Rwanda, officially the Republic of Rwanda (Kinyarwanda: Repubulika y'u Rwanda; French: République du Rwanda), is a sovereign state in central and east Africa. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. All of Rwanda is at high elevationDell Latitude E5420 Battery, with a geography dominated by mountains in the west, savanna in the east, and numerous lakes throughout the country. The climate is temperate to subtropical, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons every year.
The population is young and predominantly rural, with a density among the highest in Africa. Rwandans form three groups: the Hutu, Tutsi, and TwaDell Latitude E5520 Battery. The Twa are a forest-dwelling pygmy people who descend from Rwanda's earliest inhabitants, but scholars disagree on the origins of and differences between the Hutu and Tutsi; some believe that they are derived from former social castes, while others view them as being races or tribes. Christianity is the largest religion in the country, and the principal language is KinyarwandaDell Latitude E6120 Battery, which is spoken by most Rwandans. Rwanda has a presidential system of government. The president is Paul Kagame of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), who took office in 2000. Rwanda has low corruption compared with neighbouring countries, but human rights organisations allege suppression of opposition groups, intimidation, and restrictions on freedom of speechDell Latitude E6220 Battery. The country has been governed by a strict administrative hierarchy since precolonial times; there are five provinces, which are delineated by borders drawn in 2006.
Hunter gatherers settled the territory in the stone and iron ages, followed later by Bantu settlers. The population coalesced, first into clans and then into kingdoms. The Kingdom of Rwanda dominated from the mid-eighteenth centuryDell Latitude E6320 Battery, with the Tutsi kings conquering others militarily, centralising power, and later enacting anti-Hutu policies. Germany colonised Rwanda in 1884, followed by Belgium, which invaded in 1916 during World War I. Both European nations ruled through the kings and perpetuated pro-Tutsi policy. The Hutu population revolted in 1959, massacring a large number of Tutsi and ultimately establishing an independent Hutu-dominated state in 1962Dell Latitude E6420 Battery. The Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front launched a civil war in 1990, which was followed by the 1994 genocide, in which Hutu extremists killed an estimated 500,000 to 1 million Tutsi and moderate Hutu. The RPF ended the genocide with a military victory.
Rwanda's economy suffered heavily during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, but has since strengthened. The economy is based mostly on subsistence agricultureDell Latitude E6520 Battery. Coffee and tea are the major cash crops for export. Tourism is a fast-growing sector and is now the country's leading foreign exchange earner; Rwanda is one of only two countries in which mountain gorillas can be visited safely, and visitors are prepared to pay high prices for gorilla tracking permits. Music and dance are an integral part of Rwandan culture, particularly drums and the highly choreographed intore danceDell Latitude D420 Battery. Traditional arts and crafts are produced throughout the country, including imigongo, a unique cow dung art.
Main article: History of Rwanda
Humans moved into what is now Rwanda following the last glacial period, either in the Neolithic period around 8000 BC, or in the long humid period which followed, up to around 3000 BC. Archaeological excavations have revealed evidence of sparse settlement by hunter gatherers in the late stone ageDell Latitude D430 Battery, followed by a larger population of early Iron Age settlers, who produced dimpled pottery and iron tools. These early inhabitants were the ancestors of the Twa, a group of aboriginal pygmy hunter-gatherers who remain in Rwanda today. Between 700 BC and 1500 AD, a number of Bantu groups migrated into Rwanda, and began to clear forest land for agriculture.Dell Studio 1450 Battery The forest-dwelling Twa lost much of their habitat and moved to the slopes of mountains. Historians have several theories regarding the nature of the Bantu migrations; one theory is that the first settlers were Hutu, while the Tutsi migrated later and formed a distinct racial group, possibly of Cushitic origin. An alternative theory is that the migration was slow and steady, with incoming groups integrating into rather than conquering the existing societyDell Studio 1457 Battery. Under this theory, the Hutu and Tutsi distinction arose later and was a class distinction rather than a racial one.
A reconstruction of the King of Rwanda's palace at Nyanza
The flag of Rwanda between 1962 and 2001.
