Rwanda (/ruËËÉ'ËndÉ/ or /ruËËÃ¦ndÉ/), officially the Republic of Rwanda (Kinyarwanda: Repubulika y'u Rwanda; French: RÃ©publique du Rwanda), is a sovereign state in central and east Africa. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rwanda is in the African Great Lakes region and is highly elevated; its geography dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country. The climate of the country is temperate to subtropical, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons each year.
The population is young and predominantly rural, with a density among the highest in Africa. Rwandans are composed of three ethnic groups: the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. The Twa are a forest-dwelling pygmy people descended from Rwanda's earliest inhabitants. Scholars disagree on the origins of and differences between the Hutu and Tutsi; some believe differences are derived from former social castes, while others view them as being ethnicities or tribes. Christianity is the largest religion in the country; the principal language is Kinyarwanda, spoken by most Rwandans, with French and English serving as official languages. Rwanda has a presidential system of government. The president is Paul Kagame of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), who took office in 2000. Rwanda today has low corruption compared with neighbouring countries, although human rights organisations report suppression of opposition groups, intimidation and restrictions on freedom of speech. The country has been governed by a strict administrative hierarchy since precolonial times; there are five provinces delineated by borders drawn in 2006. Rwanda has the world's highest proportion of females in government positions in proportion to the population.
Hunter gatherers settled the territory in the stone and iron ages, followed later by Bantu peoples. 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 colonised Rwanda in 1884 as part of German East Africa, followed by Belgium, which invaded in 1916 during World War I. Both European nations ruled through the kings and perpetuated a pro-Tutsi policy. The Hutu population revolted in 1959. They massacred numerous Tutsi and ultimately established an independent, Hutu-dominated state in 1962. The Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front launched a civil war in 1990. Social tensions erupted in the 1994 genocide, 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 Rwandan Genocide, but has since strengthened. The economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture. Coffee and tea are the major cash crops for export. Tourism is a fast-growing sector and is now the country's leading foreign exchange earner. Rwanda is one of only two countries in which mountain gorillas can be visited safely, and visitors are prepared to pay high prices for gorilla tracking permits. 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, a unique cow dung art.
Modern human settlement of what is now Rwanda dates from, at the latest, the last glacial period, either in the Neolithic period around 8000 BC, 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, followed by a larger population of early Iron Age settlers, who produced dimpled pottery and iron tools. These early inhabitants were the ancestors of the Twa, aboriginal pygmy hunter-gatherers who remain in Rwanda today. Between 700 BC and 1500 AD, a number of Bantu groups migrated into Rwanda, clearing forest land for agriculture. The forest-dwelling Twa lost much of their habitat and moved to the mountain slopes. Historians have several theories regarding the nature of the Bantu migrations; one theory is that the first settlers were Hutu, while the Tutsi migrated later to form 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, with around twenty in the area that is now Rwanda. The clans were not limited to genealogical lineages or geographical area, and most included Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa. From the 15th century, the clans began to coalesce into kingdoms; by 1700 around eight kingdoms existed in present-day Rwanda. One of these, the Kingdom of Rwanda, ruled by the Tutsi Nyiginya clan, became increasingly dominant from the mid-eighteenth century. The kingdom reached its greatest extent during the nineteenth century under the reign of King Kigeli Rwabugiri. Rwabugiri conquered several smaller states, expanded the kingdom west and north, and initiated administrative reforms; these included ubuhake, in which Tutsi patrons ceded cattle, and therefore privileged status, to Hutu or Tutsi clients in exchange for economic and personal service, and uburetwa, a corvÃ©e system in which Hutu were forced to work for Tutsi chiefs. Rwabugiri's changes caused a rift to grow between the Hutu and Tutsi populations. The Twa 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 as part of German East Africa, marking the beginning of the colonial era. The explorer Gustav Adolf von GÃ¶tzen was the first European to significantly explore the country in 1894; he crossed from the south-east to Lake Kivu and met the king. The Germans did not significantly alter the social structure of the country, but exerted influence by supporting the king and the existing hierarchy and delegating power to local chiefs. Belgian forces took control of Rwanda and Burundi during World War I, beginning a period of more direct colonial rule. Belgium simplified and centralised the power structure, and introduced large-scale projects in education, health, public works, and agricultural supervision, including new crops and improved agricultural techniques to try to reduce the incidence of famine. Both the Germans and the Belgians promoted Tutsi supremacy, considering the Hutu and Tutsi different races. In 1935, Belgium introduced identity cards labelling each individual as either Tutsi, Hutu, Twa or Naturalised. While it had previously been possible for particularly wealthy Hutu to become honorary Tutsi, the identity cards prevented any further movement between the classes.
