|THE RWANDA COAT OF ARMS|
Location of Rwanda within the continent of Africa
Map of Rwanda
Rwanda Flag Description:The new Rwanda flag was officially adopted on October 25, 2001. It was designed by a local artist.
The green is symbolic of the country's prosperity, the yellow is symbolic of potential and real economic development, and the blue is symbolic of happiness and peace. The sun and its rays are said to represent enlightenment.
Official name Repubulika y’u Rwanda (Rwanda); République Rwandaise (French); Republic of Rwanda (English)
Form of government multiparty republic with two legislative houses (Senate ; Chamber of Deputies )
Head of state and government President: Paul Kagame, assisted by Prime Minister: Anastase Murekezi
Official languages Rwanda; French; English
Official religion none
Monetary unit Rwandan franc (RF)
Population (2013 est.) 10,777,000COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 10,185
Total area (sq km) 26,379
- Urban: (2011) 19.1%
- Rural: (2011) 80.9%
Life expectancy at birth
- Male: (2011) 56.6 years
- Female: (2011) 59.5 years
Literacy: percentage of population age 15 and over literate
- Male: (2010) 74.8%
- Female: (2010) 67.5%
GNI per capita (U.S.$) (2013) 620
In 1959, three years before independence from Belgium, 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 driven into exile in neighboring 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 a state-orchestrated genocide, in which Rwandans killed up to a million of their fellow citizens, including approximately three-quarters of the Tutsi population. The genocide ended later that same year when the predominantly Tutsi RPF, operating out of Uganda and northern Rwanda, defeated the national army and Hutu militias, and established an RPF-led government of national unity. Approximately 2 million Hutu refugees - many fearing Tutsi retribution - fled to neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and former Zaire. Since then, most of the refugees have returned to Rwanda, but several thousand remained in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, the former Zaire) and formed an extremist insurgency bent on retaking Rwanda, much as the RPF did in 1990. Rwanda held its first local elections in 1999 and its first post-genocide presidential and legislative elections in 2003. Rwanda in 2009 staged a joint military operation with the Congolese Army in DRC to rout out the Hutu extremist insurgency there, and Kigali and Kinshasa restored diplomatic relations. Rwanda also joined the Commonwealth in late 2009. In January 2013, Rwanda assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2013-14 term.
Geography of Rwanda
Rwanda is bounded to the north by Uganda, to the east by Tanzania, to the south by Burundi, and to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa) and Lake Kivu.
The landscape is reminiscent of a tropical Switzerland. Its dominant feature is a chain of mountains of rugged beauty that runs on a north-south axis and forms part of the Congo-Nile divide. From the volcanoes of the Virunga (Birunga) Mountains in the northwest—where the Karisimbi reaches 14,787 feet (4,507 metres)—the elevation drops to 4,000 feet (1,220 metres) in the swampy Kagera (Akagera) River valley in the east. The interior highlands consist of rolling hills and valleys, yielding to a low-lying depression west of the Congo-Nile divide along the shores of Lake Kivu.
Except for the Ruzizi, through which the waters of Lake Kivu empty into Lake Tanganyika, most of the country’s rivers are found on the eastern side of the Congo-Nile divide, with the Kagera, the major eastern river, forming much of the boundary between Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania.
The best soils, formed from volcanic lavas and alluvium, are found, respectively, in the northwest and along the lower portions of the larger river valleys. Elsewhere the largely metamorphic bedrock has produced soils of generally poor quality. The combination of steep slopes, abundant rainfall, deforestation, and intensive farming has set in motion a process of extreme soil erosion that requires a burdensome investment of time and energy to curtail.
Elevation accounts for Rwanda’s generally mild temperatures, which average 70 °F (21 °C) year-round at Kigali, for example, in the interior highlands. There are significant variations, however, between the region of the volcanoes in the northwest, where heavy rainfalls are accompanied by lower average temperatures, and the warmer and drier interior highlands. The average annual rainfall in the latter is about 45 inches (1,140 millimetres), which is concentrated in two rainy seasons (roughly February to May and October to December).
