Rwanda -- Geography --
Official name: Republic of Rwanda
Capital City : Kigali
Official language: English, French, Kinyarwanda, Swahili
Land Area: 26 338 km 2
Borders: Uganda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania
Population: 8 648 248 people (2006); 85% - Hutu (Bantu group engaged primarily in cultivation), 14% - Tutsi (shepherds), 1% - Twa (Pygmy tribe) 16 000 – Indians; 9 300 - Arabs, 2 500 - French, 300 - Britons, 100 - Belgians.
Religion: 96.6% - Christians: Catholics (about 60%), Protestant (26%), Adventists (11%) 4.6% - Muslims
Currency: Rwandan franc (RWF)
Nature: The surface of Rwanda is a highly segmented table-land with 1500-2000 ě. elevation above sea-level. The volcanic Virunga Mountains are located in the Northwest. Their highest peak is Mount Karisimbi-4507 m. The climate is equatorial. The average monthly temperatures are 17-21 degrees.Rain- about 1000-1500 millimeters. Main river - Kagera and in the west is Lake Kivu. Vegetation in Virunga mountains - moist evergreen forests. National Parks - Kagera and Virunga.
Administrative divisions: Rwanda is divided into 5 provinces, called intara which are subdivided into districts (akarere) and municipalities (umudzhui). Before 1 January 2006, the country was divided into 12 provinces, but the government decided to create new ones, trying to deal with the problems which encountered in the country since the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. The first solution was refered to the decentralization of power, because centralized governmental system in Rwanda was a complementary factor in support of the genocide. Second, each of the new provinces are home to more ethnic groups than in the previous 12 provinces, which helps to reduce the ethnic division. In conclusion, the new provinces will not have any connection with the events of the genocide. The provinces are: North, East, South, West, Kigali.
Rwanda -- History --
The exact date of foundation of the Kingdom of Rwanda is different in all kinds of sources, some put it much earlier - in 1312, while others - only in 1532. Most sources are unanimous on the issue that the Kingdom of Rwanda had already existed in the early 15th century. It’s growth accomplished by the merger of several tribes into a kingdom, ruled by a royal clan. It should also be noted that the clan included only Tutsi, so that all kings or mwami were Tutsi. The other tribes consisted of both Hutu and Tutsi, which allowed Hutu to take up positions of chiefs in the country.
After signing an agreement with leaders in the region Tanganyika in 1884-1885, Germany declared Tanganyika, Rwanda and Burundi as its territory. By 1899 the Germans exerted some influence by placing advisors at the courts of local chiefs. Much of the Germans' time was spent fighting uprisings in Tanganyika, especially the Maji Maji war of 1905-1907.
On May 14, 1910 the European Convention of Brussels fixed the borders of Uganda , Belgian Congo , and German East Africa which included Tanganyika and Ruanda-Urundi. In 1916, during World War I , Belgian forces advanced from the Congo into Germany's East African colonies. After Germany lost the War, Belgium accepted the League of Nations Mandate of 1923 to govern Ruanda-Urundi along with the Congo, while Great Britain accepted Tanganyika and other German colonies. After World War II Ruanda-Urundi became a United Nations (UN) "trust territory" administered by Belgium. The Belgian involvement in the region was far more direct than German involvement and extended its interests into education and agricultural supervision.
From 1935 on, "Tutsi", "Hutu" and "Twa" were indicated on identity cards.
Roman Catholic Church, the primary educator in the country, reinforced the differences between Hutu and Tutsi, creating separate educational systems. Most of the students in 1940's and 1950's were Tutsi.
In 1943, Mwami Mutari III became the first Tutsi monarch to convert to Catholicism.
In 1954 the Tutsi monarchy in Rwanda-Urundi demanded independence from Belgium. At the same time it agreed to abolish the system of indentured servitude (ubuhake and uburetwa) the Tutsis had practiced over the Hutu until then.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, a wave of Pan-Africanism swept through Central Africa. Socialist platform of African unity and equality for all Africans are at the heart of this movement. Encouraged by the Pan - Africanists and by Christian Belgians (who are increasingly influential in the Congo).
