Republic of Rwanda

General Facts:

Population: 11.78 million (2013),

Official Languages Kinyarwanda, English and French

Further  Languages
Kinyarwanda is the first language of almost the entire population of Rwanda. It, French, and English are the official languages of the country. Rwandan Sign Language is used by the educated deaf population.
Since the 1994 genocide, the complications of relations with successive French governments, the return of numerous Tutsi refugees who went to Uganda (anglophone), and also the intervention of the United States, English has been used by more of the population and administration.
In 2008 the government changed the medium of education from French to English. Swahili is used by some people, in commerce, and as a subject in schools.


Regions : Butare, Ruhengeri, Gisenyi, Gitarama, Kibuye.

Area: 10,169 mi²



Rwanda is an extremely beautiful country with great variety and beauty. Rwanda, popularly known as “the land of a thousand hills” has many beautiful lakes and numerous rivers with astounding beaches. Rwandan beaches are excellent to spend an entire relaxing day, lazing around and enjoying with your family and friends.
Lake Kivu, the largest freshwater lake in the Rwandan valley is an extremely beautiful inland sea area. The three resort towns of Gisenyi, Cyangugu and Kibuye are located on the shores of Lake Kivu. Gisenyi, the most renowned and developed of the three is located on a sandy beach. This Rwandan beach is excellent and has many swaying palm trees and hotels near by. This beach has sauna bath, sun tan, swimming and beach club facilities and every year thousands of tourists visit this place. However, one needs to check out with the local residents about the sea conditions since there are dangerous eruptions of volcanic gases quite often so swimming during those times might be very risky.
The Gisenyi resort is far away from the din and bustle of the town and hence is excellent for relaxing and spending idle hours in nature’s lap. As a result the Rwandan beach on Lake Kivu is a favorite with most wealthy people of Rwanda and tourists.
On Kibuye, tourists can enjoy the experience of a modern lakeshore guesthouse. This Rwandan resort on Lake Kivu provides an enjoyable experience to all tourists and has stunning beaches.
Rwandan beaches are ideal for relaxing as they are very serene and have a calm atmosphere all around.

Currency: Rwandan franc


Crime & Security:
Rwanda is generally safe and crime levels are relatively low, but street crime does occur. There have been reports of an increase in burglary, theft and mugging in Kigali in recent months. You should take precautions with valuables and remain vigilant.
Petty theft (pickpocketing, purse snatching, theft of electronics (phones, Blackberries)) are common. Pickpocketing in crowded public places is common, as is petty theft from cars, hotel rooms, and other public places, including churches. Residential crime tends to be crime-of-opportunity, with unsecured items that are easy to transport and sell being stolen from yards or unsecured homes. Thefts of portable/mobile computing devices are common. Theft of credit card and identity information is rare, but given the level of sophistication of potential criminal elements, it is a reasonable possibility.
Violent crime is not common, but does occur on occasion. Crime is rarely violent. Although violent crimes (carjacking, robbery, rape, home invasion) do occur, they are rarely committed against foreigners. There has been an increase in forcible entry of homes to commit robberies; however, homes are generally targeted when residents are not at home.

History after Independence
The two parts of Ruanda-Urundi become independent in July 1962. There is pressure from the UN to federate as a single nation, but both opt to go their separate ways. Ruanda, in which ethnic violence has continued during 1960 and 1961, becomes a republic (automatically, since the young ruler has fled and has been formally deposed in his absence). The spelling of the name is changed to Rwanda.
Urundi, by contrast, becomes independent as a constitutional monarchy – but again with a change of name, to Burundi.
The first presidential election in Rwanda is won by Grégoire Kayibanda, the leader of the interim provisional government. The name of his party, the Parti du Mouvement de l’Emancipation du Peuple Hutu (Party for Hutu Emancipation), makes all too plain what is to be the central plank of government policy.
In the spirit of Kayibanda’s movement, ‘cockroaches’ becomes the favourite slang name for Tutsis. The killing of cockroaches is soon an all-too familiar feature of Rwandan life, in a frenzy whipped up by the government at any time of crisis – particularly whenever Rwandan exiles, most of them Tutsi, attempt invasions from across the borders.
In December 1963 several hundred Tutsi guerrillas enter southern Rwanda from Burundi. They advance to within twelve miles of the capital, Kigali, before they are eliminated by the Rwandan army. This event prompts the government to declare a state of emergency, emphasizing the need to ‘clear the bush’ of subversive elements.
Within days some 14,000 Tutsis are massacred in the southern province of Gikongoro, in a coordinated campaign described by Bertrand Russell as ‘the most horrible and systematic massacre’ since the Holocaust. It will prove minor compared to what Hutu Power achieves in the 1990s.In the interim there is a coup within the Hutu regime. In 1973 Kayibanda is removed from power by a group of army officers who replace him with a major general, Juvénal Habyarimana.
Habyarimana remains in power for twenty-one years, running a conventional self-serving military dictatorship (with enthusiastic support from several western countries, in particular France). But his Hutu ethnic policy creates an increasing problem on Rwanda’s frontiers. Over the borders there are a vast number of mainly Tutsi refugees. As time passes they are increasingly unwelcome in their host countries. Efforts are made to send them home. But Rwanda rejects them.
In 1986 Habyarimana states as a matter of policy that there will be no right of return for Rwandan refugees. In the following year Rwandan exiles form the group which soon transforms the situation – the RPF or Rwandan Patriotic Front, committed to armed struggle against Habyarimana’s regime.
The nucleus of the RPF is Tutsi officers serving in the Ugandan army. On a prearranged date, 1 October 1990, they desert from the army with their equipment and move south over the border into Rwanda. It is a minor invasion which eventually, against all the odds, puts an end to Habyarimana’s regime. But it also provokes one of the century’s most appalling acts of genocide.