- Plant and animal life
Only a small percentage of the country is covered in natural forest vegetation. Reforestation programs have added eucalyptus trees to previously denuded hillsides and roadsides, though not on a scale sufficient to effectively counteract erosion. A lush Mediterranean-type vegetation covers the shores of Lake Kivu, which stands in stark contrast to the papyrus swamps of Rwanda’s eastern frontier and the dense bamboo forests of the Virunga Mountains to the north. There, among the volcanoes, lives Rwanda’s main tourist attraction: the mountain gorilla, protected in Parc National des Volcans (also known as Parc des Birugna). For sheer diversity of animal life, however, no other region can match the resources of the Akagera National Park. This picturesque park contains significant populations of buffalo, zebra, impala, and other range animals, as well as baboons, warthogs, lions, and hippopotamuses. Rare species, such as the giant pangolin (an anteater), are also part of Akagera’s diverse fauna.
Demography of Rwanda
- Ethnic groups
As in Burundi, the major ethnic groups in Rwanda are Hutu and Tutsi, respectively accounting for more than four-fifths and about one-seventh of the total population. The Twa, a hunter-gatherer group, constitute less than 1 percent of the population. Other minorities include a small group of Europeans (mostly missionaries, employees of relief and development programs, and entrepreneurs), a small number of Asian merchants, and Africans from Tanzania, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and elsewhere.
Social differences between the Hutu and Tutsi traditionally were profound, as shown by the system of patron-client ties (buhake, or “cattle contract”) through which the Tutsi, with a strong pastoralist tradition, gained social, economic, and political ascendancy over the Hutu, who were primarily agriculturalists. The formerly more distinct pastoral and agricultural systems have become well integrated, and nearly all farm households now engage simultaneously in crop and livestock production. During the Hutu revolution that began in late 1959, some 150,000 to 300,000 Tutsi were forced out of the country, which thus reduced the former ruling aristocracy to an even smaller minority. Since the end of the 1994 genocide, many Tutsi have returned to Rwanda to reclaim their heritage.
The country has three official languages: Rwanda (more properly, Kinyarwanda), English, and French. Rwanda, a Bantu language belonging to the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family, is spoken by virtually all Rwandans. It is closely related to Rundi, which is spoken in the neighbouring country of Burundi. English and French have traditionally been spoken by only a small fraction of the population, although English was designated the language of educational instruction in 2008. Swahili is widely spoken in the towns and is still the principal means of communication with Africans from neighbouring countries.
Nowhere in Africa has Christianity had a more decisive impact than in Rwanda. The Hutu revolution derived much of its egalitarian inspiration from the teachings of the European clergy, and Catholic seminaries served as recruiting grounds for Hutu leaders. More than two-fifths of the country’s population is Roman Catholic; about one-fourth is Protestant; and about one-fifth belongs to a Christian schismatic religious group. Muslims account for less than one-tenth of the population.
- Settlement patterns
Despite a high population density, the dominant pattern is one of extreme dispersal. More than three-fourths of the population is rural and lives in nuclear family compounds scattered on hillsides. Kigali, the capital, was only a hamlet at the time of independence but has grown to become the country’s largest city.
- Demographic trends
Rwanda’s rate of population increase is greater than that of the global average but similar to that of neighbouring countries. The birth rate, among the world’s highest, is comparable to that of other countries in the region; the death rate is well above the world average and slightly above the rates of neighbouring countries. Life expectancy, about 50 years, is below the world average but similar to the average for Africa. Rwanda’s population is young, with about two-fifths of the population under age 16 and another one-third under age 30.
Owing to regional insecurity, refugees from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have periodically sought refuge in Rwanda; conversely, Rwandans have fled to those two countries during times of conflict, such as the civil war that began in 1990 and the 1994 genocide. These conflicts have contributed to a new wave of demographic changes, including the exodus and repatriation of more than two million refugees, several hundred thousand orphans, and a vast number of single parent- or child-headed households.
