the lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

 of East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

 and a close relative to Kinyarwanda, is also widely spoken, particularly in rural areas.

Culture


The people of Rwanda form one ethnic group, the Banyarwanda, who have a shared language and cultural heritage dating back to the pre-colonial Kingdom of Rwanda. Eleven regular national holidays
Public holidays in Rwanda
This is a list of public holidays in Rwanda. Rwanda observes eleven regular public holidays throughout the year, with others occasionally inserted by the government. Additionally, the week following Genocide Memorial Day on 7 April is designated an official week of mourning...

 are observed throughout the year, with others occasionally inserted by the government. The week following Genocide Memorial Day on 7 April is designated an official week of mourning. The last Saturday of each month is umuganda, a national day of community service
Community service
Community service is donated service or activity that is performed by someone or a group of people for the benefit of the public or its institutions....

, during which most normal services close down.

Music and dance are an integral part of Rwandan ceremonies, festivals, social gatherings and storytelling. The most famous traditional dance is a highly-choreographed routine consisting of three components – the umushagiriro, or cow dance, performed by women; the Intore, or dance of heroes, performed by men; and the drumming, also traditionally performed by men, on drums known as Ingoma. The best known dance group is the National Ballet
National Ballet of Rwanda
The National Ballet of Rwanda is a Rwandan dance company. It was created in 1974 at the behest of President Juvenal Habyarimana. Their long-running show features traditional Rwandan songs, drums and dances. They regularly take part in dance festivals and perform abroad...

, established by President Habyarimana in 1974, which performs nationally and internationally. Traditionally, music is transmitted orally, with styles varying between the social groups. Drums are of great importance; the royal drummers enjoyed high status within the court of the King (Mwami). Drummers play together in groups of varying sizes, usually between seven and nine in number; the soprano drum leads, with others of various pitches providing back up. The country has a growing popular music industry, influenced by East African, Congolese and American music. The most popular genre is hip hop
Hip hop
Hip hop is a form of musical expression and artistic culture that originated in African-American and Latino communities during the 1970s in New York City, specifically the Bronx. DJ Afrika Bambaataa outlined the four pillars of hip hop culture: MCing, DJing, breaking and graffiti writing...

, with a blend of rap
Rap
Rap may refer to:*Rapping, performance in which rhyming lyrics are used, with or without musical accompaniment ; while an MC performs spoken verses in time to a beat/ melody**Hip hop subculture**Hip hop music...

, ragga
Ragga
-Origins:Ragga originated in Jamaica during the 1980s, at the same time that electronic dance music's popularity was increasing globally. One of the reasons for ragga's swift propagation is that it is generally easier and less expensive to produce than reggae performed on traditional musical...

, R&B and dance-pop
Dance-pop
Dance-pop is dance-oriented pop music that originated in the early 1980s. Developing from post-disco, it is generally up-tempo music intended for clubs with the intention of being danceable or merely dancey...

.

The cuisine of Rwanda is based on local staple food
Staple food
A staple food is one that is eaten regularly and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a diet, and that supplies a high proportion of energy and nutrient needs. Most people live on a diet based on one or more staples...

s produced by subsistence agriculture such as bananas, plantains (known as ibitoke), pulse
Pulse (legume)
A pulse is an annual leguminous crop yielding from one to twelve seeds of variable size, shape, and color within a pod. Pulses are used for food and animal feed. The term "pulse", as used by the Food and Agricultural Organization , is reserved for crops harvested solely for the dry seed...

s, sweet potato
Sweet potato
The sweet potato is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are an important root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. Of the approximately 50 genera and more than 1,000 species of...

es, beans, and cassava
Cassava
Cassava , also called yuca or manioc, a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae native to South America, is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates...

