Republic since 1962. Gained independence from Belgium in 1962.
Head of state:
President Paul Kagame since 2000.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi since 2011.
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Known as the land of 1,000 hills, this country couldn't be further from the cliched African image of arid deserts and dry bush. Winding roads hug verdant slopes, every inch carved into fields with crops ranging from banana trees to maize. In the valleys are great sweeping tea plantations, rice fields and coffee groves.
Rwanda has made a remarkable recovery from the 1994 genocide which saw more than 800,000 people killed at the hands of Hutu extremists and much of its infrastructure collapse. The country is now leading the way in using tourism for sustainable development and conservation. The bamboo and mid-altitude forests of the Volcanoes National Park in the north are home to the rare mountain gorilla and the high-altitude Nyungwe Forest in the south, one of the largest remaining rainforests in Africa, is home to 13 primates, including chimpanzees and colobus monkeys, rare orchids and nearly 300 different species of bird.
A landlocked country, Rwanda makes up for this with the stunning Lake Kivu, with beaches at Gisenyi and inlets and coves at Kibuye. Out in a kayak, you can paddle around forested islands and nod hello to the fishermen in dug-out canoes.
In March 2010, two grenades were thrown in separate attacks in the Kimironko and Kinamba areas of Kigali - 16 people were wounded. In February 2010, there were three grenades thrown in separate incidents in Kigali. There have been grenade attacks previously in Kigali and other provincial towns. It is not clear what the motivation for the attacks may have been. Travellers are advised to remain vigilant.
Travellers are advised against all travel to the rural border areas with Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), except to the towns of Gisenyi, Kibuye and Cyangugu, and against all travel to Eastern DRC except for Goma and Bukavu, and against all but essential travel to Goma and Bukavu. This is because of the risk of cross-border incursions by armed guerrillas operating from DRC's Kivu provinces and ongoing instability in Eastern Congo.
Travellers are also advised against all but essential travel to the rural border areas of Burundi. The security situation in Burundi has improved but banditry remains a problem.
Rwanda is generally safe but there have been recent incidents of street crime. You should exercise caution at night.
There is a low threat from terrorism. But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organisations for the latest travel advice: