Photos of Rwanda

Baby Mountain Gorilla, Volcanoes National Park.

Introduction

Background

Rwanda -- a small and centralized country dominated by rugged hills and fertile volcanic soil -- has exerted disproportionate influence over the African Great Lakes region for centuries. A Rwandan kingdom increasingly dominated the region from the mid-18th century onward, with the Tutsi monarchs gradually extending the power of the royal court into peripheral areas and expanding their borders through military conquest. While the current ethnic labels Hutu and Tutsi predate colonial rule, their flexibility and importance have varied significantly over time and often manifested more as a hierarchical class distinction than an ethnic or cultural distinction. The majority Hutu and minority Tutsi have long shared a common language and culture, and intermarriage was frequent. The Rwandan royal court centered on the Tutsi king (mwami), who relied on an extensive network of political, cultural, and economic relationships. Social categories became more rigid during the reign of RWABUGIRI (1860-1895), who focused on aggressive expansion and solidifying Rwanda’s bureaucratic structures. German colonial conquest began in the late 1890s, but the territory was ceded to Belgian forces in 1916 during World War I. Both European nations quickly realized the benefits of ruling through the already centralized Rwandan Tutsi kingdom. Colonial rule reinforced existing trends toward autocratic and exclusionary rule, leading to the elimination of traditional positions of authority for Hutus and a calcification of ethnic identities. Belgian administrators significantly increased requirements for communal labor and instituted harsh taxes, increasing frustration and inequality. Changing political attitudes in Belgium contributed to colonial and Catholic officials shifting their support from Tutsi to Hutu leaders in the years leading up to independence.

Newly mobilized political parties and simmering resentment of minority rule exploded in 1959, three years before independence from Belgium, when Hutus overthrew the Tutsi king. Thousands of Tutsis were killed over the next several years, and some 150,000 were driven into exile in neighboring countries. Army Chief of Staff Juvenal HABYARIMANA seized power in a coup in 1973 and ruled Rwanda as a single-party state for two decades. HABYARIMANA increasingly discriminated against Tutsis, and extremist Hutu factions gained prominence after multiple parties were introduced in the early 1990s. The children of Tutsi exiles later formed a rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and began a civil war in 1990. The civil war exacerbated ethnic tensions and culminated in the shooting down of HABYARIMANA’s private jet in 1994. The event sparked a state-orchestrated genocide in which Rwandans killed more than 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, formalizing President Paul KAGAME’s de facto role as head of government. KAGAME was formally elected in 2010, and again in 2017 after changing the constitution to allow him to run for a third term.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

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

Geographic coordinates

2 00 S, 30 00 E

Area

total: 26,338 sq km

land: 24,668 sq km

water: 1,670 sq km

comparison ranking: total 148

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Maryland

Area comparison map:
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 930 km

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

Coastline

0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)

Climate

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

Terrain

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

Elevation

highest point: Volcan Karisimbi 4,519 m

lowest point: Rusizi River 950 m

mean elevation: 1,598 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)

Major lakes (area sq km)

fresh water lake(s): Lake Kivu (shared with Democratic Republic of Congo) - 2,220 sq km

Major rivers (by length in km)

Nile river source (shared with Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt [m]) - 6,650 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Congo (3,730,881 sq km), (Mediterranean Sea) Nile (3,254,853 sq km)

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

Population

total: 13,623,302

male: 6,684,655

female: 6,938,647 (2024 est.)

comparison rankings: female 76; male 78; total 76

Nationality

noun: Rwandan(s)

adjective: Rwandan

Ethnic groups

Hutu, Tutsi, Twa

Languages

Kinyarwanda (official, universal Bantu vernacular) 93.2%, French (official) <0.1, English (official) <0.1, Swahili/Kiswahili (official, used in commercial centers) <0.1, more than one language, other 6.3%, unspecified 0.3% (2002 est.)

major-language sample(s):
Inkoranya nzimbuzi y'isi, isoko fatizo y'amakuru y'ibanze. (Kinyarwanda)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Religions

Christian 95.9% (Protestant 57.7% [includes Adventist 12.6%], Roman Catholic 38.2%), Muslim 2.1%, other 1% (includes traditional, Jehovah's Witness), none 1.1% (2019-20 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 and 3.3 in 2022. 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 approximately 125,000 refugees as of 2022; virtually all of them fleeing conflict in neighboring Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Age structure

0-14 years: 37.2% (male 2,561,884/female 2,508,218)

15-64 years: 59.7% (male 3,954,608/female 4,179,844)

65 years and over: 3.1% (2024 est.) (male 168,163/female 250,585)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 72.5

youth dependency ratio: 67.1

elderly dependency ratio: 5.4

potential support ratio: 18.4 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 20.8 years (2024 est.)

