Rwanda is a landlocked Central African country. One of the main reasons to visit Rwanda is the opportunity to go gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. This unique experience allows visitors to observe mountain gorillas in their natural environment. Rwanda also impresses with its nature, from the green hills to the picturesque lakes and national parks. The country's rich culture and history are also fascinating, and Rwanda has established itself as a safe and clean travel destination.

Rwanda borders the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west, Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east and Burundi to the south. The Land of a Thousand Hills is considered a relatively stable and safe travel destination. It became known in a negative sense through the cruel genocide of 1994, in which almost a million people died. The country is working hard to resolve this conflict and is definitely worth a visit. It has a unique nature with the mountain gorillas in the Virunga Mountains in the northwest and the mountain rainforests of Nyungwe in the southwest of the country. Three national parks alone offer a variety of options.

Rwanda is smaller than the German state of Brandenburg and is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. This makes it one of the smallest and, with around 11.4 million inhabitants, the most densely populated African country. The majority of the inhabitants are Hutu (approx. 85%) and Tutsi (approx. 14%), although since the genocide the separation has disappeared and people refer to themselves as Rwandans. The third larger ethnic group, 1%, is the Twa, who were also referred to as Pygmies. All three groups share language and culture, another factor that has led people to refer to themselves as Rwandans. Although Rwanda is still one of the poorest countries in Africa, it is one of the most advanced countries south of the Sahara. In recent years, the country has made tremendous progress and is ranked the 18th best governed country in Africa (out of 48), according to a BBC report.


Pre-colonial period: Rwanda was settled by various Bantu peoples, including the Tutsi, Hutu and Twa. The Tutsi, often viewed as pastoralists and elites, played a dominant role in the region. A hierarchical social system developed based on ethnicity.

Colonial rule: At the end of the 19th century, Rwanda was conquered by German colonialists and later taken over by Belgium during the First World War. The Belgians introduced a policy of "ethnic identification", dividing the population into Tutsi, Hutu and Twa. This policy exacerbated ethnic tensions in the country.

Independence: Rwanda gained independence from Belgium in 1962. In the years that followed, the country experienced political instability and ethnic conflict. Tutsi refugees from Rwanda formed rebel movements in neighboring Uganda and later returned as the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

1994 Genocide: The 1994 Rwandan genocide is one of the darkest chapters in the country's history. Over the course of about 100 days, an estimated 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis but also moderate Hutus, were brutally murdered. The international community responded late to the crisis, resulting in far-reaching political and humanitarian consequences.

Post-war: After the genocide, the RPF took control of Rwanda and began rebuilding the country. Under the leadership of President Paul Kagame, efforts were made to promote reconciliation and national unity.

Modern History: Rwanda has made impressive progress in economic development and social stability in recent decades. The country has emerged as an emerging African nation and has been praised for its efforts in healthcare and education. However, challenges remain, including political tensions and human rights issues.



Except for Kigali, which is developing an increasingly urban character, the cities are very rural. They are usually the seat of local administration and church centers (former missions) and also serve as a transshipment point for local trade and as transport hubs.

1 Kigali. The capital of Rwanda, Kigali, is a modern city with a rich history and culture. Here you can visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial to learn more about the history of the Rwandan genocide. There is also a vibrant art scene, markets and restaurants serving traditional Rwandan dishes.
2 Butare (Astrida) . This city, also known as Huye, is the intellectual capital of Rwanda and is home to the National University of Rwanda. One can visit the National Museum of Rwanda here to learn more about the country's history and culture.
3 Musanze (Ruhengeri) . Musanze is home to the Volcanoes National Park, home to the famous mountain gorillas. Trekking to see these majestic animals is an unforgettable experience. The town itself also offers a relaxed atmosphere and is a good base for national park adventures.
4 rest periods. Ruhengeri is an important starting point for visitors to Volcanoes National Park. This national park is famous for its mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. In Ruhengeri, tourists can find accommodation and prepare for gorilla trekking adventures. The town itself lies in a picturesque setting with hilly terrain and green landscapes.
5 Gisenyi (Umujyi wa Rubavu) . Located on the shores of Lake Kivu, this city is a popular tourist destination. One can enjoy water sports like kayaking, windsurfing and boat rides on the lake. The city also offers relaxing lakeside beaches and beautiful surroundings.


