Rwanda’s natural area extends over parts of the great African rift valley (Rift Valley). Lake Kivu, which largely forms the western border, is part of the western area of this rift valley, along with other lakes (Albert, Edward and Tanganyika lakes). Mountain ranges, why u. a. the Virunga volcanoes in the triangle Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo also form parts of the rift valley.
The designation “Land of a Thousand Hills” indicates that most of the country’s area is covered by a hilly plateau (1,500-1,700 m). Elongated hills with some very steep slopes are separated by narrow, often swampy valleys.
According to areacodesexplorer, the west of the country consists of a heavily cut mountain range that drops from almost 3,000 m to almost 1,600 m. The highest peak is the Karisimbi (4507 m) in the volcanic Virunga Mountains. The east, on the other hand, is a dry savannah, which is interspersed with an extensive swamp area. Numerous large lakes shape the landscape and are characterized by idiosyncratic shapes that are determined by the surrounding mountains.
The climate in Rwanda is relatively humid. Two rainy seasons (March to June and October to November) are interrupted by a large and a small dry season. The annual precipitation varies between 750-2,000 mm / year depending on the region. In most parts of the country they are over 1,000 mm per year (higher in the mountain forests). From July to September it is mostly dry and rain is rare. The wettest season is between February and May, when most of the land receives an average of 150 to 200 mm of rain per month.
The transnational consequences of climate change are ubiquitous in Rwanda too. Strong fluctuations in the traditional seasonal rhythm are part of these consequences. In addition, the region is repeatedly exposed to severe flooding with significant effects. Over the past few years in particular, heavy rains have repeatedly led to catastrophic conditions in several parts of the country. The Rwandan government is aware of the far-reaching effects of climate change. The climate policy, which adduced numerous countermeasures efforts will be acknowledged at the Rwandan policy in line with priority.
The combination of the tropics and altitude ensures that Rwanda has a temperate climate all year round. Maximum temperatures of over 30 °C and lows below 15 °C are rare. Exceptions are the icy ridges of the Virunga Mountains on the one hand and the low-lying border strip to Tanzania in the Akagera National Park on the other.
The relatively mild highland climate with average annual temperatures of 18-21 °C has earned Rwanda the nickname “Land of Eternal Spring”. Due to its location in the tropical zone, Rwanda has a distinct daytime climate, ie the daily fluctuations in temperatures are greater than the fluctuations in the annual amplitude.
Flora and fauna
The natural vegetation of Rwanda was largely destroyed or changed by humans. Only in island-like areas of the central highlands and in the three nature reserves (Nyungwe Cloud Forest, Virunga Volcano National Park, Akagera National Park), which each have a cross-border significance, does the country’s original flora still exist. In the west of Rwanda, tropical mountain forests and humid savannahs can be found up to an altitude of 2500 m. Bamboo forests and alpine vegetation can be found at higher altitudes. In the inner highlands, wet savannah predominates, which merges into a drier savannah in the east. In the floodplain of the Akagera, a source river of the Nile, there are moisture-loving plant communities such as marsh grasses, papyrus plants and water hyacinths.
The most famous animals in Rwanda since the filming of the life of Dian Fossey have been the mountain gorillas. The great apes live in family groups of an average of 10 animals. Of the touristic groups in the Volcano National Park, the smallest gorilla group has 8 and the largest 39 members. In addition to the head of the group, the silverback, there are several females with their children and adolescents. The males reach a height of 2 meters, the females 1.40 meters. Depending on the food supply, the territory that the animals roam is 10-40 square kilometers. Since 1989 the population of mountain gorillas has grown by almost 50%. Species conservationists had feared that the mountain gorillas could become extinct during the ongoing unrest in the region. But even though there have been animal sacrifices, most of the gorillas are poachers and escaped army battles. Their number in Rwanda grew from 324 in 1989 to 380 in 2003 and to 480 in 2010 (survey conducted by the International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP) in cooperation with several nature conservation organizations). The mountain gorillas, the total number of which is less than 900 worldwide, remain threatened with extinction.
In addition to the mountain gorillas, Rwanda’s national parks are also home to chimpanzees in the Nyungwe cloud forest. Large game such as giraffes and elephants and a small population of lions can be found in Akagera National Park. A large number of antelopes as well as warthogs, cape buffalo, zebras, waterbuck, hippopotamus, monkeys, various bird species etc. live there.