The Republic of Rwanda (or "Rwanda" for short) is a small landlocked country located a few degrees south of the Equator at the central part of Africa (just at the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo). The Republic of Rwanda shares borders with the Republic of Uganda to the north, the Republic of Tanzania to the east, the Republic of Burundi to the south and DR Congo to the west.
The Republic of Rwanda has a total land area of about 26,338 squared kilometers (about 1,670sqkm of which is covered by water). Although Rwanda is landlocked, several great lakes span the country. Rwanda unlike most surrounding countries, is at high elevation with its geography dominated by mountains (especially in the west) and savannah in the east.
Rwanda has an estimated population of 13.2 million people with the population growth rate hovering around 2.3%. Just about 19% of the total population lives in urban areas. Kigali the capital of Rwanda contains about 1 million people.
A greater part of Rwanda's population is into agriculture with the majority being poor subsistence farmers who grow crops and rear animals just to feed themselves and their families (especially in the rural areas).
Although there are "3" major ethnic groups living in Rwanda today, Rwandans are drawn from just one cultural and linguistic group, the "Banyarwanda". Within this group there are three subgroups: the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. The Twa are mostly forest-dwelling "pygmy" people who descended from Rwanda's earliest inhabitants. Scholars disagree on the origins of and differences between the Hutu and Tutsi. Some believe differences arrived as a result of former social caste structures within a single people.
Kinyarwanda (official language, universal Bantu vernacular), French (official language), English (official language), Kiswahili, etc. are some of the major languages spoken in Rwanda today.
Christianity remains the most dominant religion in Rwanda today with over 90% of the population being Christians. Roman Catholics make up about 56.5% of the population with Protestants forming about 26%. About 11.1% are Adventists. Muslims make up about 4.6% of the total population.
Rwanda just like its neighboring countries is blessed with abundance of natural resources such as gold, tin ore, tungsten ore, methane, hydropower, etc.
Rwanda has a literacy rate of about 70.4% for the total population with the female literacy rate hovering around 64.7%. In other words, about 70.4% of Rwanda's population above the age 15 can at least read and write which is far better than in most other African countries (Please note: Education in Rwanda still falls below expectations compared to some middle-income countries in Africa today).
Taking the total land area of Rwanda and the total population today into consideration, Rwanda is the most densely populated country in all of Africa. A greater part of Rwanda's population is into agriculture. However due to the overpopulation issue in Rwanda today, fertile lands for farming are very hard to come by and this also explains the rising tensions between the various factions who depend mostly on the land for survival.
Despite the abundance of natural resources in Rwanda, a huge portion of the population still lives below poverty line. Just like its neighboring countries, poverty is worse in the rural areas where the majority of the population lives.
Considering its total land area and population size, the Republic of Rwanda is one of the most overpopulated countries in Africa today. In fact, Rwanda's population more than doubled between 1978 (4.8 million people) and 2012 (10.5 million people). Rwanda currently contains over 13.2 million people and the population is expected to grow at a faster rate in the next decade.
The overpopulation issue is putting much pressure on the available limited resources. For example, the overpopulation issue in Rwanda is resulting in land degradation (the gradual deterioration of agricultural lands and forest reserves due mainly to human activities) which is not only affecting food production but also severely affecting wildlife population.
Poaching and deforestation (rampant cutting down of trees mostly for timber, firewood, charcoal, etc) are other human activities severely affecting wildlife population in Rwanda today. Rwanda is one of only two countries in the world where tourists can see mountain gorillas in all their glory. However, poaching and other human activities have severely affected mountain gorilla population to a point of extinction.
Rwanda has an HIV/AIDS Adults prevalence rate of 2.9%. Officially, there were more than 170000 people were living with HIV/AIDS in 2009 with about 4100 deaths recorded within the same year. Not just HIV/AIDS. Malaria, bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, yellow fever, etc. continue to threaten several lives in Rwanda today.
Rwanda has witnessed huge progress the past two decades thanks to peace and reconciliation. In fact, a recent survey by UNDP indicated that the percentage of people living in poverty in Rwanda, has dropped by about 5.8% from 44.9% in 2011 to 39.1% in 2014. However, several Rwandans continue to wallow in poverty today.
According to Transparency International, Rwanda is one of the least corrupt countries in Africa today thanks to Rwanda's many anti-corruption policies and whistleblower protection laws. In fact, Rwanda was the 52nd least corrupt country out of 180 countries on the Transparency list in 2021. The United States was 43rd on that list. In other words, Rwanda, which once ranked on par with Russia and the Phillipines and suffered worse corruption than Yemen, Libya and Iran, has virtually eradicated major corruption. Transparency International now ranks Rwanda on par with the Czech Republic which is much better than Italy and Greece. However, Rwanda is not corruption-free. Administrative and rampant corruption exists in some parts of the country due to the lack of enforcement of Rwanda's many anti-corruption policies and regulations.
Although the Republic of Rwanda is healing physically, the psychological effects of the 1994 genocide remains in the minds and souls of some Rwandans today.