The earliest form of social organisation in the area was the clan (ubwoko). Clans existed across the Great Lakes region, with around twenty in the area that is now Rwanda. The clans were not limited to genealogical lineages or geographical area, and most included Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa. From the 15th century, the clans began to coalesce into kingdoms; Dell Studio 1458 Battery by 1700 around eight kingdoms existed in present-day Rwanda. One of these, the Kingdom of Rwanda, ruled by the Tutsi Nyiginya clan, became increasingly dominant from the mid-eighteenth century. The kingdom reached its greatest extent during the nineteenth century under the reign of King Kigeli Rwabugiri. Rwabugiri conquered several smaller states, expanded the kingdom west and north, Dell Latitude D410 Battery and initiated administrative reforms; these included ubuhake, in which Tutsi patrons ceded cattle, and therefore privileged status, to Hutu or Tutsi clients in exchange for economic and personal service, and uburetwa, a corvée system in which Hutu were forced to work for Tutsi chiefs. Rwabugiri's changes caused a rift to grow between the Hutu and Tutsi populations. Dell Inspiron 9100 Battery The Twa were better off than in pre-Kingdom days, with some becoming dancers in the royal court, but their numbers continued to decline.
The Berlin Conference of 1884 assigned the territory to Germany as part of German East Africa, marking the beginning of the colonial era. The explorer Gustav Adolf von Götzen was the first European to significantly explore the country in 1894; he crossed from the south-east to Lake Kivu and met the king. Dell Inspiron 1320 BatteryThe Germans did not significantly alter the social structure of the country, but exerted influence by supporting the king and the existing hierarchy and delegating power to local chiefs. Belgian forces took control of Rwanda and Burundi during World War I, beginning a period of more direct colonial rule. Belgium simplified and centralised the power structure, and introduced large-scale projects in education, health, public works, and agricultural supervisiondell inspiron 500M battery, including new crops and improved agricultural techniques to try to reduce the incidence of famine. Both the Germans and the Belgians promoted Tutsi supremacy, considering the Hutu and Tutsi different races. In 1935, Belgium introduced identity cards labelling each individual as either Tutsi, Hutu, Twa or Naturalised. While it had previously been possible for particularly wealthy Hutu to become honorary Tutsidell inspiron 600M battery, the identity cards prevented any further movement between the classes.
Belgium continued to rule Rwanda as a UN Trust Territory after World War II, with a mandate to oversee independence. Tension escalated between the Tutsi, who favoured early independence, and the Hutu emancipation movement, culminating in the 1959 Rwandan Revolution: Hutu activists began killing Tutsi, forcing more than 100,000 to seek refuge in neighbouring countriesdell inspiron 630M battery. In 1962, the now pro-Hutu Belgians held a referendum and elections in which the country voted to abolish the monarchy. Rwanda was separated from Burundi and gained independence in 1962. Cycles of violence followed, with exiled Tutsi attacking from neighbouring countries and the Hutu retaliating with large-scale slaughter and repression of the Tutsi. In 1973, Juvénal Habyarimana took power in a a military coup. Pro-Hutu discrimination continueddell inspiron 640M battery, but there was greater economic prosperity and a reduced amount of violence against Tutsi. The Twa remained marginalised, and by 1990 were almost entirely forced out of the forests by the government; many became beggars. Rwanda's population had increased from 1.6 million people in 1934 to 7.1 million in 1989, leading to competition for land. dell inspiron 6000 battery
In 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a rebel group composed mostly of Tutsi refugees, invaded northern Rwanda, initiating the Rwandan Civil War. Neither side was able to gain a decisive advantage in the war, but by 1992 it had weakened Habyarimana's authority; mass demonstrations forced him into a coalition with the domestic opposition and eventually to sign the 1993 Arusha Accords with the RPF. dell inspiron 6400 battery The cease-fire ended on 6 April 1994 when Habyarimana's plane was shot down near Kigali Airport, killing the President. The shooting down of the plane served as the catalyst for the Rwandan Genocide, which began within a few hours. Over the course of approximately 100 days, between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu were killed in well-planned attacks on the orders of the interim government. dell inspiron 9200 battery Many Twa were also killed, despite not being directly targeted. The Tutsi RPF restarted their offensive, and took control of the country methodically, gaining control of the whole country by mid-July. The international response to the Genocide was limited, with major powers reluctant to strengthen the already overstretched UN peacekeeping force. dell inspiron 9300 battery When the RPF took over, approximately two million Hutu fled to neighbouring countries, in particular Zaire, fearing reprisals; additionally, the RPF-led army was a key belligerent in the First and Second Congo Wars. Within Rwanda, a period of reconciliation and justice began, with the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the reintroduction of Gacaca, a traditional village court systemdell inspiron 9400 battery. During the 2000s Rwanda's economy, tourist numbers and Human Development Index grew rapidly; between 2006 and 2011 the poverty rate reduced from 57 to 45 per cent, and child mortality rates dropped from 180 per 1000 live births in 2000 to 111 per 1000 in 2009.