 (manioc). Many Rwandans do not eat meat more than a few times a month. For those who live near lakes and have access to fish, tilapia
Tilapia
Tilapia , is the common name for nearly a hundred species of cichlid fish from the tilapiine cichlid tribe. Tilapia inhabit a variety of fresh water habitats, including shallow streams, ponds, rivers and lakes. Historically, they have been of major importance in artisan fishing in Africa and the...

 is popular. The potato, thought to have been introduced to Rwanda by German and Belgian colonialists, is very popular. Ugali
Ugali
Ugali is an East African dish of maize flour cooked with water to a porridge- or dough-like consistency. It is the most common staple starch of much of Eastern and Southern Africa...

 (or bugali) is a paste made from cassava or maize and water to form a porridge
Porridge
Porridge is a dish made by boiling oats or other cereal meals in water, milk, or both. It is usually served hot in a bowl or dish...

-like consistency that is eaten throughout East Africa. Isombe is made from mashed cassava leaves and served with dried fish. Lunch is usually a buffet known as melange, consisting of the above staples and sometimes meat. Brochette
Brochette
In cooking, en brochette refers to food cooked, and sometimes served, on brochettes, or skewers. The French term generally applies to French cuisine, while other terms like shish kebab, satay, or souvlaki describe the same technique in other cuisines...

s are the most popular food when eating out in the evening, usually made from goat but sometimes tripe
Tripe
Tripe is a type of edible offal from the stomachs of various farm animals.-Beef tripe:...

, beef or fish. In rural areas, many bars have a brochette seller responsible for tending and slaughtering the goats, skewering and barbecuing
Barbecue
Barbecue or barbeque , used chiefly in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia is a method and apparatus for cooking meat, poultry and occasionally fish with the heat and hot smoke of a fire, smoking wood, or hot coals of...

 the meat, and serving it with grilled bananas. Milk, particularly in a fermented form called ikivuguto, is a common drink throughout the country. Other drinks include a traditional beer called urwagwa, made from sorghum or bananas, which features in traditional rituals and ceremonies. Commercial beers brewed in Rwanda include Primus, Mützig and Amstel
Amstel Brewery
Amstel Brewery is a Dutch brewery founded in 1870 on the Mauritskade in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It was taken over by Heineken International in 1968, and the brewing plant closed down in 1982, with production moving to the main Heineken plant at Zoeterwoude.-History:The brewery was founded on...

.
Traditional arts and crafts are produced throughout the country, although most originated as functional items rather than purely for decoration. Woven baskets and bowls are especially common. Imigongo
Imigongo
Imigongo is an art form popular in Rwanda that is produced using cow dung. It is a traditional Rwandan art form made by the women. Often in black & white, and red, popular themes include the spiral and geometric designs that are painted on walls, pottery, and canvass.During the 1994 Genocide the...

, a unique cow dung art, is produced in the south east of Rwanda, with a history dating back to when the region was part of the independent Gisaka kingdom. The dung is mixed with natural soils of various colours and painted into patterned ridges to form geometric shapes. Other crafts include pottery and wood carving. Traditional housing styles make use of locally-available materials; circular or rectangular mud homes with grass-thatched roofs are the most common. The government has a programme to replace these with more modern materials such as corrugated iron.

Rwanda does not have a long history of written literature, but there is a strong oral tradition ranging from poetry to folk stories. Many of the country's moral values and details of history have been passed down through the generations. The most famous Rwandan literary figure was Alexis Kagame
Alexis Kagame
Alexis Kagame was a Rwandan philosopher, linguist, historian, poet and Catholic priest. His main contributions were in the field of "ethnophilosophy" ....

 (1912–1981), who carried out and published research into oral traditions as well as writing his own poetry. A number of films have been produced about the Rwandan Genocide, including the Golden Globe-nominated Hotel Rwanda
Hotel Rwanda
Hotel Rwanda is a 2004 American drama film directed by Terry George. It was adapted from a screenplay written by both George and Keir Pearson. Based on real life events which took place in Rwanda during the spring of 1994, the film stars Don Cheadle as hotelier Paul Rusesabagina, who attempts to...

and Shooting Dogs
Shooting Dogs
Shooting Dogs, released in the United States as Beyond the Gates, is a 2005 film, directed by Michael Caton-Jones and starring John Hurt, Hugh Dancy and Claire-Hope Ashitey. It is based on the experiences of BBC news producer David Belton, who worked in Rwanda during the Rwandan Genocide...