Economy of Rwanda
- Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
The country’s economy is overwhelmingly agricultural, with the majority of the workforce engaged in agricultural pursuits. Broadly diversified cultivation is practiced throughout the country. Dry beans, sorghum, bananas, corn (maize), potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cassava (manioc) are the primary crops grown in Rwanda. While beans, sorghum, and corn are harvested seasonally at the onset of the two dry seasons, bananas, sweet potatoes, and cassava can be grown and harvested throughout the year. Bananas are grown principally for the production of banana wine, a highly popular local beverage consumed in all regions of the country. Some banana varieties are grown in smaller numbers for cooking or direct consumption. Not only are bananas essential as a food source in Rwanda, but, as a broad-leafed perennial crop, they play a vital role in combating soil erosion on steep slopes throughout the country. Arabica coffee (first introduced by European missionaries), tea, tobacco, and pyrethrum (a flower used to create the nonsynthetic pesticide pyrethrin) are the principal cash crops, with coffee constituting the prime export.
Farming is highly labour intensive: hoes and machetes are the main farm implements used, and animal traction is virtually nonexistent. Fertilizers and pesticides are used by a small fraction of farms. Commonly raised livestock include goats, cattle, sheep, and pigs. Livestock husbandry is integral to the farming system, but the progressive conversion of pasture into cropland caused a reduction in livestock production in the last decades of the 20th century, and a parallel decline occurred in the amount of manure available for improving soil fertility. Livestock numbers began increasing just prior to the turn of the century.
Most of what is left of the small amount of natural forest is found on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains in the northwest. Fishing is widespread in Lake Kivu as well as in the smaller lakes of the interior, most notably Lake Muhazi and Lake Mugesera.
- Resources and power
Rwanda’s primary mineral resources are tin (cassiterite) and tungsten (wolfram); other resources include tantalite, columbite, beryl, and gold. Methane gas from Lake Kivu is used as a nitrogen fertilizer and is also converted into compressed fuel for trucks. The Mukungwa hydroelectric power installation, the country’s major source of electricity, meets only a portion of the country’s energy needs, and much of the remainder must be imported from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Aside from small-scale mining operations and limited consumer manufactures (such as textiles, cement, paint, pharmaceuticals, soap, matches, furniture, beverages, and food products), for the most part industrial activities involve the processing of coffee, tea, and other agricultural commodities. Most of the country’s large industries are located in Kigali. More important to the economy, however, are myriad microenterprises that have emerged in response to local demand. These include the manufacture of roof tiles, brick, and timber for building construction; the production of handheld farm implements, baskets, and clothing; and the provision of specialized services such as masonry, carpentry, and metal works.
- Finance and trade
Rwanda is home to many financial institutions, including commercial and development banks. The National Bank of Rwanda is the central bank and issues the national currency, the Rwandan franc. The Rwanda Stock Exchange, located in Kigali, opened in 2008.
Rwanda’s primary exports are coffee, tea, pyrethrum extract, tin, tantalite, and gold. Imports include machinery and equipment, petroleum products, and foodstuffs. Important trading partners include Kenya, Germany, China, and Uganda. Some efforts have been made at promoting closer economic links between Rwanda and its neighbours through such organizations as the Economic Community of Great Lakes Countries, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and the East African Community. Since the return of numerous Tutsi from Uganda and elsewhere after the 1994 genocide, regional trade with East African partners, notably Uganda and Kenya, has grown rapidly.
Fluctuations in the prices of primary commodities, especially coffee and tea, and the years of civil strife that culminated in the 1994 genocide have had a catastrophic effect on Rwanda’s balance of trade. Although the country has shown consistent economic progress in the years following the genocide, the country still runs large annual trade deficits. Investment programs are almost entirely covered by external sources of financing.
