Capital | Kigali
Population | 11,370,425 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 26,338 SQ Km
Official Language | Kinyarwanda, French, English
Holidays | Independence Day, 1 July (1962)
Currency | Rwandan Franc (RWF)
Time Zone | UTC +2
Best Time to Visit | Anytime except mid-March to mid-May when the long rains set in.
Connecting with the Culture | Visiting the rare mountain gorillas in the dense forest of Parc National des Volcans. Soaking up the sun, sand and stunning scenery at Gisenyi, on Lake Kivu, Rwanda’s answer to the Mediterranean. Tracking down huge troops of colobus monkeys in Nyungwe, the country’s largest tropical rainforest. Exploring one of Africa’s best ethnographical and archaeological museums in Butare, Rwanda’s intellectual capital. Checking out the nightlife in Kigali.
Read | We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families by Phillip Gourevitch, a brilliant account of killings and how the international community failed Rwanda in 1994 and beyond.
Listen | to queen of Rwandan music, Cecile Kayirebwa.
Watch | Gorillas in the Mist—the story of Dian Fossey’s years with the mountain gorillas of Rwanda and her battle with the poachers and government officials.
Eat | tilapia (Nile perch), goat meat and beef brochettes.
Drink | the local beers, Primus and Mulzig, or try the local firewater, konyagi.
In a Word | Muraho (‘hello’ in Kinyarwanda)—use unsparingly
Characteristics | The horrific 1994 genocide; Dian Fossey; volcanoes; dense jungles; gorilla tracking; mountains.
Surprises | Tiny, landlocked Rwanda has 340 people per square kilometer; there are thought to be around only 700 mountain gorillas left in the world today.