Rwanda is a small landlocked country in central Africa. It covers 26,338 sq km (10,169 sq mi) and has a population of 11 million people. Despite its small size, it has one of the highest population densities in Africa. Its capital and biggest city is Kigali.

Rwanda is bordered by Uganda to the north,

Tanzania to the east, Burundi to the south and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Although landlocked, Rwanda has many lakes.

Reconstructed Nyanza Mwami Palace, Rwanda
Author: Amakuru (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

Rwanda is in the Central African Time Zone, which is two hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+2), with no observance of Daylight Saving Time. Its official currency is the Rwandan franc (RWF). Traffic is driven on the right here. The electricity is 220V/50Hz using European plug. The phone IDD code is +250.

In 2009, Rwanda had an estimated nominal GDP of $5.246 billion, equivalent to a per capita nominal GDP of $535. Its per capita GDP at purchasing power parity stood at $1,148. Since the genocide of 1994, which destroyed much of Rwanda’s infrastructure, the country has in the process been rebuilding itself. Its economy is still based on subsistence agriculture. A number of cash crops are being grown as well including coffee, tea, pyrethrum and bananas, among others.

Kigali, Rwanda
Author: SteveRwanda (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

Rwanda is also focusing on tourism as a foreign exchange earner. Despite the genocide of 1994, the country is building an image as a safe destination with the most popular activity being the tracking of mountain gorillas.

Human habitation of Rwanda goes back thousands of years into the Neolithic age. In more recent times, the land was inhabited by Pygmy hunter-gatherers. Between 700 BC and 1500 AD, another group of people, the Bantu tribe, began migrating into Rwanda. These became the Hutu and Tutsi people.

Rwanda was a colony of Germany frm 1884. It was united with Tanganyika to form German East Africa. German administration of Rwanda ended in World War I, when Belgian forces defeated the Germans and took over control. It was officially declated a mandate territory of Belgium in 1919.

Intore dance performed at Gasogi village, Rwanda
Author: configmanager (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

As early as the 1950’s there was already tension between the Tutsi and Hutu. No sooner had the country gained independence in 1962, it was plunged into political violence, with the Tutsis and Hutus repeatedly attacking and counter-attacking each other.

In April 1994, the shooting down of then plane carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi sparked off the Rwandan Genocide which claimed the lives of up to a million Tutsis and Hutus. Since then the country has been slowly healing itself. It included the re-drawing of local authority boundaries, replacing its flag, national anthem and constitution. As of now, Rwanda appears to be back on track for economic growth.

Visiting Rwanda

Visitors from the following country may visit Rwanda for up to 90 days without a visa:

Germany, Burundi, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Hong Kong, Mauritius, South Africa, Kenya, Britain, Sweden, and Singapore. Citizens of most European countries can apply for an 8-day single-entry visa upon arrival for $60.

Kigali receives regular flights from Brussels twice a week. You can also fly there from Johannesburg and Addis Ababa.

Major Cities in Rwanda

  1. Kigali – capital
  2. Butare
  3. Byumba
  4. Gisenyi
  5. Gitarama
  6. Kibungo
  7. Kibuye
  8. Ruhengeri

Places of Interest in Rwanda

  1. Akagera National Park
  2. Nyungwe national Park
  3. Volcanoes national Park

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