Rwanda, popularly known as a land of a thousand hills is a stable East African country, easily accessible from Kenya and Uganda. It is relatively easy, safe and simple to travel around. It is landlocked, surrounded by Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east Burundi to the south, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west. It has five volcanoes, twenty-three lakes and numerous rivers, some forming the source of the River Nile.
Rwanda is a Presidential unitary Republic that is based upon a multiparty system governed under the constitution that was adopted in 2003 replacing the transitional constitution that was put in place in 1994. The President of Rwanda is the Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Among his other responsibilities are powers to create policy, administer government agencies, exercise the prerogative of mercy, negotiate and ratify treaties, etc. The President is elected by popular vote every seven years, and appoints the Prime Minister and members of Cabinet. The Rwandan Parliament is composed of two chambers, namely the Senate and the lower chamber-the Chamber of Deputies serving 5 year terms. The members of the Senate are selected by a variety of bodies and they serve eight year terms. Rwanda has low corruption levels and the constitution provides for an
Ombudsman whose duties include prevention and fighting of corruption. There is an existing policy of zero tolerance for corruption and any corrupt tendencies are handled seriously. The current constitution divides Rwanda into provinces, districts, cities, municipalities, towns, sectors and cells with each subdivision and its borders established by Parliament. The five provinces act as intermediaries between the national government and their constituent districts to ensure that national policies are implemented at the district level.
The country lies 75 miles south of the Equator, 880 miles west of the Indian Ocean and 1250 miles east of the Atlantic Ocean – literally in the heart of Africa. Mountains dominate central and western Rwanda. These mountains are part of the East African Rift Valley. The highest peak, which is also Rwanda’s highest point, is Mount Karisimbi. The vegetation ranges from dense equatorial forest in the Southwest to tropical Savannah in the east.
The temperature averages 24-27°C (generally 30°C in the daytime and minimum 15° C at night, though it is often much colder in the mountains where snow and frost occur). Visit Nyungwe Forest if you would like to experience “winter” in tropical
Africa. The rainfall averages 900-1,600 mm p.a. Rainy seasons are normally from February to April and November to January, although there have been some weather pattern changes recently.
The national currency is Rwandan Franc (RWF). As at the end of June 2015, 1 US Dollar (USD) was equivalent to 720 RWF. The smallest-value note is a 500 RWF note, which is the smallest note in physical size, as well. There are also notes in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, and 5,000 RWF, with the larger notes becoming slightly larger in physical size. There are no notes over 5,000 RWF. Many places in Rwanda now accept credit cards, however it is advisable to carry some cash with you just in case, especially if you are travelling outside of Kigali longer than a few days. The smallest value coin is 1 RWF.
However the commonly used smallest value coin is 100 RWF. It is common for most businesses in Rwanda, including currency exchangers and gas stations, to round transactions to the nearest 100 RWF. There are ATMs all over Kigali, for every bank branch. Depending on your bank, this can be a much cheaper way to get francs because the ATMs use a much better exchange rate than currency exchanges