Rwanda Population, Main Cities and Geography

By | January 27, 2023

Rwanda: population and cities



According to Countryaah website, Rwanda currently has about 13 million people, with a population density of 433 people per square kilometer, the highest in Africa. About 42.3% of people are under 14 years old and 55% are 15 to 64 years old. Only 2.7% are older than 65 years. Only about 6% to 16% of the population of Rwanda live in the cities.

Rwanda’s high population pressure (partly due to refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and the lack of industry and resources are the main problems in the country. Because Rwandan women give birth to 5 to 6 children on average in the course of their lives, there are already plans to establish a three-child policy. The high fertility of women contrasts with the low life expectancy, which is 44 years for men and 47 for women. In addition to the high child mortality rate, the high rate of HIV-infected people is also a serious problem in Rwanda.

Ethnic groups

Rwanda consists primarily of the two main ethnic groups, Tutsi and Hutu, whose subdivision into so-called inferior Hutu (84%) and superior Tutsi (16%) is a relic of the colonial era. The differences between the two ethnic groups are not great, but rather show a very close relationship between them.

Unfortunately, the colonial stereotypes have found expression in the thinking of the Tutsi and Hutu people. The genocide of the Tutsi between April 7 and July 18, 1994 killed around 800,000 Tutsi living in Rwanda.

About 70,000 Twa or Batwa Pymies still live in the country. Because of the increasing destruction of their living space, they now earn their living with temporary work.


The Bantu language Kinyarwanda is the mother tongue of almost all Rwandans, which can be seen from the fact that around 88% of the population only speak this language. French and English are the other two official languages in Rwanda. The French came with the Belgians, the English with the long-term refugees from Uganda and Tanzania. The government’s declaration from 2008 to shift the linguistic focus of Rwandan education from French to English in the coming years has already been implemented. Kiswahili, also one of the Bantu languages, is spoken in the trading centers. This language is only learned as a foreign language in the country.


In Rwanda, the indigenous ancestor and ryangombe cult is cultivated, a monotheistic religion, at the center of which are the creator god Imana and the mediator and earthly representative Ryangombe. In the north of Rwanda one also encounters the Nyabingi cult, in the center of which a woman is worshiped.

About 55% of Rwandans are Roman Catholic Christians. About 38% of the Rwandan population belong to Protestantism, which manifests itself in various forms (e.g. as Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists or Baptists). Both religious groups are gradually losing ground to new awakening churches. 5% profess Islam, a religion that has been gaining ground since the genocide.

Capital and other cities


Kigali is the capital and largest city in the country. In contrast to the other major cities in Rwanda, Kigali is much more urban. The city is located in the center of Rwanda and was founded in 1907 by the German resident Richard Kandt. According to Abbreviation Finder, RWA stands for Rwanda in English. Click to see other meanings of this 3-letter acronym.

It was named after Mount Kigali, near which it was founded. The city, now inhabited by around 1.3 million people, gained notoriety in 1994 as the starting point for the genocide of the Tutsi.

This is also a reminder of the Hôtel des Mille Collines, which became the last refuge for more than a thousand Tutsis during the genocide. Above all, the then manager Paul Rusesabagina should be mentioned here with praise .


Butare, the second largest city in Rwanda, extends in the south of the country and is virtually its cultural city. Butare has existed since the Belgian colonial era and was then the seat of the Belgian colonial administration. Numerous buildings from that time still remind of the colonial era. Butare is also the seat of the National University and the National Museum of Rwanda.


Gisenyi, a nicely situated small town on Lake Kiwu, is inhabited by more than 83,000 people. The city, founded in the German colonial era, impresses with numerous colonial residential buildings and also includes the state brewery Bralirwa.


Guitarama, located in the center of Rwanda between Butare and Kigali, is the third largest city in the country. It spreads near the important Catholic mission and diocese seat of Kabgayi. It is historically interesting that the so-called Hutu revolution of the PARMEHUTU began in Guitarama.


The importance of the small town of Kibuye, which hugs a rugged coastline on Lake Kiwu, lies in the old mission station, which is enthroned on a rock and extends over it into the lake. In 2005, a resort that was once supposed to attract tourists to Kibuye was closed.


In the north of Rwanda lies the city of Ruhengeri in the lava plain, in which about 86,685 people live. For tourists, Ruhengeri is the perfect gateway to the country’s volcanoes and mountain gorillas.

