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Map of Rwanda
Introduction Rwanda
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 (RPF), 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 the former Zaire. Since then, most of the refugees have returned to Rwanda, but several thousand remained in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (the former Zaire) and formed an extremist insurgency bent on retaking Rwanda, much as the RPF tried in 1990. Despite substantial international assistance and political reforms - including Rwanda's first local elections in March 1999 and its first post-genocide presidential and legislative elections in August and September 2003 - the country continues to struggle to boost investment and agricultural output, and ethnic reconciliation is complicated by the real and perceived Tutsi political dominance. Kigali's increasing centralization and intolerance of dissent, the nagging Hutu extremist insurgency across the border, and Rwandan involvement in two wars in recent years in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to hinder Rwanda's efforts to escape its bloody legacy.
Geography Rwanda
Central Africa, east of Democratic Republic of the Congo
Geographic coordinates:
2 00 S, 30 00 E
Map references:
total: 26,338 sq km
land: 24,948 sq km
water: 1,390 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Maryland
Land boundaries:
total: 893 km
border countries: Burundi 290 km, Democratic Republic of the Congo 217 km, Tanzania 217 km, Uganda 169 km
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims:
none (landlocked)
temperate; two rainy seasons (February to April, November to January); mild in mountains with frost and snow possible
mostly grassy uplands and hills; relief is mountainous with altitude declining from west to east
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Rusizi River 950 m
highest point: Volcan Karisimbi 4,519 m
Natural resources:
gold, cassiterite (tin ore), wolframite (tungsten ore), methane, hydropower, arable land
Land use:
arable land: 45.56%
permanent crops: 10.25%
other: 44.19% (2005)
Irrigated land:
90 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:
periodic droughts; the volcanic Virunga mountains are in the northwest along the border with Democratic Republic of the Congo
Environment - current issues:
deforestation results from uncontrolled cutting of trees for fuel; overgrazing; soil exhaustion; soil erosion; widespread poaching
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography - note:
landlocked; most of the country is savanna grassland with the population predominantly rural
People Rwanda
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 41.9% (male 1,817,998/female 1,802,134)
15-64 years: 55.6% (male 2,392,778/female 2,417,467)
65 years and over: 2.5% (male 87,325/female 130,546) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 18.6 years
male: 18.4 years
female: 18.8 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.43% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
40.37 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
16.09 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.67 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 89.61 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 94.71 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 84.34 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 47.3 years
male: 46.26 years
female: 48.38 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
5.43 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
5.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
250,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
22,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria (2007)
noun: Rwandan(s)
adjective: Rwandan
Ethnic groups:
Hutu (Bantu) 84%, Tutsi (Hamitic) 15%, Twa (Pygmy) 1%
Roman Catholic 56.5%, Protestant 26%, Adventist 11.1%, Muslim 4.6%, indigenous beliefs 0.1%, none 1.7% (2001)
Kinyarwanda (official) universal Bantu vernacular, French (official), English (official), Kiswahili (Swahili) used in commercial centers
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 70.4%
male: 76.3%
female: 64.7% (2003 est.)
People - note:
Rwanda is the most densely populated country in Africa
Government Rwanda
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Rwanda
conventional short form: Rwanda
local long form: Republika y'u Rwanda
local short form: Rwanda
former: Ruanda, German East Africa
Government type:
republic; presidential, multiparty system
name: Kigali
geographic coordinates: 1 57 S, 30 04 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
5 provinces (in French - provinces, singular - province; in Kinyarwanda - prefigintara for singular and plural); East, Kigali, North, South, West
1 July 1962 (from Belgium-administered UN trusteeship)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 1 July (1962)
new constitution passed by referendum 26 May 2003
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
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Paul KAGAME (since 22 April 2000)
head of government: Prime Minister Bernard MAKUZA (since 8 March 2000)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: President elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (eligible for a second term); elections last held 25 August 2003 (next to be held in 2010)
election results: Paul KAGAME elected president in first direct popular vote; Paul KAGAME 95.05%, Faustin TWAGIRAMUNGU 3.62%, Jean-Nepomuscene NAYINZIRA 1.33%
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consists of Senate (26 seats; 12 members elected local councils, 8 appointed by the president, 4 by the Political Organizations Forum, 2 represent institutions of higher learning, to serve eight-year terms) and Chamber of Deputies (80 seats; 53 members elected by popular vote, 24 women elected by local bodies, 3 selected by youth and disability organizations, to serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held NA, members appointed as part of the transitional government (next to be held in 2011); Chamber of Deputies - last held 29 September 2003 (next to be held in 2008)
election results: seats by party under the 2003 Constitution - RPF 40, PSD 7, PL 6, additional 27 members indirectly elected
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court; High Courts of the Republic; Provincial Courts; District Courts; mediation committees
Political parties and leaders:
Centrist Democratic Party or PDC [Alfred MUKEZAMFURA]; Democratic Popular Union of Rwanda or UDPR [Adrien RANGIRA]; Democratic Republican Movement or MDR [Celestin KABANDA] (officially banned); Islamic Democratic Party or PDI [Andre BUMAYA]; Liberal Party or PL [Prosper HIGIRO]; Party for Democratic Renewal (officially banned); Rwandan Patriotic Front or RPF [Paul KAGAME]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [Vincent BIRUTA]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
IBUKA - association of genocide survivors
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Zac NSENGA
chancery: 1714 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 232-2882
FAX: [1] (202) 232-4544
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Michael ARIETTI
embassy: 337 Boulevard de la Revolution, Kigali
mailing address: B. P. 28, Kigali
telephone: [250] 50 56 01 through 03
FAX: [250] 57 2128
Flag description:
three horizontal bands of sky blue (top, double width), yellow, and green, with a golden sun with 24 rays near the fly end of the blue band
Economy Rwanda
Economy - overview:
Rwanda is a poor rural country with about 90% of the population engaged in (mainly subsistence) agriculture. It is the most densely populated country in Africa and is landlocked with few natural resources and minimal industry. Primary foreign exchange earners 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 substantial progress in stabilizing and rehabilitating its economy to pre-1994 levels, although poverty levels are higher now. GDP has rebounded and inflation has been curbed. Despite Rwanda's fertile ecosystem, food production often does not keep pace with population growth, requiring food imports. Rwanda continues to receive substantial aid money and obtained IMF-World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative debt relief in 2005. Kigali's high defense expenditures have caused tension between the government and international donors and lending agencies. Rwanda obtained debt relief from the IMF and World Bank in 2006. Rwanda also received Millennium Challenge Account Threshold status in 2006. Energy shortages, instability in neighboring states, and lack of adequate transportation linkages to other countries continue to handicap growth.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$13.54 billion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$1.968 billion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
5.8% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$1,600 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 39.4%
industry: 23.3%
services: 37.3% (2006 est.)