Belgium continued to rule Rwanda as a UN Trust Territory after World War II, with a mandate to oversee independence. Tension escalated between the Tutsi, who favoured early independence, and the Hutu emancipation movement, culminating in the 1959 Rwandan Revolution: Hutu activists began killing Tutsi, forcing more than 100,000 to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. In 1961, the now pro-Hutu Belgians held a referendum in which the country voted to abolish the monarchy. Rwanda was separated from Burundi and gained independence in 1962. Cycles of violence followed, with exiled Tutsi attacking from neighbouring countries and the Hutu retaliating with large-scale slaughter and repression of the Tutsi. In 1973, JuvÃ©nal Habyarimana took power in a military coup. Pro-Hutu discrimination continued, but there was greater economic prosperity and a reduced amount of violence against Tutsi. The Twa 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 1.6Â million people in 1934 to 7.1Â million in 1989, leading to competition for land.
In 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a rebel group composed mostly of Tutsi refugees, invaded northern Rwanda, initiating the Rwandan Civil War. Neither side was able to gain a decisive advantage in the war, but by 1992 it had weakened Habyarimana's authority; mass demonstrations forced him into a coalition with the domestic opposition and eventually to sign the 1993 Arusha Accords with the RPF. The cease-fire ended on 6 April 1994 when Habyarimana's plane was shot down near Kigali Airport, killing him. The shooting down of the plane served as the catalyst for the Rwandan Genocide, which began within a few hours. Over the course of approximately 100 days, between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu were killed in well-planned attacks on the orders of the interim government. Many Twa were also killed, despite not being directly targeted. The Tutsi RPF restarted their offensive, and took control of the country methodically, gaining control of the whole country by mid-July. The international response to the Genocide was limited, with major powers reluctant to strengthen the already overstretched UN peacekeeping force. When the RPF took over, approximately two million Hutu fled to neighbouring countries, in particular Zaire, fearing reprisals; additionally, the RPF-led army was a key belligerent in the First and Second Congo Wars. Within Rwanda, a period of reconciliation and justice began, with the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the reintroduction of Gacaca, a traditional village court system. During the 2000s Rwanda's economy, tourist numbers and Human Development Index grew rapidly; between 2006 and 2011 the poverty rate reduced from 57% to 45%, and child mortality rates dropped from 180 per 1000 live births in 2000 to 111 per 1000 in 2009.
Politics and government
The President of Rwanda is the head of state, and has broad powers including creating policy in conjunction with the Cabinet, exercising the prerogative of mercy, commanding the armed forces, negotiating and ratifying treaties, signing presidential orders, and declaring war or a state of emergency. The President is elected by popular vote every seven years, and appoints the Prime Minister and all other members of Cabinet. The incumbent President is Paul Kagame, who took office upon the resignation of his predecessor, Pasteur Bizimungu, in 2000. Kagame subsequently won elections in 2003 and 2010, although human rights organisations have criticised these elections as being "marked by increasing political repression and a crackdown on free speech".
The current constitution was adopted following a national referendum in 2003, replacing the transitional constitution which had been in place since 1994. The constitution mandates a multi-party system of government, with politics based on democracy and elections. However, the constitution places conditions on how political parties may operate. Article 54 states that "political organizations are prohibited from basing themselves on race, ethnic group, tribe, clan, region, sex, religion or any other division which may give rise to discrimination". The government has also enacted laws criminalising genocide ideology, which can include intimidation, defamatory speeches, genocide denial and mocking of victims. According to Human Rights Watch, these laws effectively make Rwanda a one-party state, as "under the guise of preventing another genocide, the government displays a marked intolerance of the most basic forms of dissent". Amnesty International is also critical; in its 2010 report Amnesty said that genocide ideology laws have been used to "silence dissent, including criticisms of the ruling RPF party and demands for justice for RPF war crimes". On the other hand, the motives of organizations like Human Rights Watch are themselves the subject of criticism.
