Facts & figures
Full name: Republic of Rwanda
Population: 11.2 million (UN, 2012)
Area: 26,338 sq km (10,169 sq miles)
Major languages: Kinyarwanda (official), French (official), English (official), Swahili
Major religions: Christianity, indigenous beliefs
Life expectancy: 54 years (men), 57 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Rwandan franc = 100 centimes
Main exports: Coffee, tea, hides, tin ore
GNI per capita: US $570 (World Bank, 2011)
Internet domain: .rw
International dialling code: +250
Paul Kagame has been in control of Rwanda since his rebel army ended the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people in 1994. He was sworn in as vice-president and defence minister in the new, post-genocide government in July 1994, but he was widely seen as the real power in Rwanda. In 2000 parliament elected him as president. He won presidential elections in 2003 and again in 2010.
Visa & travel advice
1 Applicant must provide a valid passport for at least six months.
2 Applicant must submit duly completed one (1) visa application form (pdf) in his/her own hand writing or in type.
3 Applicant is required to provide two passport photographs with white background and both ears in view.
Visa Exempt Countries
Below is the list of countries that DO NOT require visas to visit Rwanda. Please note that all must hold a valid passport for at least six months.
Democratic Republic of Congo
United States of America
- Best period
The weather in Rwanda is fairly stable all year long, with the exception of the upper slopes, which tend to be cooler. The temperature is usually around 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.7 degrees Celsius) during the day and 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius) by night. While the sun can be quite strong during Rwanda’s dry seasons due to high altitude, the rainy seasons (roughly April through May and October through December) offer some welcome and cool relief for those who do not mind waiting out a brief downpour every day or two. The best time for gorilla trekking is between July and September, when the land tends to be dryer.
Rwanda is a relatively safe country; contrary to popular belief, its crime level is low and the police are notably polite and well-trained in case of any problems. As always, be cautious at night and be mindful of your surroundings. For further details, check out the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s website.
Proof of yellow fever vaccination is necessary in order for visitors to enter the country. Rwanda, compared with other African countries, also has a lower number of cases of malaria, owing to its geographical position.
Human occupation of Rwanda is thought to have begun shortly after the last ice age. By the 16th century, the inhabitants had organized into a number of kingdoms. In the 19th century, Mwami (king) Rwabugiri of the Kingdom of Rwanda conducted a decades-long process of military conquest and administrative consolidation that resulted in the kingdom coming to control most of what is now Rwanda. The colonial powers, first Germany and then Belgium, allied with the Rwandan court, allowing it to conquer the remaining autonomous kingdoms along its borders and racializing the system of minority Tutsi dominance created under Rwabugiri.
- Music :
The music of Rwanda encompases Rwandan traditions of folk music as well as contemporary East African Afrobeat and Congolese ndombolo, and performers of a wide variety of Western genres including hip-hop, R&B, gospel music and pop ballads.
Traditional music and dance are taught in "amatorero" dance groups, which are found across the country. The most famous of these is the Ballet National Urukerereza, which was created in the early 1970s to represent Rwanda in international events. Also famous were the Amasimbi n'amakombe and Irindiro dance troupes.
Rwandan literature is a literature both oral and written in Kinyarwanda, or French, particularly by citizens of Rwanda.
Rwanda's literary history is largely an oral one. The traditional texts were classed in two main categories: more formal, royal documents, which are described as 'official tradition', and the non-formal, popular literature. The distinction between these categories is based on whether or not the literature was controlled officially, rather than denoting any sort of value judgment regarding the content.
- Film industry
Rwanda is a modern, friendly, safe, and vibrant country with one of the strongest economies in East Africa.
Many international productions have been filmed here, and actors including Danny Glover, Clive Owen, Sigourney Weaver, Don Cheadle and Jay O. Sanders worked on productions in Rwanda and support the local film industry.
Successful international productions filmed on location in Rwanda with local film crews include: Sometimes in April (2005), Shake Hands with the Devil (2007) and Operation Turquoise (2007).
- Famous monuments
The National Museum of Rwanda
Inaugurated on September 18th 1989 and located in Huye, the National Museum of Rwanda is the most well-known museum in Rwanda and houses perhaps the finest ethnographic and archaeological collections in East Africa with more than 10,000 artefacts. Absorbing displays of traditional artefacts are illuminated by a fascinating selection of turn-of-the-century monochrome photographs, providing insight not only into pre-colonial lifestyles, but also into the subsequent development of Rwanda as a modern African state.
Nyanza Royal Palace, Rukari
Under the reign of King Yuhi V Musinga in 1899, Nyanza became the royal capital of the country. The court became the home of the artistic and intellectual activities and was also a place for economic exchange. Today, a replica of the traditional Royal Palace sits at Rukari. The impressive, enormous domed structure is made entirely with traditional materials, has been painstakingly restored to its 19th century state and is now maintained as a museum.
The Museum of Rwandan Ancient History
Once the residence of King Mutara III Rudahingwa, this museum also sits at Rukari near to the Royal Palace. This Palace has been restored and offers a glimpse into Rwandan life as it once was. On the neighbouring hill of Mwima, King Mutara III and his wife Queen Rosalie Gicanda are buried.
- Architecture history
Nyanza was a royal capital of Rwanda. The king's residence the Ibwami was built on a hill. The surrounding hills were occupied by permanent or temporary dwellings. These dwellings were round huts surrounded by big yards and high hedge to separate compounds. The Rugo the royal compound was made of circular reed fence around thatched houses. The houses were carpeted with mats and had a clay hearth in the center for the king, his wife, and entourage. The royal house was close to 200-100 yards. It looked like a huge maze of connected huts and granaries. It had one entrance that lead to a large public square called the karubanda.