Labor force:
4.6 million (2000)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 90%
industry and services: 10%
Unemployment rate:
Population below poverty line:
60% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 4.2%
highest 10%: 24.2% (1985)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
28.9 (1985)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
6.7% (2006 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
19.8% of GDP (2006 est.)
revenues: $560.9 million
expenditures: $654 million; including capital expenditures of $NA (2006 est.)
Agriculture - products:
coffee, tea, pyrethrum (insecticide made from chrysanthemums), bananas, beans, sorghum, potatoes; livestock
cement, agricultural products, small-scale beverages, soap, furniture, shoes, plastic goods, textiles, cigarettes
Industrial production growth rate:
7% (2001 est.)
Electricity - production:
93 million kWh (2004)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 2.3%
hydro: 97.7%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
196.5 million kWh (2004)
Electricity - exports:
10 million kWh (2004)
Electricity - imports:
120 million kWh (2004)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:
5,400 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA bbl/day
Oil - imports:
NA bbl/day
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
56.63 billion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)
Current account balance:
$-104.1 million (2006 est.)
$135.4 million f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:
coffee, tea, hides, tin ore
Exports - partners:
Germany 11%, China 6.5%, Belgium 4.5% (2005)
$390.4 million f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, steel, petroleum products, cement and construction material
Imports - partners:
Kenya 18.9%, Uganda 6.6%, Belgium 5.8%, Germany 5.6%, Israel 4.3% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$422.8 million (2006 est.)
Debt - external:
$1.4 billion (2004 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$425 million (2003)
Currency (code):
Rwandan franc (RWF)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Rwandan francs per US dollar - 560 (2006), 610 (2005), 574.62 (2004), 537.66 (2003), 476.33 (2002)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Rwanda
Telephones - main lines in use:
23,000 (2004)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
note: Rwanda has mobile cellular service between Kigali and several provincial capitals (2005)
Telephone system:
general assessment: telephone system primarily serves business and government
domestic: the capital, Kigali, is connected to the centers of the provinces by microwave radio relay and, recently, by cellular telephone service; much of the network depends on wire and HF radiotelephone
international: country code - 250; international connections employ microwave radio relay to neighboring countries and satellite communications to more distant countries; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) in Kigali (includes telex and telefax service)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 0, FM 8 (two main FM programs are broadcast through a system of repeaters, three international FM programs include the BBC, VOA, and Deutchewelle), shortwave 1 (2005)
601,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
2 (2004)
NA; probably less than 1,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
1,590 (2006)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2002)
Internet users:
38,000 (2005)
Transportation Rwanda
9 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 4
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 1 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 3 (2006)
total: 14,008 km
paved: 2,662 km
unpaved: 11,346 km (2004)
Lac Kivu navigable by shallow-draft barges and native craft (2005)
Ports and terminals:
Cyangugu, Gisenyi, Kibuye
Military Rwanda
Military branches:
Rwandan Defense Forces: Army, Air Force
Military service age and obligation:
16 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2001)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 2,004,750
females age 16-49: 1,990,935 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 1,103,823
females age 16-49: 1,096,644 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$53.66 million (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
13.3% (2006 est.)
Transnational Issues Rwanda
Disputes - international:
fighting among ethnic groups - loosely associated political rebels, armed gangs, and various government forces in Great Lakes region transcending the boundaries of Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda - abated substantially from a decade ago due largely to UN peacekeeping, international mediation, and efforts by local governments to create civil societies; nonetheless, 57,000 Rwandan refugees still reside in 21 African states, including Zambia, Gabon, and 20,000 who fled to Burundi in 2005 and 2006 to escape drought and recriminations from traditional courts investigating the 1994 massacres; the 2005 DROC and Rwanda border verification mechanism to stem rebel actions on both sides of the border remains in place
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin): 41,403 (Democratic Republic of the Congo), 4,400 (Burundi) (2006)

This page was last updated on 15 March, 2007