Rwanda Geography and Population

By | January 8, 2023

Rwanda – Geography

Rwanda – Geography, The Republic is located in the western part of the Rift Valley and is a lush country but very poor and densely populated. For many years, Rwanda has been ravaged by conflicts between the two population groups Tutsi and Hutu.


The population consists of three ethnic groups: hutu (80-90%), tutsi (10-20%) and twee (less than 1%). Add to this small groups of Europeans and Arabs. Population density is high (over 300 inputs per km2); previously population growth was high, approximately 3% a year, but war and HIV/AIDS have caused it to decline; in 2006 it is estimated to be approximately 2.5%.. The landscape is wavy with scattered highs. Traditionally, the people live on these mounds, in cottages and houses surrounded by banana palms and with the mound as the basic social unit. However, in connection with the large population growth there has been some village formation and urbanization. The capital, Kigali, is located in the middle of the country; other important cities are Butare in the south with the main department of Rwanda University as well as Ruhengeri and Gisenyi.

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The background of the ethnic composition of the population is debated and characterized by ethnic and political ideology. Of the area’s three traditional communities are twa the oldest; it is a pygmy people who were originally collectors and hunters. They specialize in the production of clay jars, wicker mats and baskets as well as iron utensils; agriculture also occurs. Traditionally, Hutu and Tutsi are considered subhuman and are marginalized in modern Rwanda. Hutu are bantu, traditionally farmers with a smaller livestock of sheep, goats and cattle. Tutsiwere originally cattle nomads, but now live in many respects like the hutu. Before the colonial era, the Tutsis maintained the economic and political power of a feudal leasing system under the strong control of the central king power. The picture is complicated by the fact that ethnic groups can also be regarded as social classes; previously it was possible to change status from hutu to tutsi and vice versa. Furthermore, in many contexts, belonging to clans and regions plays as important a role as ethnicity. Marriages are traditionally entered into within the ethnic group, but mixed marriages occur; the children inherit the father’s ethnicity.

After the 1994 genocide, when more than half of Tutsis were exterminated, exile immigration of exiled Tutsis occurred. This means that the ethnic distribution is numerically similar to before, but with new dividing lines between different Tutsi groups.

Business and Economics

Agriculture employs over 90% of the workforce; cultivation takes place with pick and other hand tools and supplemented with livestock breeding. Both widespread poverty and the very hilly landscape make mechanization difficult. The main crops are called plantains (plantain) for cooking and brewing besides cassava, sweet potatoes and potatoes, beans and sorghum. Coffee is the most important export product. The majority of farmers live on their own breeding and little sales in the local market. Many live near the minimum of existence, and in bad years, hunger and malnutrition occur.

With the large self-sufficiency sector and in view of several years of civil war, it is difficult to assess the country’s GDP, but Rwanda is among the world’s poorest countries and heavily dependent on foreign aid. For culture and traditions of Rwanda, please check allunitconverters.

Physical Geography

Most of the country is quite high. The majority is a hilly terrain in 1000-2000 m. From Kivus Island to the west (1460 m), the terrain rises abruptly to a more than 2500 m high north-south ridge, which divides the Congo River and the Nile. To the east is the low-lying Akagera National Park, and towards NV Virunga with a number of extinct volcanoes. The climate is tropical, but most places are not uncomfortably warm. There are two rainy seasons, the big one from February to May and one smaller from September to December. The rainfall of 800-1600 mm is usually sufficient for cultivation.


The road network is dense, many asphalt roads are good, and the dirt roads are generally well maintained; however, many become impassable during the rainy season. Via Uganda, there is a connection to Mombasa and via Kivu Island to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The 1994 genocide meant that the country’s economy was severely degraded and it was estimated that immediately afterwards 70% of the population lived below the poverty line. The situation has slowly improved, among other things. because the country has received large sums of aid from the World Bank and EU countries. At the same time, there have been good harvests. However, the economy is still weak and exposed, for example, aid has been withheld for periods due to the country’s involvement in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rwanda Geography