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11 Things You Didn't Know About Rwanda

Updated: Mar 8, 2023




If you googled western media outlets to find a list of the cleanest countries or cities in the world, you probably won't find any African country on the list. But did you know that one of the cleanest countries in the world is in Africa? Rwanda!


The Republic of Rwanda is a landlocked country in the Great Rift Valley of Central Africa, where the African Great Lakes region and Southeast Africa converge. Known as the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda’s stunning scenery and warm, friendly people offer unique experiences in one of the most remarkable countries in the world. It is blessed with extraordinary biodiversity, with incredible wildlife living throughout its volcanoes, montane rainforest, and sweeping plains.


See below 11 interesting facts about Rwanda.


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1) Rwanda is called the Heart of Africa

Rwanda is often called the “heart of Africa”, because of its central location on the African continent. It is also known as the “land of a thousand hills”, in reference to its hilly landscape. It is a beautiful and fascinating country with a rich history and culture.



2) Rwanda is one of the cleanest nations on Earth.

Not only has the country employed a decade-long ban on plastic bags and packaging material, but locals take part in a monthly community clean-up called Umuganda. Translating to “coming together in common purpose,” Umuganda was introduced to Rwandan life in 1998 and involves everything from rehabilitating forests and wetlands to building schools and hospitals. While Umuganda is mandatory for Rwandan locals aged 18-35, visitors and ex-pats are encouraged to roll up their sleeves and pitch in on the last Saturday of every month.


3) Community is very important in Rwanda.

Rwandans typically live in close-knit communities, and they work together to support each other. This sense of community is one thing that makes Rwanda such a special place.



4) Plastic bags are banned

The government of Rwanda banned non-biodegradable plastic bags in the country in 2008. This means that the heartbreaking pollution one sees across the continent is non-existent in Rwanda. The streets and roads are clean and devoid of any plastic.


5) Rwanda is a Global Leader In Caring For the Environment

Umuganda isn’t the only way that Rwandans care for their country. According to the World Economic Forum, Rwanda has been a leader in environmental initiatives for over a decade and has a history of putting the environment and climate change at the heart of its policies. It's still a leader today. Rwanda has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and the Rwandan government is committed to making sure that the local environment isn’t sacrificed in exchange for this economic boom.



6) Rwanda has the highest women in parliament in the world

Since 2003, Rwanda has consistently had the highest proportional female representation of parliamentarians in the world. As of 2019, 61% of its lower house is female. Additionally, four of Rwanda’s seven supreme court justices are women.


7) Kigali hosts monthly Car Free Days.

In their efforts to promote activity and sustainable methods of transportation, Rwanda hosts monthly Car Free Days in its green capital city of Kigali. On every first and third Sunday of the month, busy streets are shut down to make way for bikers, runners, and skaters of all ages. While striving for the reduction of gas emissions, Car Free Days are highly anticipated among Kigali residents as it offers a safe way to socialize and get active outdoors.


8) Rwanda is a birdwatcher’s paradise.

Of the 23 bird species in the world, Rwanda is home to seven of them (including many rare species). The Nyungwe Forest, in particular, is famous for its diverse beauty and number of birds. The Gold Crested Crane (below) is the national bird. People can see it at Akagera National Park. Akagera is also home to the elusive Shoebill.


9) Rwanda is one of the easiest countries to do business in.

It ranks second in Africa after Mauritius according to The World Bank. It is efficient, well-organized, and has a similar corruption perception Score to Spain, and lower than Italy.



10) It is home to endangered mountain gorillas

The Virungas Massif, of which Volcanoes National Park is part of, has the highest population of mountain gorillas standing at 604 in 2016 after the latest census was released in 2018. This is 60% of the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas in the wild. Of those, 12 families with around 150 gorillas are habituated to humans in Rwanda, that is, they can be visited by 96 tourists every day.


11) One of the most horrific genocides in history happened there

Rwanda’s population is made up mostly of Hutus and Tutsis. Although Rwandans are working really hard now to leave their differences behind, these two ethnic groups have often been in conflict historically. The culmination of this conflict was in 1994, when for a period of only about 100 days, almost one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by the Hutus. It is the fastest and one of the most brutal genocides in history – with weapons such as machetes and clubs used by both military and ordinary people.


Change the way your kids learn about Africa! Get our box of crafts inspired by Africa delivered to your doorstep each month. It's the most fun way for kids to learn about Africa. Click here to learn more.


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