Geography and people Rwanda sits just south of the equator on the African plateau. Although it is the second smallest country in Africa, Rwanda is the most densely populated with more than 900 people per square mile.

  • Population: 11,689,000
  • Life Expectancy: 58 years
  • Access to Safe Water: 65%
  • School Enrollment: 86%
  • Land Mass: 10,169 sq. mi.
  • Literacy Rate: 55%
  • Under Age 5 Mortality Rate: 111/1000
  • Average Annual Income (GNI): 460

Facts about Rwanda


Fallout from the genocide--along with chronic food insecurity, frequent droughts, and poverty--has prevented many children, especially girls, from enrolling in public school.


While primary school attendance has increased in the past few years, secondary school attendance remains one of the lowest in the world.

Economic Development

Rwanda ranks low on the Human Development Index--167th out of 182 countries--and more than 60 percent of people live below the poverty line.


Nearly half of Rwanda's people are children, and more than 220,000 have lost one or both parents to HIV and AIDS. Children are also vulnerable to Rwanda's food insecurity; around 45 percent of children under 5 are malnourished and suffer from stunting.

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Progress in Rwanda

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. World Vision was able to work alongside communities to accomplish the following in 2012.

  • Supported reforestation efforts with tree seedlings and trained community members in conservation methods, working to control soil erosion.

  • Provided families with pigs, cows, and vegetable seeds to increase their access to nutritious food.

  • Involved church leaders in Channels of Hope, a program that equips local organizations to respond to the AIDS crisis.

  • Formed AIDS-awareness clubs for young people to increase knowledge of the disease and its prevention and reduce stigma.

  • Partnered with community care coalitions to provide care and support for people living with HIV and AIDS.

  • Worked with communities to build spring-water systems and rainwater tanks, increasing access to clean water and reducing waterborne illness.

  • Provided scholarships and school supplies for children, enabling them to stay in school.

  • Partnered with the community to construct and renovate classrooms.

  • Coordinated vocational training for orphaned and vulnerable young people.

  • Organized peace-building programs to continue to promote reconciliation after the Rwandan genocide that occurred in 1994.

  • Trained caregivers in nutrition and taught them how to prepare healthy meals using locally available ingredients.

  • Organized community information sessions on malaria prevention, healthy hygiene practices, and the treatment of diarrhea.

  • Monitored children's health and helped sick and malnourished children access medical treatment.

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    World Vision in Rwanda Today

    World Vision is committed to partnering with the people of Rwanda to improve their lives today and to help enact sustainable solutions for the future of their children, families, and communities. World Vision’s child sponsorship program plays a vital role in this partnership, with donors from the United States sponsoring more than 23,200 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in Rwanda. Highlights include:

    • Supporting refugees by enabling them to move from grass thatched houses into more stable living conditions.
    • Working with district authorities to support the most vulnerable families affected by the Nyakatsi eradication move.
    • Partnering with the Rwandan government to give cows to the most vulnerable and poor households.
    • Providing training on HIV prevention, mitigation, and care to pupils, out of school youth, community care correlations, and home visitors.

    World Vision History in Rwanda

    World Vision assistance to Rwanda dates back to 1976; an office opened in response to the 1994 genocide.  Since then, some of World Vision’s major accomplishments have included:

    • Partnering with local churches to feed starving and malnourished people and assisting refugees from neighboring Burundi with food, medicines, tents, and blankets in the late 1980s.
    • Helping refugees fleeing from genocide and ethnic violence by providing them with health services, food, agricultural assistance, emergency relief supplies, and counseling since the 1990s.

    Geography & People

    Geography and people

    Rwanda sits just south of the equator on the African plateau. Although it is the second smallest country in Africa, Rwanda is the most densely populated with more than 900 people per square mile.

    Known as the “land of a thousand hills,” Rwanda contains grassy uplands and mountain ranges. The climate is temperate and with cooler temperatures in the mountains.

    Natural resources include gold, tin and tungsten ores, methane, hydropower, and arable land. Most Rwandans work in agriculture for a living, growing coffee, tea, bananas, sweet potatoes, sorghum, and beans, as well as raising livestock.

    The ethnic heritage of Rwanda is 84 percent Hutu, 15 percent Tutsi, and 1 percent Batwa. Although the Hutus and Tutsis are considered two separate ethnic groups and have a long past of ethnic conflict, many similarities exist. They speak the same language, have a history of intermarriage, and share much of the same culture.

    The official languages are Kinyarwanda, French, and English, with Swahili often used in commerce.


    Belgium took control of Rwanda in 1916 and ruled indirectly, leaving the Rwandan monarchy system in place. In 1959, the Hutus overthrew the Tutsi king, killing thousands of Tutsis and exiling nearly 150,000 more over the next few years. Freedom from European control came when Rwanda won independence from Belgium in 1962.

    The Rwandan Patriotic Front, a group of Tutsi exiles, started a civil war in 1990. One of the worst genocides in history happened during the war between April and July 1994. In 100 days, the Hutu-led military and a militia group killed close to 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

    When the Tutsis later defeated the Hutu military, more than 2 million Hutu refugees fled to neighboring countries in fear of retaliation. Nearly all public systems and health services in the country collapsed.

    After the genocide, Rwanda restored democratic presidential elections in 2003. In 2009, Rwanda helped the Congolese Army fight Hutu rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Prayer Requests for Rwanda

    • The protection and care of children who are vulnerable to abuse and neglect.
    • Rwandans to continue healing and building peace as they continue to recover from the tragic 1994 genocide.