Politics and government
Main articles: Politics of Rwanda, Foreign relations of Rwanda, and Military of Rwanda
Rwandan President Paul Kagamedell inspiron e1505 battery
The President of Rwanda is the head of state, and has broad powers including creating policy in conjunction with the Cabinet, exercising the prerogative of mercy, commanding the armed forces, negotiating and ratifying treaties, signing presidential orders, and declaring war or a state of emergency. The President is elected by popular vote every seven years, and appoints the Prime Minister and all other members of Cabinet. dell inspiron e1705 battery The incumbent President is Paul Kagame, who took office upon the resignation of his predecessor, Pasteur Bizimungu, in 2000. Kagame subsequently won elections in 2003 and 2010, although human rights organisations have criticised these elections as being "marked by increasing political repression and a crackdown on free speech".dell latitude d820 battery
The current constitution was adopted following a national referendum in 2003, replacing the transitional constitution which had been in place since 1994. The constitution mandates a multi-party system of government, with politics based on democracy and elections. However, the constitution places conditions on how political parties may operatedell latitude d830 battery. Article 54 states that "political organizations are prohibited from basing themselves on race, ethnic group, tribe, clan, region, sex, religion or any other division which may give rise to discrimination". The government has also enacted laws criminalising genocide ideology, which can include intimidation, defamatory speeches, genocide denial and mocking of victims. Dell Latitude E5500 Battery According to Human Rights Watch, these laws effectively make Rwanda a one-party state, as "under the guise of preventing another genocide, the government displays a marked intolerance of the most basic forms of dissent". Amnesty International is also critical, saying that genocide ideology laws have been used to "silence dissent, including criticisms of the ruling RPF party and demands for justice for RPF war crimes".Dell Latitude E5400 Battery
The Parliament consists of two chambers. It makes legislation and is empowered by the constitution to oversee the activities of the President and the Cabinet. The lower chamber is the Chamber of Deputies, which has 80 members serving five-year terms. Twenty-four of these seats are reserved for women, elected through a joint assembly of local government officials; another three seats are reserved for youth and disabled membersDELL Latitude E5410 Battery; the remaining 53 are elected by universal suffrage under a proportional representation system. Following the 2008 election, there are 45 female deputies, making Rwanda the only country with a female majority in the national parliament. The upper chamber is the 26-seat Senate, whose members are selected by a variety of bodies. A mandatory minimum of 30 per cent of the senators are women. Senators serve eight-year terms. DELL Latitude E5510 Battery
The Chamber of Deputies building
Rwanda's legal system is largely based on German and Belgian civil law systems and customary law. The judiciary is independent of the executive branch, although the President and the Senate are involved in the appointment of Supreme Court judges. Human Rights Watch have praised the Rwandan government for progress made in the delivery of justice including the abolition of the death penalty, dell latitude e6400 battery but also allege interference in the judicial system by members of the government, such as the politically motivated appointment of judges, misuse of prosecutorial power, and pressure on judges to make particular decisions. The constitution provides for two types of courts: ordinary and specialised. Ordinary courts are the Supreme Court, the High Court, and regional courtsdell latitude e6500 battery, while specialised courts are military courts and the traditional Gacaca courts, which have been revived to expedite the trials of genocide suspects.
Rwanda has low corruption levels relative to most other African countries; in 2010, Transparency International ranked Rwanda as the 8th cleanest out of 47 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and 66th cleanest out of 178 in the world. The constitution provides for an Ombudsman, whose duties include prevention and fighting of corruption. Public officials (including the President) DELL Latitude E6510 Battery are required by the constitution to declare their wealth to the Ombudsman and to the public; those who do not comply are suspended from office.
