Overview of Rwanda

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Geography

Rwanda is a landlocked country located in Eastern Africa. Known as “the land of a thousand hills,” Rwanda has six volcanoes, 23 lakes, and numerous rivers. Rwanda is bordered by Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Rwanda’s land area is about the size of Maryland, and it is one of most densely populated countries in Africa. The following comparisons may be helpful.

Country of Rwanda State of Maryland
Land Area (sq. mi.) 10,169 9,707
Population Density (2010 est. people per sq. mi.) 988 595

Administratively, the country is divided into five provinces and 30 districts. (Please click here to view a district map.) Of the five provinces, Kigali is predominantly urban and the rest are predominantly rural.

Climate
Rwanda has four distinct seasons: two rainy seasons and two dry seasons. It is basically either rainy and wet or hot and dry in Rwanda, and there is a discernible pattern to the seasons:

mid-March to mid-May……………rainy season
mid-May to September …………..dry season
October to mid-December……….rainy season
mid-December to mid-March…..dry season

Although it is situated near the equator, Rwanda’s high elevation makes the climate temperate. The average daily temperature in Rwanda is around 75F (24C), easily reaching up the 80sF (30sC) and above in the drier months of the year. The minimum night temperature is around 50F (10C), so you may want to have a jacket or sweater for evenings.

Rwanda boasts a wide variety of wildlife, and its northern region is home to the world’s largest number of endangered mountain gorillas, which can be viewed in their natural mountain habitats at a fairly close range. In addition, 670 different bird species have been recorded in the country.

Sources: Adapted from “Rwanda: A Peace Corps Publication for New Volunteers,” Peace Corps, March 2012; “Rwanda Visitor’s Guide,” Partners In Health/Inshuti Mu Buzima, July 2011; “Rwanda,” US Department of State, Feb. 2012; “State Quickfacts,” US Census Bureau; “Weather and Climate of Rwanda: Travel Tips,” USA Today.

Recommended Reading
Books related to Rwanda

  • King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa. Adam Hochschild. 1998.
  • The Cohesion of Oppression: Clientship and Ethnicity in Rwanda 1860-1960. Catharine Newbury. 1988.
  • A Thousand Hills: Rwanda’s Rebirth and The Man Who Dreamed It. Stephen Kinzer. 2008.
  • Shake Hands With The Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. Gen. Romeo Dallaire. 2005.
  • We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families. Philip Gourevitch. 1998.
  • Sunday at the Pool in Kigali. Gil Courtemanche. 2003.
  • A Problem From Hell: America in the Age of Genocide. Samantha Power. 2002.
  • The Graves Are Not Yet Full. Bill Berkeley. 2001.
  • Machete Season. Jean Hatzfeld. 2005.
  • The Antelope’s Strategy: Living in Rwanda After the Genocide. Jean Hatzfield. 2009.
  • The Rwandan Crisis: History of a Genocide. Gerard Prunier. 1995.
  • Gorillas in the Mist. Dian Fossey. 1983.

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