Rwanda [Country Flag of Rwanda]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Rwanda]



[Top of Page]

Current issues: Following the outbreak of genocidal strife in Rwanda in April 1994 between Tutsi and Hutu factions, more than 2 million refugees fled to neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zaire, now called Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to the UN High Commission on Refugees, in 1996 and early 1997 nearly 1,300,000 Hutus returned to Rwanda; of these, 720,000 returned from Democratic Republic of the Congo, 480,000 from Tanzania, 88,000 from Burundi, and 10,000 from Uganda.


[Top of Page]

Location: Central Africa, east of Democratic Republic of the Congo

Geographic coordinates: 2 00 S, 30 00 E

Map references: Africa

total: 26,340 sq km
land: 24,950 sq km
water: 1,390 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly smaller than Maryland

Land boundaries:
total: 893 km
border countries: Burundi 290 km, Democratic Republic of the Congo 217 km, Tanzania 217 km, Uganda 169 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 extremes:
lowest point: Rusizi River 950 m
highest point: Volcan Karisimbi 4,519 m

Natural resources: gold, cassiterite (tin ore), wolframite (tungsten ore), natural gas, hydropower

Land use:
arable land: 35%
permanent crops: 13%
permanent pastures: 18%
forests and woodland: 22%
other: 12% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 40 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: periodic droughts; the volcanic Virunga mountains are in the northwest along the border with Democratic Republic of the Congo

Environment—current issues: deforestation results from uncontrolled cutting of trees for fuel; overgrazing; soil exhaustion; soil erosion

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Nuclear Test Ban
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change, Desertification, Law of the Sea

Geography—note: landlocked; predominantly rural population


[Top of Page]

Population: 7,956,172 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 45% (male 1,785,650; female 1,772,609)
15-64 years: 53% (male 2,070,401; female 2,106,809)
65 years and over: 2% (male 90,941; female 129,762) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.5% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 38.99 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 19 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 5.03 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)
note: following the outbreak of genocidal strife in Rwanda in April 1994 between Tutsi and Hutu factions, more than 2 million refugees fled to neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire; according to the UN High Commission on Refugees, in 1996 and early 1997 nearly 1,300,000 Hutus returned to Rwanda; of these 720,000 returned from Democratic Republic of the Congo, 480,000 from Tanzania, 88,000 from Burundi, and 10,000 from Uganda; probably fewer than 100,000 Rwandans remained outside of Rwanda at the end of 1997

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.7 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 113.31 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 41.93 years
male: 41.49 years
female: 42.4 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 5.86 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Rwandan(s)
adjective: Rwandan

Ethnic groups: Hutu 80%, Tutsi 19%, Twa (Pygmoid) 1%

Religions: Roman Catholic 65%, Protestant 9%, Muslim 1%, indigenous beliefs and other 25%

Languages: Kinyarwanda (official) universal Bantu vernacular, French (official), English (official), Kiswahili (Swahili) used in commercial centers

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 60.5%
male: 69.8%
female: 51.6% (1995 est.)


[Top of Page]

Country name:
conventional long form: Rwandese Republic
conventional short form: Rwanda
local long form: Republika y'u Rwanda
local short form: Rwanda

Data code: RW

Government type: republic; presidential, multiparty system

National capital: Kigali

Administrative divisions: 12 prefectures (prefectures, singular—prefecture in French; plural - NA, singular—prefegitura in Kinyarwanda); Butare, Byumba, Cyangugu, Gikongoro, Gisenyi, Gitarama, Kibungo, Kibuye, Kigali, Kigaliville, Umutara, Ruhengeri

Independence: 1 July 1962 (from Belgium-administered UN trusteeship)

National holiday: Independence Day, 1 July (1962)

Constitution: on 5 May 1995, the Transitional National Assembly adopted a new constitution which included elements of the constitution of 18 June 1991 as well as provisions of the 1993 Arusha peace accord and the November 1994 multi-party protocol of understanding

Legal system: based on German and Belgian civil law systems and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: NA years of age; universal adult

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Pasteur BIZIMUNGU (since 19 July 1994); Vice President Maj. Gen. Paul KAGAME (since 19 July 1994)
head of government: Prime Minister Celestin RWIGEMA (since 1 September 1995)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: normally the president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held in December 1988 (next to be held NA); prime minister is appointed by the president
election results: Juvenal HABYARIMANA elected president; percent of vote—99.98% (HABYARIMANA was the sole candidate)
note: President HABYARIMANA was assassinated on 6 April 1994 and replaced by President BIZIMUNGU who was installed by the military forces of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front on 19 July 1994

Legislative branch: unicameral Transitional National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale de Transition (70 seats; members were predetermined by the Arusha peace accord to serve NA-year terms)
elections: last held 26 December 1988 (next to be held NA); note—the Transitional National Assembly is a power-sharing body established on 12 December 1994 following a multi-party protocol of understanding
election results: percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—RPF 19, MDR 13, PSD 13, PL 13, PDC 6, PSR 2, PDI 2, other 2; note—the distribution of seats was predetermined

