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Rwanda is a small landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of central Africa. It is bordered by Uganda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania. Its fertile and hilly terrain, which give it the title "Land of a Thousand Hills", supports one of the densest populations in Africa. It is best known to the outside world for the 1994 Rwandan Genocide that resulted in the deaths of up to one million people.



Prior to European colonization, Rwanda was the site of one of the region's most complex monarchical systems. The earliest known inhabitants of the region now known as Rwanda were the Pygmy and Twa. Later, groups known as Hutus and Tutsis also settled in the same region.

In 1895 Rwanda, like Burundi, became a German province. However at early stages the Germans were completely dependent on the original government. The German authority kept the indigenous administration system by applying the same type of indirect rule established by the British Empire in the next Ugandan kingdoms. After Germany's loss in World War I, the protectorate was taken over by Belgium with a League of Nations mandate. Belgian rule in the region was far more direct and far harsher than that of the Germans. Belgian colonizers, backed by Christian churches, mainly Catholics, used Tutsi high class over lower classes of Tutsis and Hutus, creating a wider social gap between social entities than had existed before. Belgian forced labour policies, stringent taxes, were mainly enforced by Tutsi high class, used as buffers against people anger, further polarising the Hutu-Tutsi situation. This situation, also, led a lot of young peasants to escape tax harassment and hunger by migrating toward neighboring countries. They mainly expatriated to Congo with the Belgian colonial monitoring in mining and agriculture sectors but also freely to Uganda in plantations, looking for work and incomes to pay taxes and to enjoy some well-off.

After World War II Rwanda became a UN trust territory with Belgium as the administrative authority. Through a series of processes, including several reforms, the assassination of King Mutara III Charles in 1959 and the fleeing of the last Nyiginya clan monarch, King Kigeri V, to Uganda, the Hutu gained more and more power and upon Rwanda's independence in 1962, the Hutu held virtually all power.

In 1990, the Tutsi-dominated Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) launched military attacks against the Hutu government ruling Rwanda from their base in Uganda. The military government of Juvénal Habyarimana responded with genocidal pogroms against Tutsis, whom it claimed were trying to re-enslave the Hutus. Fighting continued until 1992, when the government and the RPF signed a cease-fire agreement known as the Arusha accords in Arusha, Tanzania.

In 1994, President Habyarimana was assassinated [1] when his plane was shot down while landing in Kigali, and over the next three months, the military and militia groups killed approximately one million Tutsis and Hutu moderates in the Rwandan Genocide. The RPF launched final attacks, and occupied the northern, the east and the southern parts of the country by June in wide swift turning movement. The 4th July, the war ended as the RPF entered the capital Kigali and while French peacekeeper troops were occupying the south-west part of the country under Opération Turquoise.

Over 2 million Hutus fled the country after the war, fearing Tutsi retribution. Most have since returned, although some militias remain in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and have become involved in that country's civil war.


Main article: Politics of Rwanda

After its military victory in July 1994, the Rwandese Patriotic Front organized a coalition government similar to that established by President Juvénal Habyarimana in 1992. Called the Broad Based Government of National Unity, its fundamental law is based on a combination of the constitution, the 1993 Arusha accords, and political declarations by the parties. Habyarimana's National Movement for Democracy and Development was outlawed.

Political organizing was banned until 2003. The first post-war presidential and legislative elections were held in August and September 2003, respectively.


Map of Rwanda
Map of Rwanda

Rwanda is divided into 12 provinces:

  • Kibungo
  • Kibuye
  • Kigali Rural
  • Kigali City
  • Umutara
  • Ruhengeri


Main article: Geography of Rwanda

This small country is located near the center of Africa, a few degrees south of the Equator. It is separated from the Democratic Republic of the Congo by Lake Kivu and the Ruzizi River valley to the west; it is bounded on the north by Uganda, to the east by Tanzania, and to the south by Burundi. The capital, Kigali, is located in the centre of the country.

Rwanda's countryside is covered by grasslands and small farms extending over rolling hills, with areas of rugged mountains that extend southeast from a chain of volcanoes in the northwest. The divide between the Congo and Nile drainage systems extends from north to south through western Rwanda at an average elevation of almost 9,000 feet. On the western slopes of this ridgeline, the land slopes abruptly toward Lake Kivu and the Ruzizi River valley, and constitute part of the Great Rift Valley. The eastern slopes are more moderate, with rolling hills extending across central uplands at gradually reducing altitudes, to the plains, swamps, and lakes of the eastern border region. Therefore the country is also fondly known as "Land of a Thousand Hills" (Pays des mille collines).


Main article: Economy of Rwanda

Rwanda is a rural country with about 90% of the population engaged in (mainly subsistence) agriculture. It is the most densely populated country in Africa; is landlocked; and has few natural resources and minimal industry. Primary exports are coffee and tea.


Main article: Demographics of Rwanda

The population consists of three ethnic groups. The Hutus, who represent the main part of the population, mostly cultivators erainsing goats or sheep and few are ceramists like Twa. The Tutsis are a pastoral people dedicated to cattle and sheep raising. Until 1959, they formed the dominant caste under a feudal system based on cattleholding. The Twa are thought to be the remnants of the earliest settlers of the region. However, the whole population shares a genuine common Bantu culture. Rwanda's population density, even after the 1994 genocide, is among the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly every family in this country with few villages lives in a self-contained compound on a hillside. The urban concentrations are grouped around administrative centers.


Main article: Culture of Rwanda

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