The Hutu "emancipation" movement was soon spearheaded by Gregoire Kayibanda and quickly became militarized. In response, the Tutsi founded UNAR group in 1959, to proclaim their wish for the independence of Ruanda-Urundi to be based on the existing Tutsi monarchy. Shooting began between the two groups.
In 1960 the Belgian government agrees to hold democratic municipal elections in Ruanda-Urundi, in which Hutu representatives were elected from the Hutu majority. But efforts to establish an independent Ruanda-Urundi with Tutsi-Hutu power failed largely because of escalating violence. Therefore, the Belgian government, summoned by the United Nations decided to divide Ruanda-Urundi into two separate countries, Rwanda and Burundi. In both countries Elections were held in 1961 as preparation for independence.
In 1961, Rwandans voted, by referendum and with the support of the Belgian colonial government, to abolish the Tutsi monarchy and instead establish a republic. Dominique Mbonyumutwa , who had survived his previous attack, was named the first president of the transitional government. On July 1, 1962, Belgium, with UN oversight, granted full independence to the two countries. Rwanda was created as a republic governed by the majority Party of the Hutu Emancipation Movement (PARMEHUTU), which had gained full control of national politics by this time. Gregoire Kayibanda , founder of PARMEHUTU was the first president (from 1962 to 1973), followed by Juvenal Habyarimana (who was president from 1973 to 1994).Despite the measures taken and changes made, tensions between the Tutsi and Hutu, empowered by invasions and attacks, and taken more than 70 000 victims, continues to this day.
Civil war and genocide:
The genocide in Rwanda was the killing of around 937 000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu, executed mostly by two extremist Hutu groups - Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi for a period of 100 days from April 6 to the middle of July. For many the genocide in Rwanda stands out as historically significant not only because of the large number killed in such a short period of time, but because of the way Western countries respond to the atrocities. Despite of the information received before the beginning and broadcasts of international news media showing the true scale of violence, practically all contries from the first world refused to intervene.
The Genocide stoppes when rebellion movement controlled by the Tutsi in exile Rwandan Patriotic Front, led by Paul Kagan, overthrew the Hutu government and seized power. Trying to escape from responsibility, hundreds of thousands of Hutu, participants in the genocide and their accomplices flied into eastern Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). Violence and the memory of it still excites the country and region. Root causes of both the First and Second Congo War can be found in the genocide and it continues to be a starting point for the Burundian civil war.
Chronology of the Events in 1994:
6. April – the aircraft with the President Habyarimana Zhyuvenal aboard was hit with a missile (he and the President of Burundi were found died). Rumors appeared that the guarantors were Tutsi. This event destroyed the fragile balance between the communities. Hutu military assumed power. Prime Minister Agathe Uvilingiyimana was killed the next day
11. April - 2 000 Tutsi, housed in Don Bosco School (Kigali) after evacuation of the Belgian peacekeepers are killed.
22. April- 5 000 Tutsi killed in the monastery Sova.
4. July - units of Rwandan Patriotic Front entered the capital. 2 million Hutu, fearing from retribution for the genocide, left the country.
In April 2000, President Bizimungu resigned and Vice President Paul Kagame became the first Tutsi president of the nation. It was Kagame's rebel force that seized Rwanda's capital and put an end to the genocide in 1994.
Rwanda continued fighting against the Democratic Republic of the Congo throughout its four-year civil war. Finally, in July 2002, the two countries signed a peace accord.
In May 2003, 93% of Rwandans voted to approve a new constitution that instituted a balance of political power between Hutu and Tutsi. No party, for example, can hold more than half the seats in parliament. The constitution also outlawed the incitement of ethnic hatred. In Aug. 26 presidential elections, the first since the Rwandan genocide, Paul Kagame, who had served as president since 2000, won a landslide victory.