The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) has been the dominant political party in the country since 1994. The RPF has maintained control of the presidency and the Parliament in national elections, with the party's vote share consistently exceeding 70 per centDELL Precision M2400 Battery. The RPF is seen as a Tutsi-dominated party but receives support from across the country, and is credited with ensuring continued peace, stability, and economic growth. Human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and Freedom House, claim that the government suppresses the freedoms of opposition groups by restricting candidacies in elections to government-friendly partiesDELL Precision M4400 Battery, suppressing demonstrations, and arresting opposition leaders and journalists.
Rwanda is a member of the United Nations, African Union, Francophonie, East African Community, and the Commonwealth of Nations. For many years during the Habyarimana regime, the country maintained close ties with France, as well as Belgium, the former colonial power. Under the RPF governmentDELL Precision M4500 Battery, however, Rwanda has sought closer ties with neighbouring countries in East Africa and with the English-speaking world. Diplomatic relations with France were suspended between 2006 and 2010 following the indictment of Rwandan officials by a French judge. Relations with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) were tense following Rwanda's involvement in the First and Second Congo Wars; DELL Precision M6400 Battery the Congolese army alleged Rwandan attacks on their troops, while Rwanda blamed the Congolese government for failing to suppress Hutu rebels in North and South Kivu provinces. Rwanda's relationship with Uganda was also tense for much of the 2000s following a 1999 clash between the two countries' armies as they backed opposing rebel groups in the Second Congo War. As of 2012, relations with both Uganda and the DRC are improved.
Administrative divisionsDELL Precision M6500 Battery
Main articles: Provinces of Rwanda and Districts of Rwanda
Provinces of Rwanda
Rwanda has been governed by a strict hierarchy since precolonial times. Before colonisation, the King (Mwami) exercised control through a system of provinces, districts, hills, and neighbourhoods. The current constitution divides Rwanda into provinces (intara), districts (uturere), cities, municipalities, towns, sectors (imirenge), cells (utugari), and villages (imidugudu); the larger divisions, and their borders, are established by Parliament. dell xps m1210 battery
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 "Rwanda Decentralisation Strategic Framework" developed by the Ministry of Local Government assigns to provinces the responsibility for "coordinating governance issues in the Provincedell xps m1330 battery, as well as monitoring and evaluation." Each province is headed by a governor, appointed by the President and approved by the Senate. The districts are responsible for coordinating public service delivery and economic development. They are divided into sectors, which are responsible for the delivery of public services as mandated by the districts. dell xps m1530 battery Districts and sectors have directly elected councils, and are run by an executive committee selected by that council. The cells and villages are the smallest political units, providing a link between the people and the sectors. All adult resident citizens are members of their local cell council, from which an executive committee is elected. The city of Kigali is a provincial-level authority, which coordinates urban planning within the citydell xps m1710 battery.
The present borders were drawn in 2006 with the aim of decentralising power and removing associations with the old system and the genocide. The previous structure of twelve provinces centred around the largest cities was replaced with five provinces based primarily on geography. These are Northern Province, Southern Province, Eastern Province, Western Province, and the Municipality of Kigali in the centredell xps m1730 battery.
Main articles: Geography of Rwanda and Climate of Rwanda
The Kagera and Ruvubu rivers, part of the upper Nile
At 26,338 square kilometres (10,169 sq mi), Rwanda is the world's 149th-largest country. It is comparable in size to Haiti or the state of Maryland in the United States. The entire country is at a high altitude: the lowest point is the Rusizi River at 950 metres (3,117 ft) above sea level. Rwanda is located in Central/Eastern Africa, and is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, and Burundi to the south. Dell Vostro 1710 Battery It lies a few degrees south of the equator and is landlocked. The capital, Kigali, is located near the centre of Rwanda.