The Parliament 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, 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 under a proportional representation system. Following the 2008 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, 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 and Belgian 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 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, such as the politically motivated appointment of judges, misuse of prosecutorial power, and pressure on judges to make particular decisions. The constitution provides for two types of courts: 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 relative to most other African countries; in 2010, Transparency International ranked Rwanda as the eighth cleanest out of 47 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and 66th cleanest out of 178 in the world. The constitution provides for an Ombudsman, 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; those who do not comply are suspended from office.
The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) has been the dominant political party 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, including Amnesty International and Freedom House, 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 United Nations, African Union, Francophonie, East African Community, and the Commonwealth of Nations. For many years during the Habyarimana regime, the country maintained close ties with France, as well as Belgium, the former colonial power. Under the RPF government, however, Rwanda has sought closer ties with neighbouring countries in the East African Community and with the English-speaking world. Diplomatic relations with France were suspended between 2006 and 2010 following the indictment of Rwandan officials by a French judge. Relations with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) were tense following Rwanda's involvement in the First and Second Congo Wars; the Congolese army alleged Rwandan attacks on their troops, while Rwanda blamed the Congolese government for failing to suppress Hutu rebels in North and South Kivu provinces. Rwanda's relationship with Uganda was also tense for much of the 2000s following a 1999 clash between the two countries' armies as they backed opposing rebel groups in the Second Congo War. As of 2012, relations with both Uganda and the DRC are improved.
The Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) is the national army of Rwanda. Largely composed of former Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) soldiers, it includes the Rwanda Land Force, Rwanda Air Force and specialised units. After the successful conquest of the country in 1994 in the aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide, the Rwandan Patriotic Front decided to split the RPF into a political division (which retained the RPF name) and the RDF, a military division which was to serve as the official army of the Rwandan state. Defence spending continues to represent an important share of the national budget, largely due to continuing security problems along the frontiers with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi, and lingering concerns about Uganda's intentions towards its former ally. During the First and Second Congo War, the RPF committed wide scale human rights violations and crimes against humanity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according the United Nations Mapping Report.
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 (intara), districts (uturere), cities, municipalities, towns, sectors (imirenge), cells (utugari), and villages (imidugudu); the larger divisions, and their borders, are 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 Decentralisation 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 and villages are the smallest political units, 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 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 twelve provinces associated with the largest cities was replaced with five provinces based primarily on geography. These are Northern Province, Southern Province, Eastern Province, Western Province, and the Municipality of Kigali in the centre.
At 26,338 square kilometres (10,169Â sqÂ mi), Rwanda is the world's 149th-largest country. It is comparable in size to Burundi, Haiti and Albania. The entire country is at a high altitude: the lowest point is the Rusizi River at 950 metres (3,117Â ft) above sea level. Rwanda is located in Central/Eastern Africa, and is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, and Burundi to the south. It lies a few degrees south of the equator and is landlocked. The capital, Kigali, is located near the centre of Rwanda.
The watershed between the major Congo and Nile drainage basins 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 Rusizi River and Lake Tanganyika. The country's longest river is the Nyabarongo, which rises in the south-west, flows north, east, and southeast before merging with the Ruvubu and formed the Kagera; the Kagera then flows due north along the eastern border with Tanzania. The Nyabarongo-Kagera eventually drains into Lake Victoria, and its source in Nyungwe Forest is a contender for the as-yet undetermined overall source of the Nile. Rwanda has many lakes, the largest being Lake Kivu. This lake occupies the floor of the Albertine Rift along most of the length of Rwanda's western border, and with a maximum depth of 480 metres (1,575Â ft), it is one of the twenty deepest lakes in the world. Other sizeable lakes include Burera, Ruhondo, Muhazi, Rweru, and Ihema, the last being the largest of a string of lakes in the eastern plains of Akagera National Park.
Mountains dominate central and western Rwanda. They are part of the Albertine Rift Mountains that flank the Albertine branch of the East African Rift, which runs from north to south along Rwanda's western border. The highest peaks are found in the Virunga volcano chain in the northwest; this includes Mount Karisimbi, Rwanda's highest point, at 4,507 metres (14,787Â ft). This western section of the country lies within the Albertine Rift montane forests ecoregion. It has an elevation of 1,500 to 2,500 metres (4,921 to 8,202Â ft). The centre of the country is predominantly rolling hills, while the eastern border region consists of savanna, plains and swamps.
Rwanda has a temperate tropical highland climate, with lower temperatures than are typical for equatorial countries because of its high elevation. Kigali, in the centre of the country, has a typical daily temperature range between 12 and 27Â Â°C (54 and 81Â Â°F), with little variation through the year. There are some temperature variations across the country; the mountainous west and north are 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.Climate change has caused a change in the pattern of the rainy seasons. According to a report by the Strategic foresight Group, "at times, the total number of annual rainy days is reduced with short periods of more intense rainfall. Other times, frequent torrential rainfall on a daily basis exceeds the total monthly quantity. Also, there are times when there is a late onset of rainfall or an early cessation of the same."
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 dominating the rest of the country. Nyungwe, the largest remaining tract of forest, contains 200 species of tree as well as orchids and begonias. Vegetation in the Volcanoes National Park is mostly bamboo and moorland, with small areas of forest. By contrast, Akagera has a savanna ecosystem in which acacia dominates the flora. There are several rare or endangered plant species in Akagera, including Markhamia lutea and Eulophia guineensis.
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 population. Nyungwe Forest boasts thirteen primate species including chimpanzees and Ruwenzori colobus arboreal monkeys; the Ruwenzori colobus move in groups of up to 400 individuals, the largest troop size of any primate in Africa. Rwanda's population of lions was destroyed in the aftermath of the genocide of 1994, as national parks were turned into camps for displaced people and remaining animals were poisoned by cattle herders. In June 2015, two South African parks donated seven lions to Akagera National Park, reestablishing a lion population in Rwanda.
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 and handsome francolin. Eastern Rwanda, by contrast, features savanna birds such as the black-headed gonolek and those associated with swamps and lakes, including storks and cranes.
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) estimated at $1,592 in 2013, 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 and the currency is the Rwandan franc; 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 2015. In addition, the Rwandan economy was ranked second in the world in terms of green investment facilitation according to the 2014 Global Green Economy Index.
Rwanda is a country of few natural resources, and the economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture by local farmers using simple tools. An estimated 90% of the working population farms, and agriculture constituted 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, bananas, beans, sorghum 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. Shortages of land and water, insufficient and poor-quality feed, and regular disease epidemics with insufficient veterinary services 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$93Â million in 2008. Minerals mined include cassiterite, wolframite, gold, and coltan, 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 is one of the fastest-growing economic resources and became the country's leading foreign exchange earner in 2011. In spite of the genocide's legacy, the country is increasingly perceived internationally as a safe destination; The Directorate of Immigration and Emigration recorded 405,801 people visiting the country between January and June 2011; 16% of these arrived from outside Africa. Revenue from tourism was US$115.6Â million between January and June 2011; holidaymakers contributed 43% of this revenue, despite being only 9% of the numbers. Rwanda is one of only two countries in which mountain gorillas can be visited safely; gorilla tracking, in the Volcanoes National Park, attracts thousands of visitors per year, who are prepared to pay high prices for permits. 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 is the main source of news throughout the country. Television access is limited mostly to urban areas. Some say the press is tightly restricted and newspapers routinely self-censor to avoid government reprisals. Nonetheless, publications in Kinyarwanda, English, and French critical of the government are widely available in Kigali. 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 is the country's oldest telecommunications group, providing landlines to 23,000 subscribers, mostly government institutions, banks, NGOs and embassies. Private landline subscription levels are low. As of 2013, mobile phone penetration in the country is 57%, up from 35% in 2011. The leading provider is MTN, with around 2.5Â million subscribers, followed by Tigo with 700,000. A third mobile phone service, run by Bharti Airtel, launched in March 2012. Rwandatel also operated a mobile phone network, but the industry regulator revoked its licence in April 2011, following the company's failure to meet agreed investment commitments. Internet penetration is low but rising rapidly; in 2010 there were 7.7 internet users per 100 people, up from 2.1 in 2007. In 2011, a 2,300 kilometres (1,400Â mi) fibre-optic telecommunications network was completed, intended to provide broadband services and facilitate electronic commerce. This network is connected to SEACOM, a submarine 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.
