Photos of Rwanda



A Rwandan kingdom dominated the region from the mid-18th century onward, with the Tutsi rulers conquering others militarily, centralizing power, and increasingly enacting anti-Hutu policies. German colonial rule began in 1898, but Belgian forces captured Rwanda in 1916 during World War I. Both European nations ruled through the kings and pursued a pro-Tutsi policy. In 1959, three years before independence from Belgium, the majority ethnic group, the Hutus, overthrew the ruling Tutsi king. Over the next several years, thousands of Tutsis were killed, and some 150,000 driven into exile in 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 a state-orchestrated genocide, in which Rwandans killed approximately 800,000 of their fellow citizens, including approximately three-quarters of the Tutsi population. The genocide ended later that same year when the predominantly Tutsi RPF, operating out of Uganda and northern Rwanda, defeated the national army and Hutu militias, and established an RPF-led government of national unity. Rwanda held its first local elections in 1999 and its first post-genocide presidential and legislative elections in 2003. Rwanda joined the Commonwealth in late 2009. President Paul KAGAME won the presidential election in August 2017 after changing the constitution in 2016 to allow him to run for a third term.

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Central Africa, east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, north of Burundi

Geographic coordinates

2 00 S, 30 00 E


total: 26,338 sq km

land: 24,668 sq km

water: 1,670 sq km

country comparison to the world: 148

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Maryland

Land boundaries

total: 930 km

border countries (4): Burundi 315 km, Democratic Republic of the Congo 221 km, Tanzania 222 km, Uganda 172 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)


temperate; two rainy seasons (February to April, November to January); mild in mountains with frost and snow possible


mostly grassy uplands and hills; relief is mountainous with altitude declining from west to east


mean elevation: 1,598 m

lowest point: Rusizi River 950 m

highest point: Volcan Karisimbi 4,519 m

Natural resources

gold, cassiterite (tin ore), wolframite (tungsten ore), methane, hydropower, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 74.5% (2018 est.)

arable land: 47% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 10.1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 17.4% (2018 est.)

forest: 18% (2018 est.)

other: 7.5% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

96 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

one of Africa's most densely populated countries; large concentrations tend to be in the central regions and along the shore of Lake Kivu in the west as shown in this population distribution map

Natural hazards

periodic droughts; the volcanic Virunga Mountains are in the northwest along the border with Democratic Republic of the Congo

volcanism: Visoke (3,711 m), located on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is the country's only historically active volcano

Geography - note

landlocked; most of the country is intensively cultivated and rugged with the population predominantly rural

People and Society


12,943,132 (July 2021 est.)

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected

country comparison to the world: 75


noun: Rwandan(s)

adjective: Rwandan

Ethnic groups

Hutu, Tutsi, Twa (Pygmy)


Kinyarwanda (official, universal Bantu vernacular) 93.2%, French (official) <.1, English (official) <.1, Swahili/Kiswahili (official, used in commercial centers) <.1, more than one language, other 6.3%, unspecified 0.3% (2002 est.)


Protestant 49.5% (includes Adventist 11.8% and other Protestant 37.7%), Roman Catholic 43.7%, Muslim 2%, other 0.9% (includes Jehovah's Witness), none 2.5%, unspecified 1.3% (2012 est.)

Demographic profile

Rwanda’s fertility rate declined sharply during the last decade, as a result of the government’s commitment to family planning, the increased use of contraceptives, and a downward trend in ideal family size. Increases in educational attainment, particularly among girls, and exposure to social media also contributed to the reduction in the birth rate. The average number of births per woman decreased from a 5.6 in 2005 to 4.5 in 2016. Despite these significant strides in reducing fertility, Rwanda’s birth rate remains very high and will continue to for an extended period of time because of its large population entering reproductive age. Because Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa, its persistent high population growth and increasingly small agricultural landholdings will put additional strain on families’ ability to raise foodstuffs and access potable water. These conditions will also hinder the government’s efforts to reduce poverty and prevent environmental degradation.

The UNHCR recommended that effective 30 June 2013 countries invoke a cessation of refugee status for those Rwandans who fled their homeland between 1959 and 1998, including the 1994 genocide, on the grounds that the conditions that drove them to seek protection abroad no longer exist. The UNHCR’s decision is controversial because many Rwandan refugees still fear persecution if they return home, concerns that are supported by the number of Rwandans granted asylum since 1998 and by the number exempted from the cessation. Rwandan refugees can still seek an exemption or local integration, but host countries are anxious to send the refugees back to Rwanda and are likely to avoid options that enable them to stay. Conversely, Rwanda itself hosts almost 160,000 refugees as of 2017; virtually all of them fleeing conflict in neighboring Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Age structure

0-14 years: 39.95% (male 2,564,893/female 2,513,993)

15-24 years: 20.1% (male 1,280,948/female 1,273,853)

