Infos Ruanda - Englisch


The Republic of Rwanda is an unitary republic of central and eastern Africa. It borders Uganda to the north; Tanzania to the east; Burundi to the south; and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west.

Rwanda is landlicked but is noted for its lakes, particularly Lake Kivu, which occupies the floor of the Rift Valley along most of the country's western border. Although close to the equator, the country has a temperate climate due to its high elevation, with the highest point being Mount Karisimbi. The terrain consists of mountains and gently rolling hills, with plains and swamps in the east. Abundant wildlife, including rare mountain gorillas, have led to a fast-growing tourism sector. The largest cities in Rwanda are Kigali, Gitarama and Butare. Unlike many African countries, Rwanda is home to only one significant ethnic and linguistic group, the Banyarwanda. The country is well known for its native styles of dance, particularly the Intore dance, and for its drummers. Kinyarwanda, English and French are the official languages.

The earliest known inhabitants of the territory were the Twa people, who are still living in Rwanda as a minority today. A series of further migrations took place, leading to a complex ethnic and social structure. The Kingdom of Rwanda, initially a loose confederation, grew in importance from the 15th century to become the dominant civilisation in the region, occupying an area beyond the present borders. The territory was assigned to Germany by the 1884 Berlin Conference, as part of Ruanda-Urundi, with the first Western explorers reaching the country in 1894. After World War I, the territory was allocated to Belgium as a League of Nations mandate. The German and Belgian regimes heavily favoured the country's Tutsis over the majority Hutus which led to tension between the two groups. Belgium switched allegiance to the Hutus following a revolution in 1959 and the country became independent in 1962. The Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriot Front (RPF) invaded in 1990, sparking a three year Civil War. In 1994 the president was assassinated, sparking the Rwandan Genocide. Between 800.000 and 1.000.000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in 100 days, in well-planned attacks ordered by the interim government. The RPF quickly restarted their offensive, and eventually took control of the country.

Since the end of the Genocide, Rwanda has enjoyed political and social stability. This has permitted the development of agriculture, roads, tourism, and mining industries. Nevertheless, large numbers of Rwandans live in poverty as subsistence farmers. Power lies firmly in the hands of the president, Paul Kagame, and the RPF, who have held a majority in parliament since 1994. Rwanda is a member of La Francophonie and has recently joined the East African Community and the Commonwealth of Nations.


Historians believe that humans moved into what is now Rwanda following the last ice age, either in the Neolithic period around ten thousand years ago, or in the long humid period which followed up to around 3000 BC. Archaeological excavations have revealed evidence of sparse settlement by hunter gatherers in the late stone age, followed by a larger population of early Iron Age settlers, who produced dimpled pottery and iron tools.

These early inhabitants were the ancestors of the Twa, a group of aboriginal Pygmy hunter-gatherers who remain a minority in Rwanda today.

Between 700 BC and 1500 AC a series of migrations took place, altering the demographics of Rwanda. This led to the division of society into three groups: the Hutus, Tutsis and the original Twas.

 Historians have several theories regarding the origins of these groups; one theory, promoted by the German colonial authorities, is that the Tutsis were a distinct racial group, possibly of Cushitic origin and arriving after the Hutus. Others, including that of the current government, contend that the distinction was purely social.

According to oral history, the Kingdom of wanda was founded in the 14th or 15th centuries on the shores of Lake Muhazi. At that time it was a small state in a loose confederation with the larger and more powerful neighbours of Bugesera and Gisaka.

By playing these neighbours against each other, the early kingdom flourished, expanding westwards towards Lake Kivu. In the late 16th or early 17th centuries, the Kingdom of Rwanda was invaded by the Banyoro and the kings were forced to flee westward. The formation in the 17th century of a new Rwandan dynasty by King (Mwami) Ruganzu Ndori, followed by the retaking of the Muhazi area and the conquest of Bugesera, marked the beginning of the Rwandan kingdom's dominance in the region. At its peak, the Kingdom of Rwanda extended into what is now the DRC and Uganda, reaching as far as the shores of Lake Edward.

