Rwanda Country Facts

By | June 21, 2024
Capital city Kigalia
Surface 26,338 km²
Population 12,374,000
Road network length 2,749 km
Length of highway network 0 km
First highway N/A
Motorway name N/A
Traffic drives Right
License plate code RWA

Rwanda, formally the Republic of Rwanda, is a small country in Central Africa. The country is slightly larger than half the size of the Netherlands, has 12 million inhabitants and is therefore a very densely populated country. The capital is Kigali.


Rwanda is sandwiched between the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west, Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east and Burundi to the south. The capital Kigali is centrally located in the middle of the country. Rwanda is quite mountainous, with Mount Karisimbi at 4,507 meters as the highest point. The large Lake Kivu lies to the west and forms much of the border with the DRC. One of the sources of the Nile is in Rwanda. Much of Rwanda has been deforested.

The country has a tropical highland climate, where the high temperatures are tempered by the higher location. There are two rainy seasons. The average maximum temperature in the capital Kigali is between 26 and 28 °C all year round. There is approximately 950 mm of precipitation per year, largely in the period from September to May.


Rwanda has a rapid population growth. In 1950 the country had 2.2 million inhabitants, this grew to 7.2 million in 1990 but was subsequently reduced by the Rwandan genocide. Between 1995 and 2016, the country grew again from 5.9 to 11.9 million inhabitants. The country is very rural, most inhabitants live in the countryside, which makes Rwanda a densely populated country. The capital Kigali is the only major city with approximately 1 million inhabitants. Almost all other places are no more than a village, in a large part of the countryside there are no real village centers, but mainly scattered buildings on the slopes.

The country has been a unity since pre-colonial times and therefore consists of one cultural and linguistic group, the Banyarwanda. They are again divided into the Hutu, Tutsi and Batwa. The official language of the country is Kinyarwanda, which is spoken by almost the entire population. It is closely related to the Kirundi of neighboring Burundi. Besides Kinyarwanda, English, French and Swahili are also official languages ​​in Rwanda. English is taught in schools and is relatively widespread. French and Swahili are widely spoken as second or third languages ​​because of trade with neighboring countries. However, since the 1990s, the use of French has declined sharply compared to the increasing use of English. This is due to the deteriorated relations with France and the residence of refugees in Anglophone Uganda. The official government site is in English only. The younger population often no longer speaks French.


Since the genocide of 1994, the Rwandan economy has grown strongly. The economy is still largely agricultural, the country has few raw materials and because of its location in the middle of Africa it takes a long time for merchandise to reach the country from a port, and vice versa it takes a long time to export goods. Bananas, coffee and tea are the main export products. Despite being a fertile country, Rwanda has to import food due to its rapid population growth. Rwanda is seen as a relatively successful and nowadays stable country in Central Africa.


From the 15th century, tribes in the area began to take the form of several kingdoms, with the Kingdom of Rwanda becoming dominant from the mid-18th century. During the Colonial Conference of Berlin, the area was assigned by the Europeans to Germany, and began the German colonial period. The Germans changed little in the social structure of the country and much power remained with the king. In 1916, during the First World War, the Belgians took over the colony from Congo. It was then a Belgian colony governed as Ruanda-Urundi, with what is now neighboring Burundi. The Belgians had a more centralized power than the Germans and developed some infrastructure and education. In a referendum in 1961, the monarchy was abolished and Rwanda was decoupled from Burundi and then an independent country a year later.

Conflicts between the Hutus and the Tutsis had been problematic since colonial times and frequently resulted in violence. Rapid population growth created problems with land ownership. In 1990, Tutsi rebels from Uganda invaded the country, sparking the Rwandan civil war. Neither side managed to get the winning hand, after which a ceasefire was declared. However, the shooting down of a government plane carrying the president and prime minister in 1994 led to the Rwandan genocide, in which approximately 800,000 Tutsis were massacred over a 100-day period. The limited response from the international community was seen as a low point in 20th century history. The Tutsi rebels resumed their offensive and shortly thereafter had almost the entire country under control. 2 million Hutu’ s fled to neighboring countries. The Tutsi rebel group was also involved in neighboring Congolese civil wars. From the late 1990s, Rwanda started to recover from the conflict and after 2000 was again in economic growth. Today it is considered one of the most successful countries in Central Africa.


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