Rwanda

Introduction

Introduction

Rwanda , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a sovereign state in central and east Africa and one of the smallest countries on the African mainland. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rwanda is in the African Great Lakesregion and is highly elevated; its geography dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country. The climate is temperate to subtropical, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons each year.

The population is young and predominantly rural, with a density among the highest in Africa. Rwandans are drawn from just one cultural and linguistic group, the Banyarwanda, although within this group there are three subgroups: the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. The Twa are a forest-dwelling pygmy people descended from Rwanda's earliest inhabitants. Scholars disagree on the origins of and differences between the Hutu and Tutsi; some believe differences are derived from former social castes within a single people, while others believe the Hutu and Tutsi arrived in the country separately, and from different locations. Christianity is the largest religion in the country; the principal language is Kinyarwanda, spoken by most Rwandans, with English and French serving as official languages. Rwanda has a presidential system of government. The president is Paul Kagame of the Rwandan Patriotic Front(RPF), who took office in 2000. Rwanda today has low corruption compared with neighbouring countries, although human rights organisations report suppression of opposition groups, intimidation and restrictions on freedom of speech. The country has been governed by an ordered administrative hierarchy since pre-colonial times; there are five provinces delineated by borders drawn in 2006. Rwanda is one of only two countries with a female majority in the national parliament.

Hunter gatherers settled the territory in the stone and iron ages, followed later by Bantu peoples. The population coalesced first into clans and then into kingdoms. The Kingdom of Rwanda dominated from the mid-eighteenth century, with the Tutsi kings conquering others militarily, centralising power, and later enacting anti-Hutu policies. Germany colonised Rwanda in 1884 as part of German East Africa, followed by Belgium, which invaded in 1916 during World War I. Both European nations ruled through the kings and perpetuated a pro-Tutsi policy. The Hutu population revolted in 1959. They massacred numerous Tutsi and ultimately established an independent, Hutu-dominated state in 1962. The Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front launched a civil war in 1990. Social tensions erupted in the 1994 genocide, in which Hutu extremists killed an estimated 500,000 to 1.3 million Tutsi and moderate Hutu. The RPF ended the genocide with a military victory.

Rwanda's economy suffered heavily during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, but has since strengthened. The economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture. Coffee and tea are the major cash crops for export. Tourism is a fast-growing sector and is now the country's leading foreign exchange earner. Rwanda is one of only two countries in which mountain gorillas can be visited safely, and visitors pay for gorilla tracking permits. Music and dance are an integral part of Rwandan culture, particularly drums and the highly choreographed intore dance. Traditional arts and crafts are produced throughout the country.


Demographics

As of 2015, the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda estimates Rwanda's population to be 11,262,564. The 2012 census recorded a population of 10,515,973. The population is young: in the 2012 census, 43.3% of the population were aged 15 and under, and 53.4% were between 16 and 64. According to the CIA World Factbook, the annual birth rate is estimated at 40.2 births per 1,000 inhabitants in 2015, and the death rate at 14.9. The life expectancy is 59.67 years (61.27 years for females and 58.11 years for males), which is the 26th lowest out of 224 countries and territories. The sex ratio of the country is relatively even.

At 445 inhabitants per square kilometre (1,150/sq mi), Rwanda's population density is amongst the highest in Africa. Historians such as Gérard Prunier believe that the 1994 genocide can be partly attributed to the population density. The population is predominantly rural, with a few large towns; dwellings are evenly spread throughout the country. The only sparsely populated area of the country is the savanna land in the former province of Umutara and Akagera National Park in the east. Kigali is the largest city, with a population of around one million. Its rapidly increasing population challenges its infrastructural development. According to the 2012 census, the second largest city is Gisenyi, which lies adjacent to Lake Kivu and the Congolese city of Goma, and has a population of 126,000. Other major towns include Ruhengeri, Butare, and Gitarama, all with populations below 100,000. The urban population rose from 6% of the population in 1990, to 16.6% in 2006; by 2011, however, the proportion had dropped slightly, to 14.8%.

