Population (2019)



Official Languages


% of Women in Population


Youth Population Age 0-34 (2019)

Rwanda: An Overview

(Extracts from the Rwanda Prime Minister’s Office).

Rwanda is a landlocked country situated in central Africa. Also known as ’The Land of a Thousand Hills’, Rwanda has five volcanoes, 23 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, 880 miles ’as the crow flies’ west of the Indian Ocean and 1,250 miles east of the Atlantic Ocean – literally in the heart of Africa. 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.

Anyone visiting ’The Land of a Thousand Hills’ is in for a multitude of surprises. The loveliness and variety of the landscapes in this ’green country’ is dominated to the north by volcanoes and bordered by Lake Kivu to the west.

In Rwanda the great animals of the wild are protected from poachers and roam free in the vast national parks. The Volcanoes National Park in the Virunga volcanic mountains with its high altitude forests is world famous for mountain gorillas – timid and passive family oriented giants. The Park is teeming with wildlife both large and small, while Lake Kivu to the west offers beautiful beaches, jutting peninsulas and an archipelago of islands.

Kigali Street (Credit: Laurent de Walick,, CC license)

A brief History of Rwanda

For centuries, Rwanda existed as a centralized monarchy under a succession of Tutsi kings from one clan, who ruled through cattle chiefs, land chiefs and military chiefs. The king was supreme but the rest of the population, Bahutu, Batutsi and Batwa, lived in symbiotic harmony. In 1899, Rwanda became a German colony and, in 1919, the system of indirect rule continued with Rwanda as a mandate territory of the League of Nations, under Belgium.

From 1959, Batutsi were targeted, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths and sending almost two million of them into exile. The First Republic, under President Gregoire Kayibanda, and the second, under President Juvenal Habyarimana, institutionalized discrimination against Batutsi and subjected them to period massacres.

The Rwandese Alliance for National Unity (RANU) was formed in 1979 by Rwandan refugees in exile, to mobilize against divisive politics and genocide ideology, repeated massacres, statelessness and the lack of peaceful political exchange. In 1987, RANU became the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF). On 1 October 1990, the RPF launched an armed liberation struggle that ultimately ousted the dictatorship in 1994 and ended the genocide which cost more than one million lives – Batutsi and moderate Bahutu who opposed the genocidal regime.

After Kigali fell to RPA (RPF’s armed wing) on 4 July 1994, RPF formed a Government of National Unity headed by President Pasteur Bizimungu, bringing parties that did not participate in the genocide together. In 2000, Parliament voted out President Pasteur Bizimungu and RPF appointed then Vice-President and Minister of Defence, Major General Paul Kagame as the President of the Republic to lead the coalition government. In 2003 President Paul Kagame was elected with landslide majority to serve a term of seven years. During those seven years, the country made unprecedented socio-economic and political progress and consolidated peace, stability as well as social cohesion among Rwandans.

In 2010 and 2017, President Paul Kagame was re-elected to serve the second and third term respectively, on a platform of rapid development for the transformation of the lives of all Rwandans.

You can learn more about what genocide means and Rwanda’s Justice & Reconciliation processes here.

Our work in Rwanda

I started realizing the impact of MAP. I spent the whole of high school lower level being closed to myself. Whenever I faced a problem, I used to keep it for myself instead of being open and share it to others seeking support. After engaging with MAP, I became open to other people. Now when I meet a problem, I seek advice from peers

Reuben, MAP Rwanda Participant

MAP Rwanda is a practice-as-research project supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of a larger project entitled Changing the Story: Building Inclusive Societies with and for Young People in Post-Conflict CountriesThe aim of MAP is to work with young people, educators, cultural artists and civil society organisations to inform the National Curriculum Framework in Music, Dance and Drama in Rwanda.

Championed by Dr. Eric Ndushabandi from the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) and Prof. Dr. Ananda Breed from the University of Lincoln, MAP is working alongside partners to design and deliver project activities.

In 2018, MAP was launched in the Eastern Province of Rwanda. Initial activities included a curriculum workshop with cultural artists to inform the methodology, a training of trainers with educators to adapt the methodology to local and regional contexts, and a youth camp to train young people as facilitators working alongside the adult educators to develop drama clubs and to integrate the methodology into schools.

In Rwamagana, MAP worked with five schools, ten cultural organisations, twenty-five educators, and ten young people to design and deliver the MAP methodology. Following the training events, youth and adult trainers extended the training to an additional 62 educators and 526 young people by the December 2018.

Thanks to Laure Iyaga, MAP is a peace building initiative in Rwanda that integrates mental health awareness and support for its participants. In addition to offering workshops and counselling during MAP activities, Sana offers ongoing support to MAP youth and adult trainers.

Teachers, cultural artists and young participatns gather for a photo at the youth camp, December 2018. Photo Deus Kwizera

On 24 January 2019, the Institute for Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) launched their role as co-investigator of Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) at a stakeholder meeting in Kigali, Rwanda attended by the Rwanda Education Board (REB), Ministry of Education, Ministry of Sports and Culture, Ministry of Youth, Ministry of ICT and Innovation and numerous distinguished guests. Dr. Sylvestre Nzahabwanayo from the College of Education, University of Rwanda has also gathered research findings based on interviews and focus groups with MAP youth and adult trainers, cultural artists, and stakeholders (read more about this here)

Thanks to AHRC follow on impact funding, in 2019 MAP youth and adult trainers from Rwamagana district will train adult educators and young people in Gicumbi, Rubavu, Nyamasheke, Huye and Kicukiro using the same structure as the pilot phase, as well as inviting MAP adult and youth trainers to apply for small grants to continue expanding the programme, and a Mobile Filmmaking Workshop for adult and youth trainers with Eric Kabera from Kwetu Film Institute.

Young people participate in MAP activities at a Rwamagana Schoool, September 2018. Photo Kurtis Dennison

MAP is playing an increasingly important role in the shaping of the National Curriculum in Rwanda, thanks to their partnership with the Rwanda Education Board (REB). The partnership with REB has the potential to shape the national arts curriculum of Rwanda through curriculum and textbook development and MAP alignment with already existing REB trainings. The invitation to partner MAP trainings with REB trainings will assist in areas where funding is not available, while also delivering impact and sustainability.

[1] Independent Project Assessment Report “Youth Theater for Peace,” conducted in 2011 in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.


Since its initial position as one of Changing the Story’s Phase 1 projects, MAP has received numerous additional funding to extend the work of the project both in Rwanda and across the world. You can find out more about the story of MAP on our About Us page.


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Our Network in Rwanda