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Repubulika y'u Rwanda (Kinyarwanda)
République du Rwanda (French)
Republic of Rwanda (English)
Jamhuri ya Rwanda (Swahili)
Republic of Rwanda
Flag of Rwanda
Seal of Rwanda
flag seal
Motto : Ubumwe, Umurimo, Gukunda Igihugu
( Kinyarwanda for "Unity, Work, Patriotism")
Official language Kinyarwanda , French , English , Swahili
Capital Kigali
Form of government republic
Government system Presidential system
Head of state President
Paul Kagame
Head of government Prime Minister
Édouard Ngirente
surface 26,338 km²
population 12,187,400 (as of 2018)
Population density 468 ( 16th ) inhabitants per km²
Population development   + 2.53% (2016)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nominal)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 9.510 billion ( 143. )
  • $ 27.657 billion ( 137th )
  • 787 USD ( 176. )
  • 2,287 USD ( 173. )
Human Development Index   0.524 ( 158th ) (2017)
currency Rwandan Franc (RWF)
independence July 1, 1962 (from Belgium )
National anthem Rwanda nziza
Time zone UTC + 2
License Plate RWA
ISO 3166 RW , RWA, 646
Internet TLD .rw
Telephone code +250
Ruanda Burundi Malawi Madagaskar Komoren Äquatorialguinea Angola Uganda Gabun Kamerun Zentralafrikanische Republik Südsudan Äthiopien Kenia Somalia Republik Kongo Demokratische Republik Kongo Tansania Mosambik Sambia Mayotte São Tomé und Príncipe Nigeria Tschad SudanRwanda in its region.svg
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Rwanda or Rwanda [ ˈʁu̯anda ] ( Kinyarwanda u Rwanda , French le Rwanda [ lə ʁwɑ̃ˈda ]) is a densely populated landlocked country in East Africa . It borders on Burundi , the Democratic Republic of the Congo , Uganda, and Tanzania . Because of its hilly landscape, Rwanda is also known as the " land of a thousand hills ". On the national territory, the main African watershed runs between the catchment areas of the Nile and the Congo . From 1884 to 1916 Rwanda was a German colony as part of German East Africa . After the First World War it became a Belgian League of Nations mandate in 1919 and a UN trust territory after 1945 . In 1962 independence took place.

Because of structural problems, high population density and conflicts between the ethnic groups of Hutu and Tutsi  - in the genocide of the Tutsis in 1994 culminated, about 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered by radical Hutus to discuss - was one the country's poorest in Africa . Since the end of the civil war, an economic reconstruction process began, which was favored, among other things, by the exploitation of raw materials in the eastern Congo provinces. Paul Kagame has been president since 2000, who governs the country in an authoritarian manner in a kind of educational and development dictatorship. The system of government has come under international criticism for a lack of freedom of the press , repression of the opposition , manipulation of elections and the destabilization of Eastern Congo.

With an average annual economic growth rate of around 8 percent in the period from 2001 to 2015, Rwanda has long been one of the countries in Africa with the strongest economic growth. Large parts of the economy are controlled by the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front party . Another characteristic of Rwandan society is the unusually high participation of women in economic and political power by African standards.


The name Rwanda is derived from the Altruandic verb kwanda (enlarge, expand). As the prefix ku- ( ku anda = kw anda) characterizes a verb, in country names z. B. the syllables -Bu- or -Ru- and the article u- preceded the word stem.

Word stem -anda : u-Ru-anda = uRwanda or u Rwanda (the growing country, Rwanda)

Word stem -dage : u-Bu-dage = uBudage or u Budage (Germany, -dage from German )

Word stem -faransa : u-Bu-faransa = uBufaransa or u Bufaransa (France, -faransa from France )

The country is written in German Rwanda , in French Rwanda (more rarely Rwanda ).


Rwanda borders Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, Burundi, which is similar in many characteristics, to the south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west . Most of Rwanda is a highland with an average altitude of 1500 meters. The entire altitude range extends from around 1000 meters to the 4507 meter high Karisimbi ( Virunga volcanoes in the north). The main African watershed between the headwaters of the White Nile and the Congo runs from north to south at an altitude of 3000–4000 meters . The largest part of Rwanda's western border forms the Kiwu Lake , which belongs to the system of the East African rift valley and is therefore very deep. In the border area to Congo and Uganda are the Virunga volcanoes up to 4500 meters high, on which the rare mountain gorillas live at medium altitude . To the east, the vast Akagera swamps and a long line of lakes form a natural border with present-day Tanzania. The country is 1200 kilometers away from the East African coast, but because of its good road network it still serves as a transit for some exports from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Rwanda is often called the " Land of a Thousand Hills " (French: Pays de Mille Collines ) and indeed has a very hilly landscape, mainly in the western part of the country.


Due to the altitude, the climate is rather mild and humid despite the proximity to the equator . The hot equatorial daytime climate is overlaid by the seasonal East African climate and tempered by the high altitude. The mean daytime temperature is 18 ° C. There are no big temperature fluctuations over the year, but the temperatures vary with the altitude. There are two rainy seasons corresponding to the East African monsoon rains , umuhindo between September and December (an average of 27% of the annual rainfall) and itumba between February and early June. Between March and May, 40% of the annual precipitation falls. However, the climate and especially the rainfall show great irregularities. Abnormal drought, abundant rain and hail continue to threaten harvests and cause famine.

Climate diagram
J F. M. A. M. J J A. S. O N D.
Temperature in ° Cprecipitation in mm
Average monthly temperatures and rainfall for Kigali
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 26.5 26.5 26.2 25.2 24.9 25.3 26.1 27.1 27.4 26.5 25.7 25.5 O 26.1
Min. Temperature (° C) 15.1 15.2 15.2 15.1 15.3 14.5 14.3 15.3 15.1 15.2 14.9 15.0 O 15th
Precipitation ( mm ) 69 100 106 183 92 20th 9 34 86 102 127 100 Σ 1,028
Hours of sunshine ( h / d ) 5.4 5.4 5.3 5.0 5.1 7.0 7.2 6.9 6.4 5.6 5.3 5.1 O 5.8
Rainy days ( d ) 8th 10 13 16 10 2 1 4th 8th 14th 16 10 Σ 112
Humidity ( % ) 75 74 77 79 77 65 55 57 68 76 81 76 O 71.6
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


Rwanda drains into two large catchment areas. The loading area is divided into ¾ into the Nile catchment area and ¼ into the Congo catchment area.

The main tributaries of the Nile are the Nyabarongo , which rises in the southwestern mountainous region ( Nyungwe Forest Nature Park ) , and the border river in the east, the Akagera (Kagera). The Nyabarongo rises as Rukarara at 2700 meters above sea level near the watershed to the Congo and is the central river of the country. Like its tributary, the Mwogo, it first flows from south to north, and then turns to the south-east to the capital Kigali, not far from the Virunga volcanoes . This abrupt change of course explains the geology through tectonic shifts in the earth's crust during the formation of the East African Rift and the Virunga volcanoes.

South of Kigali, the Nyabarongo and Akanyaru, coming from the Burundi border area, unite at an altitude of about 1500 meters. Depending on the source, the further course on the way to the Rwerusee is known as Kagera or further as Nyabarongo. After leaving the Rwerusee, the Kagera flows eastwards and then northwards and forms the border with Tanzania over a length of around 250 kilometers . At the border triangle between Tanzania and Uganda , the river, which faces northwards, finally bends sharply to the east again to later flow into Lake Victoria .

The Congo catchment area is mainly shaped by the Kiwu Lake and its outflow, the Ruzizi . The latter forms the southwestern border of Rwanda and flows to Lake Tanganyika .

