Fast Facts

Population:
8,722,000
Capital:
Kigali; 656,000
Area:
26,338 square kilometers (10,169 square miles)
Language:
Kinyarwanda, French, English, Kiswahili
Religion:
Roman Catholic, Protestant, Adventist, Muslim
Currency:
Rwandan franc
Life Expectancy:
40
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $1,200
Literacy Percent:
70
Flag: Rwanda
Map: Rwanda

Rwanda, just south of the Equator in central Africa, is a mountainous land. This tiny, landlocked country—the continent's most densely populated—gained independence from Belgium in 1962. Conflict and civil war between ethnic Hutus and Tutsis have marked the country's history. In 1994 the genocide of some 800,000 Tutsis by Hutus occurred before Tutsi forces could gain control of Rwanda. Hutu militias fled Rwanda and continued to attack Tutsis from Zaire until Rwandan forces invaded Zaire in 1997—where they remained until 2002, when the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) agreed to help disarm Hutu gunmen.

In 2003, Rwanda's first election in a decade installed Paul Kagame as president. Later that year, multiparty parliamentary elections consolidated Kagame's power, but observers declared voting was marred by irregularities and fraud. In November 2007, Rwanda signed a peace deal with the Democratic Republic of Congo in which the DRC agreed to hand over refugees suspected of involvement in the 1994 genocide.

ECONOMY

  • Industry: Cement, agricultural products, small-scale beverages, soap
  • Agriculture: Coffee, tea, pyrethrum, bananas; livestock
  • Exports: Coffee, tea, hides, tin ore

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

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