The government has encouraged development of the tourism sector, which is centred on the country’s attractive landscapes and wildlife diversity. National parks continue to be the primary draw, particularly Parc National des Volcans, home to the rare mountain gorilla. Akagera National Park is also a popular tourist attraction because of the diverse array of wildlife found there.
- Labour and taxation
More than four-fifths of the labour force is engaged in agricultural activities. All workers, except for civil servants, have the right to form and to join unions. Less than one-third of the labour force is unionized.
Taxes in Rwanda include taxes on goods and services, an income tax, and import and export duties.
- Transportation and telecommunications
Rwanda claims one of the densest road networks on the continent, though less than one-fourth of it is paved. Publicly supported mass transit is concentrated in Kigali, but since the 1990s there has been a large influx of privately operated networks of minibus routes that connect Kigali with towns in all directions. Domestic transportation of farm commodities and other goods occurs largely by small-scale traders with individually owned pickup trucks. Rwanda relies heavily on its road network, as it has no railway system and its waterway ports are largely limited to the minor facilities at Gisenyi, Cyangugu, and Kibuye on Lake Kivu. There are several airports located in the country, including international airports at Kigali and Kamembe.
Rwanda’s landline telephone system is insufficient, and its use is generally limited to government and businesses. Mobile phone usage is much more prevalent and expanding rapidly. Internet use is growing as well, with Internet centres opening throughout the country.
Government and Society of Rwanda
After its military victory in July 1994, the Rwandan Patriotic Front organized a coalition government based on the 1993 Arusha accords and political declarations by the parties. The National Movement for Democracy and Development—Habyarimana's party that instigated and implemented the genocidal ideology—along with the CDR (another Hutu extremist party) were banned, with most of its leaders either arrested or in exile.
After the 1994 genocide, the Hutu people living in refugee camps were attacked by Tutsi forces.
A new constitution was adopted by referendum and promulgated in 2003. The first postwar presidential and legislative elections were held in August and September 2003, respectively. The RPF-led government has continued to promote reconciliation and unity among all Rwandans as enshrined in the new constitution that forbids any political activity or discrimination based on race, ethnicity, or religion.
By law, at least a third of the Parliament representation must be female. It is believed that women will not allow the mass killings of the past to be repeated. Rwanda topped a recently conducted global survey on the percentage of women in Parliament with as much as 49 percent female representation.
Prior to January 1, 2006, Rwanda was composed of twelve provinces, but these were abolished in full and redrawn as part of a program of decentralization and reorganization.
Rwanda is divided into five provinces and subdivided into thirty districts. The provinces are:
- North Province
- East Province
- South Province
- West Province
- Kigali Province
Rwanda's armed forces consist of mostly infantry and an air force. In 2002, there were a reported 15,000–20,000 troops stationed in the Congo. The paramilitary consists of national police and local defense forces.
Opposition forces may number around 15,000 in the Army for the Liberation of Rwanda, which consists of Hutu rebels. The civil war of 1994 weakened the government armed forces, which could not stop the Hutu–Tutsi tribal conflict.
Rwanda was granted United Nations membership on September 18, 1962. It is a member of the African Development Bank, G-77, and the African Union. It is also a signatory of the Law of the Sea and a member of the World Trade Organization.
In 1976, Rwanda joined Burundi and Zaire (now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo) in the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries, formed to develop the economic potential of the basin of lakes Kivu and Tanganyika. In 1977, Rwanda joined Burundi and Tanzania in forming an economic community for the management and development of the Kagera River basin. Uganda became a part of the community in 1980. Its headquarters are in Kigali. 
Culture Life of Rwanda
History of Rwanda
History to Independence
The Twa were the original inhabitants of Rwanda and were followed (c.A.D. 1000), and then outnumbered, by the Hutus. In the 14th or 15th cent., the Tutsis migrated into the area, gained dominance over the Hutus, and established several states. By the late 18th cent. a single Tutsi-ruled state occupied most of present-day Rwanda. It was headed by a mwami (king), who controlled regionally based vassals who were also Tutsi. They in turn dominated the Hutus, who, then as now, made up the vast majority of the population. Rwanda reached the height of its power under Mutara II (reigned early 19th cent.) and Kigeri IV (reigned 1853–95). Kigeri established a standing army, equipped with guns purchased from traders from the E African coast, and prohibited most foreigners from entering his kingdom.