The three major landscapes

Northwest Rwanda with the Virunga volcanoes

Rwanda can essentially be divided into three large and several small landscapes: The (south) eastern depression, the central high plateau and the Congo-Nile watershed form three large landscapes.

The central high plateau is located in the center of Rwanda . It is between 1,500 and 2,000 meters high and extends between the Congo-Nile watershed and the southeastern depression. It is cut by numerous watercourses and represents the proverbial "land of a thousand hills", especially as it rises towards the Congo-Nile watershed. Due to the good supply of surface water and precipitation as well as the moderate temperatures and quite fertile soils, it has been used intensively for agriculture for a long time. The original forest vegetation has disappeared for just as long.

The Virunga volcanoes in the north represent the highest elevations. They are followed by the mountainous region of Buberuka and the volcanic area in northwest Rwanda. It is characterized by a damp, cool climate with sometimes extreme rainfall. The volcanic ash and slag soils are very fertile and are used intensively for agriculture. Here is a center of Rwanda's potato cultivation. However, especially in the lava plain, the waters seep away very quickly and only reappear as springs at their edge.

In addition to the Virunga volcanoes, the Congo-Nile watershed , which extends in the west along Lake Kiwu from north to south, reaches heights of close to 3000 meters, in the central part only up to 1200 meters and in the south again up to 2700 meters. It is characterized by rugged gorges and pointed peaks. The climate is humid due to incline rain in the east, somewhat reduced in the west due to foehn winds . In the past, the mountains were covered by tropical high-altitude rainforest. This was extremely reduced due to the population growth. Until the end of the 1990s, there were still remnants of rainforest in Gishwati (north), Mukura (center) and Nyungwe (south). Gishwati and Mukura were almost completely destroyed after 1994 for the purpose of settlement, mainly by returning long-term refugees. The Nyungwe forest, on the other hand, is still quite extensive. Small monkeys ( colobus and others), small antelopes, formerly also forest elephants and numerous bird and small animal species live in all tropical high mountain cloud forests . The variety of plants is unique and great.

The shoreline of Lake Kiwu is characterized by deep bays and steep slopes. Due to the foehn formation on the western slopes of the Congo-Nile watershed, precipitation is lower here than on the eastern side of the mountains. The water of the Kiwu Lake is around 23.5 ° C. The climate is characterized by mild temperatures. On the fertile soils in the south and north there has been intensive soil cultivation for a long time; on the less fertile soils near Kibuye (center), however, traditionally cattle breeding predominated.

The south-west of Rwanda (Impara and Imbo) has partly very fertile soils, which allow intensive soil cultivation both in the hot, low-lying areas and in the cool mountains.

The eastern and southeastern depressions with altitudes between 1000 and 1500 meters extend west of the extensive backwater swamps of the Akagera River and numerous lakes. It is characterized by a hot, dry climate, porous soils and laterite crusts, as well as bush savannah. The climate, soils and the widespread distribution of tsetse flies make this landscape unsuitable for soil cultivation and livestock farming. There are always long dry seasons, which lead to famine in the populated areas. In 1934, the Belgian administration established the Akagera National Park as a game reserve in the sparsely populated area in the east . To the south and west of it there were hunting areas and private branches. These hunting areas and parts of Akagera Park were released for settlement for returning (so-called long-term) refugees after July 1994. In the southeastern part, the Bugesera district, Tutsi from different parts of the country had initially been forcibly resettled since the end of the 1950s, followed by Hutu from the north of the country.

The lowlands of the Mayaga region along the Akanyaru River and its papyrus swamps were formerly reserved for the Tutsi herds of cattle as pasture reserves in the persistent dry season. They were only used for soil construction in the course of the 20th century.

Flora and fauna

The high mountains in Rwanda are characterized by special ecosystems with unique animal and plant species, which are created by the foggy, humid and cool tropical climate. For example, the Nyungwe Forest is the only remaining mountain rainforest to be home to a considerable biodiversity with many endemic species.

The center of Rwanda has been used intensively for agriculture for a long time.

In the dry and hot east there is the Akagera National Park with grass-tree savannahs, swamps and lakes. Until 1994, the park housed numerous large herds of zebras, impalas, topis and water buffalo and other antelope species in smaller herds, a few elephants and giraffes flown in from Tanzania. Lions were numerous, and leopards were also present. Many hippos and crocodiles lived in the waters. The bird fauna was very diverse. The animal population - especially lions and antelopes - was severely decimated by the war.

A specialty are the few remaining mountain gorillas in the Virunga volcanoes. The endangered mountain gorillas are protected by protective measures (including a hunting ban). They became famous through the film Gorillas im Nebel , which shows the life of the US researcher Dian Fossey with the gorillas in Rwanda.

environmental Protection

Rwanda has had an environmental protection law since 2005. The environmental agency REMA was founded in 2006. It gives the country the guidelines for environmental protection and has managed to make Rwanda a role model in environmental protection for all other African countries. Kigali is considered one of the cleanest capitals in Africa. Waste separation is required by law in Rwanda, but is not yet applied across the board. Illegal garbage disposal is punishable by a minimum of $ 1,500 or up to two years in prison. Plastic bags are banned in Rwanda. Upon entry, tourists' luggage is searched for plastic bags. Bags that are found are removed from them and disposed of. Instead, paper bags are used in Rwanda.

Currently half of the electricity is generated by diesel generators, the other half by hydropower plants. Three new hydropower plants are being planned.

There are three national parks in Rwanda:

Administrative division

Kigali Nordprovinz Westprovinz Südprovinz Ostprovinz Uganda Burundi Demokratische Republik Kongo Tansania
Current administrative structure
Administrative structure until 2005

Since January 1, 2006, Rwanda has been divided into five provinces:

province Capital Area in km² Population
Inhabitants per
Kigali Kigali 730 1,132,686 1,552
North Byumba 3,436 1,726,370 502
east Rwamagana 9,813 2,595,703 265
south Nyanza 6.118 2,589,975 423
west Kibuye 6.233 2,471,239 396

Before that, Rwanda was divided into the following twelve provinces: Butare, Byumba, Cyangugu, Gikongoro, Gisenyi, Guitarama, Kibungo, Kibuye, Kigali, Kigali Rural, Ruhengeri and Umutara. The five current provinces are further subdivided into a total of thirty districts.


Only around 6% to 16% (depending on the source) of the population live in cities. However, urbanization is increasing.

The largest cities are: Kigali 1,168,570 inhabitants (2012), Butare 103,312 inhabitants (2009), Gitarama 88,031 inhabitants (2009), Ruhengeri 86,685 inhabitants (2005) and Gisenyi 83,623 inhabitants (2005). Except for Kigali, which is developing an increasingly urban character, the cities are very rural in character. They are usually the seat of the local administration as well as church centers (former missions) and also serve as a transshipment point for local trade and as transport hubs.

Kigali is the capital of Rwanda and has an international airport as well as several international hotels and is the center of regular bus traffic in all directions.

Gisenyi is a picturesque small town at the northern end of Lake Kiwu. It was founded in the German colonial times. There are still houses from that time. Many colonial officials and settlers also lived in Gisenyi during the Belgian colonial era. It is right on the border with the Congo; the neighboring town on the other side of the border is Goma . After the genocide, large streams of refugees moved through Gisenyi to Goma. From Gisenyi there is a regular boat service for cargo and people to Kibuye and Cyangugu. Gisenyi is also home to the state-owned Bralirwa brewery, which generates the largest share of GDP.

Ruhengeri lies in the north in the lava plain at the foot of the volcanoes. From there, tourists travel to the volcanoes and visit gorilla groups that are used to humans.