National Parks

1 Volcanoes National Park (Pariki y'Igihugu y'Ibirunga) . This park is perhaps the best known in Rwanda and is part of the larger Virunga massif, which also extends into Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Volcanoes National Park is known for its population of endangered mountain gorillas. Tourists visit the park to take part in gorilla trekking where they can observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. The park is also home to golden monkeys and other species. In addition to gorilla trekking, visitors can explore the park's scenic landscapes.
2 Akagera National Park (Pariki y'Akagera) . This park in eastern Rwanda is known for its diverse wildlife, including elephants, giraffes, zebras, lions, buffalo and various species of antelope. Akagera National Park is also home to a large number of bird species and offers opportunities for safaris, boat trips on Lake Ihema and other outdoor activities.
3 Nyungwe National Park (Pariki ya Nyungwe) . An impressive montane rainforest, this park in southwest Rwanda is home to a variety of primate species, including chimpanzees and colobus monkeys. Nyungwe Forest National Park is also a birdwatcher's paradise, with hundreds of bird species. Hiking and ecotourism activities are very popular here.
4 Akagera National Park (Pariki ya Nyungwe) . is one of the most famous national parks in Rwanda and is located in the east of the country, near the border with Tanzania. This national park covers an area of approximately 1,200 square kilometers and offers an impressive variety of landscapes and wildlife.
5 Gishwati-Mukura National Park (Pariki y'ishyamba rya Gishwati-Mukura) . This park is one of the newer national parks in Rwanda and is home to a rich biodiversity including monkeys, birds and butterflies. It stretches across the Gishwati and Mukura forest reserves and offers opportunities for hiking and nature observation.


More destinations

6 Lake Kivu (lac Kivu) . Scenic Lake Kivu offers opportunities for swimming, boating and relaxation. Surrounding towns such as Gisenyi and Kibuye are popular lakeside destinations.
7 Bugarama Hot Springs (Nyakabuye Hot Springs). Hot spring between Nyakabuye and the CIMERWA cement factory in the south.
8 Rusumo Falls (Isumo rya Rusumo, ​Rusumo Falls) . On the border with Tanzania near Rusumo, the Kagera Nile plunges 15m into the depths.
9 Musanze Caves. These impressive lava caves near Volcanoes National Park offer a unique experience and are an interesting place for adventurers.
Ethnographic Museum (Ingoro ndangamurage y’Imibereho y’abanyarwanda (Rwanda), ​formerly Butare National Museum) . The former National Museum in Butare in the Southern Province. Open: daily 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; last Saturday of the month 8:00–11:00; closed: April 7th
Rwesero Art Museum (Ingoro y’Ubugeni n’Ubuhanzi ku Rwesero, Nyanza Royal Palace) . The former royal palace has been the Rwesero Art Museum in Nyanza since 2018. Open: daily 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; last Saturday of the month 8:00–11:00; closed: 7.


Getting here

Entry requirements
Since May 2018, all travelers arriving in Rwanda who require a visa - this includes all Europeans - can receive a visa on arrival for a single entry with a stay of 30 days. The fee for Germans is US$30 (cash or credit card). It is still possible to obtain a visa at the consulate or online. Fees for multiple entries (valid for 90 days; category T2) have also been reduced to €45. The tourist family visa (T3) has the same price.

For longer stays or study and work, a visa is required, which can be applied for via the Rwandan embassy in Berlin (see web links). An extension must be made in Kigali at the immigration service.

The embassy in Berlin is responsible for Austrian citizens, and for Swiss citizens the responsible embassy is at Rue de la Servette 93 in 1202 Genève (open: 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. + 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.; email: mission.rwanda@ties.itu. int, tel: 022/ 919 10 00).

Information about yellow fever vaccination under Health further down on this page.

Import regulations
The import of weapons, drugs and pornographic material of all kinds is prohibited. The import of technical equipment for personal use such as photography or computer equipment is possible duty-free. To be on the safe side, the items should be declared upon import. Foreign exchange can be imported without any restrictions on the amount.

Tobacco, alcohol and perfume may only be imported to a limited extent. The import of medication for personal use is not a problem, larger quantities e.g. B. for donations can only be introduced after prior approval has been obtained.

Subsequent customs clearance amounts to 15 to 25% of the value of the goods.