The Berlin Conference of 1884 assigned the territory to Germany as part of Ruanda-Urundi, marking the beginning of the colonial era. It was then united with the German territory of Tanganyika to form German East Africa. Gustav Adolf von Götzen became the first European to significantly explore the country in 1894, crossing from the south-east to ake Kivu and meeting the King. Germany then appointed a Resident for Rwanda and German missionaries and military personnel began to arrive in the country. The Germans did not significantly alter the societal structure of the country, but exerted influence by supporting the King and the existing hierarchy and placing advisers at the courts of local chiefs. They also observed and perpetuated the ethnic divisions of the country, favouring the Tutsi as the ruling class and aiding the monarchy in putting down rebellions of Hutus who did not submit to Tutsi control. In 1916, during World War I (WWI), Belgian forces defeated the Germans and took control of Ruanda-Urundi.

In 1919, following the end of WWI, the Leage of ations declared Rwanda a Mandate territory and asked Belgium to govern. Belgium's involvement was far more direct than that of Germany, with heavy involvement in education, health, public works, and agricultural supervision. As the population of the country grew, Belgium introduced new crops and improved agriculture techniques to try to reduce the incidence of famine, although this was unsuccessful in preventing the Ruzagayura famine of 1943-1944, which claimed the lives of up to one-third of the population. Belgium also maintained the existing class system, promoting Tutsi supremacy and disfranchising the Hutus by subjugating their northwest kingdoms into the King's central control. The Belgian authorities considered the Hutus and Tutsis different races and, in 1935, introduced identity cards labelling each individual as either Tutsi, Hutu, or Twa. This classification was often based arbitrarily on physical characteristics; borderline cases were decided on cattle ownership, with those owning ten or more cattle labelled Tutsi and others as Hutu.

Belgium continued to rule Rwanda as a UN Trust Territory after World War II, with a mandate to oversee Independence. Two rival groups emerged, the Tutsi elite who favoured early independence under the existing system, and the Hutu emancipation movement led by Grégoire Kayibanda which sought an end to "Tutsi feudalism". The Belgians dropped their long-standing support for the hierarchy, favouring the Hutu party. Tension between the two groups escalated through the 1950s, culminating in the 1959 wind of destruction. Between 1959 and 1961, Hutu activists killed hundreds of Tutsis and caused more than 100,000 to become refugees in neighbouring countries. Pro-Hutu Belgian colonel Guy Logiest, High Representative in 1962, organised the first democratic elections and organized a referendum in which the country voted to abolish the monarchy. Rwanda was separated from Burundi and gained independence under Kayibanda in 1962. Cycles of violence took place during the following years, with rebel exiled Tutsis attacking from neighbouring countries and Hutus retaliating with large-scale slaughter and repression of Tutsi within Rwanda. In 1973 Juvenal Habyarimana staged a military coup and became president. During this several top-ranking officials were killed, including Kayibanda and his wife. Habyarimana claimed the government had become too corrupt, ineffective, and violent. In the years following the coup, Rwanda enjoyed relative economic prosperity and violence against Tutsis reduced, although pro-Hutu discrimination continued.