Rwanda has been a unified state since pre-colonial times, and the population is drawn from just one cultural and linguistic group, the Banyarwanda; this contrasts with most modern African states, whose borders were drawn by colonial powers and did not correspond to ethnic boundaries or pre-colonial kingdoms. Within the Banyarwanda people, there are three separate groups, the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. The CIA World Factbook gives estimates that the Hutu made up 84% of the population in 2009, the Tutsi 15% and Twa 1%. The Twa are a pygmy people who descend from Rwanda's earliest inhabitants, but scholars do not agree on the origins of and differences between the Hutu and Tutsi. Anthropologist Jean Hiernaux contends that the Tutsi are a separate race, with a tendency towards "long and narrow heads, faces and noses"; others, such as Villia Jefremovas, believe there is no discernible physical difference and the categories were not historically rigid. In precolonial Rwanda the Tutsi were the ruling class, from whom the kings and the majority of chiefs were derived, while the Hutu were agriculturalists. The current government discourages the Hutu/Tutsi/Twa distinction, and has removed such classification from identity cards. The 2002 census was the first since 1933 which did not categorise Rwandan population into the three groups.


Religion

The largest faith in Rwanda is Roman Catholicism, but there have been significant changes in the nation's religious demographics since the genocide, with many conversions to Evangelical Christian faiths and, to a lesser degree, Islam. According to the 2012 census, Roman Catholics represented 43.7% of the population, Protestants (excluding Seventh-day Adventists) 37.7%, Seventh-day Adventists11.8%, and Muslims 2.0%; 0.2% claimed no religious beliefs and 1.3% did not state a religion. Traditional religion, despite officially being followed by only 0.1% of the population, retains an influence. Many Rwandans view the Christian God as synonymous with the traditional Rwandan God Imana.


Geography

At 26,338 square kilometres (10,169 sq mi), Rwanda is the world's 149th-largest country, and the fourth smallest on the African mainland after Gambia, Swaziland, and Djibouti. It is comparable in size to Burundi, Haiti and Albania. The entire country is at a high altitude: the lowest point is the Rusizi River at 950 metres (3,117 ft) above sea level. Rwanda is located in Central/Eastern Africa, and is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, and Burundi to the south. It lies a few degrees south of the equator and is landlocked. The capital, Kigali, is located near the centre of Rwanda.

The watershed between the major Congo and Nile drainage basins runs from north to south through Rwanda, with around 80% of the country's area draining into the Nile and 20% into the Congo via the Rusizi River and Lake Tanganyika. The country's longest river is the Nyabarongo, which rises in the south-west, flows north, east, and southeast before merging with the Ruvubu to form the Kagera; the Kagera then flows due north along the eastern border with Tanzania. The Nyabarongo-Kagera eventually drains into Lake Victoria, and its source in Nyungwe Forest is a contender for the as-yet undetermined overall source of the Nile. Rwanda has many lakes, the largest being Lake Kivu. This lake occupies the floor of the Albertine Rift along most of the length of Rwanda's western border, and with a maximum depth of 480 metres (1,575 ft), it is one of the twenty deepest lakes in the world. Other sizeable lakes include Burera, Ruhondo, Muhazi, Rweru, and Ihema, the last being the largest of a string of lakes in the eastern plains of Akagera National Park.

Mountains dominate central and western Rwanda. They are part of the Albertine Rift Mountains that flank the Albertine branch of the East African Rift, which runs from north to south along Rwanda's western border. The highest peaks are found in the Virungavolcano chain in the northwest; this includes Mount Karisimbi, Rwanda's highest point, at 4,507 metres (14,787 ft). This western section of the country lies within the Albertine Rift montane forests ecoregion. It has an elevation of 1,500 to 2,500 metres (4,921 to 8,202 ft).The centre of the country is predominantly rolling hills, while the eastern border region consists of savanna, plains and swamps.

Rwanda has a temperate tropical highland climate, with lower temperatures than are typical for equatorial countries because of its high elevation. Kigali, in the centre of the country, has a typical daily temperature range between 12 and 27 °C (54 and 81 °F), with little variation through the year. There are some temperature variations across the country; the mountainous west and north are generally cooler than the lower-lying east. There are two rainy seasons in the year; the first runs from February to June and the second from September to December. These are separated by two dry seasons: the major one from June to September, during which there is often no rain at all, and a shorter and less severe one from December to February. Rainfall varies geographically, with the west and northwest of the country receiving more precipitation annually than the east and southeast. Global warming has caused a change in the pattern of the rainy seasons. According to a report by the Strategic Foresight Group, change in climate has reduced the number of rainy days experienced during a year, but has also caused an increase in frequency of torrential rains. Both changes have caused difficulty for farmers, decreasing their productivity. Strategic Foresight also characterise Rwanda as a fast warming country, with an increase in average temperature of between 0.7 °C to 0.9 °C over fifty years.


Economy

Rwanda's economy suffered heavily during the 1994 genocide, with widespread loss of life, failure to maintain infrastructure, looting, and neglect of important cash crops. This caused a large drop in GDP and destroyed the country's ability to attract private and external investment. The economy has since strengthened, with per-capita GDP (PPP) estimated at $1,784 in 2015, compared with $416 in 1994. Major export markets include China, Germany, and the United States. The economy is managed by the central National Bank of Rwanda and the currency is the Rwandan franc; in August 2015, the exchange rate was 755 francs to the United States dollar. Rwanda joined the East African Community in 2007, and has ratified a plan for monetary union amongst the five member nations, which could eventually lead to a common East African shilling.

Rwanda is a country of few natural resources, and the economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture by local farmers using simple tools. An estimated 90% of the working population farms, and agriculture constituted an estimated 32.5% of GDP in 2014. Farming techniques are basic, with small plots of land and steep slopes. Since the mid-1980s, farm sizes and food production have been decreasing, due in part to the resettlement of displaced people. Despite Rwanda's fertile ecosystem, food production often does not keep pace with population growth, and food imports are required.

Subsistence crops grown in the country include matoke (green bananas), which occupy more than a third of the country's farmland, potatoes, beans, sweet potatoes, cassava, wheat and maize. Coffee and tea are the major cash crops for export, with the high altitudes, steep slopes and volcanic soils providing favourable conditions. Reliance on agricultural exports makes Rwanda vulnerable to shifts in their prices. Animals raised in Rwanda include cows, goats, sheep, pigs, chicken, and rabbits, with geographical variation in the numbers of each. Production systems are mostly traditional, although there are a few intensive dairy farms around Kigali. Shortages of land and water, insufficient and poor-quality feed, and regular disease epidemics with insufficient veterinary services are major constraints that restrict output. Fishing takes place on the country's lakes, but stocks are very depleted, and live fish are being imported in an attempt to revive the industry.

The industrial sector is small, contributing 14.8% of GDP in 2014. Products manufactured include cement, agricultural products, small-scale beverages, soap, furniture, shoes, plastic goods, textiles and cigarettes.Rwanda's mining industry is an important contributor, generating US$93 million in 2008. Minerals mined include cassiterite, wolframite, gold, and coltan, which is used in the manufacture of electronic and communication devices such as mobile phones.

Rwanda's service sector suffered during the late-2000s recession as bank lending, foreign aid projects and investment were reduced. The sector rebounded in 2010, becoming the country's largest sector by economic output and contributing 43.6% of the country's GDP. Key tertiary contributors include banking and finance, wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants, transport, storage, communication, insurance, real estate, business services and public administration including education and health. Tourism is one of the fastest-growing economic resources and became the country's leading foreign exchange earner in 2007. In spite of the genocide's legacy, the country is increasingly perceived internationally as a safe destination. The number of tourist arrivals in 2013 was 864,000 people, up from 504,000 in 2010. Revenue from tourism was US$303 million in 2014, up from just US$62 million in 2000. The largest contributor to this revenue was mountain gorilla tracking, in the Volcanoes National Park; Rwanda is one of only two countries in which mountain gorillas can be visited safely; the gorillas attract thousands of visitors per year, who are prepared to pay high prices for permits. Other attractions include Nyungwe Forest, home to chimpanzees, Ruwenzori colobus and other primates, the resorts of Lake Kivu, and Akagera, a small savanna reserve in the east of the country.

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