Guitarama is located in the center of the country, between Kigali and Butare, not far from the important Catholic mission and the Kabgayi diocese. The so-called "Hutu Revolution" of the PARMEHUTU originated from Guitarama. The first republic was proclaimed here at the end of the 1950s.

Kibuye is a small town on a very rugged coastline on Lake Kiwu. An old mission station is located on a rock that extends into the lake. The town itself is a bit elevated, but the numerous fishermen usually have their houses down on the coast. A shabby and since 2005 closed holiday complex with bungalows should attract tourists. Before the genocide, there were 250,000 Tutsis in Kibuye Prefecture, and only 8,000 survived the massacres.

Cyangugu at the southern end of Lake Kiwu is right on the border with Congo. Here, too, there were powerful flows of refugees into the Congo during the genocide.

Butare in southern Rwanda is, in a sense, the country's cultural city. It was founded during the Belgian colonial era and at that time was the seat of the Belgian colonial administration for the Rwanda-Urundi dual colony. Butare also has buildings from the Belgian colonial era. The national university is supported by Germany among others. In addition to the National University there is also the National Museum in Butare, some of which shows interesting exhibits from pre-colonial times, including traditional grasshouses, including those of the “King” (Mwami).

Kibungo is located in the south-east of the country, on a road that leads to the Rusumo border crossing into Tanzania. Byumba is in the north of the country.



Children on the way to the Volcano National Park in the northwest
Over 40% of the population is under 15 years old

Rwanda has a population of around 12 million. The average life expectancy at birth is given as 55.4 to 58.8 years. The proportion of the population of the under 14-year-olds amounts to 42.3%, that of the 15- to 64-year-olds to 55% and that of the over 65-year-olds to 2.7%.

With an average of 432 inhabitants per square kilometer, Rwanda is the most densely populated country in Africa. The high population pressure is Rwanda's main structural problem, as the country has little industry and no significant resources. The country is also burdened by the high number of refugees who come to Rwanda mainly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2017, 3.6% of the population was born abroad. Population growth is around 2.1% annually.

Population development

Population development in millions of inhabitants
year population year population
1950 2,186,000 1990 7,236,000
1955 2,526,000 1995 5,928,000
1960 2,933,000 2000 8,026,000
1965 3,233,000 2005 8,992,000
1970 3,755,000 2010 10,247,000
1975 4,359,000 2017 12,208,000
1980 5,141,000 2030 16,024,000
1985 6,120,000 2050 21,886,000

Source: UN, figures for 2030 and 2050 are forecasts

Ethnic composition

A population with a common language and culture lives in Rwanda. The colonial powers, first Germans, then Belgians, decided to govern through indirect rule and did not want to build their own administrative apparatus. They initially supported the ruling elite of the Tutsi and tried to use them for their own purposes. The colonial powers defined the social categories of “ Hutu ”, “ Tutsi ” and “ Twa ” as “tribes”, differentiated according to racial criteria regarding appearance and alleged character, as well as according to the economic base (Tutsi = cattle breeders; Hutu = farmers; Twa = Hunters / gatherers, potters). At the end of the 19th century, German researchers (racial theorists) developed the “ Hamitic hypothesis ” in the spirit of “racial science” and sorted a diverse, mixed African society, whose ethnic groups shared the language, customs and traditions, into “tribes”: here the minority the Tutsi who allegedly immigrated from the Nile Valley, a tall, light-skinned, blue-blooded, Hamitic race, there the autochthonous majority of the stocky, negroid, servile, rural Hutu from the Bantu family . The Hamites were the bearers of the cultural development of Africa and are generally a superior "master race", according to the Hamite theory of John Hanning Speke . These “ethnic groups” or “races” are part of a historical myth that has become an important ideological instrument of colonial policy. Tutsi, as it were ennobled as “black whites”, were privileged in the colonial system of rule; they willingly adopted a theory that historically "proved" their superiority.

According to modern genetic analyzes, there are statistically significant differences in genetic markers between Tutsi and Hutu, but the differences are not great. The results show a very close relationship between Tutsi and Hutu (also relative to neighboring population groups), so that a specific migration of only the Tutsi cannot be assumed.

In 1934/35 the Belgian colonial power carried out a census. The affiliation to Tutsi or Hutu was u. a. defined in terms of the number of cattle one owned. All families with more than ten cattle were Tutsi, all families with fewer were Hutu. Those who did not have beef were classified as Twa. The colonial powers initially preferred to negotiate with the wealthier Tutsi, who included the royal family and the traditional elites. In 1939, the Belgian colonialists made it compulsory to include ethnicity in ID cards. The postulated difference - the ethnologist Claude Meillassoux speaks of "imaginary ethnography" - became, as it were, a state of nature and, as a tribalistic stereotype, poisoned the Rwandan imagination.

The Tutsi were initially given sole access to the colonial schools with the aim of serving the colonial administration. As a result of colonial policy, the population was obliged to pay taxes and forced labor, which Tutsi were responsible for collecting. All of this led to dissatisfaction and envy. In addition, there were increasing problems because Tutsi expressed their own thoughts and did not want to implement all the requirements of the (Belgian) colonial power. The Belgian colonial administration and the Catholic mission increasingly relied on “ divide et impera ” and began to politically promote the Hutu. When the Hutu took power in 1959, they perverted ethnic segregation into a kind of “black apartheid ”. They adopted the racist ideology of the Europeans and began to treat the Tutsi as later immigrant foreigners in Rwanda.

Before the first massacres, expulsions and the first wave of Tutsi refugees in 1959, their share was estimated at 12–13%. This proportion is said to have decreased to around 9-10% by further waves of refugees and expulsions by the time of genocide. The proportion of Twa also seems to have steadily decreased since the 1930s. There was and is a not insignificant proportion of people with fluctuating or mixed ethnic identities, even though their ethnicity was officially registered.

The genocide brought death to at least three quarters and perhaps more than 90% of Tutsi resident in Rwanda. Due to the return of a large number of Tutsi in exile, which began shortly afterwards, the Tutsi again make up significantly more than the 1–3% of the population that is expected. More recent figures on ethnicity are hardly available. The " Hamite Theory " is still very popular today, as it provides a simple explanatory model for the genocide .


The mother tongue of almost all Rwandans is the Bantu language Kinyarwanda . 88% of the population speak only this language. Other official languages ​​are French (since the Belgian colonial era) and, since 1994, English, which was introduced mainly by long-term refugees returning from Tanzania and Uganda. Swahili , which is also one of the Bantu languages ​​and is only learned as a foreign language in Rwanda , is also spoken in the trading centers .

Due to the inflection at the beginning of the word, which is typical for Bantu languages , a variety of spellings arise. The words Hutu and Tutsi, for example, do not exist as such in Kinyarwanda. In the normal grammatical form a ba (wa) is put in front, i.e. bahutu or batutsi (= watussi ). More precisely, there is also the article, and it is spoken of umuhutu (plural: abahutu ) or umututsi ( abatutsi ). But since the prefixes change depending on the grammatical use, the words in Kinyarwanda dictionaries are sorted according to the word stem.

In October 2008, the government announced that the focus in Rwandan education would be shifted from French to English in the coming years. This was implemented in 2009. For example, school exams and lessons are held in English. The aim is to bind the country more politically and economically to East Africa.

In the spring of 2017, the Chamber of Deputies decided to introduce Swahili as another official language as part of the ongoing integration into the East African Community .


The indigenous ancestor and Ryangombe cult does not appear in public, but is still practiced by a considerable part of the population in addition to the religions that were introduced later. It is also a monotheistic religion with a creator god ( Imana ) and a great personality ( Ryangombe ), who was a mediator and earthly representative of God. Because of these parallels to the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Trinity , the Rwandans were comparatively easy to win over to the Christian faith during the German colonial period . In the north of the country - as in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo - there is still the Nyabingi cult, which is centered around a woman.

