Explore Rwanda, Land of athousand hills

History

For centuries, Rwanda existed as a centralized monarchy under a succession of Tutsi kings from one clan, who ruled through cattle chiefs, land chiefs and military chiefs. The king was supreme but the rest of the population, Bahutu, Batutsi and Batwa, lived in symbiotic harmony. In 1899, Rwanda became a German colony and, in 1919, the system of indirect rule continued with Rwanda as a mandate territory of the League of Nations, under Belgium. From 1959, Batutsi were targeted, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths and sending almost two million of them into exile. The First Republic, under President Gregoire Kayibanda, and the second, under President Juvenal Habyarimana, institutionalized discrimination against Batutsi and subjected them to periodmassacres.

The Rwandese Alliance for National Unity (RANU) was formed in 1979 by Rwandan refugees in exile, to mobilize against divisive politics and genocide ideology, repeated massacres, statelessness and the lack of peaceful political exchange.. In 1987, RANU became the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF). On 1 October 1990, the RPF launched an armed liberation struggle that ultimately ousted the dictatorship in 1994 and ended the genocide of more than one million Batutsi and massacres of moderate Bahutu who opposed the genocide.

After Kigali fell to RPA (RPF’s armed wing) on 4 July 1994, RPF formed a Government of National Unity headed by President Pasteur Bizimungu, bringing parties that did not participate in the genocide together. In 2000, Parliament voted out President Pasteur Bizimungu and RPF appointed then Vice-President and Minister of Defense, Major General Paul Kagame as the President of the Republic to lead the coalition government. In 2003 President Paul Kagame was elected with landslide majority to serve a term of seven years. During those seven years, the country made unprecedented socio-economic and political progress and consolidated peace, stability as well as social cohesion among Rwandans.. In 2010, President Paul Kagame was re-elected to serve a second term and on a platform of rapid development for the transformation of the lives of all Rwandans.

Geography

Rwanda is a landlocked country situated in central Africa. Also known as ’the land of a thousand hills’, Rwanda has five volcanoes, twenty-three lakes and numerous rivers, some forming the source of the River Nile. The country lies 75 miles south of the equator in the Tropic of Capricorn, 880 miles ’as the crow flies’ west of the Indian Ocean and 1,250 miles east of the Atlantic Ocean - literally in the heart of Africa. Rwanda is bordered by Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, Burundi to the south and the democratic republic of Congo to the west.

Anyone visiting ’the land of a thousand hills’ is in for a multitude of surprises. The loveliness and variety of the landscapes in this ’green country’ is dominated to the north by volcanoes and bordered by Lake Kivu to the west. In Rwanda the great animals of the wild are protected from poachers and roam free in the vast national parks. The Volcanoes National park in the Virunga volcanic mountains with its high altitude forests, are world famous for mountain gorillas - timid and passive family oriented giants - which is teeming with wildlife both large and small, while Lake Kivu to the west offers beautiful beaches, jutting pennisulas and an archipelago of islands.

Basic Facts

Land Area: 26,338 square Kilometers.

Population: Approx. 12 million (new census to be carried out in August 2012)

Rainfall: Rainy seasons: March - May and October - November(Average of 110-200 mm. per month).

Average Temperature: 24.6 - 27.6ºc. Hottest months: August, September.

Altitude: Ranges from 1000-4500m above sea level.

Main water bodies: Lake Kivu, Lake Muhazi, Lake Ihema, Lake Bulera, Lake Ruhondo, Lake Mugesera.

Vegetation: ranges from dense equatorial forest in the north-west of the country to tropical savannah in the east.

Main National Parks/Animal Reserves: Akagera and Virunga Volcanoes National Parks.

Highest point: Karisimbi volcano (4,507m)

Borders: Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, Burundi to the south and Democratic Republic of Congo to the west.