Rwanda is a landlocked republic in Equatorial Africa, situated on the eastern rim of the Albertine Rift, a western arm of the Great Rift Valley, on the watershed between Africas two largest river systems the Nile and the Congo.
Much of the countries are impressively mountainous, the highest peak being Karisimbi, in the volcanic Virunga chain protected by the Volcanoes National Park. The largest body of water is Lake Kivu, but there are other numerous lakes around the country, notably Burera, Ruhondo, Muhazi and Mugesera, some of which have erratic shapes following the contours of the steep mountains that enclose them.
Primarily a subsistence agriculture economy, Rwanda nonetheless produces for export some of the finest tea and coffee in the world. Other industries include sugar, fishing and flowers for export.
A combination of tropical location and high altitude ensures that most of Rwanda has a temperate year round climate. Temperatures rarely stray above 30 degrees Celsius by day or below 15 degrees Celsius at night throughout the year. The exceptions are the chilly upper slopes of the Virunga Mountains, and the hot low lying Tanzania border area protected in Akagera National Park.
Throughout the country, seasonal variations in temperature are relatively insignificant. Most parts of the country receive in excess of 1,000mm of precipitation annually, with the driest months being July to September and the wettest February to May.
The earliest known inhabitants of Rwanda were pygmoid hunter gatherers, ancestral to the modern Twa people who today comprise only 0.25 percent of the national population. Some 2,000 years ago, agricultural and pastoralist migrants from the west settled in the area. Oral traditions recall that prior to the 15th century a ruler named Gihanga forged a centralised Rwandan state with similar roots to the Buganda and Bunyoro Empires in neighbouring Uganda. Comprised of a cattle owning nobility and agriculturist serfdom majority the precursors respectively of the modern day Tutsi and Hutu this powerful state was able to repel all early attempts at European penetration.
Lucky visitors may chance upon spontaneous traditional performances in the villages of Rwanda. The finest exponent of Rwandas varied and dynamic traditional musical and dance styles, however, is the Intore Dance Troupe.
Founded several centuries ago, the Intore literally The Chosen Ones once performed exclusively for the Royal Court, but today their exciting act can be arranged at short notice through the National Museum in Butare.
A more modern form of Rwandan music is the upbeat and harmonious devotional singing that can be heard in any church service around the country.