male: 20.1 years

female: 21.5 years

comparison ranking: total 198

Population growth rate

1.62% (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 58

Birth rate

25 births/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 46

Death rate

5.7 deaths/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 169

Net migration rate

-3.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 182

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

Urbanization

urban population: 17.9% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 3.07% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

1.248 million KIGALI (capital) (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

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

15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female

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

total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2024 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

23 years (2019/20 est.)

note: data represents median age at first birth among women 25-49

Maternal mortality ratio

259 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 37

Infant mortality rate

total: 24.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2024 est.)

male: 27.3 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 22.5 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 60

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 66.6 years (2024 est.)

male: 64.6 years

female: 68.6 years

comparison ranking: total population 200

Total fertility rate

3.14 children born/woman (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 46

Gross reproduction rate

1.54 (2024 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 92.3% of population

rural: 80.7% of population

total: 82.7% of population

unimproved: urban: 7.7% of population

rural: 19.3% of population

total: 17.3% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

7.3% of GDP (2020)

Physician density

0.12 physicians/1,000 population (2019)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 89.1% of population

rural: 83.2% of population

total: 84.2% of population

unimproved: urban: 10.9% of population

rural: 16.8% of population

total: 15.8% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2023)

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

vectorborne diseases: malaria, dengue fever, and sexually transmitted diseases: HIV/AIDS (2024)

animal contact diseases: rabies

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

5.8% (2016)

comparison ranking: 172

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 6.35 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0.23 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.03 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.09 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 6 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 65

Tobacco use

total: 13.7% (2020 est.)

male: 20.1% (2020 est.)

female: 7.2% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 112

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

7.7% (2019/20)

comparison ranking: 61

Child marriage

women married by age 18: 0.4% (2020 est.)

Education expenditures

3.8% of GDP (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: 127

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 75.9%

male: 78.7%

female: 73.3% (2021)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 11 years

male: 11 years

female: 11 years (2019)

Environment

Environment - current issues

deforestation results from uncontrolled cutting of trees for fuel; overgrazing; land degradation; soil erosion; a decline in soil fertility (soil exhaustion); wetland degradation and loss of biodiversity; widespread poaching

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Climate

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

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.)

Urbanization

urban population: 17.9% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 3.07% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Revenue from forest resources

3.75% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 20

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 168

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 35.66 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 1.11 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 2.92 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 4,384,969 tons (2016 est.)

Major lakes (area sq km)

fresh water lake(s): Lake Kivu (shared with Democratic Republic of Congo) - 2,220 sq km

Major rivers (by length in km)

Nile river source (shared with Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt [m]) - 6,650 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Congo (3,730,881 sq km), (Mediterranean Sea) Nile (3,254,853 sq km)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 230 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 10 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 360 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

13.3 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Rwanda

conventional short form: Rwanda

local long form: Republika y'u Rwanda

local short form: Rwanda

former: Kingdom of Rwanda, Ruanda, German East Africa

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

Government type

presidential republic

Capital

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)

Independence

1 July 1962 (from Belgium-administered UN trusteeship)

National holiday

Independence Day, 1 July (1962)

Constitution

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

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

Suffrage

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 popular 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 on 15 July 2024); prime minister appointed by the president

election results:
2017: Paul KAGAME reelected president; Paul KAGAME (RPF) 98.8%, Philippe MPAYIMANA (independent), other 1.2%

2010: Paul KAGAME reelected president; Paul KAGAME (RPF) 93.1%, Jean NTAWUKURIRYAYO (PSD) 5.1%, other 1.8% 

 

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)

elections: 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 15 July 2024)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; composition - men 17, women 9, percentage women 34.6%

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 31, women 49, percentage women 61.3%; total Parliament percentage women 54.7%

 

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the chief and deputy chief justices and 5 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]
Rwandan Patriotic Front or RPF [Paul KAGAME]
Rwandan Patriotic Front Coalition (includes RPF, PPC, PSP, UDPR, PDI, PSR, PDC) [Paul KAGAME]
Social Democratic Party or PSD [Vincent BIRUTA]
Social Party Imberakuri or PS-Imberakuri [Christine MUKABUNANI]

International organization participation

ACP, AfDB, AU, CEPGL, COMESA, EAC, EADB, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MINUSMA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNISFA, UNMISS, UNOOSA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

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

chancery: 1714 New Hampshire Avenue NW,  Washington, DC 20009

telephone: [1] (202) 232-2882

FAX: [1] (202) 232-4544

email address and website:
info@rwandaembassy.org

https://rwandaembassy.org/

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Eric KNEEDLER (since 3 October 2023)

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

mailing address: 2210 Kigali Place, Washington DC  20521-2210

telephone: [250] 252 596-400

FAX: [250] 252 580-325

email address and website:
consularkigali@state.gov

https://rw.usembassy.gov/

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

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 2 (1 cultural, 1 natural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Memorial sites of the Genocide: Nyamata, Murambi, Gisozi and Bisesero (c); Nyungwe National Park (n)