Already since the German colonization, but especially since the Belgian colonization after the First World War , the country has been proselytized, which led to a dominance of the Roman Catholic Church , which shortly before the genocide made up around two thirds of the population, currently up to 55% . Charismatic groups and many new churches (Born Again Christians and Awakening Churches), on the other hand, spread across the country after the genocide . Protestants (including Adventists), currently up to 38%, are represented by numerous different churches (including Anglicans, Presbyterians, Adventists, Methodists and Baptists).

The first Muslims came to the country with Arab- Zanzibarian ivory and slave traders at the end of the 19th century, but East African Muslims only settled down with the German colonial power. At least 5% of Rwandans profess Islam. Other sources citing up to 12% Muslims and more may be exaggerated, but can be traced back to an increased influx of Islam since the civil war.



Use of OLPC laptops in a primary school. The computer application is promoted by the government.

Public spending on education amounted to 4.1% of the gross domestic product in 2008. 70% of the adult population can read and write, although the proportion of illiterate women is higher. Public elementary schools have become free of charge. 86.4% of all boys and 88.5% of all girls attend primary school (as of 2012). In Rwanda, the mean school attendance of people over 25 increased from 1.8 years in 1990 to 3.8 years in 2015. The current educational expectation is already 10.8 years. Schooling is compulsory for the six-year elementary school. This is followed by the option of attending the three-year secondary school, which either entitles to attend a university or is more of a vocational character. Kinyarwanda , French and English are generally taught. Rwanda has several universities ; the largest is the Université nationale du Rwanda .


On average, a woman gives birth to 5 to 6 children. There are therefore plans at the political level to introduce a “three-child policy”. The availability and use of modern contraceptives in Rwanda has increased enormously in recent years. In 1990, only ten percent of women resorted to contraception; in 2012 it was 45 percent. In the cities in particular, the fertility rate is consequently falling, where women only have between 3 and 4 children on average.

There are around 18,000 residents for every doctor. The average life expectancy is around 60.1 years - 58.5 years for men and 61.7 years for women. 31% of women use health services at birth. 18% of children under 5 are malnourished (as of 2005). The under-5 mortality rate is around 7.6%. The HIV prevalence in the general population is given as 2.9%; however, it is higher in the sexually active parts of the population. The proportion of the population with statutory health insurance has increased significantly in recent years and is 91% (as of 2010). The price of health insurance is around 1.50 euros per person per year.

Development of life expectancy in Rwanda over time

Period Life expectancy
in years
Period Life expectancy
in years
1950-1955 40.0 1985-1990 48.1
1955-1960 41.5 1990-1995 23.7
1960-1965 43.0 1995-2000 44.7
1965-1970 44.1 2000-2005 50.6
1970-1975 44.6 2005-2010 60.1
1975-1980 45.8 2010-2015 65.2
1980-1985 49.8

Source: UN


Monarchy and colonial times

Visit of the Belgian troops in Kigali, 1916

Rwanda has centuries of history as a monarchy . At the end of the 19th century, as part of the division of Africa among the major European powers, it was added to Germany and placed under the colony of German East Africa . The Germans limited themselves to indirect rule in the form of residency . As in British protectorates, the German resident faced the local rulers in a controlling and advisory capacity. At the same time the missionary work began, in which the Catholics prevailed. During the First World War , the country was occupied by Belgian armed forces starting from the Belgian Congo and awarded to Belgium as part of the Mandate Rwanda-Urundi by the League of Nations . With independence, the old areas of Rwanda and Burundi went their own way separately as independent states.

In the 1960 local elections, women were given the right to vote. In the Legislative Decree of Rwanda - Urundi (LDRU) N ° 02/269 , enacted on August 17, 1961 by the Belgian administration of the UN mandate area, women were granted universal suffrage at national level and in the elections to the Legislative Assembly on August 25 First exercised in September 1961. Universal suffrage for all adults was confirmed upon independence in 1962. In 1961 women were given the right to be elected to all offices except for the presidency. The right to stand as a candidate for this office was only granted to them in 1978 in the new constitution.

In modern history, the most important events in recent history were the colonization , which the country only reached shortly before 1900, independence in 1962 and the genocide of 1994.

Since the declaration of independence

After independence on July 1, 1962, a first (1962–1973) and then a second republic (July 1973–1994) followed. The first republic in particular was accompanied by massacres, expulsions and refugee movements by Tutsi. A large number of them were then prevented from returning to Rwanda and lived for decades in neighboring countries (Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and DR Congo, and in some cases Kenya).

On October 1, 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), in which Rwandans in exile from Uganda were strongly represented, attacked the country in order to force the return of refugees. They occupied parts of the north of the country (in Byumba and Mutara). Internationally mediated negotiations initially led to an armistice in July 1992. One consequence was the formation of the UNAMIR troops. After the peace treaty of Arusha , however, there was more or less a political blockade of the implementation of the peace treaty in January 1993. Radical forces were not ready to cooperate with their opponents in the transition structures of government, parliament and the army.

Refugee camp in what was then Zaire as a result of the genocide in 1994

On April 6, 1994 the plane of then President Juvénal Habyarimana was shot down while approaching the capital Kigali. From April 7 to June 1994, the genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda ensued , also combined with the liquidation of dissident Hutu. The RPF resumed fighting against the genocide organizing regime. It conquered the north, east and south-east as well as the capital by July, and then also the central and north-west of the country. French troops, coming from eastern Congo, temporarily occupied the south-west of the country. On July 19, 1994, Pasteur Bizimungu was appointed president. This was followed by a transition phase with transitional governments based on the Arusha Treaty, which lasted until 2003. Since 2003, Rwanda has had a new constitution, an elected parliament and an elected president.

In 1998 the Second Congo War began in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly the Belgian Congo) , in which Rwanda (as well as Uganda) participated - officially in order to pursue remnants of the Hutu extremist Interahamwe militias who had fled there , but also to join to enrich the Congolese mineral resources. In 2002 a peace agreement was signed with the Congo. President Joseph Kabila announced in October 2007 that the Hutu militias would be disarmed. To this day, fighting between various rebel groups and the Congolese government continues in the east of the Congo.

At the beginning of January 2009, the Congolese militia chief Nkunda was overthrown by his military chief Bosco Ntaganda in a power struggle within the leadership of the CNDP . Ntaganda signed an armistice and joined forces with Congolese and Rwandan government forces against Nkunda. On January 22, 2009, Laurent Nkunda was arrested in Rwanda territory.


Rwanda is a constitutional republic. Today's constitution was passed in a referendum in 2003. The president is determined in general elections. The parliament consists of two chambers, the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The political parties gather in the so-called “voting forum ” ( Forum de concertation ), where decisions are made by consensus. Political organizations were banned until 2003. Accordingly, the first post-war elections for parliament and the presidency did not take place until August and September 2003.

Politics today is strongly shaped by the aftermath of the war (1990–1994) and genocide (1994), economic problems and insecurity in the region.

The judicial institutions consist of the Supreme Court (Cour Suprême), "la Haute cour de la République", the provincial courts, the courts of the districts and cities, as well as special institutions such as Gacaca and military courts.

After the military victory in 1994, the " Rwandan Patriotic Front " (RPF) established a coalition government similar to that formed in 1992 by President Juvénal Habyarimana . Habyarimana's party, the Hutu-dominated National Movement for Democracy and Development, was banned because hardliners had taken power after his death in a plane crash in April 1994. These are said to have played a key role in the planning of the genocide that began immediately after his death.

