Rwanda is a land of sprawling lakes, cultivated green hills and smoking volcanoes made famous by Gorillas in the Mist. Of course, it’s gorillas that most visitors come here to see – and they do provide a magical experience – but there is so much more to this tiny, lush, land-locked gem. For much of the post-colonial era the country faced relentless social and political upheaval, culminating in the 1994 genocide. But over the past two decades Africa’s most densely populated country has embarked on a remarkable journey, winning global acclaim for tackling ethnic divisions and dragging millions off the poverty line. The population is young and a stable government has helped develop roads, create accessible and affordable broadband, and fed a budding private sector economy that is seeing increasing foreign investment. Crime and corruption levels are some of the lowest on the continent. In various independent surveys in recent years Rwanda has been named the safest country in Africa, and Kigali the cleanest and most live able city on the continent. You’re likely to notice such traits during your time in Rwanda but in the end we’re confident it’ll be the people, and the extraordinary land they call home, that will live long in the memory. And if you’d like to know more in the meantime, here are some stats to keep you going:
- In an effort to align itself with the East African Community and Anglophone world, Rwanda changed its official language from French to English in 2008 and a year later became a member of the Commonwealth.
- Many cities have been officially renamed in recent years, which can make map consultation tricky! For example, Ruhengeri is now Musanze, Gisenyi is Rubavu and Butare is Huye. KIbuye is Karongi and Cyangugu is Rusizi We’ve used the new names in this document.
- In September 2008 Rwanda became the first nation in the world to elect a majority of women MPs: 45 out of 80 MPs.
- 1 million Rwandans emerged out of poverty between 2007 and 2012 (out of a population of 11 million).
- In 2012 the World Bank ranked Rwanda the 45th easiest place for doing business in the world, ranking top in Africa.