Economy

Economic overview

fast-growing Sub-Saharan economy; major public investments; trade and tourism hit hard by COVID-19; increasing poverty after 2 decades of declines; Ugandan competition for regional influence; major coffee exporter; contested GDP figures

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$32.579 billion (2022 est.)
$30.121 billion (2021 est.)
$27.167 billion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 138

Real GDP growth rate

8.16% (2022 est.)
10.88% (2021 est.)
-3.38% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 31

Real GDP per capita

$2,400 (2022 est.)
$2,200 (2021 est.)
$2,100 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 199

GDP (official exchange rate)

$13.311 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

17.69% (2022 est.)
-0.39% (2021 est.)
9.85% (2020 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 193

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: B+ (2014)

Moody's rating: B2 (2016)

Standard & Poors rating: B+ (2019)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 30.9% (2017 est.)

industry: 17.6% (2017 est.)

services: 51.5% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 172; industry 166; agriculture 17

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.)

Agricultural products

bananas, cassava, sweet potatoes, potatoes, plantains, maize, beans, pumpkins/squash, taro, sorghum (2022)

note: top ten agricultural products based on tonnage

Industries

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

Industrial production growth rate

4.97% (2022 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 62

Labor force

5.1 million (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 85

Unemployment rate

15.08% (2022 est.)
15.79% (2021 est.)
11.83% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 194

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 2.9% (2021 est.)

male: 2.2%

female: 3.6%

comparison ranking: total 198

Population below poverty line

38.2% (2016 est.)

note: % of population with income below national poverty line

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

43.7 (2016 est.)

note: index (0-100) of income distribution; higher values represent greater inequality

comparison ranking: 30

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.4%

highest 10%: 35.6% (2016 est.)

note: % share of income accruing to lowest and highest 10% of population

Remittances

3.56% of GDP (2022 est.)
3.54% of GDP (2021 est.)
2.75% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities

Budget

revenues: $2.393 billion (2019 est.)

expenditures: $2.919 billion (2019 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-4.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 160

Public debt

40.5% of GDP (2017 est.)
37.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 131

Taxes and other revenues

15.08% (of GDP) (2020 est.)

note: central government tax revenue as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 139

Current account balance

-$1.301 billion (2022 est.)
-$1.209 billion (2021 est.)
-$1.228 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 133

Exports

$2.993 billion (2022 est.)
$2.11 billion (2021 est.)
$1.929 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 154

Exports - partners

UAE 32%, Democratic Republic of the Congo 25%, Thailand 5%, US 3%, Ethiopia 3% (2022)

note: top five export partners based on percentage share of exports

Exports - commodities

gold, tin ores, coffee, malt extract, rare earth ores (2022)

note: top five export commodities based on value in dollars

Imports

$4.98 billion (2022 est.)
$3.856 billion (2021 est.)
$3.578 billion (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 150

Imports - partners

China 19%, Tanzania 11%, Kenya 10%, UAE 10%, India 7% (2022)

note: top five import partners based on percentage share of imports

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, gold, palm oil, rice, raw sugar (2022)

note: top five import commodities based on value in dollars

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$1.726 billion (2022 est.)
$1.867 billion (2021 est.)
$1.72 billion (2020 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 130

Debt - external

$3.258 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$2.611 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 141

Exchange rates

Rwandan francs (RWF) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
1,030.308 (2022 est.)
988.625 (2021 est.)
943.278 (2020 est.)
899.351 (2019 est.)
861.093 (2018 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 50.6% (2022 est.)

electrification - urban areas: 98%

electrification - rural areas: 38.2%

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 273,000 kW (2022 est.)

consumption: 861.285 million kWh (2022 est.)

exports: 9 million kWh (2022 est.)

imports: 31 million kWh (2022 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 140.605 million kWh (2022 est.)

comparison rankings: transmission/distribution losses 55; imports 119; exports 97; consumption 162; installed generating capacity 169

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 45.5% of total installed capacity (2022 est.)

solar: 1.8% of total installed capacity (2022 est.)

hydroelectricity: 52.5% of total installed capacity (2022 est.)

biomass and waste: 0.2% of total installed capacity (2022 est.)

Coal

consumption: 41,000 metric tons (2022 est.)

imports: 64,000 metric tons (2022 est.)

Petroleum

refined petroleum consumption: 9,000 bbl/day (2022 est.)

