Rwanda is the most densely populated country in the African continent. It is also one of the continent’s least urbanized countries, where over 80 percent of residents live in rural areas. Ethnically, the population consists of a large majority of Hutus, a smaller proportion of Tutsis and a small waste of the pygmy people.
Tough competition for agricultural land probably contributed to the scale of the 1994 genocide, when between 500,000 and 800,000 Rwandans, mostly Tutsis, were killed according to the UN (see Modern History). At the same time, large streams of refugees went to Tanzania and Congo-Kinshasa, among others. Despite these drastic changes in the composition of the population, a strong influx of Tutsis from, among others, Uganda since the mid-1990s has meant that the proportions between the ethnic groups are probably about the same as before the genocide.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of Rwanda, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.
Because of the bitter experiences of the genocide, it is illegal to place individual individuals in any special population. The 2002 census was the first in which group membership was not registered. At the same time, the government has a tendency to regard all Hutus as accomplices to the genocide and sees all political statements in support of Hutu’s rights as an expression of “genocide ideology”.
Two are considered indigenous people, while shared opinions prevail over the background of Hutu and Tutsi. After the genocide, it has become almost taboo to even mention that there would be different ethnic groups with different historical origins. In general, however, the Hutus are considered to be descended from the Bantu people who came to Rwanda and Burundi in the 7th and 8th centuries, while the Tutsis are believed to have originated in Hamitic peoples who for a long time immigrated from the areas around Ethiopia from the 14th century onwards.
The Tutsis have traditionally been livestock keepers while the Hutus have been farmers. The nomadic life of the Tutsis forced them to develop a system to conquer and control large pastures. They subdued the resident hutu and made them financially dependent by renting out livestock. Out of dependence a feudal society arose, where the Tutsis ruled and the Hutus served.
Over the centuries, the two ethnic groups have partially merged through mixed marriage and the possibility of group change. A Hutu who has been rewarded with livelihood through skill and loyalty has traditionally been able to “elevate” to Tutsis, while a Tutsi who has lost his animals has been “downgraded” to Hutus. Therefore, the two ethnic groups have recently come to be regarded as different classes of society by the same people, where Tutsis generally had a higher social status than the Hutu people. Both groups speak the same language and practice the same religions and culture.
In Rwanda, there are about 150,000 refugees from the troubled countries of Congo-Kinshasa and Burundi. There are slightly more Congolese refugees in the country than Burundian (see Foreign Policy and Defense).
Official languages are the bantu language kinyarwanda as well as French and English. In trade contacts with East Africa, Swahili is often spoken.
FACTS – POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
about 85 percent Hutus, about 15 percent Tutsier, 1 percent two (pygmies) 1
Number of residents
12 208 407 (2017)
Number of residents per square kilometer
Percentage of residents in the cities
17.1 percent (2017)
Nativity / birth
31.1 per 1000 residents (2016)
Mortality / mortality
6.0 per 1000 residents (2016)
2.4 percent (2017)
3.9 number of births per woman (2016)
Percentage of women
51.0 percent (2017)
67 years (2016)
Life expectancy for women
69 years (2016)
Life expectancy for men
65 years (2016)
Kinyarwanda, French and English are official languages; Swahili common in trade
- registration of ethnic affiliation is now prohibited
Diplomatic relations with France resume
Following conciliatory French statements and concessions that France made the mistake of the 1994 genocide, Rwanda resumes diplomatic relations with the Paris government.
Entry into the Commonwealth
Rwanda, who lacks the past as a British colony, becomes a member of the Commonwealth. The connection is considered a boon to France.
Extradition of wanted Rwandans is halted
Sweden decides to hand over a wanted Rwandan to the home country. No other EU country has previously dared to place such great faith in the Rwandan judiciary and the European Court of Justice is suspending the extradition.
Former Minister of Justice is sentenced
Former Justice Minister Agnès Ntamabyariro is sentenced by a Rwandan court to life imprisonment for participation in the genocide. She is the highest-ranking person to date whose case has been handled by the domestic judiciary.
The army intervenes in Congo-Kinshasa
Rwandan army enters Congo-Kinshasa to fight Rwandan hutumilis. The intervention is done in consultation with the Congolese government.