Skip Navigation

  Button that takes you back to the main page. Button that takes you to the Probelm Based Learning model. Button that takes you to the teacher pages. Button that takes you to the modules and activities page. Button that takes you to the references page. Button that takes you to the related links page. Button that takes you to the glossary page.Image map of some Mountain Gorillas puzzle pieces.  Please have someone assist you with this.

Image that says Economics of Rwanda.
Button that takes you to the Economics of Uganda page.
Button that takes you to the Economics of Congo page.
Button that takes you to the Living in a Poor Country page.
Button that takes you to the Ecotourism page.

Economics of Rwanda
Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Consisting of only [10,169] square miles,...smaller than the state of Maryland, Rwanda contains 7.5 million people (1991)...Rwanda, known as the 'Little Switzerland of Africa,' is also one of the world's five poorest countries, with about 95% of the population barely managing to survive on small farm lots called shambas, of about two and one half acres each. Terracing techniques are relied upon to utilize nearly all of the available land for cultivation. However, even with such stringent escarpment devices, the population is living above the carrying capacity of the terrain. Each year another 23,000 families will need new land plots to grow their food and support their livestock. (Fossey, 1983).

Rwanda's population density, which is the highest in sub-Saharan Africa, is 332 people per square kilometer (128 people per square mile). Besides the capital of Kigali, few urban centers exist in this country--most families live in self-contained compounds. Since independence from Belgium, Rwanda's GDP has grown almost 6% per year. This has been offset, however, by the country's rapidly growing population. Consequently, annual per capita income is approximately $200.

Rwanda is two degrees south of the equator, but its high elevation keeps the temperatures moderate. The Virunga volcano chain runs through the northwest corner of this country, and southeast from this range extend hills and grassy uplands. Agriculture accounts for almost 45% of Rwanda's GNP; cash crops produced are coffee, tea, and pyrethrum. Half of Rwanda's land is arable, and 90% of that is cultivated. Extensive grazing lands are also used for raising cattle.

The history of Rwanda, like that of many other African nations, included a period of European domination. In 1899, Rwanda and neighboring Burundi became a German protectorate (German East Africa). Later, during World War I, Belgian troops moved in and took control of Rwanda-Burundi. Rwanda remained a Belgian protectorate until independence in 1962.

Rwanda's population comprises three ethnic groups: the Hutu (85-90%), the Tutsi (9-14%), and the Twa (1%). Upon entering the area of Rwanda centuries ago, the Tutsi soon dominated and ruled the Hutu majority. Centuries of Tutsi domination led to dissension and unrest. Successive outbreaks of violence occurred in 1959, 1963, and 1973, and continue to this day. The result has been political instability, large-scale massacres, and thousands of fleeing refugees.

Image of a chart showing the growth in Rwanda's population during the last 50 years. This image link to a more detailed image.This graph shows the growth in Rwanda's population during the last 50 years. The population more than doubled since the early 1970s. With a continued growth rate of about 3% per year, the population is projected to double approximately every 25 years. To put this in perspective, virtually all available agricultural land was in use by the early 1980s. As the population continued to rise, it was necessary to use the available land more intensely, shortening the fallow and rotation times for the fields and increasing the number of cattle per acre, all of which rapidly depleted the soil.

Significant drops in population also occurred. Many thousands of Tutsi were killed by Hutu during the initial stages of independence from Belgium in 1959, and tens of thousands more fled the country. These exiled Tutsi invaded the country in 1963, leading to the death of thousands of Hutu and Tutsi in battle, as well as to the death or exile of over 200,000 Tutsi civilians remaining in Rwanda.

Another devastating loss of population resulted from the extended civil war begun by another invasion of exiled Tutsi in 1990. Later, in early 1994, radical Hutu decided to eliminate all opposition within the country. These Hutu turned on Tutsi civilians and Hutu moderates and slaughtered approximately 500,000 people within a few days. A few months later, the Tutsi armies defeated the Hutu and seized political control of the country. About 2 million Hutu fled to Tanzania, Burundi, and Congo.

From bases within refugee camps in the Congo, Rwandan Hutu began a series of attacks into Rwanda in 1996. Eager to avenge the 1994 massacre by the Hutu and to eliminate the Hutu threat, the Tutsi military entered Congo under the pretext of assisting rebel leader Laurent Kabila in his campaign to overthrow (former Zairian) President Mobutu Sese Seko. Throughout this military campaign, Tutsi soldiers fighting with Kabila's forces viciously attacked Hutu refugee camps in Congo as well. Although Kabila's government was firmly established by May 1997, military forces, including Rwandan Tutsi, continue the massacre of Hutu refugees. Estimates show tens of thousands of Hutu killed since late 1996.

[ Economics of Rwanda ] [ Economics of Uganda ]
Economics of Congo ] [ Living in a Poor Country ] [ Ecotourism ]
Glossary ] [ Related Links ] [ References ] [ PBL Model ]

[ Home ] [ Teacher Pages ] [ Modules & Activities ]

Button that takes you back to Mountain Gorillas main page.

HTML code by Chris Kreger
Maintained by ETE Team
Last updated April 28, 2005

Some images 2004

Privacy Statement and Copyright 1997-2004 by Wheeling Jesuit University/NASA-supported Classroom of the Future. All rights reserved.

Center for Educational Technologies, Circuit Board/Apple graphic logo, and COTF Classroom of the Future logo are registered trademarks of Wheeling Jesuit University.