Rwanda is a small, landlocked country in Central Africa bordered by Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Tanzania. Due to its small size and population of 12 million people, Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. The 2019 WLGH conference will be held in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda and the country’s most bustling city with a population of 800,000+ people. In recent years, Kigali has emerged as a tourist destination, known for its burgeoning arts scene, accelerating technology sector, and wide range of restaurants and cafes, boasting some of the best coffee in the world!
Rwanda is commonly referred to as the “Land of a Thousand Hills” due its lush landscape and rolling green backdrop, with views framed by the Virunga mountain range. This range is well-known as one of the only places in the world to visit wild mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, an experience that can be arranged through Irembo, Rwanda’s portal for government and tourism services.
The official languages of Rwanda are Kinyarwanda, English, French, and Swahili. Up until 2007, French was the official language and knowledge of French is still useful for navigating Rwanda. In terms of religion, a vast majority of the population is Christian of various sects (Roman Catholicism is predominant), with a minority Muslim or of indigenous religions.
Post-genocide, the society is stable and quickly progressing and citizens are forward-focused. The 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi and topics about ethnicity are understandably sensitive. One should be cautious when using the terms “Hutu” or “Tutsi” and be conscious of having sensitive conversations in public. It is never appropriate to ask someone if they are “Hutu” or “Tutsi”. We encourage you to review resources before you come. Below are books that will provide perspective on the history of Rwanda:
A Thousand Hills: Rwanda's Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It, Kinzer, Stephen (2008)
Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, Dallaire, Roméo (2004)
Land of a Thousand Hills: My Life in Rwanda, Carr, Rosamond Halsey (2000)
We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, Gourevitch, Philip (1998)
Despite Rwanda’s past, the country has made huge strides in all sectors including health, infrastructure, development, and more. Among those strides, equitable gender representation in government and leadership positions is cornerstone to Rwanda’s agenda. According to “The State of Gender Equality in Rwanda,” a 2019 report by Rwanda’s Gender Monitoring Office, 61% of Rwanda’s parliament is comprised of women, with approxiamately 52% of those women serving in ministerial roles. This representation has helped Rwanda strengthen health and social welfare systems, with women leading the charge in decision-making roles. Though progress has been made, more needs to be done locally and globally to raise the profile for women’s leadership in health and beyond.
Capital City: Kigali
President: His Excellency President Paul Kagame
Time Zone: Central African Time (CAT)
Size: 26,338 square kilometers
Population: 12.21 million
Bordering Countries: Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Tanzania
Major Economic Sectors: Tourism, Mining, Agriculture
Local Currency: Rwandan Franc
Official Languages: Kinyarwanda, English, French, Swahili
Telephone Country Code: +250
Climate: Temperate all year round (24 – 27 degrees Celsius)