Lying at the heart of Africa, Rwanda is one her most dynamic leisure destinations, offering vibrant cities, pristine wilderness and an exceptionally hospitable people. A verdant country of fertile and hilly terrain, the small republic bears the title "Land of a Thousand Hills" (French: Pays des Mille Collines; Kinyarwanda: Igihugu cy'Imisozi Igihumbi).
A unique and largely undiscovered land, Rwanda also offers unrivalled biodiversity, beautiful mountains, some of the oldest and most precious rain forests on earth, five volcanoes, 23 lakes, numerous waterfalls, and three stunning national parks. As to wildlife, Rwanda boasts 13 species of primates (25% of the total number in Africa), and 670 species of birds, many of which are globally endangered. Sports lovers, meanwhile, can enjoy walking, trekking or mountain biking along thousands of pristine trails, mountaineering, volcano exploration, fishing, boating and a plethora of water sports, while cultural options include a pageant of traditional dance, historical sites, and displays of ethnic art and heritage.
Rwanda has a temperate climate with two rainy seasons from February to April and November to January. The temperature is mild in mountains with frost and snow possible at higher altitudes. Just under 10 million people live in Rwanda making it the most densely populated country in Africa. Life expectancy is around 49 years. Birth rate is on average 5.37 per woman. Literacy rate is just over 70%. The ethnic make up of Rwanda is Hutu (Bantu) 84%, Tutsi (Hamitic) 15%, and Twa (Pygmy) 1%. Rwanda is a poor rural country with about 90% of the population engaged in (mainly subsistence) agriculture. It is the most densely populated country in Africa and is landlocked with few natural resources and minimal industry. Primary foreign exchange earners are coffee and tea.
Rwanda's terrain consists of mostly grassy uplands and hills with a mountainous altitude declining from west to east. Its lowest point is the Rusizi River at 950 m and its highest point is Volcan Karisimbi which stands at 4,519 m. Rwanda's countryside is covered by grasslands and small farms extending over rolling hills, with areas of rugged mountains that extend southeast from a chain of volcanoes in the northwest. The divide between the Congo and Nile drainage systems extends from north to south through western Rwanda at an average elevation of almost 9,000 feet (2,743 m). On the western slopes of this ridgeline, the land slopes abruptly toward Lake Kivu and the Ruzizi River valley, and constitutes part of the Great Rift Valley. This western section of the country lies within the Albertine Rift montane forests ecoregion.The eastern slopes are more moderate, with rolling hills extending across central uplands at gradually reducing altitudes, to the plains, swamps, and lakes of the eastern border region. Therefore the country is also fondly known as "Land of a Thousand Hills" (Pays des mille collines). The national parks and reserves include Volcanoes Park, Nyungwe Forest and Akagera Park.
The vegetation of Rwanda ranges from dense equatorial forest in the northwest to tropical savannah in the east. Rwanda naturally supports a widely varied fauna, but the rapid population growth in recent decades has resulted in the extirpation of most large mammal species outside a few designated conservation areas. Rwanda is a wonderful destination for birdwatchers with 670 species having been recorded in an area which is smaller than Belgium. Prime bird watching destinations include Nyungwe and Akagera.