, which was filmed in Rwanda, and featured survivors as cast members.

Education and health


The Rwandan government provides free education in state-run schools for nine years – six years in primary and three years following a common secondary programme. President Kagame announced during his 2010 re-election campaign that he plans to extend this free education to cover the final three secondary years. Many poorer children still fail to attend school due to the necessity of purchasing uniforms and books and commitments at home. There are many private schools across the country, some church-run, which follow the same syllabus but charge fees. A very small number offer international qualifications. From 1994 until 2009, secondary education was offered in either French or English; due to the country's increasing ties with the East African Community
East African Community
The East African Community is an intergovernmental organisation comprising the five east African countries Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. Pierre Nkurunziza, the President of the Republic of Burundi, is the current Chairman of the East African Community. The EAC was originally...

 and the Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically, it has sometimes been synonymous with "republic."More recently it has been used for fraternal associations of some sovereign nations...

, only the English syllabuses are now offered. The country has a number of higher establishments, with the National University of Rwanda
National University of Rwanda
The National University of Rwanda is the largest university in Rwanda. It is located at in the city of Butare and was established in 1963 by the government in cooperation with the Congregation of the Dominicans from the Province of Quebec.When it was established, the NUR had three divisions The...

 (UNR), Kigali Institute of Science and Technology
Kigali Institute of Science and Technology
The Kigali Institute of Science, Technology and Management in Kigali, Rwanda is the first technology-focused institution of higher education to be created by the Rwanda government.It was established in November, 1997...

 (KIST) and Kigali Institute of Education (KIE) being the most prominent. In 2009, the gross enrolment ratio
Gross enrolment ratio
- Definition :The Gross Enrollment Ratio or Gross Enrollment Index is a statistical measure used in the education sector and by the UN in its Education Index to determine the number of students enrolled in school at several different grade levels , and examine it to analyze the ratio of the...

 for tertiary education in Rwanda was 5%. The country's literacy
Literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

 rate, defined as those aged 15 or over who can read and write, was 71% in 2009, up from 38% in 1978 and 58% in 1991.

The quality of healthcare is generally low, with one in five children dying before their fifth birthday, often from malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

. There is a shortage of qualified medical professionals in the country, and some medicines are in short supply or unavailable. 87% have access to healthcare but there are only two doctors and two paramedics per 100,000 people. The government is seeking to improve the situation as part of the Vision 2020
Vision 2020 (Rwanda)
Vision 2020 is a Government development programme in Rwanda....

 development programme. In 2008, the government spent 9.7% of national expenditure on healthcare, compared with 3.2% in 1996. It also set up training institutes including the Kigali Health Institute (KHI) and started a social service scheme. Prevalence of some diseases is declining, including the elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus
Tetanus
Tetanus is a medical condition characterized by a prolonged contraction of skeletal muscle fibers. The primary symptoms are caused by tetanospasmin, a neurotoxin produced by the Gram-positive, rod-shaped, obligate anaerobic bacterium Clostridium tetani...

and a sharp reduction in malaria morbidity, mortality rate
Mortality rate
Mortality rate is a measure of the number of deaths in a population, scaled to the size of that population, per unit time...

 and specific lethality
Lethality
Lethality is a term designating the ability of a weapon to kill. Most often this term is used when referring to chemical weapons, biological weapons, or their chemical components. The use of this term denotes the ability of these weapons to kill, but also the possibility that they may not kill...

, but Rwanda's health profile remains dominated by communicable diseases. HIV/AIDS seroprevalence in the country is classified by the World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

as a generalized epidemic; an estimated 7.3% of urban dwellers and 2.2% of rural dwellers, aged between 15 and 49, are HIV positive.

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