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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 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 Zaire. Since then most of the refugees have returned to Rwanda. Despite substantial international assistance and political reforms - including Rwanda's first local elections in March 1999 - the country continues to struggle to boost investment and agricultural output and to foster reconciliation. A series of massive population displacements, a nagging Hutu extremist insurgency, and Rwandan involvement in two wars over the past four years in the neighboring DROC continue to hinder Rwanda's efforts.
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
water: 1,390 sq km
land: 24,948 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: 32.43%
permanent crops: 10.13%
other: 57.44% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
40 sq km (1998 est.)
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, Desertification, Endangered Species, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection
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 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 41.7% (male 1,550,141; female 1,539,375)
15-64 years: 55.4% (male 2,039,573; female 2,057,059)
65 years and over: 2.9% (male 84,030; female 127,896) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.16% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
33.28 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
21.39 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
-0.32 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 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: 0.66 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
117.79 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 38.66 years
female: 39.2 years (2002 est.)
male: 38.14 years
Total fertility rate:
4.72 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
11.21% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
400,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
40,000 (1999 est.)
noun: Rwandan(s)
adjective: Rwandan
Ethnic groups:
Hutu 84%, Tutsi 15%, Twa (Pygmoid) 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: 48%
male: 52%
female: 45% (1995 est.)
Government Rwanda
Country name:
conventional long form: Rwandese Republic
conventional short form: Rwanda
local short form: Rwanda
former: Ruanda
local long form: Republika y'u Rwanda
Government type:
republic; presidential, multiparty system
Administrative divisions:
12 prefectures (in French - prefectures, singular - prefecture; in Kinyarwanda - plural - NA, singular - prefegitura); Butare, Byumba, Cyangugu, Gikongoro, Gisenyi, Gitarama, Kibungo, Kibuye, Kigali Rurale, Kigali-ville, Umutara, Ruhengeri
1 July 1962 (from Belgium-administered UN trusteeship)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 1 July (1962)
on 5 May 1995, the Transitional National Assembly adopted as Fundamental Law the constitution of 18 June 1991, provisions of the 1993 Arusha peace accord, the July 1994 Declaration by the Rwanda Patriotic Front, and the November 1994 multiparty protocol of understanding
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 adult
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Maj. Gen. Paul KAGAME (FPR) (since 22 April 2000)
head of government: Prime Minister Bernard MAKUZA (since 8 March 2000)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: normally the president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term; special election for new president by deputies of the National Assembly and governmental ministers held 17 April 2000 (next national election to be held NA June 2003); prime minister is appointed by the president
election results: Paul KAGAME (FPR) elected president in a special parliamentary/ministerial ballot receiving 81 of a possible 86 votes
Legislative branch:
unicameral Transitional National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale de Transition (a power-sharing body with 70 seats established on 12 December 1994 following a multiparty protocol of understanding; members were named by their parties, number of seats per party predetermined by the Arusha peace accord)
note: four additional seats, two for women and two for youth, added in 2001
election results: seats by party under the Arusha peace accord - FPR 13, MDR 13, PSD 13, PL 13, PDC 6, RPA 6, PSR 2, PDI 2, UDPR 2; note - the distribution of seats was predetermined, four additional seats (two for women and two for youth) added in 2001
elections: the last national legislative elections were held 16 December 1988 for the National Development Council (the legislature prior to the advent of the Transitional National Assembly); no elections have been held for the Transitional National Assembly as the distribution of seats was predetermined by the Arusha peace accord (next to be held NA June 2003)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court; communal courts; appeals courts
Political parties and leaders:
Centrist Democratic Party or PDC [Jean-Nipomuscene NAYINZIRA]; Democratic Socialist Party or PSD [leader NA]; Democratic Popular Union of Rwanda or UDPR [leader NA]; Democratic Republican Movement or MDR [Celestin KABANDA]; Islamic Democratic Party or PDI [Andre BUMAYA]; Liberal Party or PL [Pie MUGABO]; Party for Democratic Renewal (officially banned) [Pasteur BIZIMURGI and Charilg NTAKIROTINKA]; Rwanda Patriotic Army or RPA [Maj. Gen. Paul KAGAME, commander]; Rwanda Patriotic Front or FPR [Maj. Gen. Paul KAGAME]; Rwandan Socialist Party or PSR [leader NA]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