In December 2015, a constitutional referendum was adopted that lifted the limit on the presidential term of office to two times seven years. This allowed President Kagame to continue to rule after 2017 (he was re-elected in August 2017).

In the 2019 Democracy Index of the British magazine The Economist, Rwanda ranks 129th out of 167 countries, making it one of the authoritarian states. In the country report Freedom in the World 2017 by the US non-governmental organization Freedom House , the country's political system is rated as “not free”. Due to the country's economic progress, some observers see Rwanda as a successful "development autocracy".


Paul Kagame, President and Head of State of Rwanda

Acting President and thus Head of State has been General Paul Kagame (RPF) since April 22, 2000 . The head of government and his ministers are appointed by the president. The office of Prime Minister is since 2017 by Édouard Ngirente perceived.

The president is usually elected directly by the people. However, the current incumbent was elected in a special procedure on April 17, 2000 by the members of the National Assembly with 81 out of 86 possible votes, but then elected in 2003 in a general election. On August 9, 2010, Kagame was confirmed in office ; the opposition, however, described the presidential elections as "not free". Acting Foreign Minister is Richard Sezibera .

legislative branch

From 1994 to 2003 Rwanda had a transitional parliament with only one chamber and 70 seats. It was founded on December 12, 1994 through an agreement between several parties. The members were determined by the Arusha Treaties . Since the 2003 elections, the parliament in Rwanda has consisted of two chambers: the Chambre des Députés (Chamber of Deputies) with 80 seats and the Sénat with 26 seats.

The seats of the Chamber of Deputies are allocated as follows: 53 deputies are elected directly by the people in a secret ballot; 24 women are elected: two for each province and Kigali city; two members are elected by the “National Youth Council”; one member is elected by the handicapped association “Federation of the Association of the Disabled”. With 63.8%, the parliament currently (2015) has the highest proportion of women among the parliamentary lower houses worldwide.

Senate seats are composed as follows: 12 senators are indirectly elected, one from each province and the city of Kigali; eight senators are appointed by the president; four senators are appointed by the “Forum of Political organizations”; a senator is elected from among lecturers and researchers from state universities and colleges, and a senator is elected from among lecturers and researchers from private universities and colleges.

Foreign policy

Rwanda is a member of the United Nations , the African Union , the East African Community , the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa , and has been a member of the Commonwealth of Nations since 2009 . This makes Rwanda, besides Mozambique, the only member state of the Commonwealth without prior colonial relations with the United Kingdom . A partnership has existed between Rwanda and the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate since 1982.

Human rights

Amnesty International (AI) has observed that in Rwanda freedom of expression is severely restricted and freedom of association is hindered by the government. Civilians, but also human rights defenders and journalists, are controlled by the authorities and prevented from doing their work. According to AI, the courts do not meet international standards for fair judicial proceedings.

The children in particular suffer from the aftermath of the genocide. According to UNICEF , 600,000 children grow up with no or one parent and in extreme poverty. According to UNICEF estimates, there are around 28,000 so-called child households in Rwanda. More than 100,000 boys and girls in these families are without parents and largely survive on their own. In around 80% of children's households, the oldest girls take care of their younger siblings. Many of these children are exploited as cheap labor on plantations or in private households and are sexually abused. Often the girls have to prostitute themselves in order to earn a living in these families. In doing so, they are completely unexplained and are exposed to the country's high risk of HIV infection. The chances of children to work out a better future are slim: 90% of boys and girls from children's households do not go to school. In the past, the then Congolese rebel Laurent Nkunda repeatedly recruited fighters, many of them child soldiers, from the refugee camps in Rwanda. According to UNICEF estimates, around one million children in Rwanda today suffer from particularly difficult living conditions.

The government is still hostile towards sexual minorities and threatens to exacerbate this opposition. Homosexuals can be sentenced to long prison terms based on the “moral laws” in the penal code and are subject to constant reprisals and intimidation. A new draft law provides that people should be punished who have sexual contact with people of the same sex or who promote them. According to legal experts, this would also make open-ended psychological counseling for gays and lesbians illegal. The sentence is five to ten years in prison and a fine of between 200,000 and one million Rwandan francs (240 to 1200 euros).


RDF soldiers (with United States Army instructors , 2011)

The armed forces of Rwanda ( English Rwanda Defense Forces RDF, French Forces Rwandaises de Défense ) consist of the high command of the armed forces, the general staff, the army, the air force and special commands. Minister of Defense is Marcel Gatsinzi. In 2017, Rwanda spent just under 1.0 percent of its economic output or $ 111 million on its armed forces.

The RDF was re-established in 1994 after the genocide of the Tutsi. The advancing military units of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) were transferred to the official armed forces of Rwanda. The RDF includes under the Rwandan Defense Law of 2002

  • the High Command Council
  • the general staff
  • the Rwanda Land Force
  • the Rwanda Air Force
  • Special forces

The workforce is around 33,000. Several former RDF officers have now been charged with crimes committed during the 1994 genocide.



The general conditions are unfavorable. In the state there are:

  • high population density
  • Dominance of subsistence agriculture in the face of land scarcity and stressed natural resources
  • weak service and industrial sectors
  • small, fragmented and highly regulated market
  • insufficient regional networking of the markets
  • regional conflicts and wars
  • long distances and high costs for access to the world market (correspondingly high costs)

The genocide of 1994 further damaged Rwanda's already weak economic base and left the population, especially women, impoverished. In mid-1994 and 1995, the country and the refugee camps in neighboring countries together received emergency aid worth more than 307.4 million US dollars. In 1996 the transition from emergency aid to reconstruction and development cooperation began. The USA, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain, France, China, the World Bank and the UN Development Program as well as the European Development Fund are the most important donors.

From 1994 to the end of 1995, Rwanda initially received little external economic aid. From 1996 to 1997 the government began to rebuild the industrial sector through technical and financial assistance including loan guarantees, economic liberalization and the privatization of state-owned companies. In 1998 the government established an investment center and issued a new investment code to attract local and foreign investors.

Over 60% of the population live below the poverty line, of which 20% even live below the limit of absolute poverty. Rwanda's ability to attract private and business capital is still very limited.

In the meantime, however, considerable progress has been made in stabilizing and reviving the economy to pre-1994 levels. The gross domestic product has increased in recent years. However, poverty has increased over the same period. Food production only accounts for 80% of the demand, so that there are regular regional and seasonal famines and there are areas and population groups with chronic malnutrition.

Inflation was around 3.3% in 2000 and rose to 8.7% in 2003 and 12.6% in 2004. Energy (electricity) and food prices in particular rose sharply in 2004 and 2005. In 2017 the inflation rate was around 5%.

In August 2016, the exchange rate to the euro was around 897 Rwandan Francs (RWF). There are numerous government-registered exchange offices, especially in the capital. A business economist in administration can earn around 100,000 RWF per month (approx. 135 euros); a driver in the capital about 5000 RWF. A taxi ride in the capital costs around 2000 RWF, half a liter of milk 450 RWF, a 33 cl bottle of mineral water around 250 RWF.

Only a few Rwandans have permanent, permanent jobs with wages. The number of workers is estimated at around 6.2 million. Unemployment figures are not available and would hardly be meaningful in an economy that is still poorly market-integrated and still has a large non-monetary production area. The CIA estimated the unemployment rate to be 2.7% in 2014, but almost all jobs are informal. In 2012 around three quarters of the workforce worked in agriculture. The largest union, CESTRAR, was established as an organ of the previous government and gained independence through political reforms in 1991.

The government has joined the NEPAD initiative and shares its goals. The African Development Bank had a Rwandan President, Donald Kaberuka , from mid-2005 to 2015 .