Prelude to the Genocide
President Habyarimina is able to repel the initial RPF invasion of northeastern Rwanda, in October 1990, largely thanks to French paratroops sent for the purpose by President Mitterand. But the event provides the pretext for a new wave of Tutsi persecution within Rwanda.
The country’s most fervently racist newspaper publishes in December the Hutu Ten Commandments. This is a litany of hatred, attributing dishonesty and treachery not only to all Tutsis but also to any Hutu who befriends them. The eighth commandment, quoted at the time more often than any other, is: ‘Hutus must stop having mercy on the Tutsis.’ In 1991 a name is coined for this new level of ethnic triumphalism – Hutu Power.
To ensure the effectiveness of Hutu Power, Habiyarimina’s government begins to recruit Hutu youth militias. These become known as the Interahamwe, meaning ‘those who attack together’. In public these violent young men roar around on motorbikes, like any gang of hooligangs, and hold drunken rallies under portraits of President Habiyarimina. In private they gather together to perfect the skills of wielding machetes, setting fire to houses, and drawing up lists of local Tutsis and Hutu sympathizers.
In this mood ethnic violence increases steadily, and is often ratchetted up a sudden notch – as when, in March 1992, Radio Rwanda spreads a deliberately false rumour that a Tutsi plot to massacre Hutus has been discovered.
By 1992 President Habyarimana is himself beginning to disappoint his extremist supporters. Having failed to suppress the guerrillas of the RPF, and under international pressure to come to terms with them, he begins to negotiate. The news that he has agreed a ceasefire, in August 1992, provokes a new wave of attacks on Tutsis. Over the next year the peace process continues, alienating the president ever further from the thugs of Hutu Power.
In August 1993, after talks at Arusha in Tanzania, Habyarimana signs a peace treaty with the RPF, officially bringing the war to an end. But the terms of the treaty go much further than that.
In what becomes known as the Arusha Accords, Habiyarimana accepts the right of return for all Rwanda’s refugees, the merging of the RPF with the national army, and a transitional period leading up to elections and a democratic government. During this period power will reside with a provisional government in which, most startling of all, the RPF will be represented. And UN forces will be invited into Rwanda to secure this process.
These concessions seem outrageous to the Interahamwe and their political masters. On 6 April 1994 a rocket, almost certainly fired by Hutu extremists, brings down a plane. In it are two presidents – Habyarimana, and the head of state of neighbouring Burundi.

The Genocide
The assassination of the president, even if secretly contrived by extremist Hutus, is the immediate pretext for the orgy of Hutu extremism whipped up over the following weeks. Radio broadcasts urge people to do their duty and seek out the Tutsis and Tutsi-sympathizers living among them in their streets or villages. Eliminate the cockroaches is the message.
On April 29 the state radio announces that May 5 is to be the ‘cleanup’ day by which the capital, Kigali, must be cleansed of Tutsis. One notorious broadcast even suggests a necessary precaution in the interests of thoroughness; unborn children should be ripped from the wombs of dead Tutsi women who are pregnant.
In this atmosphere the Interahamwe and a large proportion of the ordinary Hutu population of Rwanda go to work with a frenzy probably unparalleled in human history. Between April and July some 800,000 Rwandans are slaughtered. And this is without the modern aids of mass destruction. The characteristic tool in Rwanda’s genocide is the everyday machete, used more normally in agriculture. The UN forces, though by now present, are powerless to intervene.
The terror of 1994 is followed by another human disaster, as some two million refugees flee to Zaire, Burundi and Tanzania. But these are for the most part Hutus rather than Tutsis. And they are trying to escape from the RPF, who resume their military campaign the day after the assassination of the president.