Regarding plastic bags: Plastic bags that travelers bring with them must be handed in upon entry (e.g. at the airport in Kigali). There is a corresponding law in the country. Plastic bags are difficult to dispose of in Rwanda. Paper bags and cloth bags are used in the country itself.

By plane
All international flights land at Kigali International Airport (KGL, formerly Aeroport Grégoire Kayi Banda) in the capital Kigali. There are currently no direct flights from Germany. With Ethiopian Airlines you can travel from Frankfurt via Addis Ababa. From Europe there are direct flights from Brussels and Amsterdam to Kigali three times a week. There are further flights from Nairobi, Johannesburg and Cape Town. The Rwandan airline is RwandAir.

By train
Rwanda has no railway network.

By bus
Overland bus connections exist primarily to Kampala in Uganda and to Benako in Tanzania. The buses each go to Kigali. Another regular bus service is from Kigali to Bujumbura in Burundi. Due to the difficult situation in the DR Congo, no reliable information can be provided here. There are bus connections to Goma and Bukavu. Here it is best to inquire locally. Partial routes (e.g. to Rusomo to take the bus to Tanzania) are sometimes covered by taxi.

Uganda: The trip takes approximately 9 hours and costs between RWF 8,000 and 10,000 depending on the bus company and time. Buses depart from Nyabugogo bus station (central bus station) in Kigali. The buses run almost around the clock. The largest bus companies for the Kigali - Kampala route are Kampala Coach and Jaguar (RWF 10,000). These are also the most common. The cheapest are Bahama Coach, Onatracom (RWF 8,000) and Gaagaa Coach (RWF 9,000).
Tanzania: This route is a little more difficult as you first go from Kigali to Benako and from there to Mwanza. Due to the poor road conditions it is difficult to give a travel time. The average travel time is around 30 hours to Arusha.
Kenya: The journey time is approx. 24 hours from Kigali (Nyabugogo bus station) to Nairobi.
Burundi: Daily bus connection with e.g. B. Yahoo Cars or Belvedere. The journey time is approximately 6 hours and the price is RWF 3,000.

Overland with your own vehicle
There is right-hand traffic in Rwanda! Entry from Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi is possible without any problems. However, you should bring a little time with you. Crossing the border between Rwanda and DR Congo is much more difficult.

By boat
On Lake Kivu, ships operate between Cyangugu, Kibuye and Gisenyi. However, these are not said to be particularly reliable when it comes to the appointment.


Local transport

There are well-developed (mini) bus connections between all cities in Rwanda. Only as many passengers are allowed to sit on the buses as there are seats. Typical for Africa: the buses have no fixed timetable. Departure is when the bus is full.

You can travel around the country with rental cars. The road network is pretty well developed. All national main roads are asphalted. However, the side roads usually do not have an asphalt surface. It is only recommended not to drive at night, as the risk of accidents is too great due to poor visibility. Great caution is always required as there are only rarely sidewalks and therefore there are a lot of pedestrians on the side of the road.

The Rwandan transport authority RDTA offers a good overview of the official roads and their status (asphalted, unasphalted, etc.) on its website.



The most widely spoken language is Kinyarwanda, the mother tongue of almost all Rwandans. Around 90% of the rural population only speaks this language.

French and English are the other official languages. Some people also speak French in the countryside. English has been the official language since 2009 and the only language of instruction from the fourth school year onwards. That's why you're increasingly seeing English-speaking Rwandans (especially younger people), especially in Kigali, but also more and more often in the countryside. Rwandans who grew up as refugees in Uganda generally do not speak French.



The national currency is the Rwandan franc. 1 euro corresponds to approximately 1165 RWF (as of 03/2021; in the middle of 2020 the exchange rate fell by 20% before stabilizing again around 1150.) Since the RWF has a very strong (downward) fluctuating rate from time to time , the US dollar is a welcome second currency. You can get cash from your Visa card in almost every city in the country at the ATMs of most Rwandan banks and in large hotels.

Traditional handicrafts, weaving and pottery are typical products of the country and are therefore very affordable. Used electronic items are also very cheap. Traditional textiles can be found primarily in the Muslim district. They are also very cheap.

The service industries in cities are particularly recommended. Hairdressers, for example, are very good and cheap. If an electrical device is defective, you can find a small shop on every street corner where the device is repaired.