25-54 years: 33.06% (male 2,001,629/female 2,201,132)

55-64 years: 4.24% (male 241,462/female 298,163)

65 years and over: 2.65% (male 134,648/female 201,710) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 74.2

youth dependency ratio: 68.8

elderly dependency ratio: 5.4

potential support ratio: 18.4 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 19.7 years

male: 18.9 years

female: 20.4 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 199

Birth rate

27.18 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 39

Death rate

5.95 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 161

Net migration rate

-3.27 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 184

Population distribution

one of Africa's most densely populated countries; large concentrations tend to be in the central regions and along the shore of Lake Kivu in the west as shown in this population distribution map


urban population: 17.4% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 2.86% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas - population

1.170 million KIGALI (capital) (2021)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.91 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.81 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.67 male(s)/female

total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

23 years (2014/15 est.)

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29

Maternal mortality rate

248 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 44

Infant mortality rate

total: 27.16 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 29.73 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 24.52 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 62

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 65.48 years

male: 63.55 years

female: 67.47 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 199

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 92% of population

rural: 76.9% of population

total: 79.5% of population

unimproved: urban: 8% of population

rural: 23.1% of population

total: 20.5% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

0.13 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 88.4% of population

rural: 79.4% of population

total: 80.9% of population

unimproved: urban: 11.6% of population

rural: 20.6% of population

total: 19.1% of population (2017 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever

animal contact diseases: rabies


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 73.2%

male: 77.6%

female: 69.4% (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 11 years

male: 11 years

female: 11 years (2019)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 20.6%

male: 18.8%

female: 22.6% (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 64


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Rwanda

conventional short form: Rwanda

local long form: Republika y'u Rwanda

local short form: Rwanda

former: Ruanda, German East Africa

etymology: the name translates as "domain" in the native Kinyarwanda language

Government type

presidential republic


name: Kigali

geographic coordinates: 1 57 S, 30 03 E

time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the city takes its name from nearby Mount Kigali; the name "Kigali" is composed of the Bantu prefix "ki" and the Rwandan "gali" meaning "broad" and likely refers to the broad, sprawling hill that has been dignified with the title of "mount"

Administrative divisions

4 provinces (in French - provinces, singular - province; in Kinyarwanda - intara for singular and plural) and 1 city* (in French - ville; in Kinyarwanda - umujyi); Est (Eastern), Kigali*, Nord (Northern), Ouest (Western), Sud (Southern)


1 July 1962 (from Belgium-administered UN trusteeship)

National holiday

Independence Day, 1 July (1962)


history: several previous; latest adopted by referendum 26 May 2003, effective 4 June 2003

amendments: proposed by the president of the republic (with Council of Ministers approval) or by two-thirds majority vote of both houses of Parliament; passage requires at least three-quarters majority vote in both houses; changes to constitutional articles on national sovereignty, the presidential term, the form and system of government, and political pluralism also require approval in a referendum; amended several times, last in 2015

Legal system

mixed legal system of civil law, based on German and Belgian models, and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Rwanda; if the father is stateless or unknown, the mother must be a citizen

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Paul KAGAME (since 22 April 2000)

head of government: Prime Minister Edouard NGIRENTE (since 30 August 2017)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority vote for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); note - a constitutional amendment approved in December 2016 reduced the presidential term from 7 to 5 years but included an exception that allowed President KAGAME to serve another 7-year term in 2017, potentially followed by two additional 5-year terms; election last held on 4 August 2017 (next to be held in August 2024); prime minister appointed by the president

election results: Paul KAGAME reelected president; Paul KAGAME (RPF) 98.8%, Philippe MPAYIMANA (independent) 0.7%, Frank HABINEZA (DGPR)0.5%

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament consists of:
Senate or Senat (26 seats; 12 members indirectly elected by local councils, 8 appointed by the president, 4 appointed by the Political Organizations Forum - a body of registered political parties, and 2 selected by institutions of higher learning; members serve 8-year terms)
Chamber of Deputies or Chambre des Deputes (80 seats; 53 members directly elected by proportional representation vote, 24 women selected by special interest groups, and 3 selected by youth and disability organizations; members serve 5-year terms)

Senate - last held on 16-18 September 2019 (next to be held in 2027)
Chamber of Deputies - last held on 3 September 2018 (next to be held in September 2023)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; composition - men 16, women 10, percent of women 38.5%

Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Rwandan Patriotic Front Coalition 40, PSD 5, PL 4, other 4 indirectly elected 27; composition - men 26, women 54, percent of women 67.5%; note - total Parliament percent of women 60.4%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of the chief and deputy chief justices and 15 judges; normally organized into 3-judge panels); High Court (consists of the court president, vice president, and a minimum of 24 judges and organized into 5 chambers)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges nominated by the president after consultation with the Cabinet and the Superior Council of the Judiciary (SCJ), a 27-member body of judges, other judicial officials, and legal professionals) and approved by the Senate; chief and deputy chief justices appointed for 8-year nonrenewable terms; tenure of judges NA; High Court president and vice president appointed by the president of the republic upon approval by the Senate; judges appointed by the Supreme Court chief justice upon approval of the SCJ; judge tenure NA

subordinate courts: High Court of the Republic; commercial courts including the High Commercial Court; intermediate courts; primary courts; and military specialized courts


Political parties and leaders

Democratic Green Party of Rwanda or DGPR [Frank HABINEZA]
Liberal Party or PL [Donatille MUKABALISA]
Party for Progress and Concord or PPC [Dr. Alivera MUKABARAMBA]
Party Imberakuri or PS-Imberakuri [Christine MUKABUNANI]
Rwandan Patriotic Front or RPF [Paul KAGAME]
Rwandan Patriotic Front Coalition (includes RPF, PPC) [Paul KAGAME]
Social Democratic Party or PSD [Vincent BIRUTA]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Mathilde MUKANTABANA (since 18 July 2013)

chancery: 1875 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 418, Washington, DC 20009

telephone: [1] (202) 232-2882

FAX: [1] (202) 232-4544

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Peter H. VROOMAN (since 5 April 2018)

telephone: [250] 252 596-400

embassy: 2657 Avenue de la Gendarmerie, P. O. Box 28, Kigali

mailing address: B.P. 28, Kigali

FAX: [250] 252 580 325

Flag description

three horizontal bands of sky blue (top, double width), yellow, and green, with a golden sun with 24 rays near the fly end of the blue band; blue represents happiness and peace, yellow economic development and mineral wealth, green hope of prosperity and natural resources; the sun symbolizes unity, as well as enlightenment and transparency from ignorance

National symbol(s)

traditional woven basket with peaked lid; national colors: blue, yellow, green

National anthem

name: "Rwanda nziza" (Rwanda, Our Beautiful Country)

lyrics/music: Faustin MURIGO/Jean-Bosco HASHAKAIMANA

note: adopted 2001


Economic overview

Rwanda is a rural, agrarian country with agriculture accounting for about 63% of export earnings, and with some mineral and agro-processing. Population density is high but, with the exception of the capital Kigali, is not concentrated in large cities – its 12 million people are spread out on a small amount of land (smaller than the state of Maryland). Tourism, minerals, coffee, and tea are Rwanda's main sources of foreign exchange. Despite Rwanda's fertile ecosystem, food production often does not keep pace with demand, requiring food imports. Energy shortages, instability in neighboring states, and lack of adequate transportation linkages to other countries continue to handicap private sector growth.

The 1994 genocide decimated Rwanda's fragile economic base, severely impoverished the population, particularly women, and temporarily stalled the country's ability to attract private and external investment. However, Rwanda has made substantial progress in stabilizing and rehabilitating its economy well beyond pre-1994 levels. GDP has rebounded with an average annual growth of 6%-8% since 2003 and inflation has been reduced to single digits. In 2015, 39% of the population lived below the poverty line, according to government statistics, compared to 57% in 2006.

The government has embraced an expansionary fiscal policy to reduce poverty by improving education, infrastructure, and foreign and domestic investment. Rwanda consistently ranks well for ease of doing business and transparency.

The Rwandan Government is seeking to become a regional leader in information and communication technologies and aims to reach middle-income status by 2020 by leveraging the service industry. In 2012, Rwanda completed the first modern Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Kigali. The SEZ seeks to attract investment in all sectors, but specifically in agribusiness, information and communications, trade and logistics, mining, and construction. In 2016, the government launched an online system to give investors information about public land and its suitability for agricultural development.

Real GDP growth rate

6.1% (2017 est.)

6% (2016 est.)

8.9% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 28

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

3.3% (2019 est.)

-0.3% (2018 est.)

8.4% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 151

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: B+ (2014)

Moody's rating: B2 (2016)

Standard & Poors rating: B+ (2019)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$28.118 billion (2019 est.)

$25.695 billion (2018 est.)

$23.665 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 142

GDP (official exchange rate)

$9.136 billion (2017 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$2,227 (2019 est.)

$2,089 (2018 est.)

$1,975 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 208

Gross national saving

12.5% of GDP (2018 est.)

15.5% of GDP (2017 est.)

7.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 158

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 30.9% (2017 est.)

industry: 17.6% (2017 est.)

services: 51.5% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 75.9% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 15.2% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 22.9% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.5% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 18.2% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -32.8% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 76.5 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 93.2 (2020)

Trading score: 75 (2020)

Enforcement score: 69.1 (2020)

Agricultural products

bananas, sweet potatoes, cassava, potatoes, plantains, beans, maize, gourds, milk, taro


cement, agricultural products, small-scale beverages, soap, furniture, shoes, plastic goods, textiles, cigarettes

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 75.3%

industry: 6.7%

services: 18% (2012 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.1%

highest 10%: 43.2% (2011 est.)


revenues: 1.943 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 2.337 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

40.5% of GDP (2017 est.)