Nonetheless, in 1890, Rwanda accepted German overrule without resistance and became part of German East Africa. A German administrative officer was assigned to Rwanda only in 1907, however, and the Germans had virtually no influence over the affairs of the country and initiated no economic development. During World War I, Belgian forces occupied (1916) Rwanda, and in 1919 it became part of the Belgian League of Nations mandate of Ruanda-Urundi (which in 1946 became a UN trust territory). Until the last years of Belgian rule the traditional social structure of Rwanda was not altered; considerable Christian missionary work, however, was undertaken.
In 1957 the Hutus issued a manifesto calling for a change in Rwanda's power structure that would give them a voice in the country's affairs commensurate with their numbers, and Hutu political parties were formed. In 1959, Mutara III died and was succeeded by Kigeri V. The Hutus contended that the new mwami had not been properly chosen, and fighting broke out between the Hutus and the Tutsis (who were aided by the Twa). The Hutus emerged victorious, and some 100,000 Tutsis, including Kigeri V, fled to neighboring countries. Hutu political parties won the election of 1960; Grégoire Kayibanda became interim prime minister. In early 1961 a republic was proclaimed, which was confirmed in a UN-supervised referendum later in the year. Belgium granted independence to Rwanda on July 1, 1962.
- Independence and Civil Strife
Kayibanda was elected as the first president under the constitution adopted in 1962 and was reelected in 1965 and 1969. In 1964, following an incursion from Burundi, which continued to be controlled by its Tutsi aristocracy, many Tutsis were killed in Rwanda, and numerous others left the country. In 1971–72, relations with Uganda were bitter after President Idi Amin of Uganda accused Rwanda of aiding groups trying to overthrow him. In early 1973 there was renewed fighting between Hutu and Tutsi groups, and some 600 Tutsis fled to Uganda.
On July 5, 1973, a military group toppled Kayibanda without violence and installed Maj. Gen. Juvénal Habyarimana, a moderate Hutu who was commander of the national guard. In 1978 a new constitution was ratified and Habyarimana was elected president. He was reelected in 1983 and 1988. In 1988 over 50,000 refugees fled into Rwanda from Burundi.
Two years later Rwanda was invaded from Uganda by forces of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), consisting mainly of Tutsi refugees. They were repulsed, but Habyarimana agreed to a new multiparty constitution, promulgated in 1991. In early 1993, after Habyarimana signed a power-sharing agreement, Hutu violence broke out in the capital; subsequently, RPF forces launched a major offensive, making substantial inroads. A new accord was signed in August, and a UN peacekeeping mission was established. However, when Habyarimana and Burundi's president were killed in a suspicious plane crash in Apr., 1994, civil strife erupted on a massive scale. Rwandan soldiers and Hutu gangs slaughtered an estimated 500,000–1 million people, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The RPF resumed fighting and won control of the country, but over 2 million Rwandans, nearly all Hutus, fled the country.
The RPF named Pasteur Bizimungu, a Hutu, as president, but there were reprisals against Hutus by elements of the Tutsi-dominated army, and real power lay with RPF leader Paul Kagame, who became vice president and defense minister. The Hutu refugees remained crowded into camps in the Congo (then called Zaïre) and other neighboring countries, where Hutu extremists held power and, despite relief efforts by the United Nations and other international organizations, disease claimed some 100,000 lives. In 1995, a UN-appointed tribunal, based in Tanzania, began indicting and trying a number of higher-ranking people for genocide in the Hutu-Tutsi atrocities; however, the whereabouts of many suspects were unknown. A number of former senior Rwandan government and military officials were convicted of organizing the genocide or having participated in it. Many more individuals were tried and convicted in Rwandan courts over the next two decades, with nearly 2 million suspects, most of whom were accused of looting and other property crimes, tried in semitraditional community courts. Over a million Hutu refugees flooded back into the country in 1996; by 1997, there was a growing war between the Rwandan army and Hutu guerrilla bands.
