Highest Peak: Mount Karisimbi - 4,510 m
Rwanda, landlocked republic lying south of the Equator in east-central Africa. Known for its breathtaking scenery, Rwanda is often referred to as le pays des mille collines (French: “land of a thousand hills”). The capital is Kigali, located in the centre of the country on the Ruganwa River.
Relief The landscape is reminiscent of a tropical Switzerland. Its dominant feature is a chain of mountains of rugged beauty that runs on a north-south axis and forms part of the Congo-Nile divide. From the volcanoes of the Virunga (Birunga) Mountains in the northwest—where the Karisimbi reaches 4,787 feet (4,507 metres) —the elevation drops to 4,000 feet (1,220 metres) in the swampy Kagera (Akagera) River valley in the east. The interior highlands consist of rolling hills and valleys, yielding to a low-lying depression west of the Congo-Nile divide along the shores of Lake Kivu.
Ethnic Groups As in Burundi, the major ethnic groups in Rwanda are Hutu and Tutsi, respectively accounting for more than four-fifths and about one-seventh of the total population. The Twa, a hunter-gatherer group, constitute less than 1 percent of the population. Other minorities include a small group of Europeans (mostly missionaries, employees of relief and development programs, and entrepreneurs), a small number of Asian merchants, and Africans from Tanzania, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and elsewhere. Social differences between the Hutu and Tutsi traditionally were profound, as shown by the system of patron-client ties (buhake, or “cattle contract”) through which the Tutsi, with a strong pastoralist tradition, gained social, economic, and political ascendancy over the Hutu, who were primarily agriculturalists. The formerly more distinct pastoral and agricultural systems have become well integrated, and nearly all farm households now engage simultaneously in crop and livestock production.
Languages The country has four official languages: Rwanda (more properly, Kinyarwanda), English, French, and Swahili (Kiswahili). Rwanda, a Bantu language belonging to the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family, is spoken by virtually all Rwandans. It is closely related to Rundi, which is spoken in the neighbouring country of Burundi. English and French have traditionally been spoken by only a small fraction of the population