Natural gas

production: 60.145 million cubic meters (2022 est.)

consumption: 59.715 million cubic meters (2022 est.)

proven reserves: 56.634 billion cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

1.442 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2022 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 77,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2022 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 1.249 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2022 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 116,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 164

Energy consumption per capita

1.659 million Btu/person (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: 188

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 10,000 (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: (2022 est.) less than 1

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 189

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 11.002 million (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 80 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 91

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Rwanda was slow to liberalize the mobile sector; there was effective competition among three operators; the fixed broadband sector has suffered from limited fixed-line infrastructure and high prices; operators are rolling out national backbone networks which also allow them to connect to the international submarine cables on Africa’s east coast; these cables gave the entire region greater internet bandwidth and ended the dependency on satellites; while the country also has a new cable link with Tanzania, and via Tanzania’s national broadband backbone it has gained connectivity to the networks of several other countries in the region; the number of subscribers on LTE infrastructure has increased sharply, helped by national LTE coverage achieved in mid-2018; mobile remains the dominant platform for voice and data services; the regulator noted that the number of mobile subscribers increased 2.7% in 2021, year-on-year; there was a slight fall in the beginning of 2022 (2022)

domestic: fixed-line less than 1 per 100 and mobile-cellular telephone density is 81 telephones per 100 persons (2021)

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

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: 3.9 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 30% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 113

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 17,685 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 0.1 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 171

Transportation

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

8 (2024)

comparison ranking: 165

Roadways

total: 7,797 km

paved: 2,652 km

unpaved: 5,145 km (2024)

comparison ranking: total 141

Waterways

90 km (2022) (Lake Kivu navigable by shallow-draft barges and native craft)

comparison ranking: 112

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Rwanda Defense Force (RDF; Ingabo z’u Rwanda): Rwanda Army (Rwanda Land Force), Rwanda Air Force (Force Aerienne Rwandaise, FAR), Rwanda Reserve Force, Special Units

Ministry of Internal Security: Rwanda National Police (2024)

Military expenditures

1.4% of GDP (2022 est.)
1.4% of GDP (2021 est.)
1.3% of GDP (2020 est.)
1.2% of GDP (2019 est.)
1.2% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 95

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 33,000 active RDF personnel (32,000 Army; 1,000 Air Force) (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the RDF's inventory includes mostly Soviet-era and older Western--largely French and South African--equipment; in recent years, Russia has been the top supplier of arms to Rwanda (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for men and women for voluntary military service; no conscription; Rwandan citizenship is required; enlistment is either as contract (5-years, renewable twice) or career (2023)

note: as of 2022, women comprised approximately 6% of the Rwanda Defense Force

Military deployments

approximately 2,200 Central African Republic (MINUSCA; plus about 700 police); approximately 2,500 Mozambique (deployed mid-2021 under a bilateral agreement to assist with combating an insurgency; includes both military and police forces); 2,600 (plus about 450 police) South Sudan (UNMISS) (2024)

note: in December 2020, Rwanda sent an additional 1,200 to the Central African Republic under a bilateral agreement to support and train Central African Republic military forces, but their status as of 2024 was unclear)

Military - note

the RDF is widely regarded as one of East Africa’s best trained and most experienced militaries; its principle responsibilities are ensuring territorial integrity and national sovereignty and preventing infiltrations of illegal armed groups from neighboring countries, particularly the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); since 2021, Rwanda has deployed troops to the border region with the DRC to combat the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which it has accused the DRC of backing; the RDF has been accused by the DRC, the UN, and the US of making incursions into the DRC and providing material support to the March 23 Movement (M23, aka Congolese Revolutionary Army) rebel group, which has been fighting with DRC troops and UN peacekeeping forces; the RDF also participates in UN and regional military operations; over 6,000 RDF personnel are deployed in the Central African Republic, Mozambique, and South Sudan 

the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) were established following independence in 1962; after the 1990-1994 civil war and genocide, the victorious Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front's military wing, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), became the country's military force; the RPA participated in the First (1996-1997) and Second (1998-2003) Congolese Wars; the RPA was renamed the Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) in 2003, by which time it had assumed a more national character with the inclusion of many former Hutu officers as well as newly recruited soldiers (2023)

Space

Space agency/agencies

Rwanda Space Agency (L’Agence Spatiale Rwandaise; RSA; established 2020 and approved by legislature in 2021) (2024)

Space program overview

has a small program focused on developing and utilizing space technologies, such as satellite imagery for socioeconomic development and security purposes; operates communications and remote sensing (RS) satellites; the RSA is responsible for regulating and coordinating the country’s space activities and encouraging commercial and industrial development; has established ties with the space agencies or industries of several countries, including France, Israel, Japan, the UAE, and the US (2024)

note: further details about the key activities, programs, and milestones of the country’s space program, as well as government spending estimates on the space sector, appear in Appendix S

Transnational Issues

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 79,720 (Democratic Republic of the Congo), 48,533 (Burundi) (2024)

stateless persons: 9,500 (2022)