The watershed between the major Congo and Nile drainage basins runs from north to south through Rwanda, with around 80 per cent of the country's area draining into the Nile and 20 per cent into the Congo via the Rusizi River. The country's longest river is the Nyabarongo, which rises in the south-westDell Vostro 1720 Battery, flows north, east, and southeast before merging with the Ruvubu to form the Kagera; the Kagera then flows due north along the eastern border with Tanzania. The Nyabarongo-Kagera eventually drains into Lake Victoria, and its source in Nyungwe Forest is a contender for the as-yet undetermined overall source of the Nile. Rwanda has many lakes, the largest being Lake Kivudell studio xps 1340 battery. This lake occupies the floor of the Albertine Rift along most of the length of Rwanda's western border, and with a maximum depth of 480 metres (1,575 ft), it is one of the twenty deepest lakes in the world. Other sizeable lakes include Burera, Ruhondo, Muhazi, Rweru, and Ihema, the last being the largest of a string of lakes in the eastern plains of Akagera National Park. dell studio xps 13 battery
Lake and volcano in the Virunga Mountains
Mountains dominate central and western Rwanda; these mountains are part of the Albertine Rift Mountains that flank the Albertine branch of the East African Rift; this branch runs from north to south along Rwanda's western border. The highest peaks are found in the Virunga volcano chain in the northwest; this includes Mount Karisimbi, Rwanda's highest point, at 4,507 metres (14,787 ft). This western section of the countrydell Studio XPS 16 battery, which lies within the Albertine Rift montane forests ecoregion, has an elevation of 1,500 metres (4,921 ft) to 2,500 metres (8,202 ft). The centre of the country is predominantly rolling hills, while the eastern border region consists of savanna, plains and swamps.
Rwanda has a temperate tropical highland climate, with lower temperatures than are typical for equatorial countries due to its high elevation. Kigali, in the centre of the countrydell Studio XPS 1640 battery, has a typical daily temperature range between 12 °C (54 °F) and 27 °C (81 °F), with little variation through the year. There are some temperature variations across the country; the mountainous west and north are generally cooler than the lower-lying east. There are two rainy seasons in the year; the first runs from February to June and the second from September to Decemberdell Studio XPS 1645 battery. These are separated by two dry seasons: the major one from June to September, during which there is often no rain at all, and a shorter and less severe one from December to February. Rainfall varies geographically, with the west and northwest of the country receiving more precipitation annually than the east and southeastdell Studio XPS 1647 battery.
Main article: Wildlife of Rwanda
Topis in Akagera National Park
In prehistoric times montane forest occupied one third of the territory of present-day Rwanda. Naturally occurring vegetation is now mostly restricted to the three National Parks, with terraced agriculture dominating the rest of the country. Nyungwe, the largest remaining tract of forest, contains 200 species of tree as well as orchids and begonias.dell Studio 17 battery Vegetation in the Volcanoes National Park is mostly bamboo and moorland, with small areas of forest. By contrast, Akagera has a savanna ecosystem in which acacia dominates the flora. There are several rare or endangered plant species in Akagera, including Markhamia lutea and Eulophia guineensis. dell Studio 1749 battery
The greatest diversity of large mammals is found in the three National Parks, which are designated conservation areas. Akagera contains typical savanna animals such as giraffes and elephants, while Volcanoes is home to an estimated one third of the worldwide mountain gorilla population. Nyungwe Forest boasts thirteen primate species including chimpanzees and Ruwenzori colobus arboreal monkeysdell Studio 1745 battery; the Ruwenzori colobus move in groups of up to 400 individuals, the largest troop size of any primate in Africa.
There are 670 bird species in Rwanda, with variation between the east and the west. Nyungwe Forest, in the west, has 280 recorded species, of which 26 are endemic to the Albertine Rift; endemic species include the Ruwenzori Turaco and Handsome Francolin. Eastern Rwanda, by contrast, features savanna birds such as the Black-headed Gonolek and those associated with swamps and lakes, including storks and cranes. dell Studio 1747 battery
Main article: Economy of Rwanda
Coffee beans drying in Maraba. Coffee is one of Rwanda's major cash crops.