In 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a rebel group composed mostly of Tutsi refugees, invaded northern Rwanda from Uganda, initiating the Rwandan Civil War The Rwandan government, supported by troops from France was initially successful in suppressing the rebels, but the RPF grew in strength and by 1992 a stalemate had developed. Despite continuing ethnic strife, including Hutu displacement in the north and periodic localised extermination of Tutsi in the south, the two sides agreed a cease-fire in 1993 and negotiated a peace settlement in Arusha, Tanzania. This cease-fire ended on 6 April 1994 when Habyarimanas plane was shot down near Kigali Airport, killing the president and his Burundian Counterpart. It is still unknown who launched the attack, with each side blaming the other. The shooting down of the plane served as the catalyst for the Rwandan Genocide, which began within a few hours. Over the course of approximately 100 days, between 800.000 and 1.000.000 Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu were killed in apparently well-planned attacks, on the orders of the interim government under the de facto control of Theoneste Bagosora The Tutsi RPF quickly restarted their offensive, and took control of the country in a slow and methodical manner, cutting off government supply routes and taking advantage of the deteriorating social order. The international response was limited, with major powers reluctant to strengthen the already overstretched UN peacekeeping force France eventually sent troops through “Operation Turquoise” to create a safe area of the country, but this controversial act came too late to make a difference. The RPF took control of Kigali on 4 July and the whole country by 18 July 1994. A transitional government was sworn in with Pasteur Bizimungu as president.

The new regime faced immediate problems, with approximately two million Hutus having fled to neighbouring countries, in particular Zaire, fearing RPF reprisals for the genocide. Thousands of these died in epidemics of diseases common to refugee camps, such as cholera. The United States staged the Operation Support Hope airlift from July to September 1994 to stabilise the situation in the camps. From 1996, rising tension in eastern Zaire forced most refugees to return to Rwanda; this tension, coupled with guerrilla incursions by interahamwe militia into Rwanda fueled the country's involvement in the First and Second Congo Wars. A period of reconciliation and justice began], with the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the reintroduction of a traditional village court system known as Gacaca. During the 2000s the government replaced the flag, anthem and constitution, re-drew the local authority boundaries and the country joined the East African Community and the Commonwealth. Rwanda's economy and tourist numbers grew rapidly during this period.

Politics and government

Rwanda is a presidential republic, based upon a multi-party-system. The current constitution was adopted following a national referendum in 2003, replacing a transitional set of documents known as the Fundamental Law and providing a coalition government, which had been in place since the RPF military victory in 1994. The President of Rwanda is the head of state and has broad, unilateral powers to create policy, administer government agencies, exercise the prerogative of merxy, command the armed forces, negotiate and ratify treaties, sign presidential orders and declare war or a state of emergency. The president is selected by popular vote every seven years. The incumbent is Paul Kagame, who took office under the transitional government arrangements in 2000 and won elections in 2003 and 2010.

Rwanda is relatively corruption free; in 2008, Transparency International ranked Rwanda as the joint 102nd most corrupt out of 180 countries in the world, and 20th out of 53 in Africa. The constitution provides for an Ombudsman, whose duties include prevention and fighting of corruption, and public officials (including the President) are required to declare their wealth. Under the rule of the current government, Rwanda has experienced high growth rates and a rise in infrastructure and international investment and tourism. However, the government has been criticised by some opposition figures and human rights groups for suppressing dissent in the country, particularly in the periods leading up to elections.

The Parliament, which consists of two chambers, makes legislation. The Chamber of Deputies has 80 members serving five-year terms. Twenty four of these seats are reserved for women, elected through a joint assembly of local government officials; another three seats are reserved for youth and disabled members; the remaining 53 are elected by universal suffrage under a proportional representation system. Following the 2008 election, there are 45 female Deputies, 56% of the total, making Rwanda the only country with a female majority parliament. The 26-seat Senate is the upper chamber, selected by a variety of bodies, and including a mandatory 30% women. Senators serve eight-year terms.

Rwanda's legal system is largely based on based on German and Belgian civil law systems and customary law. The judiciary is independent of the executive, although the president and the Senate are involved in the appointment of Supreme Court judges, and the courts sometimes face pressure from the government. The constitution provides for two types of court - ordinary and specialised. Ordinary courts consist of the Supreme Court, the High Court and regional courts, while specialised courts are military courts and Gacaca courts, a traditional system which has been revived to expedite the trials of genocide suspects.

President Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) has been the dominant political party in the country since 1994. The RPF has maintained control of the presidency and the Parliament in national elections, with the party's vote share consistently exceeding 70%. The RPF is seen as a Tutsi-dominated party but receives support from across the community, and is credited with ensuring continued peace and stability. Human rights organisations allege, however, that the government suppresses the freedoms of opposition groups by restricting candidacies in elections to government-friendly parties, suppressing demonstrations and arresting opposition leaders and journalists.

Rwanda is a member of La Francophonie, but in recent years English has overtaken French as the predominant international language in use. English is now the language of instruction in all schools. Rwanda is seeking closer ties with neighbouring countries in East Africa, having joined the East Arfican Community in 2007. The country also joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 2009. Relations with the Democratic Republic of Congo remain tense, following Rwanda's involvement in the First and Second Congo Wars The Congolese army alleges Rwandan attacks on their troops, while Rwanda blames the Congolese government for failing to suppress Hutu rebels in North and South Kivu provinces.

Administrative divisions

Rwanda has been governed by a strict hierarchy since precolonial times. Before colonisation the King (Mwami) exercised control through a system of provinces, districts, hills and neighbourhoods. The current constitution divides Rwanda into Provinces (intara), Districts (uturere), Cities, Municipalities, Towns, Sectors and Cells, with the exact number of each subdivision and their borders established by Parliament. Each Province is headed by a Governor, appointed by the President and approved by the Senate.

The present borders were drawn in 2006 with the aim of decentralising power and removing associations between the old system and the genocide. The previous structure of 12 Provinces, centred around the largest cities, was replaced with five, based primarily on geography. These are:

Northern Province – Southern Province – Kigali Province – Eastern Province and Western Province.

Geography and climate

The confluence of the Kagera and Ruvubu rivers in south-eastern Rwanda, part of the upper Nile river.

At 26.338 square kilometres (10.169 sq mi), Rwanda is the world's 148th-largest country. It is comparable in size to Haiti and the U.S. State of Maryland, and a little larger than Wales. The country is located in Central and East Africa. It lies a few degrees south of the Equator and is landlocked. The capital, Kigali, is located near the centre of Rwanda.

The Watershed between the major Congo and Nile drainage basins runs from north to south through Rwanda, with around 80% of the country's area draining into the Nile and 20% into the Congo, via the Ruzizi River and Lake Tanganyika The country's longest river is the Nyaborongo, which rises in the south-west, flows north, east and south-east before merging with the Ruvubu to form the Kagera; the Kagera then flows due north along the eastern border with Tanzania. The Nyabarongo-Kagera eventually drains into Lake Victoria, and its source in Nyungwe Forest is a contender for the overall source of the Nile.  Rwanda has many lakes, the largest being Lake Kivu. This lake occupies the floor of the Rift Valley along most of the length of Rwanda's western border, and with a maximum depth of 480 metres (1.575 ft) is one of the twenty deepest lakes in the world. Other sizeable lakes include Burera, Ruhondo, Muhani, Rweu and Ihema, the last being the largest of a string of lakes in the eastern plains of Akagera National Parc.

Mountains dominate central and western Rwanda, with the Albertine branch of the Great Rift Valley running from north to south along the country's western border. The highest peaks are found in the Virunga Mountains volcano chain in the north-west; this includes Mount Karisimbi, Rwanda's highest point at 4.507 metres (14.787 ft). This western section of the country, which lies within the Albertine Rift montane forest ecoregion, has an average elevation of 1.500 metres (4.921 ft) to 2.500 metres (8202 ft) The centre of the country is predominantly rolling hills, while the eastern border region consists of savanna, plains and swamps.

Rwanda has a temperate tropical highland climate, with lower temperatures than is typical for equatorial countries due to the high altitude. Rubona, in the centre of the country, has a typical daily temperature range between 14 °C (57 °F) and 25 °C (77 °F) with little variation through the year. There are some temperature variations across the country, with the mountainous west being generally cooler than the lower lying east. There are two rainy seasons in the year; the first runs from February to June and the second from September to December. These are separated by two dry seasons: the major one from June to September, during which there is often no rain at all, and a shorter and less reliable one from December to February. Rainfall also varies geographically, with twice as much average annual precipitation in the west as in the east.