Judicial branch: Constitutional Court, consists of the Court of Cassation and the Council of State in joint session

Political parties and leaders: significant parties include: Rwandan Patriotic Front or RPF [Alexis KANYARENGWE, chairman]; Democratic Republican Movement or MDR; Liberal Party or PL; Democratic and Socialist Party or PSD; Christian Democratic Party or PDC; Islamic Democratic Party or PDI; Rwandan Socialist Party or PSR; National Movement for Democracy and Development or MRND (former ruling party)

Political pressure groups and leaders: Rwanda Patriotic Army or RPA, the RPF military wing [Maj. Gen. Paul KAGAME, commander]; Rally for the Democracy and Return (RDR)

International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, CCC, CEEAC, CEPGL, ECA, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ITU, NAM, OAU, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Theogene N. RUDASINGWA
chancery: (temporary) 1814 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 232-2882
FAX: [1] (202) 232-4544

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Robert GRIBBIN III
embassy: Boulevard de la Revolution, Kigali
mailing address: B. P. 28, Kigali
telephone: [250] 756 01 through 03, 721 26, 771 47
FAX: [250] 721 28

Flag description: three equal vertical bands of red (hoist side), yellow, and green with a large black letter R centered in the yellow band; uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia; similar to the flag of Guinea, which has a plain yellow band


[Top of Page]

Economy—overview: Rwanda is a poor African nation that has suffered bitterly from ethnic-based civil war. The agricultural sector dominates the economy; coffee and tea normally make up 80%-90% of exports. The amount of fertile land is limited, however, and deforestation and soil erosion continue to reduce the production potential. Manufacturing focuses mainly on the processing of agricultural products. A structural adjustment program with the World Bank began in October 1990. Civil war in 1990 devastated wide areas, especially in the north, and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. A peace accord in mid-1993 temporarily ended most of the fighting, but resumption of large-scale violence and genocide in April 1994 in the capital city Kigali and elsewhere took 500,000 lives in that year alone and severely damaged already poor economic prospects. In 1994-96, peace was restored throughout much of the country. In 1996-97 most of the refugees who fled the war returned to Rwanda. Sketchy data suggest that GDP dropped 50% in 1994 and came back partially, by 25%, in 1995. Plentiful rains helped agriculture in 1996, and outside aid continued to support this desperately poor economy. The economy continues to face significant challenges in rehabilitating infrastructure, agriculture, health care facilities, and capital plant. Recovery of domestic production will proceed slowly.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$3 billion (1996 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 13.3% (1996)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$440 (1996 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 37%
industry: 17%
services: 46% (1995 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 7.4% (1996)

Labor force:
total: 3.6 million
by occupation: agriculture 93%, government and services 5%, industry and commerce 2%

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $231 million
expenditures: $319 million, including capital expenditures of $13 million (1996 est.)

Industries: mining of cassiterite (tin ore) and wolframite (tungsten ore), tin, cement, processing of agricultural products, small-scale beverage production, soap, furniture, shoes, plastic goods, textiles, cigarettes

Industrial production growth rate: 4.9% (1995 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 34,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 169 million kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 21 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: coffee, tea, pyrethrum (insecticide made from chrysanthemums), bananas, beans, sorghum, potatoes; livestock

total value: $62.3 million (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
commodities: coffee 74%, tea, cassiterite, wolframite, pyrethrum (1995)
partners: Brazil, EU

total value: $202.4 million (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
commodities: foodstuffs 35%, machines and equipment, capital goods, steel, petroleum products, cement and construction material (1995)
partners: US, EU, Kenya, Tanzania

Debt—external: $1 billion (December 1995)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $NA
note: in October 1990 Rwanda launched a Structural Adjustment Program with the IMF; since September 1991, the EU has given $46 million and the US $25 million in support of this program (1993)

Currency: 1 Rwandan franc (RF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Rwandan francs (RF) per US$1—302.28 (January 1998), 301.53 (1997), 306.82 (1996), 262.20 (1995), 144.31 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year


[Top of Page]

Telephones: 6,400 (1983 est.)

Telephone system: telephone system does not provide service to the general public but is intended for business and government use
domestic: the capital, Kigali, is connected to the centers of the prefectures by microwave radio relay; the remainder of the network depends on wire and HF radiotelephone
international: 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)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 0

Radios: 630,000 (1993 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 1

Televisions: NA


[Top of Page]

Railways: 0 km

total: 12,000 km
paved: 1,000 km
unpaved: 11,000 km (1997 est.)

Waterways: Lac Kivu navigable by shallow-draft barges and native craft

Ports and harbors: Cyangugu, Gisenyi, Kibuye

Airports: 7 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 4
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 1 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (1997 est.)


[Top of Page]

Military branches: Army, Gendarmerie

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 1,892,503 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 963,218 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $112.5 million (1992)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 7% (1992)

Transnational Issues

[Top of Page]

Disputes—international: none