Rwanda's cuisine consists of locally grown ingredients. These include plantains, beans, grains. Rwandans eat meat very rarely, as most people raise these animals for self-sufficiency and do not have large livestock populations. In the tourist restaurants you can get a large selection of delicious beef, pork and poultry dishes. You definitely shouldn't miss a fish dish in the restaurants in the towns around Lake Kivu. In addition, numerous fruits such as pineapples, mangoes, bananas, passion fruit and many others grow in Rwanda and are therefore available very cheaply on the market.



Kigali is the main venue for nightlife. There are also some nightclubs in other larger towns such as Butare (now Huye), Gisenyi and Gitarama (now Muhanga Town).



In Rwanda there are a lot of hotels, inns, etc. Many churches also have overnight accommodation that is very inexpensive. In the big cities like Kigali and Kibuye you can find modern hotels such as: B. that of the Intercontinental group or the Hôtel des Mille Collines, which became famous during the genocide in 1994.

There are already numerous hotels, lodges and guesthouses around the national parks, some of which now also have campsites. More are currently in development.



The oldest and for a long time only university is the National University of Rwanda (NUR) in Butare. However, many more have been added in recent years, particularly in Kigali. There are now almost 30 public and private universities. In addition to NUR, the largest are the Independent University of Kigali (ULK), the Kigali Institute of Education (KIE) and the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST)



Foreigners are prohibited from working without the appropriate permit. If you want to work in Rwanda, you need a work visa or residence permit. The costs are approximately 270 to 300 euros. This is initially issued by the embassies for three months and must then be extended locally.



Even if Rwanda has a different image: It is currently one of the safest travel destinations in East Africa. Women traveling alone also have no problems. In the area of the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi in the southwest of the country, attacks can occur due to the unstable situation in neighboring countries. The presence of security forces here is increased.



The medical care does not correspond to European standards; necessary medications should be brought with you.


Tropical diseases

A vaccination against yellow fever is only required when entering from an endemic area. This does not apply if you arrive directly from Europe via Kigali International Airport. At the airport there is still the option to get vaccinated for around $40. The Directorate of Immigration and Emigration provides current information

Rwanda is a malaria risk area. In particular, Plasmodium falciparum, which causes malaria tropica, is found everywhere. Malaria is one of the main causes of death in the Rwandan population. Malaria mosquitoes are nocturnal. It is therefore recommended to use insect repellent with DEET, long-sleeved clothing and sleeping under miosquito nets. Malaria prophylaxis is recommended, especially when staying in the east and southeast of the country. The German Tropical Medicine Society, among others, offers information on this.



There should be normal basic protection, as recommended for Germany. A vaccination against hepatitis A and cholera can definitely make sense. Both are transmitted through food and water. The oral cholera vaccination also offers some protection against traveler's diarrhea.

Further information is available from the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO), among others.



As in many other African countries, there is an increased risk of HIV in the population. The population between 15 and 49 is particularly affected (prevalence approx. 2.9%). Women have a risk that is approximately twice as high as men. The annual new infection rate is around 7,500.



Western stomachs are not used to the food in Rwanda. To rule out gastrointestinal problems, you should prefer hotel food for the first few days. Drinking from taps is not recommended; instead, it is advisable to boil the water or buy mineral water.


Medical care

Thanks to enormous efforts and international cooperation programs, Rwanda now has one of the best health systems in Africa. Nevertheless, the care cannot be compared with that in Germany. There are health centers and health posts spread across the country, which primarily provide outpatient care for the population. As a next level, the country has around 72 district hospitals and 4 so-called national referral hospitals. In Kigali these are the King Faisal Hospital (KFH), the University Hospital Center Hospitalier Universitair de Kigali (CHUK for short) and the Rwanda Military Hospital. Butare is home to the fourth of these hospitals, the Center Hospitalier Universitaire de Butare (CHUB). Currently, the private King Faisal Hospital is considered the most modern in the country.


Rules and respect

Every traveler should show all respect to the population in every country. This is no different in Rwanda. When taking photos, always ask the people beforehand. Some locals are afraid or angry if they don't know what will happen to their likeness.