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. By 1994, farm size, on average, was smaller than one hectare, while population density was more than 450 persons per square kilometer of arable land.
The Rwandan economy is based on the largely rain-fed agricultural production of small, semi-subsistence, and increasingly fragmented farms. It has few natural resources to exploit and a small, noncompetitive industrial sector. While the production of coffee and tea is well-suited to the small farms, steep slopes, and cool climates of Rwanda and has ensured access to foreign exchange over the years, farm size continues to decrease.

The 1994 genocide destroyed Rwanda’s fragile and 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. In June 1998, Rwanda signed an Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility with the International Monetary Fund. Rwanda has also embarked upon an ambitious privatization program with the World Bank.
In the immediate postwar period—mid-1994 through 1995—emergency humanitarian assistance of more than $307.4 million was largely directed to relief efforts in Rwanda and in the refugee camps in neighboring countries where Rwandans fled during the war. In 1996, humanitarian relief aid began to shift to reconstruction and development assistance.
The country entered a high period of economic growth in 2006, and the following year managed to register 8% economic growth, a record it has sustained since, turning it into one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa. This sustained economic growth has succeeded in reducing poverty, with growth between 2006 and 2011 reducing the percentage of the country’s population living in poverty from 57% to 45%.The country’s infrastructure has also grown rapidly, with connections to electricity going from 91,000 in 2006 to 215,000 in 2011.
Existing foreign investment is concentrated in commercial establishments, mining, tea, coffee, and tourism. Minimum wage and social security regulations are in force, and the four prewar independent trade unions are back in operation. The largest union, CESTRAR, was created as an organ of the government but became fully independent with the political reforms introduced by the 1991 constitution. As security in Rwanda improves, the country’s nascent tourism sector shows great potential to expand as a source of foreign exchange.

Education in Rwanda
Rwanda operates on a 6-3-3-4 school system, that is to say six years for primary school, three years for ordinary level (junior secondary school), three years for advanced level (senior secondary school) and four years for university bachelor’s degree. 3 official languages of instruction are used in the Rwandan education system: Kinyarwanda is used in primary school p1-p3 and English is used from p4 through university. French is taught as well but as a supplement subject in public primary and secondary schools. A few private schools have both Anglophone and Francophone systems that use English or French respectively as their languages of instruction. Those using the Anglophone system use French as an elective subject and those in the Francophone system use English as the elective subject. Each year over 44,000 students are enrolled in higher education for undergraduate, graduate, certificate and diploma programs.
The level of education one has is often seen as a form of capital accumulation which helps in countries’ development. In Rwanda, the government implemented policies over the years to ensure there is a high literacy rate among the population. As of 2004-2008, 77% of males and females are literate, which is a relatively high percentage, however, those who continue into secondary schooling stands at a low 31%. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) can be seen as partially successful in getting the young to receive schooling.


Rwanda’s healthcare system operates roughly 440 health centers, 34 health posts which are mainly involved with the outpatient programmes such as immunizations and family planning services, a number of dispensaries, and 48 district hospitals. The country’s villages are served by a network of thousands of community health workers. There are four national 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. The most advanced of them is King Faisal Hospital, which, although a private facility, participates in the national health insurance system, and therefore accepts patients referred to it by other hospitals and clinics. It is the most advanced hospital in Rwanda, equipped with a CT and MRI machine, two dialysis machines, and a wide range of surgical capabilities.
Rwanda’s clinics are equipped with basic medical equipment and a cupboard of essential medications. The district hospitals offer basic surgical services, and all have a minimum of 15 doctors. Those in need of more advanced and specialized care are referred to one of the four national referral hospitals. There is one cancer treatment center in the country which offers an almost full spectrum of cancer treatment, providing services such as screening, diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy, palliative care, and a pathology laboratory, with those in need of radiology services referred to Mulago Hospital in Uganda. A new university teaching hospital which will be equipped with the country’s second cancer treatment center is scheduled to start construction in June 2016, and is expected to be completed by 2018, with a second campus ultimately planned. It will be run by Partners in Health.