In 1998, Rwandan soldiers began aiding antigovernment rebels in the Congo who were attempting to overthrow the Congolese president, Laurent Kabila; Rwanda had helped Kabila overthrow Mobutu Sese Seko 18 months earlier. President Bizimungu resigned in Mar., 2000, accusing the parliament of using an anticorruption campaign to attack Hutu members of the government. Kagame officially succeeded Bizimungu as president in April, becoming the first Tutsi to be president of Rwanda.
Fighting in 1999 and 2000 between Rwandan and Ugandan forces in the Congo has led to tense relations between the two nations and occasional fighting between proxy forces in the Congo; each nation also accused the other of aiding rebels against its own rule. Rwandan troops were withdrawn from the Congo in 2002 as the result of the signing of a peace agreement, but Rwanda forces fighting Hutu rebels subsequently made incursions into the Congo and Burundi as well. (In 2010 a leaked UN report on the Congo civil war accused Rwanda's army and its Congolese allies of massacring civilian Rwandan and Congolese Hutus during the conflict.) Also in 2002, Bizimungu, who had become a critic of the government and established an opposition party, was arrested and charged with engaging in illegal political activity; he was convicted in 2004, but released in 2007 after being pardoned.
In May, 2003, votes approved a new constitution. In the subsequent presidential election in July, President Kagame faced three Hutu candidates, the most prominent of which was former prime minister Faustin Twagiramungu. The election, the first in which Rwandans could vote for an opposition candidate, was won by Kagame, with 95% of the vote, but some observers accused the government of voting irregularities, and the campaign was marred by continual government interference with opposition rallies. The RPF also won a majority of the elected seats in the Chamber of Deputies in September. The main Hutu rebel group, based in E Congo (Kinshasa), announced in Mar., 2005, that it would disarm and return peacefully to Rwanda, but the Rwandan government said that rebels who participated in the 1994 genocide would face trial when they returned.
In late 2006, a French judge investigating the crash that killed Habyarimana and provoked the genocide concluded that Kagame and a number of his aides should be tried for their roles in shooting down the plane; the judge was investigating the crash because of the deaths of the plane's French crew. The Rwandan government, which had accused extremist Hutus of assassinating Habyarimana and which also was investigating what it said was French complicity in the massacres that followed the crash, angrily denounced the judge's action and expelled the French ambassador. Ties between the two nations were fully reestablished only in late 2009.
In Aug., 2008, a Rwandan report was released that accused France and French leaders of playing a direct part in the genocide (France rejected the charges), and a Jan., 2010, report again blamed Hutu extremists in the government for the killing of Habyarimana. A new French investigation concluded in Jan., 2012, that the most likely perpetrators of the attack on Habyarimana were elite Rwandan presidential troops. In the Sept., 2008, legislative elections the RPF received more than 78% of the vote for the popularly elected seats.
Rwanda joined the Commonwealth of Nations in Nov., 2009, becoming only the second nation with no historic ties to Britain to join that body. In Feb., 2010, Human Rights Watch accused the government of intimidating the opposition in advance of the presidential election scheduled for August. Kagame won reelection with 93% of the vote, but the only candidates he faced were from parties in the governing coalition; opposition candidates were excluded from the campaign. In mid-2012 Rwanda's military was accused of aiding antigovernment rebels in Congo-Kinshasa, and a number of nations cut or suspended aid to Rwanda. The RPF won the Sept., 2013, legislative elections by a landslide (76%) nearly identical to that in 2008.
Rwanda Area: 26,338 sq km (10,169 sq mi) Population (2004 est.): 8,380,000 Capital: Kigali Head of state and government: President Maj. Gen. Paul Kagame, assisted by Prime Minister Bernard Makuza ...>>>Read On<<<
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