Photography of military installations, bridges, Kigali airport and government buildings is prohibited.
Drug possession: harsh penalties - up to several years in prison (a stay in a Rwandan prison is not really desirable).
Same-sex relationships: those under 18 are subject to a fine or prison sentence. The other regulations are not significantly different than in Europe.
It is also considered impolite to eat in public, i.e. on the street. However, this is less of a problem on buses.


Post and telecommunications

In the larger cities there is a fairly well-developed telephone network. There is almost complete GSM 900 coverage. Internet access via Internet cafés is also not a problem in large cities. However, there may be intermittent network or power outages.

German cell phones work in Rwanda. Unfortunately, of the German SIM cards, only those from Vodafone (D2) work. For customers of other network operators, we recommend purchasing a prepaid card. The three main mobile phone providers are MTN, Tigo and Airtel.



Rwanda borders Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, Burundi to the south and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Most of Rwanda is highland with an average altitude of 1500 meters. The total altitude range is from about 1000 meters to the 4507 meter high Karisimbi (Virunga volcanoes in the north). The main African watershed between the headwaters of the White Nile and the Congo runs from north to south at an altitude of 3000 to 4000 meters. Most of Rwanda's western border is formed by Lake Kivu, which is part of the East African Rift Valley system and is therefore very deep. In the border area to Congo and Uganda are the up to 4500 meter high Virunga volcanoes, on which the rare mountain gorillas live at medium altitude. To the east, the vast Akagera swamps and a long series of lakes form a natural border with present-day Tanzania. The country is 1200 kilometers away from the East African coast, but due to its good road network it still serves as a transit point for some exports from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Rwanda is often called the "Land of a Thousand Hills" (French: Pays de Mille Collines) and indeed has a very hilly landscape, mainly in the western part of the country.



Due to the altitude, the climate is rather mild and humid despite the proximity to the equator. The hot equatorial diurnal climate is overlaid by the seasonal East African climate and moderated by the high altitude. The average daily temperature is 18 °C. There is not much variation in temperature throughout the year, but temperatures do vary with altitude. There are two rainy seasons corresponding to the East African monsoon rains, umuhindo roughly between September and December (average 27% of annual rainfall) and itumba between February and early June. 40% of annual precipitation falls between March and May. However, the climate and especially the precipitation show great irregularities. Abnormal droughts, excessive rain and hail repeatedly threaten crops and cause famine.



Rwanda drains into two major drainage basins. The land area is divided into ¾ into the Nile catchment area and ¼ into the Congo catchment area.

The country's defining Nile tributaries are the Nyabarongo, which has its source in the southwestern highlands (Nyungwe Forest Nature Park), and the border river in the east, the Akagera (Kagera). The Nyabarongo rises as Rukarara at 2700 meters above sea level near the watershed to the Congo and is the central river of the country. Like its tributary, the Mwogo, it initially flows from south to north before turning south-east to the capital, Kigali, not far from the Virunga volcanoes. This abrupt change in course explains the geology by tectonic displacements of the earth's crust in the formation of the East African Rift and the Virunga volcanoes.

South of Kigali, the Nyabarongo and the Akanyaru coming from the Burundi border area unite at about 1500 meters altitude. Depending on the source, the further course on the way to Lake Rweru is already referred to as Kagera or further as Nyabarongo. After leaving Lake Rweru, the Kagera flows first to the east, later to the north and forms the national border with Tanzania for about 250 kilometers. The river, which flows northwards at the border triangle with Tanzania and Uganda, finally bends sharply to the east again, later to flow into Lake Victoria.

The Congo catchment area is primarily characterized by Lake Kiwu and its outflow, the Ruzizi. The latter forms the southwestern border of Rwanda and flows to Lake Tanganyika.


The three large landscapes

Rwanda can essentially be divided into three large and several small landscapes: The (south)eastern depression, the central high plateau and the Congo-Nile watershed form three large landscapes.

In the center of Rwanda is the central high plateau. It is between 1500 and 2000 meters high and stretches between the Congo-Nile Divide and the Southeastern Depression. It is intersected by numerous watercourses and represents the proverbial "land of a thousand hills", especially in the ascent to the Congo-Nile watershed. Due to the good supply of surface water and rainfall, as well as the moderate temperatures and fairly fertile soil, it has been used intensively for agriculture for a long time. The original forest vegetation has disappeared for just as long.

