Rwanda is a landlocked country situated in Central Africa, bordered to the North by Uganda, to the East by Tanzania, to the South by Burundi and to the West by the Democratic Republic of Congo. Considered to be among the smallest countries on the continent, Rwanda’s total area is estimated to be KM2 26,338. According to Rwanda’s National Institute of Statistics (NISR), in 2015, the population density in Rwanda was estimated to be 445 people per KM2 and the total population is approximately 11,809,295 according to 2017 NISR projection.
Rwanda is infamously known as the scene of the 1994 genocide during which more than 1,000,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred and which led an estimated 2 million people to flee the country. The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) lead by General Paul Kagame put an end to the bloodbath and won control over the country in July 1994.
The new leadership inherited a decimated country with virtually no infrastructure and an impoverished, wounded, and traumatized population. A multiparty transitional government for national unity was established just after the genocide and ended in 2003 with the vote of a new constitution. Ever since, two free and fair presidential elections have taken place in 2003 and 2010, and President Paul Kagame was declared a winner consecutively.
Rwanda has made tremendous progress in many areas of social welfare. In fact, Rwanda is one of the most noted global and continental examples of fast economic growth and successful post-war reconstruction. Since 1996, Rwanda has experienced steady economic recovery, thanks to government commitment to socio-economic reforms, support for private sector investment and steady foreign aid inflows.
Recent surveys indicated that the percentage of people living under poverty has dropped by 5.8% from 44.9% in 2011 to 39.1% in 2014. Rwanda’s economy is increasingly experiencing the predominance of the service sector as it gained importance relative to agriculture over the recent years. The country experienced a GDP per capita of US$718 (NISR). The annual average inflation was at 2% for 2015 (NISR). Foreign exchange controls have been liberalized and the banking system is sound and thriving.
With its Vision 2020 objective of combating poverty, the Government of Rwanda is embarking on a comprehensive program of privatization and liberalization with a goal of attaining rapid and sustainable economic growth. The goal is to transform the economy from its 90% dependence on subsistence agriculture into a modern, broadly based economic engine, welcoming investors and creating employment and new opportunities. Rwanda's recent entry into the East African Community (an economic bloc comprising Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi) should improve its international standing.
The major exports of Rwanda are coffee, tea, minerals (tin, cassiterite, wolframite) and pyrethrum. Coffee is the main export revenues contributor and makes up a quarter of the total export value, while the mountain grown tea is considered to be one of the finest in the world. Tourism is also being developed in Rwanda and it is gradually benefiting the Rwandan economy. Tourists enjoy of some of the unique and fascinating features of this small country, including the rare mountain gorillas of the Volcanoes National Park, and the large numbers of animal species in Nyungwe and Akagera National Parks.