24 interesting facts about Rwanda

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The most interesting facts about Rwanda, from the Land of a Thousand Hills to one for the world’s most gender-equal countries.

Interesting facts about Rwanda include its gorilla population
Interesting facts about Rwanda include its gorilla population (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of Rwanda
Capital city: Kigali
Population: 12,712,431
Area: 26,338 sq km
Major languages: Kinyarwanda, French, English, Swahili
Time zone: UTC+2 (Central Africa Time)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about Rwanda

1. Rwanda is a landlocked country in Africa. Landlocked countries are completely surrounded by land with no access to the sea. Currently, there are 45 landlocked countries along with five partially recognised states.
– Source: CIA World Fact BookThe Telegraph

2. Rwanda was initially inhabited by the Twa – a Pygmy hunter-gatherer people known for their short stature as they typically around 1.5m (5ft) tall.
– Source: Britannica

3. The Hutu people migrated to the region sometime between the 5th and 11th centuries, followed by the Tutsi people beginning in the 14th century.
– Source: Britannica

4. In 1858, British explorer Hanning Speke became the first European to visit what would later become Rwanda.
– Source: BBC News

5. Rwanda was occupied by Germany from 1890 and then by Belgian forces from 1916.
– Source: BBC News

6. Rwanda is known as Le Pays des Mille Collines (Land of a Thousand Hills) because of its many mountains.
– Source: Lonely Planet

Trees on a hill in Rwanda during sunset
Rwanda is known as the Land of a Thousand Hills (Shutterstock)

7. From 1946 to 1962, Rwanda was part of a UN trust territory governed by Belgium called Ruanda-Urundi which included present-day Rwanda and Burundi.
– Source: United Nations Outreach Programme

8. In 1962, Belgium withdrew and Rwanda – along with Burundi – became a separate, independent country.
– Source: United Nations Outreach Programme

9. In the 1990s, Rwanda endured a horrific genocide which at its climax saw an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus killed in the space of just 100 days in 1994.
– Source: BBC News

10. Paul Kagame has effectively run Rwanda since his rebel army ended the genocide in 1994. He was vice-president and defence minister from 1994 but was widely regarded as the real leader. In 2000, parliament elected him president and he has since won elections in 2003, 2010 and 2017.
– Source: BBC News

11. Rwanda’s flag is horizontally striped blue-yellow-green with a yellow sun with 24 rays in its upper-right corner. The design represents Rwanda’s lush vegetation, bathed in the yellow light of the sun as promoting national unity, respect for work, heroism and self-assurance. 
– Source: Britannica

The flag of Rwanda
The flag of Rwanda (Shutterstock)

12. Since 2003, Rwanda has consistently had the highest proportional female representation of parliamentarians in the world. As of 2019, 61% of its lower house is female. Additionally, four of Rwanda’s seven supreme court justices are women.
– Source: National Geographic

13. This has significantly contributed to Rwanda becoming the world’s ninth most gender-equal and Africa’s most gender-equal country according to the 2020 Global Gender Gap Index. Gender equality is measured by the relative gaps between women and men in health, education, economy and politics.
– Source: World Economic Forum (WEF)

14. Rwanda is Africa’s second most densely populated country after Mauritius and Africa’s most densely populated mainland country. As of 2017, there were 496 people per square kilometre.
– Source: Our World in Data

15. Rwanda has some of the lowest CO2 emissions in the world. It 2020 it was ranked sixth-lowest when measured by metric tons per capita.
– Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators

16. Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, has been hailed as one of Africa’s greenest and cleanest cities after a number of measures were introduced over the last decade to clean up the city following a population boom.
– Source: Reuters

Rwanda's capital city Kigali
Rwanda’s capital city Kigali (Shutterstock)

17. Rwanda is home to the Volcanoes National Park, where the Rwandan section of the Virunga Mountains which includes five (extinct) volcanoes.
– Source: Lonely Planet

18. The region is home to the endangered mountain gorilla – only 1,063 are estimated to still exist in the wild. Mountain gorillas are found in just two areas: the Virunga volcanoes spanning the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo; and in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.
– Source: WWF

19. Since 2018, Rwanda has used drones to deliver blood and medical equipment. Doctors in rural areas can order such supplies by text message and have them delivered by a drone.
– Source: BBC News

20. In 2008, Rwanda became one of the first countries to ban plastic bags completely. The country is aiming to be the world’s first plastic-free nation.
– Source: The Guardian

21. Rwandan citizens are required to perform a day of community work called “umuganda” once a month. These workdays focus on activities such as clearing land for community gardens, collecting rubbish and building new roads, classrooms or residential toilets for households that lack them.
– Source: Reuters

22. In 2018, Rwanda paid £30m to sponsor Arsenal football club’s football strip. Rwanda’s President Kagame is an avid fan and insisted that having his nation’s name on the shirt’s sleeve would pay for itself by generating tourism.
– Source: The Guardian

23. It is possible to observe the famous big five game animals of lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo in the Akagera National Park in Rwanda following a massive conservation effort has seen animals reintroduced after some species were eradicated due to poaching.
– Source: National Geographic

24. Rwanda is one of only two Commonwealth members without historic ties to the United Kingdom. The other is Mozambique.
– Source: BBC News

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