IBUKA - association of genocide survivors
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Richard SEZIBERA
chancery: 1714 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20009
FAX: [1] (202) 232-4544
telephone: [1] (202) 232-2882
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Margaret K. McMILLION
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 rural country with about 90% of the population engaged in (mainly subsistence) agriculture. It is the most densely populated country in Africa; landlocked with few natural resources and minimal industry. Primary exports 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 significant progress in stabilizing and rehabilitating its economy. GDP has rebounded, and inflation has been curbed. Rwanda received approval for debt relief from the IMF in late 2000 and continued to make progress on inflation, privatization, and GDP growth in 2001. However, export earnings were hindered by low global coffee prices, depriving the country of much needed hard currency. President KAGAME is encouraging investors to take advantage of export opportunities in Rwanda based on its membership in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) free trade area and its access to the US and the EU markets through preferential trade agreements.
purchasing power parity - $7.2 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
5% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $1,000 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 46%
industry: 20%
services: 34% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
70% (2000 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 4%
highest 10%: 24% (1983-85)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
29 (1983-85 )
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
5% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
3.6 million
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 90%
Unemployment rate:
revenues: $199.3 million
expenditures: $445 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)
cement, agricultural products, small-scale beverages, soap, furniture, shoes, plastic goods, textiles, cigarettes
Industrial production growth rate:
7% (2001 est.)
Electricity - production:
113 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 3%
hydro: 97%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
174.09 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
1 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
70 million kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
coffee, tea, pyrethrum (insecticide made from chrysanthemums), bananas, beans, sorghum, potatoes; livestock
$61 million f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
coffee, tea, hides, tin ore
Exports - partners:
EU 56.9%, Pakistan 12.3%, US 9.2%, China 4.4% Malaysia 4.4% (2000 est.)
$248 million f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, steel, petroleum products, cement and construction material
Imports - partners:
Kenya 29.4%, EU 28%, US 10%, India 4.4%, Tanzania 2.2% (2000 est.)
Debt - external:
$1.3 billion (2000 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$372.9 million (1999)
Rwandan franc (RWF)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Rwandan francs per US dollar - 456.81 (January 2002), 442.99 (2001), 389.70 (2000), 333.94 (1999) 312.31 (1998), 301.53 (1997)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Rwanda
Telephones - main lines in use:
11,000 (1999)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
11,000 (1999)
note: Rwanda has mobile cellular service between Kigali and several prefecture capitals (2002)
Telephone system:
general assessment: telephone system primarily serves business and government
domestic: the capital, Kigali, is connected to the centers of the prefectures by microwave radio relay and, recently, by cellular telephone service; much of the network depends on wire and HF radiotelephone
international: 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 3 (two main FM programs are broadcast through a system of repeaters and the third FM program is a 24 hour BBC program), shortwave 1 (2002)
601,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
NA; probably less than 1,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2002)
Internet users:
20,000 (2002)
Transportation Rwanda
0 km
total: 12,000 km
paved: 1,000 km
unpaved: 11,000 km (1997 est.)
note: Lac Kivu navigable by shallow-draft barges and native craft
Ports and harbors:
Cyangugu, Gisenyi, Kibuye
8 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 4
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 1 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 3 (2002)
Military Rwanda
Military branches:
Army, Navy, Air Force, Gendarmerie
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 1,858,443 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 946,990 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$58 million (FY01)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
3.1% (FY01)
Transnational Issues Rwanda
Disputes - international:
Tutsi, Hutu and other ethnic groups, political rebels, and various government forces continue fighting in Great Lakes region, transcending the boundaries of Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003