The gross domestic product (GDP) for 2017 is estimated at 9.1 billion US dollars. In purchasing power parity , the GDP is 24.6 billion US dollars or 2080 US dollars per inhabitant. Real growth was 6.1%.

In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Rwanda ranks 58th out of 137 countries (2017-2018).

In 2017, Rwanda ranked 51st out of 180 countries in the Economic Freedom Index . In both categories, Rwanda was one of the best countries in Africa.

Key figures

All GDP values ​​are given in US dollars ( purchasing power parity ).

year GDP
( purchasing power parity )
GDP per capita
( purchasing power parity )
GDP growth
Inflation rate
(in percent)
Public debt
(as a percentage of GDP)
1980 02.11 billion 0453 −3.6% 7.2% ...
1985 03.66 billion 0643 5.5% −1.1% ...
1990 03.96 billion 0614 0.4% 4.2% ...
1995 02.96 billion 0541 24.5% 56.0% 120%
2000 05.00 billion 0667 8.4% 3.9% 103%
2005 08.28 billion 0938 9.4% 9.1% 67%
2006 09.32 billion 1,036 9.2% 8.8% 24%
2007 10.30 billion 1,120 7.6% 9.1% 24%
2008 11.68 billion 1,229 11.2% 15.4% 19%
2009 12.50 billion 1,289 6.3% 10.3% 20%
2010 13.58 billion 1,358 7.3% 2.3% 20%
2011 14.94 billion 1,465 7.8% 5.7% 20%
2012 16.56 billion 1,577 8.8% 6.3% 20%
2013 17.62 billion 1,640 4.7% 4.2% 27%
2014 19.30 billion 1,754 7.6% 1.8% 29%
2015 21.24 billion 1,884 8.9% 2.5% 33%
2016 22.80 billion 1,973 6.0% 5.7% 37%
2017 24.62 billion 2,080 6.1% 4.8% 41%


High-rise office buildings in Kigali
Modern supermarket in Kigali

The economy (production) has grown strongly since 2000 (2000: 6%; 2001: 7%, 2003: 1–3.5%, 2004: 4%, 2005: 5.5%). Agriculture represents 40% to 41% of GDP, industry around 20% and services around 37–38%. Exports account for 8.3 (2000 and 2003) to 9.6% (2004), imports 24–27% of GDP.

However, the growth seems to be primarily due to a construction boom, especially in the capital and national parks (including large hotels such as the Intercontinental, Kivu Sun and Akagera Game Lodge; buildings for insurance companies and business people) as well as major road construction projects (2004: Kigali-Kayonza; Kigali-Butare -Akanyaru) to go back. The construction sector grew by 15.6% in 2003 and 10% in 2004. Years of peak growth (2000 and 2001) can also be traced back to export revenues from the marketing of coltan and other minerals, for which it is unclear how much of them comes from neighboring Congo and what is legally and what is illegally marketed via Rwanda. On the domestic market, BRALIRWA, brewery and soft drink manufacturer, under Dutch license (Heineken) has provided the main share for decades. Other important economic activities are: cigarettes (Tabarwanda), mobile phone companies and the Internet (MTN), soaps and cosmetics (sulfo), textiles (Utexrwa, rather on the decline due to imports of cheap textiles) and building materials (especially Cimerwa, cement production; due to high energy prices in the Crisis).

Agriculture only represents about 40% of GDP. On the other hand, 93% of Rwandans live in rural areas and 90% of them in subsistence farming. Agriculture repeatedly suffers from meteorological irregularities and crop failures. Large parts of agricultural production are not marketed. Services and industry are poorly developed.

Rwanda ranks 152 on the Human Development Index (HDI).

The upswing in the service sector (hospitality / tourism, transport and telecommunications) is also particularly affecting the capital. The number of tourists (visitors to the national parks) is increasing (2003: 16,538; 2004: 26,998) as is the number of passengers at Kigali airport (2003: 116,638; 2004: 132,504).

As in other East African countries, families of Asian origin (especially from Pakistan and India) have been strongly represented in trade since the colonial era, including some Greeks. Since Rwanda entered the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the competitive pressure on imports and exports has grown.

Rwanda has a great lack of energy. There are hardly any ways to generate energy on site. The dependence on neighboring countries is great. At the same time, the demand for energy is growing due to the growth of cities and the economic boom. Petroleum products are brought in from the Indian Ocean over long distances and bad roads, especially through Kenya and Uganda. The country produces electricity mainly from hydropower (97.7%). In 2001 the production of electricity was 97 million kWh, in 2002 already 166.7 million kWh; However, the consumption in 2002 was 195 million kWh; 40 million kWh were imported. In 2008 the consumption was 237 million kWh, which corresponds to approx. 22 kWh per inhabitant (Germany: approx. 7,000 kWh). Only around 6% of the population, especially in cities, had an electricity connection in 2009; by 2012 the figure is expected to rise to 16%. The power supply is completely inadequate as the water levels of local lakes have fallen too much due to excessive use and / or climatic changes. The electricity is therefore switched off regularly. There is a dispute between the countries involved over the large hydropower plant in the southwest on the Rusizi River, which is shared with Congo and Burundi, and the water level of Lake Kívu, which is the tributary, has also fallen. Since 2005/06, large diesel generators have also been used in order to limit the power cuts in certain districts of Kigalis and other places due to insufficient capacities.

Lake Kiwu contains methane gas from volcanic activity, which has been used to generate energy for the BRALIRWA brewery since 1983. Negotiations have been underway since 2005 to initially build a power plant that uses the methane gas in Lake Kiwu (planned: initially 30 MW). The natural gas reserves are estimated at 28.32 billion cubic meters (as of January 1, 2002). In 2009 CounterGlobal signed a contract with the Rwandan government to carry out the methane gas project. In 2010 the first construction phase is to go into operation (25 MW), in 2012 the second construction phase (75 MW).

The soils are heavily stressed by intensive farming, tropical climate and slopes and are threatened by erosion. Large parts of the natural mountain forests were cut down in pre-colonial times, and this trend has continued steadily ever since. The forest stock is given as 3440 km² (2004). The governments made sometimes more, sometimes less serious efforts to protect the remaining forests. Cultivated and commercial forests are also in poor condition. The population has a great need for timber for firing, building, etc. 95% of households still cook with wood and charcoal, the majority of them on energy-inefficient “three stones”. The spread of improved stoves is still low. The government passed a law a few years ago, after which trees or branches can only be felled with permission. Since then, the prices of charcoal and bricks have risen sharply. There is a lack of alternatives to firewood and charcoal. The government plans to give high priority to the creation of alternative, environmentally friendly forms of energy. There are individual projects for the production of briquettes from non-compostable organic waste (in the capital), but this has no economic significance in quantitative terms.

The government has adopted a master plan called Vision 2020, which aims for 7% annual economic growth, private sector development, modernization of agriculture and making Rwanda a service center in Great Lakes Africa.

After the privatization of the state-owned telecommunications company RwandaTel, the US company Terracom in Rwanda expanded the fiber optic infrastructure to 1,400 miles as of 2009 , according to Popular Science . The Rwandan government is now planning to purchase 50,000 XO laptops by 2013 .


Agricultural hilly landscape near Guitarama

Rwanda's economy is heavily agricultural. About 93% of the population work in this field. However, a large part of the income is self-sufficient (90%). The scarcity of land is great. More than 90% of the predominantly family businesses cultivate an area of ​​less than one hectare.

A land reform law was discussed for several years and passed in 2005. It is intended to enable the permanent acquisition of land and thus create incentives for investment. So far, all land has been owned by the state; Citizens only had usufructuary rights.