Rwanda is one of the countries which is on track in fulfilling the 4th and 5th Millennium Development Goals. In terms of the maternal mortality ratio,it reduced from 1,400 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 320 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2013. This was with an average annual rate of reduction to 8.6 from 2000 to 2013. 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 heamorrhage. 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%).
Rwanda faces a generalized epidemic, with an HIV prevalence rate of 3.1 percent among adults ages 15 to 49. The prevalence rate has remained relatively stable, with an overall decline since the late 1990s, partly due to improved HIV surveillance methodology. In general, HIV prevalence is higher in urban areas than in rural areas, and women are at higher risk of HIV infection than men. Young women ages 15 to 24 are twice as likely to be infected with HIV as young men in the same age group. Populations at higher risk of HIV infection include people in prostitution and men attending clinics for sexually transmitted infections.
Rwanda is among the world’s least developed countries, ranking 166 of 187 in the United Nations Development Program’s 2011 Human Development Index. Some 60 percent of the population lives in poverty. During the three months of genocide in 1994, mass rape, sexual torture and psychological trauma were common. Massive population flows following the rwandan genocide of 1994 have resulted in an increase in the urban population. The shortage of human resources throughout the health sector is a significant constraint. Of Rwandans killed or displaced during the genocide, a disproportionate number were highly skilled and educated members of society, including doctors, nurses and other health workers. Many health centers lack essential physical facilities, equipment and supplies. Electricity supply is erratic throughout Rwanda, affecting hospitals, health centers and laboratories. Blood safety, data management and drug storage are all impacted by the erratic electricity supply. While stigma continues to be a problem for people living with HIV/AIDS, the situation is slowly improving due to good information sharing at all levels about HIV/AIDS.

Rwanda has a National Assembly, with 80 members. 53 of them are directly elected and 27 are indirectly elected by representatives of special interest groups. The Senate has 24 members in which 16 are indirectly elected and eight appointed by the president
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 Arusha accords, and political declarations by the parties. The MRND party was outlawed.
Political organizing was banned until 2003. The first post-war presidential and legislative elections were held in August and September 2003, respectively.
The biggest problems facing the government are reintegration of more than 2 million refugees returning from as long ago as 1959; the end of the insurgency and counter-insurgency among ex-military and Interahamwe militia and the Rwandan Patriotic Army, which is concentrated in the north and south west; and the shift away from crisis to medium- and long-term development planning. The prison population will continue to be an urgent problem for the foreseeable future, having swelled to more than 100,000 in the 3 years after the war. Trying this many suspects of genocide will tax Rwanda’s resources sorely.
The current government prohibits any form of discrimination by gender, ethnicity, race or religion. The government has also passed laws prohibiting emphasis on Hutu or Tutsi identity in most types of political activity.


Despite its proximity to the equator, due to the high altitude of most of the country, Rwanda has a temperate climate with temperatures not often climbing above 25C. The long dry season is from June to September and there are two annual rainy seasons, the first from mid-March until the beginning of June and small rains from mid-September to December. The best time for gorilla and monkey tracking is the dry season – if only to spare you getting drenched (you can still see them in the rain, they just get a bit grumpy). The dry season is also good if you want to see game in Akagera National Park because thirst will draw the animals to the watering holes. You will also find at this time the roads are less dangerous and the risk of malaria is lower. The rainy season is the best time to see chimpanzees and is also the time when the place is at its most lush and green.


The majority of Rwandans, about 65%, are Roman Catholic, with another 9% Protestant. Only about 1% of the population is Muslim. About a fourth of Rwandans are adherents of indigenous beliefs. However, these numbers and divisions are not clear cut. Many Rwandans practice both their traditional religion and Christianity at the same time. At the core of traditional religion is a supreme being or spirit called Imana. This supreme being can only be addressed through intermediaries, and they can be Christian, the spirits of deceased family members known as abazima, or other illustrious ancestors. In this final category, Ryangombe and Nyabingi are two venerated ancestral deities that can intercede and ask for power and benevolence from Imana but do not posses them themselves. Ryangombe is venerated mostly in southern and western Rwanda. Nyabingi is a goddess venerated mostly in northern Rwanda.
Rwandan’s believe that one’s familial ancestors, the abazima, can protect and benefit living family members if they are honored and remembered through sacrifices. When they are not, and sacrifices are not performed, they can cause illness or other misfortunes. Diviners are called upon by family members to interpret the wishes of abazima and to recommend ways to appease angered ancestors.

Public Transport

The transport system in Rwanda centres primarily around the road network. Paved roads lie between the capital, Kigali, and most other major cities and towns in the country. Rwanda is also linked by road with other countries in the African Great Lakes, via which the majority of the country’s imports and exports are made.
The country has an international airport at Kigali, serving one domestic and several international destinations, and also has limited transport between the port cities on Lake Kivu. There are currently no railways in Rwanda.

Rwanda has efficient and reliable public transport. Privately run buses cover the entire country, and with scheduled departure times you won’t find yourself waiting for hours while the driver scouts for more passengers. Tickets are bought in advance from a ticket office, which is usually the point of departure.
You will also find plenty of well-maintained, modern minibuses serving all the main routes. Head to the bus stand in any town between dawn and about 3pm and it is quite easy to find one heading to Kigali and nearby towns. Destinations are displayed in the front window and the fares are fixed (you can ask other passengers to be sure). However, anyone who gets stuck somewhere late in the afternoon is going to have to pay top price for the privilege of getting out. Minibuses leave when full. Neither buses nor minibuses are supposed to charge extra for baggage.



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