Rwanda

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Country Code: 250
ISO Code: RWD/RW

Rwanda, whose official name is the Republic of Rwanda (in kiñaruanda, Repubulika y’u Rwanda, in English, Republic of Rwanda, in French, République du Rwanda), is a country in Central Africa with no access to the sea. It is bordered by Uganda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania. It is a small country located in the Great Lakes region of Africa; known as the “mists of Africa”, also for its wildlife, mainly for its mountain gorillas, for its typical cities and for the national parks and natural landscapes that its mountainous landscape offers. Its fertile and mountainous terrain that gives it the title of “Land of the Thousand Hills” (in French, Pays des Mille Collines; / pei de mil kɔ.lin /) must support the densest populations of the African continent.

Rwanda is a low-income country, which in the last decade is achieving the highest growth rates in the continent.Most part of the population works in agriculture, mainly subsistence, but there is an increasing mineral production and processing of agricultural products Tourism is currently the country’s main source of income, and since 2008, mining has surpassed coffee and tea as the main source of products for export.

Although he is still remembered today for the bloody wars that hit him at the end of the last century, and particularly for the genocide that occurred in 1994, in which the deaths exceeded one million people, Rwanda is, two decades later, the safest country of the continent and the fifth worldwide, according to the Gallup report 2015.

HISTORY

At first the Rwandan territory was inhabited by Pygmies of Twa origin, who were dedicated specially to hunting. In the eleventh century, they received the Hutus, who settled down in a sedentary way and lived with them in peace. In the 14th century, Tutsi farmers arrived in the area and became part of a society made up of twas and Hutus. In the sixteenth century the Tutsis began a military campaign against the Hutus and became masters of the Hutu majority in something like a society of feudal lords with a king, Mwami. At the end of the 19th century, the Germans conquered the country. After the First World War the League of Nations handed over the territory to the Belgians and after the Second World War the UN with Belgian help would dominate the territory. The Belgians sharpened class differences by pointing to a Tutsi with fewer than ten cows as a Hutu and consequently imposing forced labor. Until 1950 education was available only for the Tutsis.

King Mutara III Rudahigwa, who had ruled for nearly three decades, died in 1959 and the Tutsi gained power. This contributed to a series of rebellions by the Hutu, who demanded equal rights, in which tens of thousands of Tutsis perished. In 1961, with the support of Belgian settlers, the Hutu majority took control of the government, abolishing the Tutsi monarchy and declaring the Republic of Rwanda.

More than half of the Rwandan Tutsi fled the country between 1959 and 1964. General Juvenal Habyarimana, of the Hutu ethnic group, took power in a coup in 1973 in the middle of another period of ethnic conflict. Habyarimana managed to triumph in the civil war and remained as president; for 1978 it promulgated a new constitution.

Juvenal Habyarimana during a visit to the United States, 1980
Habyarimana had absolute control over the country. Besides being president of the country, he directed the hegemonic political party and was the supreme head of the armed forces. Thanks to this control he was re-elected in 1983 and 1988.

In October 1990 Rwandan exiles, opponents of the Habyarimana regime, organized in the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and its armed wing, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (APR, Armée Patriotique Rwandaise), invaded the country with the support of Uganda, initiating a civil war to overthrow the regime. Habyarimana was flexible and initiated a series of political reforms that led to the drafting of a new constitution in 1991.

More than half of the Rwandan Tutsi fled the country between 1959 and 1964. General Juvenal Habyarimana, of the Hutu ethnic group, took power in a coup in 1973 in the middle of another period of ethnic conflict. Habyarimana managed to triumph in the civil war and remained as president; for 1978 it promulgated a new constitution.

But since 1991 the Habyarimana regime had increased the repression of the population in a low intensity war to end the Tutsi opposition, using racism as its axis, and instigating and covering up the mass massacres of these populations.

The murders were perpetrated by paramilitary groups (mainly the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi, groups originally organized in the youth sector of the Hutu political parties). The Hutu paramilitaries were more than 30,000, received military training from the Rwandan army and support / cover-up of the Habyarimana regime.

