The country is very small in area, but is characterized by an astonishing diversity of landscapes and ecosystems. 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).
According to businesscarriers, Rwanda witnessed a terrible genocide from April to July 1994, which is considered the largest genocide since the Holocaust. Any development activity worth mentioning, be it in political, economic or socio-cultural areas, is still strongly shaped by genocide and its effects.
The economy of Rwanda has been in a stable, high growth phase for several years. Due to the planned investments, especially to remedy the infrastructure deficiencies, a high real growth rate of approx. 6% can still be expected in the medium term.
The country is inhabited by three ethnic groups. “Hutu”, “Tutsi” or “Twa” are not different ethnic groups or tribes, as can be read in numerous literature. They speak the same Bantu language “Kinyarwanda”, form a common social structure and share religious beliefs.
Everyday life & practical information
With a stricter police operation, the city administration has implemented a remarkable order in the area of security, traffic and hygiene for regional conditions. The use of plastic bags is prohibited, motorcycle taxi drivers always wear the prescribed helmet and a safety vest.
The main means of transporting goods and people in Rwanda is the road. The road network (approx. 14,000 km in length) is one of the densest in Africa, but mostly consists of unpaved slopes and gravel roads. On the other hand, there are paved roads only over a length of approx. 4,000 km. Such roads connect the most important centers in the country. The main connecting routes to the neighboring states of Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and the DR Congo are also tarred for the transport of people and goods. All other slopes are in poor condition and not passable during the rainy season, especially in remote communities. The government has continuously invested here over the past few years. Most of the existing main connection routes to neighboring countries have already been renovated. The other interurban roads and the urban road network have also been or are currently being improved, expanded or paved at great expense.
Rwanda has no rail network. However, plans to build a railway line have been on the agenda for a long time. This was originally intended to connect Rwanda and its neighboring country Burundi, which was also included, to the port of Dar es Salaam via the connection and rehabilitation of the existing rail line in Tanzania. A feasibility study that has already been carried out by DB International, Germany and BNSF from the USA has given the first phase of the three-country project a positive rating. For the 2nd phase, Canrail / Gibb, a Canadian company, was entrusted with the comprehensive evaluation of the project in 2012. During the following years there was a project standstill. The project has been back on track since 2017/18, and project tenders are being prepared. In recent years there has been dissatisfaction, especially on the part of the Rwandan government, with the hesitant pace of implementation on the part of the other two partner countries Tanzania and Burundi. In the meantime, Rwanda’s government had – in a meanwhile failed- Partnership with the countries Uganda and Kenya, facing an alternative project. The new project is the construction of a railway line, the so-called North Corridor, which is to lead via Kampala and Nairobi, the capitals of Uganda and Kenya, to the seaport of Mombasa. The implementation of the first project phase is already underway.
Air traffic plays an important role in inland Rwanda. In freight transport, it is used for high-quality goods required at short notice as an alternative to long-term transports by sea and land. With the Kigali International Airport there is a small airport approx. 15 km east of the city center. The airport in Kigali is served by international airlines such as Brussels Airlines, KLM, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines.
Thanks to Kigali’s rapid growth, the airport is now in the middle of the urban residential area. For this reason and because of the rapidly growing air traffic, a new airport is currently being built approx. 30 km south-east of the capital. In Huye in the south, Rubavu in the west and Kamembe in the south-west of the country there are three other small local airports that are only used for domestic flights.
After the former national airline Air Rwanda had ceased operations in 1994, a new airline was founded in 2009. With RwandAir, a young, modern and rapidly growing airline operates from the international airport in Kigali, from where it flies to 22 predominantly African cities. RwandAir also offers long-distance flights to Dubai, Mumbai, Brussels and London.
As a result of the reconciliation efforts, Rwanda received new national symbols from 2001.
The new flag was designed by Alphonse Kirimobenecyo, a local artist and technician. Green symbolizes hope for prosperity, yellow stands for economic development and blue symbolizes happiness and peace. The golden sun and its 24 rays stand for the light that gradually illuminates the entire people. The new flag was officially introduced on April 25, 2001. Previously, since independence (July 1, 1962), Rwanda had a flag with the pan-African colors in which an ‘R’ could be seen in the yellow field. The ‘R’ primarily stood for the name of the country Rwanda. Interpreted further, the letter aroused further associations: revolution, referendum and republic.
In the national coat of arms there are symbols for Rwanda and its people: the sun at the top, the basket in the middle, the cog wheel below, on both sides a coffee plant or sorghum, a type of cereal and an image of a protective shield. These are framed together by a green ribbon, which symbolizes the unity of the people. The name of the state is written in the local language on the yellow banner at the top and the motto at the bottom: “Unity – work – love for the fatherland”.