In 1959, three years before independence from Belgium, the majority ethnic group, the Hutus, overthrew the ruling Tutsi king. Over the next several years, thousands of Tutsis were killed, and some 150,000 driven into exile in neighboring countries. The children of these exiles later formed a rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and began a civil war in 1990. The war, along with several political and economic upheavals, exacerbated ethnic tensions, culminating in April 1994 in a state-orchestrated genocide, in which Rwandans killed up to a million of their fellow citizens, including approximately three-quarters of the Tutsi population. The genocide ended later that same year when the predominantly Tutsi RPF, operating out of Uganda and northern Rwanda, defeated the national army and Hutu militias, and established an RPF-led government of national unity. Approximately 2 million Hutu refugees - many fearing Tutsi retribution - fled to neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and former Zaire. Since then, most of the refugees have returned to Rwanda, but several thousand remained in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, the former Zaire) and formed an extremist insurgency bent on retaking Rwanda, much as the RPF did in 1990. Rwanda held its first local elections in 1999 and its first post-genocide presidential and legislative elections in 2003. Rwanda in 2009 staged a joint military operation with the Congolese Army in DRC to rout out the Hutu extremist insurgency there, and Kigali and Kinshasa restored diplomatic relations. Rwanda also joined the Commonwealth in late 2009 and assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2013-14 term.
Central Africa, east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, north of Burundi
gold, cassiterite (tin ore), wolframite (tungsten ore), methane, hydropower, arable land
Population - distribution
one of Africa's most densely populated countries; large concentrations tend to be in the central regions and along the shore of Lake Kivu in the west
Kinyarwanda only (official, universal Bantu vernacular) 93.2%, Kinyarwanda and other language(s) 6.2%, French (official) and other language(s) 0.1%, English (official) and other language(s) 0.1%, Swahili (or Kiswahili, used in commercial centers) 0.02%, other 0.03%, unspecified 0.3% (2002 est.)
KIGALI (capital) 1.257 million (2015)
- Conventional long form
- Republic of Rwanda
- Conventional short form
- Local long form
- Republika y'u Rwanda
- Local short form
- Geographic coordinates
- 1 57 S, 30 03 E
- Time difference
- UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
Rwanda is a rural, agrarian country with about 35% of the population engaged in subsistence agriculture, and with some mineral and agro-processing. Population density is high but not concentrated in large metropolises – its 13 million people are spread out on a small amount of land (about the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined). Tourism, minerals, coffee, and tea are Rwanda's main sources of foreign exchange. Despite Rwanda's fertile ecosystem, food production often does not keep pace with demand, requiring food imports. Energy shortages, instability in neighboring states, and lack of adequate transportation linkages to other countries continue to handicap private sector growth.
- External debt stocks
- US$ 2,243,629,000
- Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
- Real Interest Rate
- Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
- Current Account Balance
- US$ -1,098,700,358
- Labor Force, Total
- Employment in Agriculture
- Employment in Industry
- Employment in Services
- Unemployment Rate
- Imports of goods and services
- US$ 2,776,828,543
- Exports of goods and services
- US$ 1,260,583,969
- Total Merchandise Trade
- FDI, net inflows
- US$ 323,205,168
- Commercial Service Exports
- US$ 469,433,835
coffee, tea, pyrethrum (insecticide made from chrysanthemums), bananas, beans, sorghum, potatoes; livestock
cement, agricultural products, small-scale beverages, soap, furniture, shoes, plastic goods, textiles, cigarettes
- coffee, tea, hides, tin ore
- Democratic Republic of the Congo 19.8%, US 10.8%, China 10.3%, Swaziland 7.9%, Malaysia 7%, Pakistan 6.2%, Germany 5.9%, Thailand 5.5% (2015)
- foodstuffs, machinery and equipment, steel, petroleum products, cement and construction material
- Uganda 15.8%, Kenya 11.8%, India 8.7%, China 8.7%, UAE 8.6%, Russia 6.6%, Tanzania 5.1% (2015)
- Country Risk Rating
- A very uncertain political and economic outlook and a business environment with many troublesome weaknesses can have a significant impact on corporate payment behavior. Corporate default probability is high.