The Virunga volcanoes in the north represent the highest elevations. They are joined by the Buberuka mountains and the volcanic area of north-western Rwanda. It is characterized by a damp and cool climate with sometimes extreme rainfall. The volcanic ash and cinder soils are very fertile and are used intensively for agriculture. Here is a center of potato cultivation in Rwanda. However, especially in the lava level, the water seeps away very quickly and only reappears at its edge as springs.

In addition to the Virunga volcanoes, the Congo-Nile watershed, which stretches from north to south along Lake Kivu in the west, reaches heights close to 3000 meters, in the middle part only up to 1200 meters and in the south again up to 2700 meters. It is characterized by rugged gorges and sharp peaks. The climate is damp in the east due to uphill rain, and somewhat reduced in the west due to foehn winds. In the past, the mountains were covered by tropical high-altitude rainforest. This was extremely reduced due to population growth. By the late 1990s, remnants of rainforest still existed in Gishwati (North), Mukura (Central) and Nyungwe (South). Gishwati and Mukura were almost completely destroyed after 1994 for the purpose of settlement, mainly by returning long-term refugees. The Nyungwe Forest, on the other hand, is still quite extensive. Small monkeys (colobas and others), small antelopes, formerly also forest elephants and numerous bird and small animal species live in all tropical high mountain cloud forests. The variety of plants is unique and large.

The shoreline of Lake Kiwu is characterized by deep bays and steep slopes. Due to foehn formation on the western slopes of the Congo-Nile watershed, precipitation here is lower than on the eastern side of the mountains. The water of Lake Kiwu is about 23.5 °C warm. The climate is characterized by mild temperatures. On the fertile soils in the south and north, intensive soil cultivation has been going on for a long time; On the other hand, on the less fertile soils near Kibuye (centre), cattle breeding traditionally predominated.

The south-west of Rwanda (Impara and Imbo) has partly very fertile soils, which allow intensive soil cultivation both in the hot low areas and in the cool mountains.

The eastern and southeastern depression, with elevations between 1000 and 1500 meters, extends west of the extensive Akagera River backwater marshes and numerous lakes. It is characterized by a dry, hot climate, porous soils and laterite crusts, as well as bush savannas. The climate, soil and the proliferation of tsetse flies make this landscape unsuitable for farming and animal husbandry. Again and again there are extended dry seasons, which lead to famine in the populated parts. In 1934, the Belgian administration set up the Akagera National Park as a game reserve in the sparsely populated area to the east. Hunting areas and private ranches adjoined to the south and west. These hunting areas and parts of the Akagera Park were released for settlement after July 1994 for returning (so-called long-term) refugees. In the south-eastern part, the Bugesera district, Tutsi from various parts of the country had been forcibly resettled since the end of the 1950s, and later Hutu from the north of the country were added.

The lowlands of the Mayaga region along the Akanyaru River and its papyrus swamps were formerly reserved for Tutsi cattle herds as grazing reserves during prolonged dry seasons. They were only used for soil construction in the course of the 20th century.


Flora and fauna

The high mountains in Rwanda are characterized by special ecosystems with unique animal and plant species, which are caused by the foggy, humid and cool tropical climate. For example, the Nyungwe Forest is the only remaining mountain rainforest and is home to considerable biodiversity with many endemic species.

The center of Rwanda has been used intensively for agriculture for a long time.

In the dry, hot east is the Akagera National Park with grass-tree savannahs, swamps and lakes. Until 1994, the park was home to numerous large herds of zebras, impalas, topis and Cape buffalo as well as other antelope species in smaller herds, a few elephants and giraffes flown in from Tanzania. Lions were numerous and leopards were also present. Many hippos and crocodiles lived in the waters. The bird fauna was very diverse. The war decimated the animal population – especially lions and antelopes.

A special feature are the few remaining mountain gorillas in the Virunga volcanoes. The mountain gorillas, which are threatened with extinction, are protected by protective measures (including a hunting ban). The US researcher Dian Fossey has worked hard to protect mountain gorillas in Rwanda and also wrote a book about it. She became known worldwide through the film adaptation of the book, the film Gorillas in the Mist.


