Rwanda Geography

By | September 15, 2021

Rwanda is located a little south of the equator in the transition from East Africa to Central Africa. The landscape is taken up by a plateau. The west with the large Kiwu Lake belongs to the area of ​​the Central African Rift. In the north rise the Virunga volcanoes with the 4507 m high Karisimbi as the highest mountain in Rwanda. In an easterly direction, the land descends into a landscape of lakes and swamps. Most of the country is formed by the hilly plateau, to which Rwanda also owes the name “Land of a Thousand Hills”. There are fertile farmland and large pastures here.

The tropical climate is rather moderate due to the altitude with average temperatures of 18 to 21 degrees Celsius. There are two rainy seasons and a distinct dry season between June and August. Tropical rainforest is growing in the west, which the endangered mountain gorillas use as a habitat. Visit for Rwanda – the land of the 1000 hills.

As a result of global climate change, Rwanda suffers from extreme weather conditions such as droughts and floods. Environmental problems also include landslides from deforestation and soil erosion. The government is committed to protecting the environment. It promotes renewable energies in the form of hydropower and passed a ban on plastic bags as early as 2006. Plastic waste had increasingly become a problem for the environment in Rwanda. The bags, ironically also called “African Flowers”, were found everywhere in the landscape, in the trees, rivers and lakes. In the meantime, other African countries such as Kenya and Tanzania have followed Rwanda’s example and have also banned plastic bags.

Population and Religion

Rwanda has 12.3 million residents. Rwanda is one of 499 people per km 2 to the most densely populated countries of Africa (Kenya: 90 Einw./km 2; Ethiopia: 109 Einw./km 2). Most of the people live in the country. The capital Kigali is the only major city. The average age in Rwanda is 19.2 years, and many children are born. But the high birth rate is on the decline.

The population is made up of three groups: The Hutu form the majority, followed by the Tutsi and the minority of the Twa, a mountain people who belong to the pygmy peoples. These three population groups have lived in what is now Rwanda for centuries. The Twa are the oldest residents. The Hutu used to be mainly arable farmers, the Tutsi herdsmen. From the 14th century. the groups were mixed up and people were then divided according to their property: Anyone who owned more than ten cattle was referred to as a Tutsi. Whoever had fewer cattle was a Hutu and thus a farmer.

For a long time, the Tutsi ruled over the majority of the Hutu population. Tensions existed between the two groups, which in 1994 led to the genocide of Tutsi and dissident Hutu. Around 1 million people died in the process. Since this devastating event, the distinction between Hutu and Tutsi has been avoided in Rwanda in order not to stir up new conflicts. Instead, efforts are made to highlight the similarities between the people living in Rwanda.

The common language is Kinyaruanda. English and French are also used as official languages. Most of the people are Christians, but traditional African beliefs are also widespread.

A large part of the population still lives in poverty. The number of people living in absolute poverty is falling steadily. The health insurance system reaches 91% of the population. Medical care is still inadequate, especially in rural areas. When it comes to nutrition, the country is dependent on food aid from abroad.

Politics and law

After the 1994 genocide, Rwanda reshaped itself as a state. According to the 2003 Constitution, the country is a multi-party presidential republic.

At the top is the president, who is directly elected by the people and has extensive rights. He is Commander in Chief of the Army and appoints the Prime Minister and some of the Senate members. Paul Kagame ( * 1957 ), a Tutsi, has been President since 2000. When he took office, he laid down the »Vision 2020«. The aim of this government program is to put Rwanda on a socially and economically successful path. In order to achieve stable development, Kagame pursues a strict, authoritarian course against critics of his government. At the same time, the population supports him because he has stabilized the country and strengthened the economy.

Reconciliation among the population is one of the most important challenges facing government. In 1994 the UN created the International Tribunal for Rwanda to deal with the genocide under criminal law, which until 2015 was based in Arusha (Tanzania). In addition, in Rwanda itself, more than 12,000 traditional gacaca courts have tried alleged perpetrators of genocide.

At the head of the government is the Prime Minister, Edouard Ngirente ( * 1973 ), who has been independent since 2017. Parliament passes laws. It consists of two chambers, the lower house with 80 members and the upper house with 26 senators. The people elect a part of the members of parliament, the rest are appointed by representatives of the provinces and various organizations. Some of the parliamentary seats are occupied by women through a quota for women. Equality between men and women is particularly promoted by the state. In Rwanda, at least in urban areas, it is more pronounced than in other African countries.

Critical voices against the government are suppressed, the work of the free press is severely restricted. When it comes to political rights and civil liberties, Rwanda always ranks lower in international ratings. The human rights situation is bad. However, the government has achieved great success in the fight against corruption.

In Rwanda, school attendance is compulsory for children between the ages of 7-15. First there is a six-year primary level, which is followed by a two-level secondary level of 3 years each. Primary school and first secondary school are free of charge. The language of instruction is English, and the national language Kinyaruanda is also taught. Almost 98% of the children start school, but only 65% ​​finish primary school. The reasons for this include a lack of teachers and the poor equipment in schools. In addition to various public universities, there are also numerous smaller private universities.

Rwanda Geography