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Travel Info

What you need to know about Rwanda

History

According to local belief, Tutsi cattle breeders began arriving in Rwanda from the Horn of Africa (Somalia) in the 15th century and gradually subjugated the Hutu inhabitants. The Tutsis established a monarchy headed by a mwami (king) and a feudal hierarchy of Tutsi nobles and gentry. Through a contract known as ubuhake, the Hutu farmers pledged their services and those of their descendants to a Tutsi lord in return for the loan of cattle and use of pastures and arable land. Thus, the Tutsi reduced the Hutu to virtual serfdom. However, boundaries of race and class became less distinct over the years as some Tutsi enjoyed few advantages over the Hutu. In 1899, the mwami submitted to a German protectorate without resistance. Belgian troops from Zaire drove the small number of Germans out of Rwanda in 1915 and took control of the country.

Rwanda has always been plagued by ethnic-based strife. A peace accord in mid 1993 temporarily ended most of the fighting, but there was a massive resumption of civil warfare in April 1994. During the three-month-long conflict, an attempted Tutsi genocide killed more than 500,000 people, and another 2 million fled as refugees to neighboring countries.

Rwanda is a small Country in East Africa bordering Uganda, Burundi, DRC and Tanzania. Rwanda draws tourists from all over the world, primarily to track mountain gorillas.

Location:

Rwanda is in East Africa, east of Democratic Republic of the Congo with Uganda to its north and Burundi to the south. Rwanda also shares its eastern border with Tanzania.

Area:

Rwanda covers 26,338 sq km, slightly smaller than Maryland, US.

Capital City:

Kigali

Population:

Almost 10 million (Rwanda is Africa’s most densely populated country).

Languages:

Kinyarwanda, French, English, Kiswahili.

Religion:

Roman Catholic 56.5%, Protestant 26%, Adventist 11.1%, Muslim 4.6%

Climate:

Rwanda has a temperate climate with two rainy seasons from February to April and November to January. Click here for daily temperatures.

When to visit Rwanda:

June – September (during the dry season).

Currency:

Rwandan Franc

Rwanda’s International Airport:

Kigali International Airport (KGL) is small but efficient and only 10 minutes from the town center. Airlines arriving here include: SN Brussels, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Air Burundi and Rwandair Express.

Brief Facts:

  • Full name: Republic of Rwanda
  • Population: 11.2 million (UN, 2012)
  • Capital: Kigali
  • Area: 26,338 sq km (10,169 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Kinyarwanda (official), French (official), English (official), Swahili
  • Major religions: Christianity, indigenous beliefs
  • Life expectancy: 54 years (men), 57 years (women) (UN)
  • Main exports: Coffee, tea, hides, tin ore
  • GNI per capita: US $570 (World Bank, 2011)
  • Internet domain: .rw
  • International dialling code: +250

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