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Travel info

Rwanda at a glance

Geography

Situated in East Africa, Rwanda is 26,338 km² in size and is surrounded by Uganda in the north, Tanzania in the east, Burundi in the south and democratic republic of Congo in the west. It lies a few degrees south of the equator and is landlocked. The capital, Kigali, is located near the centre of Rwanda. Rwanda has many lakes, the largest being Lake Kivu. This lake occupies the floor of the Albertine Rift along most of the length of Rwanda’s western border, and with a maximum depth of 480 metres (1,575 ft) however, Mountains dominate central and western Rwanda.

Capitals

The capital city of Rwanda is Kigali.

Political system

Since the military victory in July 1994, the Rwandese Patriotic Front organized a coalition government similar to that established by President Juvénal Habyarimana in 1992. The Constitution is regarded as an example to the world and enshrines a wide range of human rights protected by an independent judiciary. The President of Rwanda is both head of state and head of government. The current incumbent is Paul Kagame, who is the head of the ruling party, the Rwandese Patriotic Front.

Economy

Regarded as an emerging market, Rwanda has a well-developed financial sector and active stock exchange. Financial policies have focused on building solid macroeconomic structures. The country’s central bank is the national Bank of Rwanda.

Tourism

The tourism industry in Rwanda is well established with an exciting sector of emerging entrepreneurs. The country is strong on adventure, sport, nature and wildlife, and is a pioneer and global leader in responsible tourism. The country today has mainly 3 national parks namely; Nyungwe National Park located in south western and famous for chimps and other primates tracking, canopy walk, forest walk and birding, then we have Akagera National Park for wildlife viewing, community tours, birding and boat cruise, and the most popular of Parc National des Volcans famous for mountain gorilla safaris and golden monkey tracking as well as Mt. Bisoke and Karisimbi hiking. Among other Rwanda safari destinations include the historical and cultural museums as well as genocide memorial sites located in different parts of the country.

Population

The last census in 2012 showed a population of about 11.46 million people, of varying origins, cultures, languages and religions. Just over half the population is female.

Currency

Rwanda’s currency is the Rwanda Francs, which offers visitors great value for money. The Rwanda Francs comes in a range of coins (1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 francs) and note denominations of 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 francs.

Climate

Rwanda is known for its hills and forests that influences short sunny and long rainy days, hence the title, ‘The land of a thousand hills’. Most of the provinces experience high rainfall especially during the wet season. The high-lying areas of the interior can be chilly in wet season.

Communications

Rwanda has a well-developed communications infrastructure. A number of cell phone providers offer national coverage and there are well-established landline phone networks. Internet and Wi-Fi are easily accessible in most urban areas.

Provinces

There are five provinces in Rwanda, namely: Kigali, Western, southern, Eastern and Northern. Formerly, Rwanda had 12 provinces that included: Butare Province, Byumba Province, Cyangugu Province, Gikongoro Province, Gisenyi Province, Gitarama Province, Kibungo Province, Kibuye Province, Kigali City, Kigali-Rural Province (Kigali Ngali), Ruhengeri Province and Umutara Province however these were combined to make five provinces.

National symbols

The Rwandan flag is a much-loved symbol of the ‘Sun’. It comprises a geometric pattern of blue, green, and two forms of yellow. The blue band represents happiness and peace, the yellow band symbolizes economic development, and the green band symbolizes the hope of prosperity. The sun represents enlightenment. Rwanda’s national anthem evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions, or struggles of a nation or its people.

Languages

Rwanda is a multilingual country and there are 03 official languages, namely: English, French and Kinyarwanda. Most of the population has Kinyarwanda as its mother tongue, Kinyarwanda is the language most widely understood, and is the first language of the majority of Rwandese.

Religions

About 65% of Rwanda’s population is Roman Catholics. Other major religious groups include Protestants that constitute about 9%; Muslims that carry only 1% and about a fourth of Rwandans are adherents of indigenous beliefs. The Constitution guarantees freedom of worship.

Water

In urban areas tap water is usually of high quality and safe to drink in Rwanda. It’s quite safe to have ice in drinks and to eat salads. However, when travelling to remote rural areas and the bush you should take your own drinking water along or buy bottled water.

Animals and plants

Rwanda is one of the mega diverse destinations in the world because of its rich biological diversity. Expect majestic and intimidating animals such as mountain gorillas, Lions, Leopards, elephants and buffaloes and smaller ‘cute’ ones such as bush babies and bat-eared foxes, as well as diverse plant life from swampy areas through to Savannah grasslands and woodlands and indigenous forests. Such a rich wildlife diversity is the base for the booming tourism in the country and the main tour activities are; gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park, Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe National park and genocide memorials as well as historical / cultural museums.

Electricity

The Rwanda electricity supply is 220/240 volts AC 50 HZ. With a few exceptions (in deep rural areas), electricity is available in most urban and rural areas.

Airports

Rwanda’s major international airport is Kigali international airport. There are also many regional airports including the Bugesera International Airport in Nyamata eastern province and Kamembe international airport in Cyangugu western province.

Travel by road and rail

Rwanda has an extensive road infrastructure including national highways and secondary roads. Speed limits are set at 60km/h on highways; 40km/h in urban areas. Most roads are in good condition, but there are a few exceptions.

Entry requirements

For visa requirements, please contact your nearest Rwanda diplomatic mission. Rwanda requires a valid yellow fever certificate from all foreign visitors and citizens over one year of age travelling from an infected area or having been in transit through infected areas.

Health

Rwanda has been well known for its medical skill. There are many world-class private hospitals and medical centres around the country, especially in the urban areas, while many state hospitals also offer excellent care, among them Kampala international Hospital in Kampala.

Malaria

Some parts of Rwanda is malaria-free, but if you are visiting the National Parks or jungles, be aware that you are entering malarial areas and should take precautions in the form of prophylactic medication.

Tips and tipping

As a rough guide: give 10% to 15% to a waitron in a Rwanda’s restaurant; about US$10 (or equivalent) per day to your safari ranger.

Security

Use common sense and take basic safety precautions while on Rwanda holiday. Keep valuables locked away and don’t wear expensive watches or jewellery, flash expensive cameras, or walk in deserted areas. Keep car doors and windows locked at all times. If in doubt, ask a guide or at your accommodation for safety guidelines.

Smoking

Smoking in Rwanda is banned in public places, but there are usually designated areas where people can smoke. Under-18s may not enter a designated smoking area or buy cigarettes.
Traveling with children

Most places in Rwanda welcome children and many establishments have special facilities such as family rooms or children’s entertainment programmes. Inquire about these when you book. All national parks are child-friendly.

Disability

There are facilities for disabled people in Rwanda (although fewer than in the United States or many parts of Europe). All major hotels will have facilities for disabled people. When renting a vehicle, discuss special needs and parking dispensations with the car-hire company.