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 of 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 (39Â in) annually in many areas, little use is made of rainwater harvesting. Access to sanitation remains low; the United Nations estimates that in 2006, 34% of urban and 20% of rural dwellers had access to improved sanitation. 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 generators 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 in its first phase to increase the country's power generation by 40%. Only 6% of the population had access to electricity in 2009.
The government has increased investment in the transport infrastructure of Rwanda since the 1994 Genocide, with aid from the United States, European Union, Japan, and others. The transport system consists primarily of 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 the East African Community, such as Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Kenya, as well as to the eastern Congolese cities of Goma and Bukavu; the country's most important trade route is the road to the port of Mombasa via Kampala and Nairobi. The principal form of public transport in the country is the shared taxi. Express routes link the major cities and local service is offered to most villages along the main roads. Coach services are available to various destinations in neighbouring countries. The country has an international airport 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 into Rwanda. There is no public water transport between the port cities on Lake Kivu, although a limited private service exists and the government has initiated a programme to encourage development of a full service.
In 2012, estimates place Rwanda's population at 11,689,696. 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 58.02Â years (59.52Â years for females and 56.57Â years for males), which is the 30th lowest out of 221 countries and territories. The sex ratio of the country is relatively even.
At 408 inhabitants per square kilometre (1,060/sqÂ mi), Rwanda's population density is amongst the highest in Africa. Historians such as GÃ©rard Prunier 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, and Gisenyi, all with populations below 100,000. The urban population rose from 6% of the population in 1990, to 16.6% in 2006; by 2011, however, the proportion had dropped slightly, to 14.8%.
Rwanda has been a unified state since pre-colonial times, and the population is drawn from just one ethnic and linguistic group, the Banyarwanda; this contrasts with most modern African states, whose borders were drawn by colonial powers and did not correspond to ethnic boundaries or pre-colonial kingdoms. Within the Banyarwanda people, there are three separate groups, the Hutu (84% of the population as of 2009), Tutsi (15%) and Twa (1%). The Twa are a pygmy people who descend from Rwanda's earliest inhabitants, but scholars do not agree on the origins of and differences between the Hutu and Tutsi. Anthropologist Jean Hiernaux contends that the Tutsi are a separate race, with a tendency towards "long and narrow heads, faces and noses"; others, such as Villia Jefremovas, believe there is no discernible physical difference and the categories were not historically rigid. In precolonial Rwanda the Tutsi were the ruling class, from whom the Kings and the majority of chiefs were derived, while the Hutu were agriculturalists. The current government discourages the Hutu/Tutsi/Twa distinction, and has removed such classification from identity cards.
The majority of Rwandans are Catholic, but there have been significant changes in the nation's religious demographics since the Genocide, with many conversions to Evangelical Christian faiths and Islam. As of the 2002 Census, 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 religion, despite officially being followed by only 0.1% of the population, retains an influence. Many Rwandans view the Christian God as synonymous with the traditional Rwandan God Imana.
The country's principal language is Kinyarwanda, which is spoken by most Rwandans. The major European languages during the colonial era were German, and then French, which was introduced by Belgium and remained an official and widely spoken language after independence. The influx of former refugees from Uganda 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, the lingua franca of the African Great Lakes, is also widely spoken, particularly in rural areas. Additionally, inhabitants of Rwanda's Nkombo Island speak Amashi, a language closely related to Kinyarwanda.
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. It was established by President Habyarimana in 1974, and 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 country has a growing popular music industry, influenced by African Great Lakes, Congolese, and American music. The most popular genre is hip hop, with a blend of rap, ragga, R&B and dance-pop.
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, a unique cow dung art, is produced in the southeast 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 (known as nyakatsi) are the most common. The government has initiated 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 (1912â"1981), who carried out and published research into oral traditions as well as writing his own poetry. The Rwandan Genocide resulted in the emergence a literature of witness accounts, essays and fiction by a new generation of writers such as Benjamin Sehene. A number of films have been produced about the Rwandan Genocide, including the Golden Globe-nominated Hotel Rwanda, Shake Hands with the Devil, Sometimes in April, and Shooting Dogs, the last two having been filmed in Rwanda and having featured survivors as cast members.
Eleven regular national holidays 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 victory for the RPF over the Hutu extremists is celebrated as Liberation Day on 4 July. The last Saturday of each month is umuganda, a national day of community service, during which most normal services close down from 07:00 until 12:00.