Rwanda -- Economy --
Rwanda is a rural country, with nearly 90 percent of the population engaged in agricultur and living outside the cities.Rwanda is the most populous African country and is poor in natural resources. There is a greater presence of gold, tin ore, volframit and methane. The country has minimal industry, but hydropower potential and fertile soils. Primary export are tea, coffee, hides, tin ore. Major export trading partners are Germany, China and the United States. Imports from Kenya, Uganda, Germany and Belgium are foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, steel, petroleum products and construction materials. Developing industry is the tourism. Other major industries are the manufacture of cement, beverages, soap, furniture, plastic products , shoes and cigarettes. The agriculture is with low productivity due to the chaotic distribution system, the lack of laws on ownership of land and the genocide of 1994. Crops grown in the country include coffee , tea , pyrethrum , bananas , beans , sorghum and potatoes . Livestock are raised throughout the country, with animal husbandry contributing around 8.8% of GDP in 2006.Animals raised in Rwanda include cows , goats , sheep , pigs , chicken and rabbits. However, Rwanda's economy has revived in a positive direction and has focussed on the development of high technology. In June 1998, Rwanda signed an Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility with the International Monetary Fund . Rwanda has also embarked upon an ambitious privatization program with the World Bank .
In 2007 the country managed to cope with energy shortages, completing the largest solar plant in Africa with a capacity of 250 kilowatts. An extensive campaign for the modernization of the education has been undertaken. Main target is all schools in Rwanda to have Internet access by 2020. To date over 400 schools are equipped with nearly 4000 computers and 2000 teachers were trained to use them.
GDP is estimated at $ 8.44 billion for 2007, per capita, it is $ 900. Agriculture generates 36.9 percent of GDP, industry - 21.7% and services - 41.4 percent. 60 percent of the population live below the poverty line. The country’s revenue for 2006 is estimated at $560.9 ěëí., the expenditures - at 654 million U.S. dollars. Rwanda has a foreign debt of $ 1.4 billion (2004) and has received economic aid of $ 425 million (2003).
Rwanda -- Culture --
The richness of Rwandan culture is apparent in the wide range of fine crafts. These include pottery, basketry, painting, jewelry, wood carving, metalwork, and the making of gourd containers. All ethnic groups cherish oral traditions of proverbs, songs, and chants. The Tutsi, in particular, are known for their epic songs and dynastic poetry chronicling the origins of the Tutsi ruling class. The verse, strongly flavored with traditional mythology, has preserved Rwandan history orally through generations of preliterate peoples. For many years, the tall, splendidly adorned all-male Tutsi intore dancers, characterized by coordinated drilling dances reflecting the warrior tradition of the Tutsi, and the tambourinaires (drummers), were attractions for travelers. Rwanda has produced a number of writers, including Alexis Kagame and J. Saverio Naigiziki, both of whom have written primarily in French. French is the main literary language in Rwanda because the educated elite of the country are educated largely in French. Kagame’s and Naigiziki’s main themes include religion and the conflict between tradition and modernity.
Much of Rwanda's traditional cultural heritage revolved around dances, praise songs, and dynastic poems designed to enhance the legitimacy of the Tutsi kingship. Since independence in 1962 another set of traditions has emerged, emphasizing a different cultural stream, identified with a Hutu heritage. Regional dances, including the celebrated hoe dance of the north, are given pride of place in the country's cultural repertoire. Traditional crafts such as basketry, ceramics, and ironworks provide another element of continuity with the past.
Rwanda's National Ballet and the Impala Orchestra add considerable lustre to the country's cultural life.The Association des Ecrivains du Rwanda (AER) keeps alive the best of Rwanda's literary traditions, while the bimonthly review Dialogue provides a forum for a vigorous intellectual exchange on a wide range of social and cultural issues.
Rwanda -- Political system, law and government --
Rwanda is a presidential Republic. The president of the country (Paul Kagame) is head of state, head of government and a multiparty system. Prime – Minister is Bernar Makuza. By law, at least a third of the Parliamentary representation must be female. In the parliamentary election of September 2008, 56% of seats were won by women. The Executive power is exercised by the government. The Legislative power is vested in the government and both Chambers of parliament, the Senate (26) and the Chamber of Deputies (80).
The President and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies must be from different political parties. The President is elected every seven years, and may serve a maximum of two terms. In 2006, however, the structure of the country was reorganized. It is unclear how this affects current elected representation proportions.
The Political parties are:
- Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) (president of Paul Kagame)
- Social Democratic Party (PSD)
- Liberal Party (PL)
- The Centrist Democratic Party (PDC)
- Rwandan Socialist Party (PSR)
- People's Democratic Union of Rwanda (UDPR)