Figures on the production of the agricultural sector should be viewed with caution, as only part of agricultural production is marketed and the estimates must remain imprecise given the high proportion of subsistence production by smallholder families. In addition, agricultural production often fluctuates strongly from year to year due to climatic irregularities (especially droughts). Example: In 2002 agricultural production is said to have increased by 15%, for 2003 a decrease of 4.1% was recorded, and in 2004 it is said to have remained constant compared to 2003. Price increases, especially for staple foods, place a heavy burden on the population.

The most important crops for domestic consumption are the tubers of manioc (cassava), sweet potato (less: Kolokasien ), various types of beans , some peas . The soybean cultivation is spreading more and more; In the center of the country it is even made into tofu . In the higher elevations, potatoes, wheat and peas are extracted. Bananas , which are used for wine production and as table and fruit bananas, are grown in large quantities, especially in the lower and middle elevations, and less in higher elevations due to the climate. But they are culturally highly regarded. Sorghum is grown on cereal crops for the production of beer and porridge (especially in the low and middle regions), as well as maize ; In the depressions, more and more rice and wheat are grown (the latter in the higher elevations).

The cultivation areas are on the hill flanks. The farming families cultivate almost every usable patch of land; there is hardly any fallow practice any more. It is mostly grown in mixed culture and in crop rotation. There are still some small stands of trees on the hilltops; often the soil there is bad. The lowlands belong to the municipalities, who let farmers groups use them; mostly for commercial use.

The Rwandan farming families traditionally live in scattered settlements in the middle of their fields; the banana grove right around the house. After 1994 the government began to require people to relocate to villages. This process has progressed to different degrees and is controversial.

Traditionally, cattle are the highly valued farm animals; it was mainly milk (for butter for body care and sour milk for food) that was used. Today there is modern milk processing with a wide range of products. However, many smallholders do not have enough pasture and fodder to keep a cow. Small farmers therefore tend to keep goats or even just a few chickens. Rabbit breeding and pig farming are known to a small extent.

The primary export goods are coffee and tea . However, the country suffers from the low prices of these goods in industrialized countries. The quality of coffee and tea fell sharply in the 1990s; that of coffee has meanwhile been brought to a higher level than before the war.

Despite Rwanda's relatively fertile soil, food production often cannot keep pace with population growth. This makes food imports necessary.

Foreign trade

International airport in Kigali: Due to the inland location of Rwanda, air traffic is of great importance
RwandAir is the national airline of Rwanda

Energy shortages, instability in the region and long distances to the ports (Indian Ocean) and in some cases (Tanzania) poor transport connections to neighboring countries overshadow the country's export economy. Nevertheless, Rwanda has increased its export volume more than tenfold since 2003 and has a relatively high foreign trade quota in regional comparison .

2016 and 2017, the value of exports of grades and services was estimated in 1246 or 1667000000 US dollars and according to the World Bank in 2016 and in 2017 14.9% and 18.2% of GDP.

Important export partners in 2017 were the United Arab Emirates (2017: 38.5% of exports); Kenya (2017: 15.1%); Switzerland (2017: 9.9%); DR Congo 2017: 4.9% and Singapore 2017: 4.5%.

The most important export goods are still coffee and tea, and to a lesser extent pyrethrum (plant insecticide) and mineral ores (coltan and tin oxide). From 2003 to 2004 the value of exported goods rose from 62 to 98 million US dollars.

Coffee production, processing and marketing was privatized after 1994 (before that it was a state monopoly), so that there are now various coffee brands. The export of coffee improved by 82% between 2003 and 2004: 700 tons were exported compared to 270 in 2003. This goes back to the construction of coffee washers across the country.

Tea production is still in state hands, but two plantations are to be privatized (according to the New Times of April 8, 2006). Overall, coffee and tea production are to be further intensified.

Ores such as cassiterite (tin), columbite-tantalite and wolframite as well as small amounts of gold and sapphires have been mined since the (Belgian) colonial period . But ores had become meaningless until the 1980s. With the coltan boom in the east of the DR Congo in the late 1990s, Rwandan mines were also reopened. A large part of the east Congolese minerals (including gold) is brought to the world market via Rwanda. The export of tin oxide was 1458 tons (t) in 2003 and 3553 tons in 2004; that of coltan was 732 t in 2003 and 861 t in 2004.

In order to broaden the export base, the government is trying to promote the cultivation and marketing of "alternative crops" such as flowers or fruit. However, this is in competition with the already insufficient self-sufficiency of food for the population.

The volume of imports in 2017 was an estimated $ 2,994 million. According to the World Bank, imports accounted for 24.6% of GDP in 2000 and around 32.8% in 2017.

Import partners: People's Republic of China (2017: approx. 20.4%), Uganda (2017: 11%), India (2017: 7.2%), Tanzania (2017: 5.3%); United Arab Emirates (2017: 5.1%) ;.

The most important import goods are fuels, vehicles, building materials and consumer goods. The most important German supply industries are mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, precision mechanics / optics. Chemical primary products are now also being exported to Rwanda. However, electricity is also imported (2002: 40 million kWh).

The government is committed to regional integration of the economy, with the country acting as a bridge between Anglophone East Africa and its central African neighbors Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Among other things, it is intended to make Rwanda a center for information technology in the region (IT). In this context, Rwanda is working with Burundi to join the East African Community (EAC). Rwanda joined her in 2007. As part of the Common East and South African Market (COMESA), Rwanda has committed to aligning its tariffs.

Rwanda is also very keen to attract foreign investment. According to World Bank figures, net inflows (BoP) were $ 7.7 million in 2000, $ 250.5 million in 2010, and $ 293.4 million in 2017.

At the beginning of 2018, Volkswagen AG announced the opening of a plant in Rwanda.


Hotel in Kigali

Tourism does not yet play a major role in Rwanda. Unlike Kenya and Tanzania, the country does not have large national parks. It does not rely on mass tourism, but on a few, wealthy tourists. Even more adventurous tourists on their way across Africa occasionally stay in Rwanda. A specialty for international tourism are the mountain gorillas that live on the slopes of the Virunga volcanoes in the north of the country. There are groups of wild gorillas that are used to humans ("habituated"), which can be visited by a limited number of tourists in their natural environment under certain conditions. There is potential for a limited expansion of tourism in the expansion of picturesque places on Lake Kiwu and the offers in the southern mountain rainforest ( Nyungwe ) - guided tours to groups of chimpanzees are already available -, the regeneration of the animal population in the savannah park in the east ( Akagera National Park ), the development of the Nile spring as well as the possibility of adding a cultural-historical program (dance and song, museums, Butare, royal court in Nyanza, genocide memorials and the few preserved houses from the early colonial period).

Development Assistance

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Rwandan economy grew thanks to a cautious financial policy, coupled with generous external aid and favorable trading conditions. Inflation was low. But when coffee prices fell sharply in the 1980s, economic problems arose. From 1973 to 1980 growth rates were around 6.5% annually, then fell to 2.9% between 1980 and 1985 and stagnated from 1986 to 1990. The crisis came to a head in 1990 when the first measures of a structural adjustment program were implemented by the International Monetary Fund . The program was not fully implemented, but two major devaluations and the abolition of government prices were implemented. The educated elites, most of whom were state employees or employed in state-owned companies, suffered from the consequences.

During the war years 1990 to 1994 economic production decreased, in 1994 by as much as 40%. It then slowly began to recover, with growth of 9% in 1995 and 13% in 1996. Tax revenues improved, state-owned enterprises were privatized, and export and food production resumed.

The state budget is heavily dependent on international financial contributions. In 1999, the country received $ 372.9 million in economic aid. International aid focuses on restoring and expanding infrastructure (roads, water, public facilities such as schools and health facilities, etc.) and the judiciary. In June 1998, Rwanda signed an expanded structural adjustment program with the International Monetary Fund.

