In 1959, three years before independence from Belgium, the majority ethnic group, the Hutus, overthrew the ruling Tutsi King (Central Intelligence Agency). Over the next several years, thousands of Tutsis were killed, some 150,000 driven into exile in neighboring countries (Central Intelligence Agency). The children of these exiles later formed a rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and began a civil war in 1990 (Central Intelligence Agency). This created tensions and resulted in a state-orchestrated genocide, in which Rwandans killed up to a million of their fellow citizens, including approximately three quarters of the Tutsi population (Central Intelligence Agency). The genocide ended later that same year when the predominantly Tutsi RPF, operating out of Uganda and northern Rwanda, defeated the national army and Hutu militias, and established an RPF-led government of national unity (Central Intelligence Agency). Approximately, 2 million Hutu refugees, many fearing Tutsi retribution, fled to neighboring countries such as Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and former Zaire (Central Intelligence Agency). However, many of the refugees returned back to Rwanda. The country held its first local elections in 1999 and its first post-genocide presidential and legislative elections in 2003 (Central Intelligence Agency). Rwanda also joined the common wealth in late 2009 and has a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2013-14 terms (Central Intelligence Agency).
At a Glance
Politics: President Paul Kagame (Since 22 April 2000)
Official Language: Kinyarwanda
Population: 12,661,733 (July 2015 est.)
National Anthem: Rwanda Nziza (Beautiful Rwanda)
Freedom of Expression: Freedom of expression is a little limited in Rwanda because the freedom of expression brought about the genocide. This has made government very skeptical of journalists. Despite legal reforms, the judiciary lacks independence in political or sensitive cases. Scores of people have been detained unlawfully in police or military custody, in unofficial detention centers, where some have been tortured or ill-treated. Dozens of people were reported forcibly disappeared in 2014. Some reappeared in prison after prolonged incommunicado detention; others remain victims of forced disappearances. The government imprisons or puts any journalist on trial for criticizing its policies for fear of genocide. (Human Rights Watch, 2011).