16 Fun Facts About Rwanda To Read Before Your Adventure

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Wonder how it would feel visiting or living in one of Africa’s smallest countries? It’s a life filled with fresh air, breathtaking sceneries, and endless experiences with kind-hearted people.

Welcome to Rwanda! Here’s what to know before visiting the country.

1. The Small Country Of Four Official Languages

Four official languages are used in Rwanda—Kinyarwanda, French, English, and Kiswahili as the latest addition in 2017.

The national language is Kinyarwanda since it is the first language of nearly the country’s entire population of about 13,792,787, as per the 2022 United Nations estimates.

About four million people in Rwanda speak Swahili as their second or first language. Both Swahili and Kinyarwanda are Bantu languages.

2. Rwanda Is One Of The Most Densely Populated Countries

Talking of small sizes, Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It is the most densely populated country in mainland Africa among all countries bigger than 10,000 square kilometers.

Measuring only 26,338 square kilometers (10,169 square miles) and an estimated population of 13.792 million, Rwanda hosts a human population of about 525/square kilometer or 1,356/square mile.

3. The Land Of A Thousand Hills

Rwanda is fondly called the Land of a Thousand Hills because it is dotted with hillocks, volcanoes, and mountains.

4. Kigali Is Africa’s Cleanest City

The capital city of Rwanda, Kigali, has been rated the cleanest city in Africa and one of the cleanest in the world, thanks to transformational policies adopted by the Rwandan government, such as the Umuganda.

Kigali city center

The UN Environment Programme through its head, Eric Solheim, referred to the capital as the “cleanest city on the planet” in 2018 for its green initiatives and lack of street rubbish.

5. Rwandan President Dirties His Hands In The Umuganda

On the last Saturday of every month, President Paul Kagame joins Rwandan citizens in the mandatory Umuganda between 8 and 11 am.

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The Umuganda is a monthly community service geared toward national development by bringing Rwandans together to achieve an expected outcome.

Some common collective activities in the Umuganda include trimming roadside bushes, repairing public structures, collecting street garbage, planting trees, and cutting grass.

Some avid travelers, such as YouTuber Drew Brinsky, even rate Rwanda as the world’s cleanest country.

6. Akagera National Park Is Home To The Big Five

The Akagera National Park is the only one in Rwanda that hosts all members of the Big Five, namely the leopard, black rhino, lion, buffalo, and elephant.

7. One Of The World’s Most Gender-neutral Countries

According to Statista.com, Rwanda ranks number one in the world for the highest number of women in lower house parliaments and the strongest participation of women in politics in Africa.

Rwanda has maintained at least 56% of women in its parliament from 2008 up to 2012. From 2013 to 2022, the percentage remained between 61.3 and 63.8.

Going by these numbers, Rwanda undoubtedly reigns as one of the most gender-neutral countries in the world based on power and leadership.

8. Rwanda Has Risen From The Grips Of A Genocide

After prolonged division and propagation of hatred against the minority Tutsi people by the majority Hutu people, Rwanda sank into a horrendous 100-day genocide in the 1994 Rwandan Civil War.

The Rwandan genocide led to the death of about 800,000 Tutsi people and Hutus who didn’t support the Hutu-led government’s attempt to eradicate all the ethnic Tutsi.

Young people in Rwanda holding a sign

Rwandans have since achieved tremendous success in recovering from the horrors of the genocide through intentional forgiveness and multi-pronged programs of reconciliation and unity.

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9. A Sizable Population Of Mountain Gorillas Lives In Rwanda

The Virunga Mountains that border Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are home to slightly more than half of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas.

The number of mountain gorillas has been increasing over the years because of collaborations between conservationists, governments, and non-profits in the Virunga Massif and Bwindi National Park.

The gorillas dwell natively in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga national parks.

10. You Can Go On A Gorilla Trekking Tour

When you visit the small central African country, you can go on a gorilla trekking safari in the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda. The activity is offered throughout the year to locals and tourists over 15 years of age.

Besides trekking to see mountain gorillas, you can also spot chimpanzees, forest birds, golden monkeys, and various species of indigenous trees and flowers.

11. It’s A Taboo To Ask For Replacements For Lost Items

If you lend something to your Rwandan friend and they lose it, you can’t ask them to pay for it or replace it—doing so is considered a taboo!

12. Plastic Bags Are Banned In Rwanda

In a bid to protect the country’s environment, Rwanda banned the use of plastic bags in 2008. In doing so, the country joined other African nations like Kenya, which banned plastic bags in 2017.

13. Rwanda Is One Of Africa’s Landlocked Countries

Surrounded only by land and without access to any sea, Rwanda is one of Africa’s sixteen landlocked countries.

Other countries on the list include Uganda, Botswana, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Niger, Malawi, Zambia, Chad, Burundi, Mali, and the Central African Republic.

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14. Rwanda’s Top Exports Are Minerals

Despite Rwanda’s small size, the country is able to export both agricultural produce like tea and coffee and minerals like gold (highest), tin, tungsten, and niobium. The country also exports zirconium, vanadium, and tantalum.

15. Africa’s Killer Lake With Methane Worth US$42 Billion

Lake Kivu, which is nestled between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, looks like a paradise on Earth. But looks can be deceiving.

Lake Kivu

The peculiar lake in central Africa is dubbed Africa’s Killer Lake because of its potential for a limnic eruption, one of the rarest phenomena on the planet.

It’s estimated that about 60 cubic kilometers (14.39 cubic miles) of methane and 300 cubic kilometers (71.97 cubic miles) of dissolved carbon with hydrogen sulfide are held beneath the lake.

The methane is estimated to be worth up to US$42 billion across 50 years!

Lake Kivu’s toxic gases could be released into the atmosphere, potentially killing millions of people, plants, and animals in the area.

It is feared that volcanic activities in the area, such as the recent deadly eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in the DRC, could cause Lake Kivu to explode.

To reduce the threat of an explosion, scientists are harvesting the methane from the lake’s depths and burning it to produce electricity.

16. Nyungwe Is One Of Africa’s Oldest Rainforests

Spanning 1,019 square kilometers (393 square miles), Nyungwe is one of Africa’s oldest rainforests and one of the best preserved Afromontane forests.

Nyungwe is Africa’s largest Afromontane forest and home to a rich biodiversity of plants and animals. Nyungwe National Park is known for darting monkeys and chimpanzee trekking safaris.


Since discovering how much fun and learning are to be had traveling, Alex has made it a point to tour his home country and continent while still in his heydays. His ultimate desire is to travel farther afield to see the wonders of Europe, the Americas, Australia, and Asia. When he isn’t traveling, he takes his time to write about various places to share his experiences with other global citizens.

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