Environmental Protection

Rwanda has had an environmental protection law since 2005. The environmental agency REMA was founded in 2006. It sets the country's guidelines when it comes to environmental protection and has made Rwanda a role model for all other African countries when it comes to environmental protection. Kigali is considered one of the cleanest capitals in Africa. Waste separation is required by law in Rwanda, but is not yet implemented across the board. Illegal dumping is punishable by a minimum fine of $1,500 or up to two years in prison. Plastic bags are banned in Rwanda. When entering the country, tourists' luggage is searched for plastic bags. Any bags found will be removed and disposed of. Instead, people use paper bags in Rwanda.

Currently, half of the electricity is generated by diesel generators and the other half by hydroelectric power plants. Three new hydroelectric power plants are being planned.

There are four national parks in Rwanda:
Akagera National Park
Nyungwe National Park
Volcano National Park
Gishwati Mukura National Park



Monarchy and colonial times

Rwanda has a centuries-old history as a monarchy. At the end of the 19th century, as part of the division of Africa between the major European powers, it was added to Germany and subordinated to the colony of German East Africa. The Germans limited themselves to indirect rule in the form of residency. As in British protectorates, the German resident controlled and advised the local rulers. At the same time, missionary work began, in which the Catholics prevailed. During the First World War, the country was occupied by Belgian forces starting from the Belgian Congo and was awarded to Belgium by the League of Nations as part of the mandated territory of Rwanda-Urundi. With independence, the old territories of Rwanda and Burundi began their own path as independent states.

For the local elections of 1960, women were given the right to vote. In the Legislative Decree of Rwanda - Urundi (L.D.R.U.) N° 02/269, issued on August 17, 1961 by the Belgian Administration of the UN Mandate Territory, women were granted universal suffrage at the national level and in the elections to the Legislative Assembly on August 25. First exercised in September 1961. Universal adult suffrage was confirmed at independence in 1962. In 1961, women gained the right to be elected to all offices except the presidency. They were only granted the right to stand for this office in 1978 in the new constitution.

In modern history, in addition to colonization, which only reached the country shortly before 1900, the independence in 1962 and the genocide of 1994 were the most important events.


Since the Declaration of Independence

After independence on July 1, 1962, there was a first republic (1962–1973) and then a second republic (July 1973–1994). The first republic in particular was accompanied by massacres, expulsions and refugee movements of Tutsis. A large number of them were subsequently prevented from returning to Rwanda and lived for decades in neighboring countries (Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and DR Congo, partly also Kenya).

On October 1, 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), in which exiled Rwandans from Uganda were heavily represented, attacked the country in order to force the return of refugees militarily. It occupied parts of the north of the country (in Byumba and Mutara). Internationally mediated negotiations initially led to a ceasefire in July 1992. One consequence was the formation of the UNAMIR force. After the Arusha Peace Treaty, there was more or less a political blockade in the implementation of the peace treaty's agreements in January 1993. Radical forces were not prepared to cooperate with the enemy in transitional structures of the government, parliament and army.

On April 6, 1994, then President Juvénal Habyarimana's plane was shot down while approaching the capital Kigali. Habyarimana and Burundi's President Cyprien Ntaryamira died in this attack. From April 7th to June 1994 there was a genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, combined with the liquidation of dissident Hutus. The RPF resumed hostilities against the regime that organized the genocide. By July it conquered the north, east and southeast as well as the capital, then also the central and northern west of the country. French troops, coming from eastern Congo, temporarily occupied the southwest of the country. On July 19, 1994, Pasteur Bizimungu was appointed president. This was followed by a transition phase with transitional governments based on the Arusha Treaty, which lasted until 2003. Since 2003, Rwanda has had a new constitution, an elected parliament and an elected president.

In 1998, the Second Congo War began in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly the Belgian Congo), in which Rwanda (as well as Uganda) took part - officially to pursue remnants of the Hutu extremist Interahamwe militias who had fled there, but also to join in to enrich the Congolese mineral resources. In 2002 a peace agreement was concluded with the Congo. President Joseph Kabila announced the disarmament of Hutu militias in October 2007. To this day, fighting between various rebel groups and the Congolese government continues in eastern Congo.

At the beginning of January 2009, the Congolese militia chief Nkunda was overthrown by his military chief Bosco Ntaganda in a power struggle within the leadership of the CNDP. Ntaganda signed a ceasefire and joined forces with Congolese and Rwandan government troops against Nkunda. On January 22, 2009, Laurent Nkunda was arrested in Rwandan territory.