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RWANDA

Rwanda is a unitary republic in central and eastern Africa. Uganda is to its north, Tanzania to the east, Burundi to the south, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west. While the country is landlocked, it is noted for its lakes. Despite being close to the equator, the climate is temperate due to the altitude. The highest point is Mount Karisimbi. Tourism is important due to wildlife, including the mountain gorilla. Kigali, Gitarama, and Butare are the largest cities.

Since the end of the Rwandan Genocide, the country has been socially and politically stable. As a result, agriculture, roads, mining, and tourism have developed. There are still a large number of people that live in poverty. The president, Paul Kagame, and his party, the RPF, firmly hold power in the country.

Geography and Climate
Rwanda’s area is 26,338 sq. km and is located in central and east Africa. The Congo and Nile River drainage basins run north to south. The Nyabarongo is the longest river, which meets up with the Kagera and drains into Lake Victoria. Lake Kivo is the largest of many lakes in Rwanda. It is one of the 20 deepest world lakes with a depth of 480 meters.

Central and western Rwanda is mountainous. The Virunga Mountains are the highest peaks and includes Mount Karisimbo, the country’s highest peak at 4,507 meters. The western part of Rwanda has a 1,500 meter to 2,500 meter average elevation.

Due to the high altitude, Rwanda has lower temperatures than those typically found near the equator. There are two rainy seasons with the first running from February to June and the second from September to December. There is generally twice as much rainfall in the west as opposed to the east.

Demographics
Rwanda’s population was estimated at over 12,3 million, with over 42 percent under the age of 15. The infant mortality rate is 59.59 deaths for every 1,000 live births. Life expectancy is 59.26 years.

Rwanda has one of Africa’s highest population densities. Most of the population is rural. The savanna land in the east is the only area that is sparsely populated. Kigali’s population is approximately one million. An influx of people into Kigali is straining infrastructure.

Most of the people in Rwanda practice Christianity. Catholics were 56.5 percent of the population in 2006 and Protestants were 37.1 percent. Muslims were 4.6 percent of the people.

Kinyarwanda is the principal language spoken by most of the people. French was introduced during colonialism, but English has been introduced by refugees from Uganda and other nations. English, French, and Kinyarwanda are all official languages. Swahili is spoken by many in rural areas.

Culture
Rwanda has been a unified state since before colonialism with one main ethnic group, the Banyarwanda, and a shared language. There are eleven regular holidays including Genocide Memorial Day on April 7.

Music and dance are also important in ceremonies. The most well-known dance is Intore, which has three components, a ballet, a dance of heroes, and the drums. Drums are very important and royal drummers have always had high status.

Rwandan cuisine is based on staple foods like bananas, plantains, sweet potatoes, pulses, beans, and cassava. Any Rwandans only eat meat a few times per month.

The country also has a history of traditional arts and crafts, especially woven bowls and baskets. Cow dung art is noted in south east Rwanda.

There is not a long history of written literature, but a strong oral tradition exists. Many of the moral values and histories are passed down orally through the generations. Alexis Kagame is the most famous literary figure.

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