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Photo by Sherrie Wenzel

Rwanda Facts

Political Climate
Officially the Republic of Rwanda, the framework of the government is a presidential republic, whereby the President of Rwanda is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.

Rwanda is a landlocked country situated in central Africa. Also known as "the land of a thousand hills", Rwanda has five volcanoes, twenty-three lakes and numerous rivers, some forming the source of the River Nile. The country lies 75 miles south of the equator in the Tropic of Capricorn. Rwanda is bordered by Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, Burundi to the south and the democratic republic of Congo to the west. The loveliness and variety of the landscapes is dominated to the north by volcanoes and bordered by Lake Kivu to the west. The Volcanoes National park in the Virunga volcanic mountains with its high altitude forests, are world famous for mountain gorillas which is teeming with wildlife both large and small, while Lake Kivu to the west offers beautiful beaches, jutting peninsulas and an archipelago of islands.

Capital ~ Kigali
Located at Rwanda's geographical heart, the rapidly growing City of Kigali is not only the national capital, but also the country's most important business centre and main port of entry.

In addition to the indigenous language of Kinyarwanda, French and English are official languages. French is spoken widely throughout the country because France is the colonizer. In the capital and other tourist centers, English is spoken at a large scale.

Banking hours are from approximately 8:00am to 12:00pm and 2:00pm to 5:00pm. On Saturdays, banks operate between 8:00am and 12:00pm.

The Rwandan franc is the currency of Rwanda. It is subdivided into 100 centimes.

Climate & Best Time to Travel
In the heart of Africa, fractionally south of the equator, Rwanda's relatively high altitude provides it with a pleasant tropical highland climate, albeit with plenty of rain. Temperatures vary considerably between locations depending on altitude, but very little from month to month in the same place. In the capital, Kigali, the average daily temperature is about 21°C.

Rwanda's long rainy season lasts from about March to May, when the rain is heavy and persistent. Then from June to mid-September is the long dry season; this is generally the best time to visit if you have the choice. October to November is a shorter rainy season and it's followed by a short dry season from December to February. During both of Rwanda's dry seasons, there is often light cloud cover. This helps to moderate the temperatures, but also occasionally brings light rain showers.

People & Population
Nothing describes Rwanda's culture better than the affectionate hospitality of its people, the thrill of its intore culture dancers and singers as well as the usual determined ethic for work and industry. The country has a population of approximately 12 million people. Over 85 % of the Rwandans live in rural areas. Rwanda is one of the few countries in Africa, with a sole common language and culture. Many people who have had a chance to visit Rwanda have been amused if not intrigued by the actuality that Rwandans are harmoniously living together after the Genocide that threatened to ruin the social fabric and destroy the centuries of long interactions among them.

Entry Requirements
All travelers must have at least six months validity remaining on their passport on the day of entry into Rwanda. A valid passport and a yellow fever certificate of immunization are required for those 9 months of age and older. Visas are not required for U.S. citizens entering Rwanda for fewer than 90 days of tourism. U.S. citizens planning on remaining in Rwanda for more than 90 days must apply for a permit within 15 days of their arrival at the immigration office in Kigali.

Malaria is present in all areas of Rwanda, so it is advisable that everyone take a precautionary Malaria medicine as prescribed by your doctor. Vaccinations recommended by the CDC include Hepatitis A (or Immune Globulin), Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Polio, Yellow Fever and Rabies. Also be sure that you are up to date on all of your routine vaccinations.

Rwanda has an excellent cell phone network covering almost the entire country which is commonly used to communicate to emergency organs of security to rescue both the Rwandans and tourists in case any problem occurs on their trips. International phone calls can easily be made. Desired SIM cards for the network are readily available everywhere, even in remote towns, and cell phones can be purchased or rented from major shops in Kigali. Most towns have several Internet cafes and computer centers where international visitors easily communicate to their home people cheaply.

Voltage: 220-240 Volts (U.S./Canada are 110-120 Volts).
Primary Socket Types: Europlug, Schuko
Multi-voltage appliances (laptops, etc.): Plug adapter.
110-120V electronics: Plug adapter + step-down transformer.

More Information (Links to Tourist Office Websites)
Tourism Board:
Official Website: http://www.gov.rw/
US Embassy: http://rwanda.usembassy.gov/
Other: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1007.html