Economy and infrastructure

Coffee, such as Maraba Coffee, is one of Rwanda's major cash crops.

Rwanda's economy suffered heavily during the 1994 genocide, with widespread loss of life, failure to maintain the infrastructure, looting and neglect of important cash crops, causing a large drop in GDP and destroying the country's ability to attract private and external investment. The country has since strengthened, with per-capita GDP estimated at $951 in 2008, compared with just $390 in 1994. Major export markets include China, Germany and the United States. The currency is theRwandan franc and the economy is managed by the central National Banc of Rwanda. Rwanda recently joined the East African Community and there are plans for a common East African Shilling, which could be in place by 2012.

Rwanda is a country of few natural resources, and the economy is based mostly on semi-subsistence agriculture by local farmers using simple tools. An estimated 90% of the working population farms, and agriculture comprised an estimated 39.4% of GDP in 2006. Since the mid 1980s, farm sizes and food production have been decreasing, due in part to the resettlement of displaced people. Thus despite Rwanda's fertile ecosystem, food production often does not keep pace with population growth, requiring food imports.

Crops grown in the country include coffee, tea, Pyrethrum, bananas, beans, sorghum and potatoes.. Coffee and tea are the major cash crops for export, with the high altitudes, steep slopes and volcanic soils providing favourable conditions. Reliance on agricultural exports makes Rwanda vulnerable to shifts in their prices.

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 an rabbits,  with geographical variation in the numbers of each. Production systems are mostly traditional, although there are a few intensive dairy farms around Kigali. Shortage of land, water shortage, insufficient and poor quality feed and regular disease epidemics with insufficient veterinary service are major constraints, restricting output in this sector. Fishing takes place on the country's lakes, but stocks are very depleted, and live fish are now being imported in an attempt to revive the industry.

The industrial sector is small and uncompetitive. Products manufactured include cement, agricultural products, small-scale beverages, soap, furniture, shoes, plastic goods, textiles, cigarettes. Despite being a landlocked country of few natural resources, Rwanda's mining industry is an important contributor, generating US$ 93 million in 2008. Minerals mined include cassiterite, wolframite, gold and coltan,  which is used in the manufacture of electronic and communication devices such as mobile phones.

The mountain gorilla is Rwanda's leading tourist attraction. Tourism is one of the fastest-growing sectors and is now the country's leading foreign exchange earner, generating US$214 million in 2008, up by 54% on the previous year. Despite the genocide, the country is increasingly perceived internationally as a safe destination, and one million people are estimated to have visited the country in 2008, up from 826,374 in 2007. The country's most popular tourist activity is the tracking of mountain gorillas, which takes place in the Volcanoes National Parc. Other attractions include Nyungwe Forest, home to chimpanzees, Ruwenzori Colobus and other primates the resorts of Lake Kivu and Akagera, a small savanna reserve in the east of the country.

The largest radio and television stations are state-run, with Radio Rwanda being the main source of news throughout the country. Most Rwandans have access to radio, whereas television is restricted mostly to urban areas. The press is tightly restricted and newspapers routinely self-censor to avoid government reprisals. Restrictions have been increased in the run-up to the August 2010 electons, with two independent newspapers, Umuseso and Umuvugizi, being suspended for six months by the High Media Council.

