Rwanda Economy and History

Rwanda, also Rwanda, is a state in East Africa with (2018) 12.3 million residents; The capital is Kigali.

Country Overview

Rwanda is a presidential republic in East Africa with Kigali as its capital. The small landlocked state lies on a highland block that merges into the Central African Rift in the west. In the northwest the massif of the Virunga Volcanoes connects. The mountainous country, criss-crossed by fields and pastures, is the main settlement area. The west is covered by tropical rainforest. The humid tropical climate has two rainy seasons and a dry season. 80% of the population are Hutu who traditionally practice agriculture. The Tutsi (Hima) and Twa (Pygmies) make a living from raising cattle. Hutu and Tutsi speak Kinyaruanda. Most of them profess the Christian faith. Urbanization in the densely populated country is low, with most Rwandans living in the countryside as self-sufficient. Coffee and tea as well as the mining products kasserite and coltan are important export goods. From the 14th century, the Kingdom of Rwanda formed a feudal society consisting of Tutsi as the ruling elite and Hutu as the oppressed majority. During the colonial period, the strong tensions between the two population groups were fueled by the German and later Belgian administrators. With independence in 1962, the Hutu took over the leadership of the state. The ethnic conflict resulted in genocide in 1994 who killed around 1 million Tutsi and moderate Hutus. Since the state restart and with the first free elections in 2003, the situation has stabilized socially, politically and economically. Coming to terms with the genocide, the reconciliation of the population and the formation of a national unity are major challenges for Rwanda. In terms of foreign policy, the country endeavors to be integrated into regional and international alliances.


Rwanda is an emerging country and one of the poorest countries in the world. The economy has developed well in the last two decades, especially since 2001. The path to more economic growth and thus better supply for the population is slowed down by several factors: As a landlocked country, Rwanda has no direct access to the sea. So it has to pay high transport costs to its neighboring countries Kenya and Tanzania for the export of its goods on the way to the coast. Rwanda is making great efforts to develop its roads and other transport routes such as rail. Improvements in energy supply are one of the major challenges. Many people, especially in rural areas, are not yet connected to the power grid.

90% of the population lives as self-sufficiency from agriculture, which accounts for 30% of the country’s economic output. The main crops are baaten, cassava, millet and plantains. The fields are mostly small and the crop yields are often insufficient to feed the farmers. Therefore, Rwanda imports food to feed the population. In addition, the country is dependent on international aid. The government supports resource conservation programs to promote agriculture.

The products coffee and tea as well as the mining products kasserite (tin ore), coltan and gold are exported. Coltan is an important raw material for the manufacture of cell phones. With 15% of the national economic output, the industry is relatively poorly developed. The service sector generates 50% of the country’s economic output. The tourism is an important industry for the future. With its national parks and protected wildlife such as the endangered mountain gorillas, Rwanda attracts many visitors.


The Twa, a pygmy people, were the first to settle in what is now Rwanda. The Hutu Bantu people immigrated from the 8th century, later followed by the Tutsi, a Nilotic pastoral people. The Hutu practiced agriculture, the Tutsi raised cattle. Both ethnic groups eventually merged in part. Despite this overlap, the division into Hutu and Tutsi continued to exist. Who belonged to which group was no longer determined by ethnic roots, but rather by the property: a person who owned a lot of cattle was therefore a Tutsi and had power over others. The others were referred to as Hutu and as farmers. Although the Hutu were in the majority in Rwanda from the start, they had no power for a long time.

From the 16th century, the kingdom of Banyaruanda expanded and was ruled by a Tutsi king. In 1899 it was incorporated into the German colony of German East Africa. After the First World War, Rwanda and Burundi fell to Belgium, which administered both areas under the name Ruanda-Urundi until 1962. The European colonial powers preferred the Tutsi and increased tensions between the population groups. In 1959 the Hutus rebelled and in 1961 deposed the king. Tens of thousands of Tutsis fled the country.

In 1962, Rwanda became an independent republic. The conflicts between Hutu and Tutsi continued. Under the Hutu government, numerous Tutsi fled to neighboring countries, where they founded rebel groups. In the early 1990s, the Tutsi guerrillas broke outand the Hutu government started a civil war. This culminated in genocide in 1994. Within a few months, the army and Hutu militia killed nearly a million Tutsis and many Hutus who opposed the government. According to loverists, the Tutsi rebels drove out two million Hutus. The bloody conflict brought about the political and economic collapse of Rwanda. In 1994 there was a new beginning when a new government was formed under the leadership of the Tutsi. It consisted of representatives from both camps. The UN set up a war crimes tribunal to investigate the crimes surrounding the genocide. In 2000 Paul Kagame ( * 1957 ) took over the presidency.

Rwanda History

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