Rwanda is classified by the World Bank as a highly indebted developing country . With this rating, it qualifies for participation in the debt relief program for the poorest countries in Africa decided by the industrialized countries in 2000. On April 12, 2005, the IMF established that the completion point required for further debt relief had been reached, which Rwanda had fulfilled a number of conditions (including a program to reduce poverty, various programs for economic development, structural reforms, privatizations, etc.) (see also economy). A first debt relief was granted, a second in July 2006 (see East African Business Week, April 10, 2006).

The share of external donor funding increased further and in 2005 was 57%.

According to World Bank figures, official development aid was US $ 467.5 million in 2000, US $ 333.4 million in 2003 and US $ 322.0 million in 2004.

State budget

The state budget in 2016 comprised expenditures equivalent to US $ 2.27 billion , which was offset by revenues equivalent to US $ 1.86 billion. This results in a budget deficit of 5.0% of GDP .
The national debt in 2016 was $ 2.4 billion, or 36.3% of GDP.

In 2006, the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was as follows:


Infrastructure of Rwanda (July 2015)

The country's infrastructure is currently being greatly expanded with foreign support. In 2018, Rwanda ranked 57th out of 160 countries in the Logistics Performance Index , which is compiled by the World Bank . Rwanda was thus one of the best African countries.

Rail transport

To date, Rwanda has no rail network. However, there have long been discussions about connecting Rwanda to the rail networks of Uganda or Tanzania (see also Rwanda Railway ). Since 2008 there have been plans to build a 450-kilometer connection between Kigali and the Isaka transshipment point in Tanzania. The connection is in standard gauge will be built, the following routes to the Dar es Salaam from meter gauge to standard gauge umgespurt be.

Road traffic

The road network is quite well developed and is still being improved. Rwanda has a road network of around 12,000 kilometers. The paved road network has a length of about 1500 kilometers and connects the most important cities in the country with the capital Kigali. There are relatively good asphalt roads between the major cities (1000 km in total). However, some regions are poorly connected; after all, the long overdue asphalt road in the Bugesera was tackled in spring 2006. Side roads are not paved and in different conditions. The road network is being expanded with the support of multilateral donors (World Bank, EU). The most important road connections to the next sea ports (Mombasa / Kenya) and Dar es Salaam / Tanzania (each over 1500 km) are in poor condition. In April 2006, plans to expand the Uganda-Rwanda long-distance connection became known. The inland location, low transport volumes and weak competition make Rwanda one of the countries with the highest transport costs worldwide, which has been exacerbated by rising oil prices since 2004.

begin target Via description
Kigali Gatuna ( Uganda border) Byumba The main route through the Northern Province. This route connects Rwanda to the Lagos-Mombasa Highway (Trans-African Highway No. 8). A large part of the country's supply of goods runs over this route.
Kigali Kayonza Rwamagana The road heads east from Kigali towards Akagera National Park. The transport of goods to and from Tanzania runs over this route. In 2004 this line was renewed and the first bypass road in Rwanda was built in Rwamagana .
Kayonza Kagitumba (Uganda border) Nyagatare The continuation of the Kigali-Kayonza line to the Uganda border. The route lay in Akagera National Park until it was reduced in size in 1994 for the settlement of refugee returns in 1994.
Kayonza Rusumo ( Tanzania border) Kibungo The main connection to Tanzania in southeast Rwanda. The border is on a bridge over the Kagera Nile , near the Rusuma Falls .
Kigali Nemba ( Burundi border) Nyamata , Mayange The route connects the capital with the Bugesera district and Burundi. The route was renewed in 2007.
Kigali Fugi (Burundi border) Guitarama , Butare The road is the main link between Kigali and Bujumbura . It also connects Kigali with Butare.
Guitarama Kibuye The road branches off from the road between Kigali and Fugi in Guitarama. It leads over numerous serpentines through the hill country of western Rwanda to Lake Kivu.
Butare Cyangugu ( DR Congo border) Gikongoro The road runs through the Nyungwe forest to the shores of Lake Kiwu.
Kigali Gisenyi (DR Congo border) Ruhengeri The road runs at the foot of the Virunga volcanoes in Ruhengeri. In 2007, the renovation of the section between Ruhengeri and Gisenyi began. The road leads to the border with the Congo, near the city of Goma .
Ruhengeri Cyanika ( Uganda border) The road runs along the foot of the Virunga volcanoes.

air traffic


In the 2017 press freedom ranking published by Reporters Without Borders , Rwanda was ranked 159th out of 180 countries. The situation of press freedom in the country is rated by Reporters Without Borders as "difficult".

The Rwandan domestic broadcasting service operates a shortwave transmitter that can occasionally be received on 6055 or 25740 kHz in Europe. The broadcasts of one of the oldest Deutsche Welle relay stations from Rwanda can be heard more frequently , e.g. E.g. in the evening between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on 9655, 11800 or 12070 kHz. The radio station Radio Rwanda (formerly Radiodiffusion de la République Rwandaise ) can be received as an Internet audio stream .

In 2016, 12.4% of the population used the internet.


Intore dancer with a wig made of sisal fibers
The traditional Rwandan basket Agaseke , called "Peace Corps", with a pointed lid, the basket makers weave of fine sisal fibers. It is also on the seal of Rwanda .

Music, dance, and poetry in the native language are important art forms in Rwanda. Traditionally, prose, theater and visual arts are less pronounced.

A common traditional visual art is Imigongo . These geometrically aligned paintings are sketched out on wooden panels by artists who have joined forces in cooperatives, formed three-dimensionally with cow dung, dried and then painted. Spiral patterns or zigzag patterns in black and white are traditional. Modern pictures also use other colors and are partly figurative.

In terms of handicrafts, finely crafted wickerwork is typical. More recently, works by painters have also spread. The Intore War Dance contains reports of heroic deeds after returning from battle.

See also

Portal: Rwanda  - Overview of Wikipedia content on Rwanda


  • Barbara Achermann: Women's Wonderland: The Success Story of Rwanda. Reclam, Ditzingen 2018, ISBN 978-3-15-011128-4 .
  • Gerd Hankel : Rwanda. Living and Rebuilding After Genocide . How history is made and how it becomes official truth. To Klampen, Springe 2016, ISBN 978-3-86674-539-1 .
  • Jacques Maquet : The premise of inequality in Rwanda. A study of political relations in a central African kingdom. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1961.
  • Esther Mujawayo , Souâd Belhaddad : In Search of Stéphanie. Rwanda between reconciliation and denial. Hammer, Wuppertal 2007, ISBN 3-7795-0082-5 .
  • Esther Mujawayo, Souâd Belhaddad: One more life. Ten years after the genocide in Rwanda. Hammer, Wuppertal 2005, ISBN 3-7795-0029-9 .
  • Benjamin See : Le Piège Ethnique. Éditions Dagorno, Paris 1999, ISBN 2-910019-54-3 . (French, "The Ethnic Trap")
  • Helmut Strizek: Rwanda and Burundi from independence to state collapse . Weltforum-Verlag, Munich [u. a.] 1996, ISBN 3-8039-0451-X .
  • Helmut Strizek: Donated colonies: Rwanda and Burundi under German rule. Ch. Links, Berlin 2006, ISBN 978-3-7632-5849-9 .

Web links

Commons : Rwanda  - collection of images
Wiktionary: Rwanda  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikimedia Atlas: Rwanda  - geographical and historical maps
Wikivoyage: Rwanda  Travel Guide

Individual evidence

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Coordinates: 2 °  S , 30 °  E