A virtual guide to "the land of a thousand hills". Rwanda is a relatively small landlocked, hilly country in Central Africa, located south of the Equator and east of Lake Kivu, one of the African Great Lakes. It is bordered by Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, and Uganda.
The country covers an area of 26,338 km², compared it is about the size of Macedonia (Rep.), or slightly smaller than the US state of Maryland.
Rwanda has a population of 11.5 million People (2016; Rwanda's population density is among the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa). The capital and largest city are Kigali (est. pop. 1 million people). Spoken languages are Kinyarwanda (the official language of Rwanda), English and French, Swahili as the lingua franca in the African Great Lakes region.
In 1959, three years before independence, the majority ethnic group, the Hutus overthrew the ruling Tutsi king. Over the next several years thousands of Tutsis were killed, and some 150,000 were driven into exile in neighbouring countries.
The children of these exiles later formed a rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and began a civil war in 1990. The war, along with several political and economic upheavals, exacerbated ethnic tensions culminating in April 1994 in the genocide of roughly 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
Despite substantial international assistance and political reforms - including Rwanda's first local elections in March 1999 - the country continues to struggle to boost investment and agricultural output and to foster reconciliation. A series of massive population displacements, a nagging Hutu extremist insurgency, and Rwandan involvement in two wars over the past four years in the neighbouring DROC continue to hinder Rwanda's efforts.
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Republika y'u Rwanda
Short form: Rwanda
ISO Country Code: RW, RWA, .rw
Local Time = UTC +2h
Country Calling Code: +250
Capital City: Kigali (over 1 million people)
Other Cities: Gitarama, Butare, Ruhengeri, Gisenyi.
Independence: 1 July 1962 (from Belgium-administered UN trusteeship).
Constitution: 26 May 2003.
Location: Central Africa, south of the Equator at the Great Lakes region, east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Area: 26,338 km² (10,169 sq. mi.)
Terrain: From Grasslands and rolling hills to areas of rugged mountains that extend southeast from a chain of volcanoes in the northwest.
Highest point: Volcano Karisimbi 4,519 m.
Climate: Mild and temperate, with two rainy seasons (February to April, November to January).