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History[edit | edit source]
The population is young and predominantly rural, with a density among the highest in Africa. Rwandans are drawn from just one cultural and linguistic group, the Banyarwanda, although within this group there are three subgroups: the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. and from different locations. Christianity is the largest religion in the country; the principal language is Kinyarwanda, spoken by most Rwandans, with English and French serving as additional official languages.
Hunter gatherers settled the territory in the stone and iron ages, followed later by Bantu peoples. The population coalesced first into clans and then into kingdoms. The Kingdom of Rwanda dominated from the mid-eighteenth century, with the Tutsi kings conquering others militarily, centralizing power and later enacting anti-Hutu policies. Germany colonised Rwanda in 1884 as part of German East Africa, followed by Belgium, which invaded in 1916 during World War I. Both European nations ruled through the kings and perpetuated a pro-Tutsi policy. The Hutu population revolted in 1959. They massacred numerous Tutsi and ultimately established an independent, Hutu-dominated state in 1962.
A 1973 military coup saw a change of leadership, but pro-Hutu policy remained. The Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front launched a civil war in 1990. Social tensions erupted in the 1994 genocide, in which Hutu extremists killed an estimated 500,000 to 1 million Tutsi and moderate Hutu.
Rwanda's economy suffered heavily in wake of the 1994 genocide, but has since strengthened. The economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture. Coffee and tea are the major cash crops for export. Tourism is a fast-growing sector and is now the country's leading foreign exchange earner. Rwanda is one of only two countries in which mountain gorillas can be visited safely, and visitors pay high prices for gorilla tracking permits. Music and dance are an integral part of Rwandan culture, particularly drums and the highly choreographed intore dance.
Timeline[edit | edit source]
1884 - The Berlin Conference assigned the territory to Germany as part of German East Africa, marking the beginning of the colonial era
1959 - 1961 The Rwandan Revolution, was a period of ethnic violence in Rwanda from between the Hutu and the Tutsi, two of the three ethnic groups in Rwanda. The revolution saw the country transition from a Belgian colony with a Tutsi monarchy to an independent Hutu-dominated republic
1962 - Rwanda was separated from Burundi and gained independence. Cycles of violence followed, with exiled Tutsi attacking from neighboring countries and the Hutu retaliating with large-scale slaughter and repression of the Tutsi
Links[edit | edit source]
- Encyclopaedia Britannica History of the Kingdom of Rwanda