World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide



Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

List of Countries
Map of Africa

Rwanda Travelling Guide
Rwanda Travelling Guide

General background: 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 and began a civil war in 1990. The war, along with several political and economic upheavals, exacerbated ethnic tensions culminating in April 1994 in the genocide of roughly 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The Tutsi rebels defeated the Hutu regime and ended the killing in July 1994, but approximately 2 million Hutu refugees - many fearing Tutsi retribution - fled to neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zaire. Since then most of the refugees have returned to Rwanda. Despite substantial international assistance and political reforms - including Rwanda's first local elections in March 1999 - the country continues to struggle to boost investment and agricultural output and to foster reconciliation. A series of massive population displacements, a nagging Hutu extremist insurgency, and Rwandan involvement in two wars over the past four years in the neighboring DROC continue to hinder Rwanda's efforts.

Area comparative: Slightly smaller than Maryland.

Climate: Temperate; two rainy seasons (February to April, November to January); mild in mountains with frost and snow possible.

Terrain: Mostly grassy uplands and hills; relief is mountainous with altitude declining from west to east.

Population: 7,398,074

Ethnic groups: Hutu 84%, Tutsi 15%, Twa (Pygmoid) 1%

Religions: Roman Catholic 56.5%, Seventh-Day Adventist 11.1%, Protestant 26%, Muslim 4.6%, indigenous beliefs 0.1%, none 1.7% (2001)

Language: Kinyarwanda (official) universal Bantu vernacular, French (official), English (official), Kiswahili (Swahili) used in commercial centres

Government type: Republic; presidential, multiparty system

Capital: Kigali

Legal system: Based on German and Belgian civil law systems and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.

Economic overview: 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; landlocked with few natural resources and minimal industry. Primary exports are coffee and tea. The 1994 genocide decimated Rwanda's fragile economic base, severely impoverished the population, particularly women, and eroded the country's ability to attract private and external investment. However, Rwanda has made significant progress in stabilizing and rehabilitating its economy. GDP has rebounded, and inflation has been curbed. Rwanda received approval for debt relief from the IMF in late 2000 and continued to make progress on inflation, privatisation, and GDP growth in 2001. However, export earnings were hindered by low global coffee prices, depriving the country of much needed hard currency. President KAGAME is encouraging investors to take advantage of export opportunities in Rwanda based on its membership in the COMESA free trade area and its access to the US and the EU markets through preferential trade agreements.

Communication/Telephone system: Telephone system primarily serves business and government.

Places of interest: From the mountain gorillas in reopened Parc Nacional des Volcans to the hundreds of species of trees and birds in the magnificent rainforests of Nyungwe.

Travel tips: Caution still needs to be exercised and the latest information sought.