Rwanda : Society


Population density (per sq. km): 


Life expectancy: 
67 years
Primary enrolment: 

12,089,721 (2018); 27 per cent of people live in urban areas; growth 2.1 per cent p.a. 1990–2013; birth rate 35 per 1,000 people (53 in 1970); life expectancy 64 years (44 in 1970).

The main ethnic groups are Hutus, comprising an estimated 85 per cent of the population; Tutsis (14 per cent); and Twa (less than one per cent). Censuses carried out since the conflict of the 1990s have not included ethnicity.


Kinyarwanda, English, French and Kiswahili are the official languages.


Christians (mostly Roman Catholics) comprise about half the population and most of the rest hold traditional beliefs, often combined with Christianity. There is a small minority of Muslims, comprising about two per cent of the population, according to the 2012 census.


Public spending on health was 7.5 per cent of GDP in 2014. Some 71 per cent of the population uses an improved drinking water source and 64 per cent have access to adequate sanitation facilities (2012). Infant mortality was 37 per 1,000 live births in 2013 (122 in 1960). In 2013, 2.9 per cent of people aged 15–49 were HIV positive.

The King Faisal Hospital‎, Kigali, is the country’s principal referral centre and teaching hospital, Muhima Hospital is also located in Kigali, and there are health centres, health posts, clinics and dispensaries throughout the country.


Public spending on education was 5.1 per cent of GDP in 2013. There are nine years of compulsory education starting at the age of seven. Primary school comprises six years and secondary six, with two cycles each of three years. The school year starts in January. Some 37 per cent of pupils complete primary school (2009). In October 2008 the government decided to change the medium of education from French to English.

The National University of Rwanda was established in 1963 with faculties of medicine and social sciences, and a teacher-training college. Faculties of law, science and technology, and the National Institute of Education followed, all now located at Butare in the south. Among other important tertiary institutions are the Kigali Health Institute; the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology; the Rwanda Institute of Administration and Management; and the School of Finance and Banking. The female–male ratio for gross enrolment in tertiary education is 0.70:1 (2011). Literacy among people aged 15–24 is 77 per cent (2010).


The New Times (daily), Radio Rwanda provides public radio services in Kinyarwanda, French, English and Kiswahili, and there are several private commercial or faith radio stations. Télévision Rwandaise provides a public service in the urban areas.

Some five per cent of households have TV sets (2010). There are three personal computers per 1,000 people (2006).


Country code 250 (no area codes); internet domain ‘.rw’.

For every 1,000 people there are four landlines, 568 mobile phone subscriptions and 87 internet users (2013).

There is over 4,500km of Fibre Optic cabling laid out across Rwanda, and mobile penetration is 64 per cent.

Public holidays: 

New Year’s Day, Heroes’ Day (1 February), Good Friday, Easter Monday, Commemoration of the Genocide Against the Tutsi (7 April), Labour Day (1 May), Independence Day (1 July), Liberation Day (4 July), Harvest Day/Umuganura (Friday of the First Week of August), Assumption (15 August), End of Ramadan (EID EL FITR and EID AL-ADHA, two days), Christmas Day and Boxing Day.