The cuisine of Rwanda is based on local staple foods produced by subsistence agriculture such as bananas, plantains (known as ibitoke), pulses, sweet potatoes, beans, and cassava (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 is popular. The potato, thought to have been introduced to Rwanda by German and Belgian colonialists, is very popular. Ubugari (or umutsima) is a paste made from cassava or maize and water to form a porridge-like consistency that is eaten throughout the African Great Lakes. Isombe is made from mashed cassava leaves and served with dried fish. Lunch is usually a buffet known as mÃ©lange, consisting of the above staples and sometimes meat. Brochettes are the most popular food when eating out in the evening, usually made from goat but sometimes tripe, beef, or fish. In rural areas, many bars have a brochette seller responsible for tending and slaughtering the goats, skewering and barbecuing the meat, and serving it with grilled bananas. Milk, particularly in a fermented yoghurt 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, MÃ¼tzig, and Amstel.
According to research published by the University of the Western Cape's Interdisciplinary Centre of Excellence for Sport Science and Development, the most popular sports in Rwanda are association football, volleyball, basketball, athletics and Paralympic sports. The Rwandan government's Sports Development Policy of October 2012 argues that sport has a number of benefits, including bringing people together, improving national pride and unity, and improving health. The policy identifies challenges to the development of sport in the country, including limited infrastructure and financial capacity. It sets the "inspirational target" that, by 2020, Rwanda should have "a higher percentage of population playing sport than in any other African nation" and be ranked amongst the top three African countries in basketball, volleyball, cycling, athletics and Paralympic sports, and the top ten in football. It also aims to "foster increased participation of people in traditional sports".
Rwanda's first appearance at the Olympic Games was in 1984, and its first appearance at the Paralympic Games in 2004. The country sent seven competitors to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, representing it in athletics, swimming, mountain biking and judo, and 15 competitors to the London Summer Paralympics to compete in athletics, powerlifting and sitting volleyball. Rwanda competed in the Commonwealth Games for the first time at the 2010 Games in Delhi, India, after joining the Commonwealth the year before. Rwandan competitors took part in athletics, boxing, road cycling and swimming. Rwanda sent athletes to the 2014 Games to compete in athletics, boxing, cycling, swimming and weightlifting. Rwanda's team at the 2014 African Youth Games had the highest proportion of female athletes (29 out of a total of 49 athletes) of any participating country.
Rwanda's basketball federation has been a member of the International Basketball Federation since 1977. Prior to 2000, the Rwanda national basketball team was little known outside the country, but since the mid-2000s has grown in prominence on the African stage. The men's team have qualified for the final stages of the African Basketball Championship four times in a row since 2007. The country bid to host the 2013 African Basketball Championship, but the right to host the tournament was awarded to Ivory Coast instead.
Association football in Rwanda is governed by the FÃ©dÃ©ration Rwandaise de Football Association (FERWAFA), which was established in 1972 and admitted to FIFA in 1978. FERWAFA is also affiliated to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA). Its national team made its African Cup of Nations debut in the 2004 edition of the tournament. A Rwanda B team won the CECAFA Cup in 1999, when the country hosted the tournament. The CECAFA Club Cup has been known as the Kagame Interclub Cup since 2002, when Rwandan President Kagame started to sponsor the competition. The national team is yet to qualify for the World Cup. Rwanda's highest domestic football competition is the Rwanda National Football League.
Cricket has been described as one of the fastest growing sports in Rwanda. The sport started to gain popularity in the country as refugees returned from Kenya, where they had learned to play the game. The Rwanda Cricket Association (RCA) was established in 1999 and recognised by the International Cricket Council in 2003. Development of the sport in the country has been supported by the UK-based charity Cricket Without Boundaries, which aims to improve HIV/AIDS awareness through the game, and by the Marylebone Cricket Club Foundation. The latter is backing a project to construct a national cricket field on the outskirts of Kigali. Rwanda's membership of the Commonwealth has been credited with helping popularise cricket in the country, with both men and women playing it in orphanages, schools, universities and cricket clubs.
