Rwanda’s population has traditionally been composed of Hutu,Tusi and Twa peoples.
however, civil stife at independence and genocidal civil warin 1994 have altered these
percentages. the 1991 offical cenus estimated the country’s population at 7,164,995. Talking
into consideration Rwanda’s growth rate, the population in 1996 should have been between 7.8
and 8 million people, but it is estimated that less than 5.5 to 6 million people were living in
Rwanda in late 1995.
Rwanda’s people speak a common language, Kinyarwanda, and share many cultural
traditions. More than half of the population is estimated to be Roman Catholic and another 5 to
10% Protestant Crisitan. Probaly 30% or more hold traditional beliefs. There is a small Muslium
Traditionally, Rwanda has been Africa’s least urban country ,although migration to the
capital, Kigali,and provincial towns such as Ruhengeri,Butare,and Gisenyi incerased thoughout
the 1980s and the early1990s. Prior to 1994 it eas also the most densly populated rural county in
the world, with more than 2,110 persons per sq./km.
Education is free and officially compulsory for childern between ages 7 to 15, but
Rwanda’s school system was virtually destroyed during the civil war . Most hospitals, including
the university of Rwanda, remained closed in 1995. Most hospitals were ethier closed or without
adequate supplies or medical personnel.
Hutu agriculturalists migrated into what is now Rwanda during the 7th to 10th centuries
AD, followed by pastoral Tutsi between the 14th nd 16th centuries. A feudal monarchy
developed that remained in existence for centuries before Rwanda was absorbed into German east
Africa in 1899. Belgium occupied the area in 1916 and controlled what are now Rwanda and
Burundi until Rwanda gained its independence.
Before European occupation, the kingdom of Rwanda was a somewhat flexible hierarchy
with a tutsi king and elitre dominating the majority Hutu farmers and small Tutsi underclass,
although social mobility and intermarriage blurred the distintions between the groups. the Twa
were at the very bottom of the social order. Both the Germans and the Belgians retained the
monarchy administer the colony. This arrangement gave th Tusi access to power and economic
resouces and intensified ethnic and class divisions. In the 1940’s, however, many Tusti were
driven from Rwanda by the Belgians for advocating independence. The moderate Tusi King
Kigari V, who had ruled for nearly three decades, died in 1959, and more ethnocentric Tutsi
seized power. This contributed to a series of rebellions by Hutu demanding equal rights in which
tens of thousands of Tutsi perished. In 1991, with the support of the belgian colonist, the Huntu
majority took control of the government, abolishied the Tutsi monochary, and declared Rwanda a
republic. Rwandan independence was not internationally reconized until July 1,1962, when
Rwanda and Burundi formally gained independence as seperate countries.
Under it original constitution, Rwandas government consisted of an elected president and
a legislature, the National Assembly. The coutry’s first president was Gregoire Kayibanda. He
was overthown by the military in 1973, and General Juvenal Habyalimama became president. The
National Assembly was suspended. This was annouced as the first step toward new legislative
Most of Rwandas’s people are farmers, growing only enough food for thier own use.
Food crops include bananas,cassava, sorghum, and millet. Coffee grown on large plantationsis
the nation’s chief exporter. Other important commercial crops are cotton, tea, and pyrethrum.
Cattle,goats,and sheep are raised.
Rwanda has litte industry . Funiture,soap,bricks, and shoes are made for use in the country.
Some tin and gold are mined for export. But poor transportation makes mining difficult. Some
Rwandese work in the copper mines of the neighboring Zaire.