World Travel Guides

Rwanda - Enviornment

Rwanda Environment

Rwanda is a relatively teensy East African country of 16,534 sq km (10,270 sq mi). It's bordered by the equally teensy Burundi to the south, the larger Uganda to the north, the getting-pretty-big Tanzania to the east, and the enormous, embattled mass of Congo (Zaïre) to the west. Rwanda is not called the 'Land of a Thousand Hills' for nothing - its mostly mountainous landscape includes the volcanic Virunga range in the northwest and is a result of its location on the western edge of the upheaval-prone Great Rift Valley. What Rwanda lacks in size and flatness it makes up for in population - there are around seven million people squeezed between its borders, making it one of the most densely populated countries in Africa.

Grassy bits predominate in Rwanda, but there are small tracts of rainforest scattered around the western and northeastern edges of the country and tropical savanna in the east. The largest half-body of water in the country is Lake Kivu, which Rwanda has split right down the middle with Congo (Zaïre). A lot of Rwanda's ground cover has been manually introduced in the form of tea plantations, which are littered along numerous terraces carved haphazardly (and, in terms of water usage, inefficiently) out of the hillsides and the lower slopes of the country's volcanoes. Much of Rwanda's terrain has fallen victim to massive deforestation and over-farming, not much of a surprise considering the large population and the fact that agriculture is Rwanda's main employer and export earner. Fauna-wise, the most prominent examples are the mountain gorillas of Parc National des Volcans and the black-and-white Colobus monkeys of Nyungwe Forest.

Average daily temperatures range from 30-34°C (86-93°F), except in the highlands where 12-15°C (53-59°F) is more the norm. A hard rain falls from mid-March to mid-May, while nature cooks on high from mid-May to mid-October. The rainforests blanketing the volcanoes in the northeast tend to see more rain than the rest of the country and snow is not uncommon on the highest peaks.

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