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Rwanda: lakes, plateaus, volcanoes and gorillas

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Rwanda (Republika y’u Rwanda/République Rwandaise/Republic of Rwanda) is a presidential republic of Central Africa, whose capital is Kigali. It used to be a part of German East Africa, became a League of Nations Mandate entrusted to Belgium after the First World War and a United Nations Trust Territory after 1945, administered by Belgium till the granting of independence in 1962. Rwanda is a landlocked country and is bordered by Uganda in the north, the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the west, Tanzania in the east and Burundi in the south.


Rwanda is located in the heart of equatorial Africa between 1° and 3° south of the Equator in the Great Lakes region along the Rift Valley. It is largely mountainous, dominated by a central plateau with an average height of 1,700 meters.

To the west towards the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda the plateau rises to form the chain of volcanic Virunga Mountains. Here is the highest mountain of the country, the Karisimbi volcano, which reaches 4,507 meters.

To the south-west of the Virunga Mountains along the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the Lake Kivu with 2,700 sq km at a height of 1,460 meters above sea level. South of the lake flows the river Ruzizi, whose valley lies 950 meters above sea level, being the lowest point of the country.

In the east of Rwanda towards the border with Tanzania the plateau is lower to form an area dotted with lakes. Here along the border with Tanzania runs the Kagera river, a source of the river Nile. The equatorial forests are concentrated on the slopes of the Virunga mountains and in the surrounding Lake Kivu.


Rwanda is one of the poorest and most densely populated countries of Africa. The situation, already critical, was aggravated by the devastating civil war between Hutus and Tutsis, which in 1994 lead to a death toll of one million.

The economy is agricultural to a great extent. The grown products are potatoes, sweet potatoes, millet, cassava, sorghum, maize, beans, wheat, peas, tea, coffee, tobacco and peanuts. The breeding of cattle, sheeps, goats and poultry is important. Some fishing is practiced in the waters of Lake Kivu. There are deposits of tin, tungsten, gold and tantalite.

The climate of Rwanda.

The official page of the Government of Rwanda.

English text correction by Dietrich Köster. 

  • Area: 26,338 sq km: arable land 44,6%, pastures 26,6%, forests and bushland 9,5%, uncultivated and unproductive land 19,3%
  • Population: 12,600,000 (as of 2019): Hutus 84%, Tutsis 15%, Twa (Pygmies) 1%.
  • State Capital: Kigali.
  • Official Languages: The official languages are Kinyarwanda, French and English.
  • Religion: Christians 80%: Roman Catholics 56% and Protestants 24%; indigenous beliefs 15%, Muslims 5%.
  • Currency: Rwanda Franc (RWF)
  • Time Zone: UTC+2 hours.

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