The government has increased investment in the transport infrastructure of Rwanda since the 1994 genocide, with aid from the USA, European Union, Japan and others. The transport system centres primarily around the road network, with paved roads between the capital, Kigali and most other major cities and towns in the country. Rwanda is also linked by road to other countries in East Africa, notably to the port of Mmbasa via Kampala and Nairobi, which provides Rwanda's most important trade route. The principal form of public transport in the country is share taxi, with express routes linking the major cities and local services serving most villages along the main roads of the country. Coach services are available to various destinations in neighbouring countries. The country has an international airport at Kigali, serving one domestic and several international destinations. The country has no railways at present, although funding has been secured for a feasibility study into extending the Tanzanian Central Line into Rwanda. There is no public water transport between the port cities on Lake Kivu, although a limited private service exists.


2010 estimates place Rwanda's population at 10.746.311. This population is young: an estimated 42.7% are under 15, and 97.5% are under 65. The birth rate is estimated at 40.16 births per 1.000 people, the death rate at 14.91. The life expectancy is 56.77 years (55.43 years for males and 58.14 years for females), the 33rd lowest out of 224 countries.

Rwanda's population density, at 408 /km2 (1,056.7/sq mi), is amongst the highest in Africa; however, the population is predominantly rural with few large towns and dwellings evenly spread throughout the country. The only area of the country which is not densely populated is the savanna land in the former province of Umutara and Akagera National Parc in the east. Kigali is the largest city, with a population of around one million. Other cities include Gitarama, Butare and Gisenyi,  all with populations below 100.000. Rural to urban migration, which before 1994 was very low, now stands at 4.2% per year, with the rapidly increasing population of Kigali placing a burden on infrastructure. The sex ratio of the country is relatively even.

Rwandans form three separate groups, the Hutus, Tutsis an Twas. Unlike the disparate ethnic groups of neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania, these three groups share a common history, culture and language and are classified as social groups rather than tribes. Opinion is divided on the origins of these groups, but it is likely they were the result of a series of migrations. The Tutsi were traditionally the ruling class, from whom the Kings and the majority of chiefs were derived, while the Hutus were agriculturalists. The Twas are a pygmy people thought to descend from Rwanda's earliest inhabitants. During the colonial era, both Germany and Belgium sought to reinforce the distinction and associated power structures as a method of ruling the country - by favouring the Tutsi elite, the Hutus and Twas could be more easily suppressed. This policy brought the groups into violent conflict, eventually leading to the 1959 wind of destructon, the civil war and the Genocide.  The current government discourages the Hutu/Tutsi/Twa distinction, and has removed the classification from identity cards.

Most Rwandans are Christian, but there have been significant changes since the genocide with many conversions to Evangelical Christian faiths and Islam. As of 2006, Catholics represented 56.5 % of the poulation, Protestants 37.1 % (of whom 11.1 % were Seventh Day Adventists) and Muslims 4.6 %. 1.7 % claimed no religious beliefs. Traditional African religion, despite officially representing only 0.1 % of the population, retains an influence. Many Rwandans view the Christian God as synonymous with the traditional Rwandan God Imana.

The country's principal language is Kinyarwanda, which is spoken by most Rwandans. The major European language introduced during colonialism was French. However, the influx of former refugees from Uganda and elsewhere has created a linguistic divide between the English-speaking population and the French-speaking remainder of the country. Kinyarwanda, English and French are all official languages with Kinyarwanda the language of government and English the primary educational medium. Swahili, the lingua franca of East Africa is also widely spoken, particularly in rural areas.


Unlike many countries in Africa, Rwanda has been a unified state since pre-colonial times with only one ethnic group, the Banyarwanda, and a shared language and cultural heritage. Eleven regular national holidays are observed throughout the year, with others occasionally inserted by the government. Additionally, the week following Genocide Memorial Day on 7 April is designated an official week of mourning. The last Saturday of each month is umuganda, a national day of community service, during which most normal services close down.

