Geographically dominated by mountain ranges, the Republic of Rwanda is predominantly rural, and its population relatively young; additionally, its population density is one of the highest in Africa.
Humans began inhabiting the region between 8000 BC – 3000BC, and had structured themselves into various clans (Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa) by the 15th century.
The Tutsi Nyiginya clan grew to be the more dominant, and during the 19th century, under the reign of King Kigeli Rwabugiri, reached its greatest expansion.
The territory of Rwanda was assigned to Germany as part of German East Africa in 1884. Under German ruling, the existing hierarchy remained intact, and power was delegated to the local chiefs.
A more direct form of ruling came during World War I when Belgian forces introduced a more centralized power structure. During this time frame Belgium also improved educational, health, and agricultural endeavors.
In 1959, three years before independence from Belgium, the majority ethnic group, the Hutus, overthrew the ruling Tutsi king. Over the next several years, thousands of Tutsis were killed, and some 150,000 driven into exile in neighboring countries.
The children of these exiles later formed a rebel group known as the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and began a civil war in 1990. The war, along with numerous other political upheavals, exacerbated ethnic tensions, culminating in April 1994 in the genocide of roughly 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
The Tutsi rebels defeated the Hutu regime and ended the killing in July 1994, but approximately 2 million Hutu refugees – many fearing Tutsi retribution – fled to neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and the former Zaire.
Since then, most of the refugees have returned to Rwanda, but several thousand remain in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Paul Kagame became President of Rwanda in March 2000. In August of 2003, he won a landslide victory in the first national elections since his government took power in 1994.
The country has made a remarkable recovery under the leadership of Kagame, and is now considered to be a model for developing countries.
Rwanda has achieved stability, international integration and economic growth. The average income over the past ten years has tripled. The current government is one of the most efficient and honest in Africa and it is also regarded as the safest country in East and Central Africa.