Facts to assist you while travelling to Rwanda.
- 14 million.
- English, French, Kinyarwanda, Swahili.
- Rwandan Franc.
- 07:00 – 16: 00.
- Saturday – Sunday.
- UTC +2.
- If a service charge is not included in the bill a tip of 10% is acceptable.
- Most countries are represented by embassies or consulates located in the capital city.
- Paul Kagame is the president of Rwanda. He has been in office since 2000.
- Although Rwanda is located only two degrees south of the equator, the country’s high elevation makes the climate temperate. The average daily temperature near Lake Kivu, at an altitude of 4,800 feet (1,463 m) is 73 °F (22.8 °C). During the two rainy seasons- one of which lasts from February to May and the other from September to December- heavy downpours occur almost daily, alternating with sunny weather. Annual rainfall averages 800 mm (31.5 in) and is generally heavier in the western and northwestern mountains than in the eastern savannas.
- The main airport in Rwanda is the Kigali International Airport, located in the country’s capital. The transport system in Rwanda centres primarily around the road network. Paved roads lie between the capital, Kigali, and most other major cities and towns in the country. Rwanda is also linked by road with other countries in the African Great Lakes, via which the majority of the country’s imports and exports are made. There are currently no railways in Rwanda. There are occasional boat services on Lake Kivu, between the major ports of Cyangugu, Kibuye and Gisenyi but these do not run to a regular timetable and often have to be chartered.
- Rwanda’s economy is primarily based on subsistence agriculture. Cash crops such as coffee and tea make up a large portion of the country’s exports. Rwanda’s tourism sector is growing rapidly and has become the country’s leading foreign exchange earner. Its main industries contributing to its GDP include cement, agricultural products, small-scale beverages, soap, furniture, shoes, plastic goods, textiles, and cigarettes.
- The local community in Rwanda play a big role in maintaining social order. When crimes are committed or disputes occur, a council of elders will convene to reach a fair settlement in a process known as ‘’agacaca.’’ Rwandan culture places significant emphasis on practices of etiquette that demonstrate respect and emphasize social rank – in the family as well as in the community and broader society. Within the family, chairs are traditionally reserved for men, while other family members sit on mats on the floor. Men eat first, while women and children eating after. Visitors are given the best chairs and the first choice of food and drink.
- Visitors have observed that there is no standard handshake or greeting in Rwanda. Rather, every greeting means something different according to the parties meeting. Some of the most common greetings for different occasions include:
- The hobera, which is mostly reserved for family or long-lost friends. It is a full embrace with back-slapping.
- The head rub, which is considered a greeting reserved for people whom you respect or are on a similar level to you.
- The elbow embrace, which is the safest one to administer without causing offence. Both parties lean in to embrace their elbows in each hand, tilt their heads and inquire about the wellbeing of their family.
- The Rwandan franc (RWF) is the official currency of Rwanda. It is subdivided into 100 centimes. The franc has been the currency of Rwanda since 1916, before which Rwanda used the currency of the Belgian Congo until 1960, when the Rwanda and Burundi franc was introduced. Rwanda began issuing its own francs two years after gaining independence, in 1962.
- Rwanda’s transport system centres primarily around the road network. The majority of paved roads are in the capital, Kigali, and other major cities and towns in the country. The most convenient way to travel in the country is by car. Smaller roads are frequently unpaved and of various qualities as the rainy season sometimes affects the state of the roads. Taxis operate in the cities and larger towns. The most popular form of public transport is shared minibuses. In the capital, Kigali, buses operate a smart card system called Tap&Go.
- Rwanda is one of the safest destinations to travel to and settle in, in Africa. Crime in Rwanda is relatively low, but visitors may sometimes experience petty crime. Pickpockets are most active in crowded places, such as markets. However violent crimes against travelers are rare. Locals are welcoming, friendly and hospitable. Women travellers are advised to dress modestly out of respect for the local culture. While homosexuality isn’t illegal in Rwanda, it is not widely accepted either, and still considered a taboo. The country is quite conservative, and there are reports that local LGBTQ+ people experience prejudice and discrimination. Although there are certainly other African countries that are considered more homophobic, it is best for LGBTQ+ travelers remain discreet at all times.
- The Rwandan society is based on gender roles and hierarchical. Older people are shown the utmost respect, and work is generally divided between men and women accordingly. Men also do heavy jobs around the house, such as construction, while women are responsible for maintaining the household, raising children, and preparing food. Artistic expressions have always taken precedence in Rwandan culture, especially through music and dance. With the changing of times and the development of the country, instrumental and vocal music are no longer as common as they once were, with recorded music and public performances in clubs becoming more common. The tradition of dance in Rwanda is also quite rich and significant to the culture. There are different types of dances that are important to different ethnic groups, and performed at different events, festivals, or times of the year.
- Rwanda has a number of modern shopping centres and malls that resembles those found in western countries. Shopping in this country should be hassle free, especially in the capital city and other urban areas. There are also a multitude of online stores for the convenience of all shoppers.
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Written by Saudika Hendricks
Edited by Eloise Williams