Music and dance are an integral part of Rwandan ceremonies, festivals, social gatherings, and storytelling. The most famous traditional dance is Intore, a highly choreographed routine consisting of three components - the ballet, performed by women; the dance of heroes, performed by men, and the drums. Traditionally, music is transmitted orally with styles varying between the social groups. Drums are of great importance, the royal drummers having enjoyed high status within the court of the King (Mwami). Drummers usually play together in groups of seven or nine. The country has a growing popular music industry, influenced by East African, Congolese and American music. The most popular genre is hip hop, with a blend of rap with ragga, R&B and dance-pop. Popular local artists include The Ben and Meddy, both of whom have won awards.

Beer is drunk from containers such as this at rituals and ceremonies

The cuisine of Rwanda is based on local staple foods produced by substitende agriculture. Staples include bananas, plantains (known as ibitoke, pulses, sweet potatoes, beans, and cassava (manioc). Many Rwandans do not eat meat more than a few times a month. For those who live near lakes and have access to fish, tilapia is popular. The potato, thought to have been introduced to Rwanda by German and Belgian colonialists, is now also very popular. Ugali (or bugali) is a paste made from cassava or maize and water, to form a porridge -like consistency that is eaten throughout East Africa. Isombe is made from mashed cassava leaves and served with dried fish. Lunch is usually a buffet known as melange, consisting of the above staples and possibly meat . Brochettes are the most popular food when eating out in the evening, usually made from goat but sometimes tripe, beef or fish. In rural areas, many bars have a brochette seller responsible for tending and slaughtering the goats, skewering and barbecuing the meat, and serving it with grilled bananas. Milk, particularly in a fermented form called ikivuguto, is a common drink throughout the country. Other drinks include a traditional beer called urwagwa, made from sorghum or bananas, which features in traditional rituals and ceremonies. Commercial beers brewed in Rwanda include Primus, Mützig and Amstel.

Traditional arts and crafts are produced throughout the country, although most originated as functional items rather than purely for decoration. Woven baskets and bowls are especially common. The south east of Rwanda is noted for imigongo, a unique cow dung art, whose history dates back to when the region was part of the independent Gisaka kingdom. The dung is mixed with natural soils of various colours and painted into patterned ridges, forming geometric shapes. Other crafts include pottery and wood carving. Traditional housing styles make use of locally available materials, with circular or rectangular mud homes with grass-thatches roofs the most common. The government has a programme to replace these with more modern materials such as corrugated iron.

Rwanda does not have a long history of written literature, but there is a strong oral tradition ranging from poetry to folk stories.. Many of the country's moral values and details of history have been passed down through the generations. The most famous Rwandan literary figure was Alexis Kagame (1912 – 1981), who carried out and published research into the oral tradition as well as writing his own poetry. A number of films have been produced about the genocide, including the Golden Globe nominated Hotel Rwanda and Shooting Dogs, which was filmed in Rwanda itself, and featured survivors in the cast.

Education and health

The Rwandan government provides free education in state-run schools for nine years - six years in primary schools and three years following a common secondary school programme. The government plans to extend free education to cover the final three secondary years by 2015. Despite this, however, many poorer children still fail to attend school due to the necessity of purchasing uniforms and books and commitments at home. There are also many private schools across the country, some church-run, which follow the same syllabus but charge fees. A very small number offer international qualifications. From 1994 until 2009, secondary education was offered in either French or Englisch; due to the country's increasing ties with the East African Community and the Commonwealth, only the English syllabuses are now offered. The country has a number of higher education establishments, with the National Unibersity of Rwanda (UNR), Kigali Institute of Science and Technology. (KIST) and (KIE) being the most prominent.

The quality of healthcare is generally low, with one in five children dying before their fifth birthday, often from malaria There is a shortage of staff nationally and some medicines are in short supply or unavailable. 87% have access to healthcare but there are only two doctors and two paramedics per 100,000 people. The government is seeking to improve the situation as part of the Vision 2020 development programme. It has increased the healthcare budget from 4.2% to 12% of national expenditure, set up training institutes including the Kigali Health Insititute (KHI) and started a social service scheme. HIV/AIDS seroprevalence is declining due to government policies; the rate is estimated at 3%.


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