Cycling has traditionally been seen largely as a mode of transport in Rwanda, but in recent times there has been a growth in cycle sport in the country. Mountain biker and road cyclist Adrien Niyonshuti became the first Rwandan to sign a professional contract with an international cycling team, joining MTN Qhubeka in 2009. A national cycling team, Team Rwanda, was established in 2007 by Americans Jock Boyer, a former professional cyclist, and Tom Ritchey, a bicycle entrepreneur. Team Rwanda have been the subject of a book, Land of Second Chances: The Impossible Rise of Rwanda's Cycling Team and a film, Rising from Ashes. The Tour of Rwanda was first held in 1988. Prior to 2009, it was contested mainly by local riders and cyclists from neighbouring countries, but in late 2008 it was sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale and since 2009 has been included in the UCI Africa Tour.
Sport is seen by some as a means of achieving post-conflict reconciliation in Rwanda, and a number of organisations are involved in using sport to promote reconciliation. The country's Sports Development Policy includes amongst its aims promotion of "the use of sports as strong avenue for development and peace building", and the government has made commitments to advancing the use of sport for a variety of other development objectives, including education.
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 because of 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. From 1994 until 2009, secondary education was offered in either French or English; because of the country's increasing ties with the East African Community and the Commonwealth, only the English syllabi are now offered. The country has a number of institutions of tertiary education. In 2013, the public University of Rwanda (UR) was created out of a merger of the former National University of Rwanda and the country's other public higher education institutions. In 2011, the gross enrolment ratio for tertiary education in Rwanda was 7%, from 4% in 2008. The country's literacy 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. Since 2010, Rwanda is participating in the Open Source and Open Hardware educational project One Laptop Per Child. By 2013, 400,000 XO-XS laptops have been distributed. The breakthrough came from a funding from the Clinton Foundation for a first 20,000 XO-XS laptops. It is not clear who funded the next batch of 100,000 XO-XS laptops nor the additional laptops leading to the 400,000 XO-XS laptops.
In the pre-genocide era before 1994, Rwanda's health care was supported by the Bamako Initiative which was sponsored by UNICEF and WHO and adopted by African ministers of health in 1987. Progress was started towards decentralising the health management system, first to the Province level and then to the district level. Unfortunately this was disrupted by the 1994 genocide, which crippled the healthcare system alongside the economy. In the post genocide period, Rwanda has had an uphill climb in the recovery of their health system as well as their economy. The decentralized multi-tiered system in Rwanda has four referral hospitals, which are Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Kigali (CHUK), Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Butare (CHUB), King Faisal Hospital (KFH) and the Kanombe Military Hospital. It also has a number of dispensaries, 34 health posts which are mainly involved with the outpatient programmes such as immunizations and family planning services, a number of health centres estimated to be over 440, and 48 district hospitals. In 2008, the government spent 9.7% of national expenditure on healthcare, compared with 3.2% in 1996. Health insurance became mandatory for all individuals in 2008; in 2010 over 90% of the population was covered. The health insurance is mainly delivered by the Community-Based Health Insurance Scheme, which consists primarily of a social health insurance program called Mutuelles de SantÃ©.
Maternal and child health
Rwanda is one of the countries which is on track in fulfilling the 4th and 5th Millennium Development Goals. The maternal mortality ratio reduced from 1,400 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 1,000 per 100,000 in 2000 and 320 deaths per 100,000 in 2013. Between 2000 and 2013, the annual average rate of reduction of the maternal mortality ratio was 8.6 per cent. The under-five mortality rate, meanwhile, fell at an average rate of 10 per cent between 2000 and 2012, from 182 per 1,000 live birth in 2000 to 55 per 1,000 in 2012. In 1990, it had been 151 per 1,000. Between 2000 and 2015, the average annual reductions in the maternal mortality ratio and the under-five mortality rate in Rwanda were greater than in any other country, with the UN estimating that this resulted in 590,000 children's lives being saved.
Due to a variety of reasons such as poverty, poor roads due to the hilly terrain in the rural areas, misleading traditional beliefs and inadequate knowledge on pregnancy related issues, 31 percent of the women end up delivering at home despite having a public health insurance scheme. Some of the solutions which have been sought to the challenges include the training of more community health workers (village health teams) to sensitize the community, on top of providing them with mobile phones to contact the health facilities in emergency situations such as haemorrhage. The number of ambulances to some of the rural health centres have also been increased. According to a recent report by WHO most of the pregnant women die from hemorrhage (25%), hypertension (16%), abortion and sepsis (10% each) and a small number die from embolism (2%).
The demand for family planning was satisfied by 71% by 2010, the number of women who went for ante natal visits that is 4 or more visits went up to 35% in 2010 which though is low could have probably led to an increase in the number of pregnant women seeking a skilled attendant at delivery from 26% in 1992 to 39% in 2005 and then to 69% in 2010. In terms of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, in 2010 the percentage of HIV and pregnant women receiving ante retrovirals drugs rose from 67% to 87% in 2012. 45 percent of women between the ages of 15 to 49, use family planning methods. This comes as no surprise as Rwanda women on average, give birth to 4.6 children throughout their lifetime (RDHS 2010).
Prevalence of some diseases is declining, including the elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus In 1990 there were 163 under five deaths for every 1000 live births. In 2010, 91 children died before their fifth birthday for every 1000 live births, often from diarrhoea, malaria or pneumonia. However, this figure is improving steadily.
In 1990,the percentage of children immunized against measles was roughly estimated to be 82% and by 2012 it had increased dramatically to 98% coverage of measles,3 doses of hepatitis B, 3 doses if pnuemoccal conjugatevaccine and 3 does of DTP. Exclusive breast feeding rate increased to 85%.This can be explained by a number of factors such as increased awareness among the populations both rural and urban through education programmes as well as improved coverage of effective interventions. This has been significant in the prevention and treatment of the major causes of child mortality.
The number of malnurished children in Rwanda stil poses as a challenge. The percentage of children under 5 years who were moderately or severely underweight decreased from 24 percent in 1992 to 18% in 2005 to 12% in 2012. Stunting reduced slightly from 57% in 1990 to 44% in 2010.
Millennium Development Goal 6
Initially in the post genocide era, there was a heavy burden of diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, this was coupled with insufficient funds and food insecurity. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) and the US Presidentâs Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) were then began though they were mainly used for HIV programmes in Rwanda. In June 2012, 108,113 people with advanced HIV disease in Rwanda were receiving anti-retroviral therapy, making Rwanda (along with much richer Botswana) one of only two countries in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve the United Nations goal of universal access to antiretroviral therapy. Rwandaâs HIV epidemic has remained at a prevalence of about 3% for the past seven years. In reference to the gapminder graph,a comparison between the life expectancy versus the number of people living with HIV (number, all ages). It illustrates that between 1989 and 1990, the number of people living with HIV was 181,838 with a life expectancy of 48 years. During the 1994 genocide, the number increased to 200,000 with a life expectancy of 6 years. In the post genocide era, 1995 the numbers were still the same but the life expectancy had increased to 40 years as now HIV programmes had gradually begun. In 2011, the figures were still the same but life expectancy shot up to 63 years which showed that the number of people receiving the anti-retrovirals and had increased leading to more people living longer. Expansion and enhancement of Directly Observed Treatment Short-course (DOTS) in the six point Stop Tuberculosis (TB) strategy described by Laserson and Wells has been implemented in Rwanda by the health ministry's integrated program to combat leprosy and TB since 1990. This has led to treatment success rates rising from 58% (2003) to 81% by late 2006. In 2005, the case detection percentage for TB was 24%, which was below the target for case detection. In 2005, 477,000 people died because of malaria. This number reduced to 11,450 people dying of malaria in 2012. This can be attributed to the various malaria prevention strategies which have been put in place such as:
- Education campaigns.
- Community mobilisation.
- Training of trainers.
- Bed net distribution.
Water and sanitation
From 1990 to 2012, an improvement in the drinking water coverage was registered from 59% to 67% and the use of surface water reduced from 25% to 11%. There was also an improvement in the sanitation coverage from 1990 to 2012. This was from 30% to 64%. The unimproved sanitary facilities reduced further from 59% to 23%, while open defecation reduced from 7% to 3%.
- Outline of Rwanda
- Index of Rwanda-related articles
- The Republic of Rwanda (official government site).
- Chief of State and Cabinet Members
- Rwanda entry at The World Factbook
- Rwanda from UCB Libraries GovPubs.
- Rwanda at DMOZ
- Rwanda profile from the BBC News.
- Wikimedia Atlas of Rwanda
- Rwanda travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Rwanda Tourism (official Rwanda Tourism Board site).