Rwanda: Geography and Map

Area and boundaries

Rwanda is a landlocked country in Africa and covers an area of only 26,338 km². In the area of Rwanda, the main watershed runs between the catchment areas of the Nile and the Congo. Check topmbadirectory for politics, flags, famous people, animals and plants of Rwanda.

  • ForestAround 20% of the country is forested.
  • Meadow and pasture landAround 19% of the land is used as meadow or pasture land.
  • Fields and fieldsAround 47% of the land is used as arable land or fields, especially for growing tea, coffee, sugar cane and rice as well as bananas, sweet potatoes, cassava and beans.

Rwanda shares a border with the following four countries:

– Burundi with a length of 290 km,

– Congo with a length of 217 km,

– Tanzania with a length of 217 km and

– Uganda with a length of 169 km.

Longitude and latitude

Rwanda extends over the following geographical latitude (abbreviation Δφ) and geographical longitude (abbreviation Δλ):

Δφ = from 01 ° 04` to 03 ° 52` southern latitude Δλ = from 028 ° 50` to 030 ° 55` eastern longitude

You can find detailed information on this subject under Longitude and Latitude.

Legal time

For Rwanda, the following value applies to Central European Time (CET), i.e. the time (without summer time) in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. A minus sign means that it is earlier there, a plus sign that it is later than CET:

Δt (CET) = + 1 h

Further and detailed explanations of the time can be found under Time zones, time.

The highest point of the sun in Kigali

Kigali lies at a southern latitude of around φ = 02 ° (exactly: 01 ° 56 ‘).

If the declination Δ of the sun has the value 01 ° 56 ‘south and the sun’s image point is therefore exactly above the city, the sun is perpendicular to the city. This happens exactly twice a year, roughly 8 days before March 21st and 8 days after September 21st. (For details see position of the sun)


If the image point of the sun and thus the declination Δ is north of the latitude of Kigali, the sun is not in the south at noon, as in our latitudes, but in the north. In this case, the sun moves from east to north to west, where, like us, it sets.



The highest mountain in the country is the Karisimbi with a height of 4,507 m, one of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga volcanoes.

Virunga volcanoes

The ensemble of eight Virunga volcanoes in the border area between Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is worth seeing. The volcanoes lie between Lake Eduard and Lake Kiwu and are therefore in the East African Rift Valley. The Nyiragongo (3,462 m) and the Nyamuragira are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (3,063 m). In 1977, over 2,000 people were killed in an eruption of the Nyiragongo.

In the center of the ensemble – in Rwanda – are the Karisimbi and the Visoke (Bisoke) (3,711 m).

The Mikeno (4,437 m) – also in the center of the ensemble – is located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, near the border with Rwanda. To the east of the ensemble, in the triangle of Rwanda, Unganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, lie the Sabinyo (3,634 m), in Uganda the Gahinga (3,474 m) and in the border area of Rwanda and Uganda the Muhabura (4,127 m). The volcanoes are covered in tropical rainforest and are home to the mountain gorillas mentioned above. Between the two volcanoes, the Karisimbi and the Visoke, lies the research station for mountain gorillas – the “Karisoke Research Center” – which was founded by Dian Fossey in 1967 and became a research station for mountain gorillas.



The longest river in the country is the Kagera with a length of around 900 km. Other rivers in the country are the Mukungwa and the Rukarara-Nyabaronge-Akagera (“white Nile”, the smaller of the two “source rivers” of the Nile).


Lake Kiwu (also: Kivu)

The largest lake in Rwanda is Lake Kiwu with an area of around 2,650 km². The lake – located in the African rift – belongs to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west and Rwanda to the east. This lake has a great peculiarity, because due to the water pressure at the bottom of the up to 450 m deep lake there is solid methane in an extent of approx. 65 km³ = 65,000,000,000 m³ – with a total volume of the lake of 500 km³. For some time now, around 1,000 m³ of this has been extracted per hour and used commercially to supply the country with energy. The scope of the dismantling is to be gradually expanded.

Other lakes in Rwanda are:

  • the Burera lake
  • the Ruhondo lake
  • the Rweru lake
  • the Ihema lake
  • the Hago lake
  • the Kivumba Lake
  • the Nasho Lake Mpanga Lake

Rwanda Population