Facts About Rwanda's Culture, Geography, and History
Rwanda is an East African country etched in the Great Lakes Region. It is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and DRC. There is more to explore about this country that only setting foot on it can unveil it all. Nonetheless, we have assembled 12 interesting facts about Rwanda to help you gear up
12. Rwanda is also known as the Land of a Thousand Hills because most of the country is covered by rolling, grassy hills.
Hills and valleys covered by lush vegetation make up the Rwandan landscape. There could be more than a thousand hills dotting this evergreen landscape - only made bare in some parts by human activity and erosion.
11. The Karisimbi Volcano (4,519 m high) in the Virunga Mountains is the highest point in Rwanda.
Rwanda is a highly mountainous country. Kasirimbi Volcano is the highest point. It measures 4,519 m high and is found in the Virunga Mountains. The capital city, Kigali, is established on a mountainous region.
10. Rwanda is the 4th smallest country on the African Continent.
Rwanda is a very tiny country by African standard. Its total area is just 26,338 km2, which is equivalent to a small district in neighboring Tanzania or DRC. In the entire world, Rwanda ranks 149th out of almost 200 countries in terms of total area.
9. Rwanda is only one of three countries in Africa where you can visit Mountain Gorillas in the Wild.
Gorillas are the most common apes in the central African region, which encompasses the western part of Rwanda. Gorilla tourism is a major activity that earns Rwanda millions of dollars. It is quite captivating to watch Gorillas in their natural habit – their proud movement, their game, their domineering voice, among others. The good thing is that they are not caged but free.
8. Rwanda is largely a rural country with about 90% of the population involved in agricultural, agro-processing, and mineral work.
Rwanda has a very rich agricultural land. Tea and coffee are the major cash crops grown in Rwanda, as they are fit for fertile rainy highlands. Apart from cash crops, subsistence farming practices, especially due to high population density that greatly constraints acreage available to large-scale mechanized farming.
7. Kigali in Rwanda is Africa’s cleanest country because it had a consistent schedule in community cleaning days which takes place every last Saturday of the month.
Cleaning the streets of Kigali is a communal activity – at least once a month. Although there are people employed by the municipal authorities to clean the city, this is supplemented by dedicated community cleaning days – mostly on the last Saturday of the month. Strict enforcement of rules regarding hygiene, especially dumping of polythene bags and other trash ensures that there is a discipline in the manner by which cleanliness is handled. Most cities become dirty due to the lack of disciplined residents. Rwanda has understood this secret and thus enforced a strict code of conduct.
6. Rwanda’s Parliament has more female members than any other parliament in the world.
Rwanda is among the few countries in the world where the representation of women in Parliament supersedes that of men. It surpasses that of Scandinavian countries, Iceland and New Zealand – countries are known to have high gender parity ratio. In fact, women comprise almost 64% of the members of Parliament – surpassing men by a huge margin. This has contributed to increased gender parity in other spheres of life such as health, education, and trade. It has also led to a country that is more peaceful with improved overall human development. This is because unlike men, women are more adept at initiating peace-friendly policies and legislation.
5. No Flip-Flop Sandals allowed in Rwanda.
You are not allowed to wear flip-flop sandals while walking in public places in Rwanda. Being open, this is considered unhygienic, as flip-flops do not cover the vulnerable parts of your feet. It is also thought that flip-flops easily picks up and spread germ-infested dirt onto other people’s feet, especially if they are behind you. The grand policy is – hygiene first.
4. In 1959, the majority ethnic group, the Hutus, overthrew the ruling Tutsi king. Over the next few years, thousands of Tutsis were slaughtered and around 150,000 were driven into exile to nearby countries.
For a long time, Rwanda has had a history of ethnic strife – made worse by colonialists that sought to favor and elevate the minority Tutsi over the majority Hutu in their divide-and-rule policy. While in the pre-colonial period Tutsi still dominated political administration, there was peace and harmony due to mutual understanding, mutual collaboration, and interdependency as Hutus were largely agrarian while Tutsis were largely pastoralists. Thus, there was a viable exchange of value which each side appreciated rather than the competition, oppression, subjugation, and exploitation introduced by the colonial administration. It is this policy that brought anger, resentment, and civil strife - thus leading to Hutus seeking to topple the Tutsi dynasty. Unresolved, this later resulted in the 1994 genocide. Visiting the Rwanda genocide museum tells it all about the consequences of divide-and-colonize policy advanced by the Belgian and later on by the French colonizers. A consequence that resulted in a million deaths within 100 days.
3. The most dominant religions in Rwanda are Roman Catholic, Protestant, Adventist, and Muslim.
Rwanda is a largely Christian country with Roman Catholic being the dominant sect of Christianity. Protestantism is picking up to challenge this dominant Roman position. Adventism and Islam are also active in Rwanda, though practiced by a much smaller population. If you are a Christian or Muslim, you will find spiritual comfort and nourishment while on your trip to Rwanda.
2. It is simply a no-no walk across lawns in Kigali, so stay off the grass.
Walking across lawns is a criminal offense in Kigali. This due to the conservation effort. The impact of this policy can be felt, as Kigali is environmentally green, unlike many concrete jungles that dot cities of its neighboring countries. Fresh air in a clean atmosphere makes Kigali a breathtaking place for visitors.
1. Rwanda’s policy is “No Plastic Bags Allowed”, At the point of entry plastic bags are actively looked for and confiscated.
Rwanda has had a strong anti-plastic policy for a long time – since Paul Kagame took over the reins of power. This, together with policy on not stepping on lawns, and disciplined traffic has made Kigali the cleanest city in African and among the top 10 cleanest cities in the world.