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Brief History

Rwanda, officially known as the Republic of Rwanda, was said to be founded in the 14th or 15th century as the Kingdom of Rwanda. The colonial era in Rwanda began in 1884 when the territory of Ruanda-Urundi was assigned to Germany by the Berlin Conference, being united with Tanganyika to form German East Africa. However, in 1916, during World War I, Germany lost control of Ruanda-Urundi to Belgian forces; the territory was then declared a League of Nations mandate in 1919, with Belgium being asked to govern. It gained its independence on July 1, 1962. In 1959, three years before independence from Belgium, the majority ethnic group, the Hutus, overthrew the ruling Tutsi king, and thousands of Tutsis died and many were exiled to neighboring countries. The children of these exiles later formed a rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and began a civil war in 1990. The war, along with several political and economic upheavals, exacerbated ethnic tensions, culminating in April 1994 in the genocide of roughly 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The Tutsi rebels defeated the Hutu regime and ended the killing in July 1994. Rwanda held its first local elections in 1999 and its first post-genocide presidential and legislative elections in 2003. It also joined the Commonwealth in late 2009 as its fifty-fourth member. The current president is Paul Kagame since April 22, 2000.

Geography

Rwanda, capital Kigali, is a landlocked country located in the Great Lakes region of eastern-central Africa, covering an area of 26,338 square kilometers. Rwanda is the world's 148th-largest country. It 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 is also known as the Land of a Thousand Hills. Rwanda is the world's 148th-largest country. The high altitude of Rwanda provides the country with a pleasant tropical highland climate. It has two rainy seasons (February to April, November to January). The country has some rivers including the Kagera River, which forms much of Rwanda's eastern border and flows into Lake Victoria. The country's longest river is the Nyabarongo. Another river includes the Ruzizi River. Lake Kivu –the largest lake- is one of Rwanda’s lakes. Some natural resources that Rwanda possesses include gold, cassiterite (tin ore), wolframite (tungsten ore), methane, hydropower, and arable land.

People

Rwanda has a population of 11,055,976 (2010). The country has some ethnic groups such as Hutu (Bantu) 84%, Tutsi (Hamitic) 15%, and Twa (Pygmy) 1%. The official languages are Kinyarwanda, French, and English. Kiswahili (Swahili) is also used in commercial centers. The literacy rate is 70.4%. Its religions are distributed according to the 2001 census among 56.5% Roman Catholic, 26% Protestant, 11.1% Adventist %, 4.6 Muslims, 0.1% followers of indigenous beliefs, and 1.7% none. There are small numbers of Asians and Europeans.

Government

The government of Rwanda is subject to a republic system. Its legal system is based on German and Belgian civil law systems and customary law. It has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. The chief of state is President Paul Kagame (since 22 April 2000), and the head of government is Prime Minister Bernard Makuza (since 8 March 2000). The official currency is the Rwandan franc, where 590 francs are equivalent to US$1.

Economy

Rwanda is a poor country with 60% of the population living below the poverty line (2001), and Gross National Product (GDP) per capita is US$900 (2009).

The 1994 genocide threw the economy into a negative spiral. However, Rwanda has made substantial progress in stabilizing and rehabilitating its economy to pre-1994 levels. GDP has rebounded and inflation has been curbed, and foreign aid in the late 1990s brought about positive growth. Real growth rate of GDP in 2001 was 5%. In the aftermath of the political violence that swept the country during 1994, growth in Rwanda has been led by agriculture, which comprised 39.4% of GDP in 2006, and construction. Agriculture has the highest foreign exchange earnings and employs the largest sector of the working population, of, which, 90% are mostly involved in subsistence farming. Coffee and tea are grown for export, while cereals, vegetables and rice are grown as food crops. Tobacco is also produced. Reliance on agricultural exports makes Rwanda vulnerable to shifts in their prices.

The industrial sector is small and uncompetitive. Products manufactured include cement, agricultural products, small-scale beverages, soap, furniture, shoes, plastic goods, textiles, cigarettes. There is also limited chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing and a tiny textiles and clothing sub-sector. The oil industry in Rwanda is dependent on the importation of all petroleum products from the Mombasa refinery in Kenya.

Livestock are raised throughout the country, with animal husbandry contributing around 8.8% of GDP in 2006. Production systems are mostly traditional, although there are a few intensive dairy farms around Kigali. Shortage of land, water shortage, insufficient and poor quality feed and regular disease epidemics with insufficient veterinary service are major constraints, restricting output in this sector. Fishing takes place on the country's lakes, but stocks are depleted and live fish are now being imported in an attempt to revive the industry.

Despite being a landlocked country of few natural resources, Rwanda's mining industry is an important contributor, generating US$93 million in 2008. Minerals mined include cassiterite, coltan, wolfram, and gold and coltan, which is used in the manufacture of electronic and communication devices such as mobile phones.

Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors and is now the country's leading foreign exchange earner; generating US$214 million in 2008, up by 54% on the previous year. Rwanda continues to receive substantial aid money and obtained IMF-World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative debt relief in 2005-06. Rwanda also received a Millennium Challenge Account Compact in 2008.

A large amount of investment in the transport infrastructure of Rwanda has been made by the government since the 1994 genocide. The transport system centers primarily on the road network, with paved roads between the capital, Kigali and most other major cities and towns in the country. The country has an international airport at Kigali, but has no railway at present and no public transport although a limited private service exists.

Rwanda has an inflation rate of 10.4% (2009) and its Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is estimated to be US$406.88 (2010).


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