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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 the genocide of roughly 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The Tutsi rebels defeated the Hutu regime and ended the killing in July 1994, but approximately 2 million Hutu refugees - many fearing Tutsi retribution - fled to neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and the former Zaire. Since then, most of the refugees have returned to Rwanda, but several thousand remained in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (the former Zaire) and formed an extremist insurgency bent on retaking Rwanda, much as the RPF tried in 1990. Despite substantial international assistance and political reforms - including Rwanda's first local elections in March 1999 and its first post-genocide presidential and legislative elections in August and September 2003 - the country continues to struggle to boost investment and agricultural output, and ethnic reconciliation is complicated by the real and perceived Tutsi political dominance. Kigali's increasing centralization and intolerance of dissent, the nagging Hutu extremist insurgency across the border, and Rwandan involvement in two wars in recent years in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to hinder Rwanda's efforts to escape its bloody legacy.

Languages & Population

Approximate Population: 9,907,509

Nationality (Noun): Rwandan(s)

Nationality (Adjective): Rwandan

Official Language(s): Kinyarwanda, French, English

Major Languages Spoken: English, French, Kinyarwanda, Kiswahili, Swahili

Map of Rwanda

Country Facts

Country Name (long form): Republic of Rwanda

Country Name (short form): Rwanda

Country Name (local long form): Republika y'u Rwanda

Country Name (local short form): Rwanda

Name of Capital: Kigali

UTC Time Difference (from capital): UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Countries Near by, and Bordering Rwanda: Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Congo Dem. Rep. of

Land Area: 24948 sq km

Water Area: 1390 sq km

Comparative Area: slightly smaller than Maryland

Total Land Boundry: 893 km

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

National Holiday: Independence Day, 1 July (1962)

International Phone Code: 250

Currency Code: Rwandan franc (RWF)

Internet Country Code: .rw

US Embassy Location: 337 Boulevard de la Revolution, Kigali

US Embassy Mailing Address: B. P. 28, Kigali


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