Portal:Rwanda

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Introduction

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Rwanda (/ruˈɑːndə, -ˈæn-/ (About this sound listen); Kinyarwanda: U Rwanda [u.ɾɡwaː.nda] (About this sound listen)), officially the Republic of Rwanda (Kinyarwanda: Repubulika y'u Rwanda; French: République du Rwanda), is a sovereign state in Central and East Africa and one of the smallest countries on the African mainland. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rwanda is in the African Great Lakes region and is highly elevated; its geography is dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country. The climate is temperate to subtropical, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons each year.

The population is young and predominantly rural, with a density among the highest in Africa. Rwandans are drawn from just one cultural and linguistic group, the Banyarwanda, although within this group there are three subgroups: the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. The Twa are a forest-dwelling pygmy people descended from Rwanda's earliest inhabitants. Scholars disagree on the origins of and differences between the Hutu and Tutsi; some believe differences are derived from former social castes within a single people, while others believe the Hutu and Tutsi arrived in the country separately, and from different locations. Christianity is the largest religion in the country; the principal language is Kinyarwanda, spoken by most Rwandans, with English and French serving as official languages. Rwanda has a presidential system of government. The president is Paul Kagame of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), who took office in 2000. Rwanda today has low corruption compared with neighbouring countries, although human rights organisations report suppression of opposition groups, intimidation and restrictions on freedom of speech. The country has been governed by a strict administrative hierarchy since precolonial times; there are five provinces delineated by borders drawn in 2006. Rwanda is one of only two countries with a female majority in the national parliament.

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Ruli Vista dels volcans Virunga.jpg
Credit: Josep Azuara

The Virunga Mountains.

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Rwandan Genocide.jpg

The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass killing of hundreds of thousands of Rwanda's Tutsis and Hutu political moderates by the Hutu dominated government under the Hutu Power ideology. Over the course of approximately 100 days, from the assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana on 6 April through mid-July, at least 500,000 people were killed. Estimates of the death toll have ranged between 500,000 and 1,000,000, or as much as 20% of the total population of the country.

In 1990 the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a rebel group, composed mostly of Tutsi refugees, invaded northern Rwanda from Uganda. The Rwandan Civil War, fought between the Hutu regime, with support from Francophone nations of Africa and France itself, and the RPF, with support from Uganda, vastly increased the ethnic tensions in the country and led to the rise of Hutu Power, an ideology that asserted that the Tutsi intended to enslave Hutus and thus must be resisted at all costs. Despite continuing ethnic strife, including the displacement of large numbers of Hutu in the north by the rebels and periodic localized extermination of Tutsi to the south, pressure on the government of Juvénal Habyarimana resulted in a cease-fire in 1993 and the preliminary implementation of the Arusha Accords. (Read more...)

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Nyamata Memorial Site 13.jpg
Credit: Fanny Schertzer

Human skulls at the Nyamata Memorial Site in Nyamata, Rwanda.

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Selected biography

Alison Des Forges.jpg

Alison Des Forges (née Liebhafsky) (August 20, 1942 – February 12, 2009) was an African historian and human rights activist who specialized in the African Great Lakes region, particularly the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. At the time of her death, she was a senior advisor for the African continent at Human Rights Watch. She specialized in the African Great Lakes region and studied the Rwandan Genocide. She was also an authority on human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Burundi. Des Forges left academia in 1994 in response to the Rwandan Genocide, to work full time on human rights. She was named a MacArthur Fellow in 1999, and became the senior advisor at Human Rights Watch for the African continent.

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