- Business Climate Rating
- The business environment is difficult. Corporate financial information is often unavailable and when available often unreliable. Debt collection is unpredictable. The institutional framework has many troublesome weaknesses. Intercompany transactions run major risks in the difficult environments rated C.
- Geological potential: cassiterite, tungsten, gold
- Skilled labor force and good infrastructures
- Considerable progress on governance
- Highly dependent on international aid and on commodity prices (tea, coffee)
- Geographically isolated and exposed to the geopolitical tensions of the Great Lakes Region
- Strong demographic pressure and highest population density in Africa
Services, which account for almost 50% of GDP, are likely to continue sustaining activity. Expansion of the RwandAir fleet and the opening of two new air routes at the end of 2016, further underline the investment efforts of recent years (airport, conference centre, hotels) and should boost the development of tourism-related activities, as well as those related to trade and transport. Infrastructure investment projects, especially in the areas of electricity production/distribution and transport (roads, railway lines) will drive the construction centre. Industry is expected to benefit from the mounting capacity of the Lake Kivu gas-fuelled power plant (operations started at end 2015) and the recent opening of new textile production units.
Consumption, which drives growth (over 75% of GDP), is expected to remain buoyant thanks to public spending levels unlikely to fall in a presidential election year and modest inflation.
Price rises will be driven by higher import prices (for food and energy), which could be sharpened by the depreciation, even moderate, of the Rwandan franc. Inflationary tensions are, however, likely to be eased by the cut, announced in October 2016, of electricity tariffs.
The dependence of Rwanda's public finances on international aid is declining but remains high (around 25% of budgetary income in 2010). Steps aimed at widening the tax base, abolishing some exceptions and improving collection, as well as relatively dynamic growth, should enable tax receipts to rise sufficiently to offset the drop in aid flows. The government, under a policy of sound management of the public finances, could cut some spending to prevent too great a deterioration in the fiscal balance, although only marginally in the run up to the elections in summer 2017.
Public debt has grown rapidly, especially because of the increase in loan guarantees to the national airline, RwandAir, for the purchase of new aircraft. Concessional loans will continue to form the bulk of the loan portfolio (close to two thirds of the total) but the proportion of commercial loans on less favourable terms is on a rising trend. The risk of over-indebtedness remains low.
The substantial current account deficit is unlikely to reduce in 2017. Prices for some commodities exported by Rwanda (tea, coffee) are expected to edge up and production to be higher than in 2016, a year of severe drought. However, imports will be sustained by significant need for capital goods for the completion of infrastructure projects. Purchases of oil, which could become slightly more expensive in 2017, will also put pressure on imports, even if some of the oil products bought abroad are re-exported, generating export income. The Rwandan franc is likely to continue to depreciate moderately in 2017 (around 8% against the dollar in 2015 and 2016), part of the reason for a lack of improvement in the current account balance.
In mid-2016 Rwanda obtained renewed financial aid from the IMF (Stand-by Credit Facility of around USD 200 million over 18 months) allowing the country to maintain an adequate level of foreign exchange reserves and encouraging investor and foreign donor confidence.
Rwanda is at the centre of tensions in the Great Lakes region. While talks with the DRC have restarted after a long period of conflict between the Rwandan (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda - FDRL) and Congolese (M23) militias, relations with Burundi remain very tense. The influx of refugees crossing the borders with the DRC and Burundi, is a source of instability.
President Paul Kagame has announced that he will run for a third term in the presidential elections in Autumn 2017. This is authorised under the Constitution since the amendment passed in late 2015, following approval by a popular referendum allowing the current president to put himself forward for a seven-year term in 2017, and then for two additional five-year terms. Paul Kagame and his party (Rwandan Patriotic Front) will therefore continue to dominate the political stage. The international community accuses the government of restricting free speech and stress the lack of political opposition. The low level of political freedom is reflected in Rwanda's poor World Bank ranking (169th out of 204 countries in 2015). However, the country registers better performances than most East African countries on the fight against corruption (53rd place) and for the rule of law and regulatory quality (84th and 83rd respectively).