Through the Radio Station “Des Mille Collines”, a private station, racist and genocidal propaganda was spread with impunity against the Tutsis. Radio in Rwanda plays a central role in communication, given the poor development of newspapers and the poor penetration of television. The “Des Mille Collines” Station encouraged the Hutu on their daily schedule to ensure that the Tutsi children were also killed and to fill the tombs dug to bury the Tutsis. The radio also started a campaign against the RPF and all the opposition parties.

The Habyarimana government reintroduced the ethnic identity cards used by the Belgians in the 1930s. These cards allowed the paramilitaries to easily choose their victims. The paramilitaries soon closed roads and checked every person passing by to eliminate the Tutsis.

The government also created lists of people who should be killed, identifying in them the supporters of the political transition, political opponents, those involved in the Human Rights movement, etc. Even some Hutu prone to reform were sentenced to death. These lists included the entire Tutsi population.

In April 1992, a multi-party transition cabinet was formed to govern the country. The measures taken led to the signing of a peace agreement between the Habyarimana government and the RPF rebels in Arusha, Tanzania, in August 1993.

A little later, in 1994, the Genocide of Rwanda began, which can be considered the most bloodthirsty in history in proportion to its duration. In just 100 days, more than 800,000 murders were committed. The Tutsi of the Rwandan Patriotic Front decided to restart their offensive, which allowed them to gain control of the entire country in mid-July. The international response to genocide was limited, with great powers loath to strengthen the already overburdened UN peacekeeping force. When the RPF took power, around two million Hutus fled to neighboring countries, in particular to Zaire, for fear of reprisals. In addition, the Rwandan Patriotic Front was led by a key belligerent in the First and Second World War of the Congo in Rwanda. A period of reconciliation and justice began with the creation of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the reintroduction of Gacaca, a traditional village court system.

The government also created lists of people who should be killed, identifying in them the supporters of the political transition, political opponents, those involved in the Human Rights movement, etc. Even some Hutu prone to reform were sentenced to death. These lists included the entire Tutsi population.

In April 1992, a multi-party transition cabinet was formed to govern the country. The measures taken led to the signing of a peace agreement between the Habyarimana government and the RPF rebels in Arusha, Tanzania, in August 1993.

Economically, during the 2000s, the country prospered remarkably. The number of tourists and the Human Development Index grew rapidly. Between 2006 and 2011 the poverty rate was reduced from 57 to 45 percent, and infant mortality rates were reduced from 180 per 1,000 live births in 2000 to 111 per 1,000 in 2009. Persistent efforts at economic and political reform Rwanda has some of the lowest corruption rates in Africa, to the point that bribery is nowadays considered almost unknown. Revenues have doubled between 1994 and 2012, but electricity remains scarce and expensive, and domestic transport remains difficult. The rule of law and efforts to eliminate bureaucracy have generated a good environment for business, so journalists call Rwanda the “Singapore of Africa.”

LANGUAGE

Rwanda is, officially, a trilingual country. The kiñaruanda, English and French are to date the official languages. The kiñaruanda is the language of government and English is the primary educational medium. Swahili, the lingua franca of East Africa, which is also widely spoken in rural Rwanda, could become the fourth official language; In February 2017 the parliament passed a law in that sense, which has yet to be approved by the Senate and endorsed by the President.

EDUCATION

The government of Rwanda offers free education in schools for nine years, six primary and three secondary. President Paul Kagame announced during his re-election campaign in 2010 that he intended to expand free education to also cover the last three years of high school. Many poor children do not attend classes because they have to buy uniforms and school supplies. There are many private schools in the country, some of which are run by the church. From 1994 to 2009, secondary education was offered in English or French, but due to the increase in ties with the East African Community and the Commonwealth, only English is now used. The country’s literacy rate, for over 15 years, was 71% in 2009, with 58% in 1991 and 38% in 1978.

HEALTH

The quality of health in Rwanda is low; one in five children dies before the age of 5, mainly due to malaria There is a great shortage of qualified medical professionals, some medicines are scarce or not available, 87% of the population has access to services of health but there are only two doctors and two paramedics per 100,000 people.

Another serious health problem facing Rwanda is HIV / AIDS. The HIV epidemic in the country has remained with a prevalence of around 3% in the last seven years.

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