37.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 125

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$622 million (2017 est.)

-$1.336 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 128


$1.05 billion (2017 est.)

$745 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 159

Exports - partners

United Arab Emirates 35%, Democratic Republic of the Congo 28%, Uganda 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

gold, refined petroleum, coffee, tea, tin (2019)


$1.922 billion (2017 est.)

$2.036 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 171

Imports - partners

China 17%, Kenya 10%, Tanzania 9%, United Arab Emirates 9%, India 7%, Saudi Arabia 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, gold, raw sugar, packaged medicines, broadcasting equipment (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$997.6 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$1.104 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 132

Debt - external

$3.258 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$2.611 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 141

Exchange rates

Rwandan francs (RWF) per US dollar -

839.1 (2017 est.)

787.25 (2016 est.)

787.25 (2015 est.)

720.54 (2014 est.)

680.95 (2013 est.)


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 53% (2019)

electrification - urban areas: 76% (2019)

electrification - rural areas: 48% (2019)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 11,215

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 188

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 9,531,609

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 76.49 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 90

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: govt. invests in smart city infrastructure; expanding wholesale LTE services; govt. launches SIM card registration; growing economy and foreign aid help launch telecom sector, despite widespread poverty; slow to liberalize mobile sector; competing operators roll out national fiber optic backbone that connects to submarine cables of neighboring countries ending expensive dependence on satellite (2020)

domestic: the capital, Kigali, is connected to provincial centers by microwave radio relay, and recently by cellular telephone service; much of the network depends on wire and HF radiotelephone; fixed-line less than 1 per 100 and mobile-cellular telephone density has increased to 76 telephones per 100 persons (2019)

international: country code - 250; international connections employ microwave radio relay to neighboring countries and satellite communications to more distant countries; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) in Kigali (includes telex and telefax service); international submarine fiber-optic cables on the African east coast has brought international bandwidth and lessened the dependency on satellites

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

13 TV stations; 35 radio stations registered, including international broadcasters, government owns most popular TV and radio stations; regional satellite-based TV services available

Internet users

total: 2,653,197

percent of population: 21.77% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 107

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 7,501

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 175


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 12

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 1,073,528 (2018)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 4 (2019)

over 3,047 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 2

under 914 m: 1

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 3 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2013)

under 914 m: 1 (2013)


total: 4,700 km (2012)

paved: 1,207 km (2012)

unpaved: 3,493 km (2012)

country comparison to the world: 148


(Lac Kivu navigable by shallow-draft barges and native craft) (2011)

Ports and terminals

lake port(s): Cyangugu, Gisenyi, Kibuye (Lake Kivu)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Rwanda Defense Force (RDF): Rwanda Army (Rwanda Land Force), Rwanda Air Force (Force Aerienne Rwandaise, FAR), Rwanda Reserve Force (2021)

Military expenditures

1.2% of GDP (2019)

1.2% of GDP (2018)

1.2% of GDP (2017)

1.2% of GDP (2016)

1.2% of GDP (2015)

country comparison to the world: 114

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) has approximately 32,500 active personnel (32,000 Army; 500 Air Force) (2020)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the RDF's inventory includes mostly Soviet-era and older Western - mostly French and South African - equipment; Rwanda has received a limited supply of imports since 2010 from a variety of countries, including Israel, Russia, and Turkey (2020)

Military deployments

1,370 Central African Republic (MINUSCA); 1,125 Sudan (UNAMID); 2,750 South Sudan (UNMISS) (Jan 2021)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription; Rwandan citizenship is required; enlistment is either as contract (5-years, renewable twice) or career (2019)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Burundi and Rwanda dispute two sq km (0.8 sq mi) of Sabanerwa, a farmed area in the Rukurazi Valley where the Akanyaru/Kanyaru River shifted its course southward after heavy rains in 1965; fighting among ethnic groups - loosely associated political rebels, armed gangs, and various government forces in Great Lakes region transcending the boundaries of Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROC), Rwanda, and Uganda - abated substantially from a decade ago due largely to UN peacekeeping, international mediation, and efforts by local governments to create civil societies; nonetheless, 57,000 Rwandan refugees still reside in 21 African states, including Zambia, Gabon, and 20,000 who fled to Burundi in 2005 and 2006 to escape drought and recriminations from traditional courts investigating the 1994 massacres; the 2005 DROC and Rwanda border verification mechanism to stem rebel actions on both sides of the border remains in place

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 74,696 (Democratic Republic of the Congo), 53,258 (Burundi) (2021)