Rwanda's economy suffered heavily during the 1994 Genocide, with widespread loss of life, failure to maintain the infrastructure, looting, and neglect of important cash crops. This caused a large drop in GDP and destroyed the country's ability to attract private and external investment. The economy has since strengthened, with per-capita GDP (PPP) estimated at $1,284 in 2011, Dell Inspiron 1440 Battery compared with $416 in 1994. Major export markets include China, Germany, and the United States. The economy is managed by the central National Bank of Rwanda and the currency is the Rwandan franc; in June 2010, the exchange rate was 588 francs to the United States dollar. Rwanda joined the East African Community in 2007 and there are plans for a common East African shilling, which could be in place by 2015. Dell Inspiron 1750 Battery
Rwanda is a country of few natural resources, and the economy is based mostly on subsistence agriculture by local farmers using simple tools. An estimated 90% of the working population farms, and agriculture comprised an estimated 42.1% of GDP in 2010. Since the mid-1980s, farm sizes and food production have been decreasingDell Inspiron 14 Battery, due in part to the resettlement of displaced people. Despite Rwanda's fertile ecosystem, food production often does not keep pace with population growth, and food imports are required.
Crops grown in the country include coffee, tea, pyrethrum, bananas, beans, sorghum and potatoes. Coffee and tea are the major cash crops for export, with the high altitudes, steep slopes and volcanic soils providing favourable conditionsDell Inspiron 1464 Battery. Reliance on agricultural exports makes Rwanda vulnerable to shifts in their prices. Animals raised in Rwanda include cows, goats, sheep, pigs, chicken, and rabbits, with geographical variation in the numbers of each. Production systems are mostly traditional, although there are a few intensive dairy farms around Kigali. Shortages of land and waterDell Inspiron 15 Battery, insufficient and poor-quality feed, and regular disease epidemics with insufficient veterinary services are major constraints that restrict output. Fishing takes place on the country's lakes, but stocks are very depleted, and live fish are being imported in an attempt to revive the industry.
The industrial sector is small, contributing 14.3% of GDP in 2010. Dell Inspiron 1564 Battery Products manufactured include cement, agricultural products, small-scale beverages, soap, furniture, shoes, plastic goods, textiles and cigarettes. Rwanda's mining industry is an important contributor, generating US$93 million in 2008. Minerals mined include cassiterite, wolframite, gold, and coltan, which is used in the manufacture of electronic and communication devices such as mobile phonesDell Inspiron 17 Battery.
Mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park
Rwanda's service sector suffered during the late-2000s recession as banks reduced lending and foreign aid projects and investment were reduced. The sector rebounded in 2010, becoming the country's largest sector by economic output and contributing 43.6% of the country's GDP. Key tertiary contributors include banking and finance, wholesale and retail tradeDell Inspiron 1764 Battery, hotels and restaurants, transport, storage, communication, insurance, real estate, business services and public administration including education and health. Tourism is one of the fastest-growing economic resources and became the country's leading foreign exchange earner in 2011. In spite of the genocide's legacy, the country is increasingly perceived internationally as a safe destinationDell Studio 1440 Battery; The Directorate of Immigration and Emigration recorded 405,801 people visiting the country between January and June 2011; 16% of these arrived from outside Africa. Revenue from tourism was US$115.6 million between January and June 2011; holidaymakers contributed 43% of this revenue, despite being only 9% of the numbers. Dell Studio 1535 Battery Rwanda is one of only two countries in which mountain gorillas can be visited safely; gorilla tracking, in the Volcanoes National Park, attracts thousands of visitors per year, who are prepared to pay high prices for permits. Other attractions include Nyungwe Forest, home to chimpanzees, Ruwenzori colobus and other primates, the resorts of Lake Kivu, and Akagera, a small savanna reserve in the east of the countryDell Studio 1536 Battery.
Media and communications
Main article: Telecommunications in Rwanda
The largest radio and television stations are state-run. Most Rwandans have access to radio and Radio Rwanda is the main source of news throughout the country. Television access is limited mostly to urban areas. The press is tightly restricted and newspapers routinely self-censor to avoid government reprisals. Nonetheless, publications in KinyarwandaDell Studio 1537 Battery, English, and French critical of the government are widely available in Kigali. Restrictions were increased in the run-up to the Rwandan presidential election of 2010, with two independent newspapers, Umuseso and Umuvugizi, being suspended for six months by the High Media Council. Dell Studio 1555 Battery
Rwandatel is the country's oldest telecommunications group, providing landlines to 23,000 subscribers, mostly government institutions, banks, NGOs and embassies. Private landline subscription levels are low. As of 2011, mobile phone penetration in the country is 35%, up 1% on the previous year. The leading provider is MTN, with around 2.5 million subscribers, followed by Tigo with 700,000Dell Studio 1557 Battery. A third mobile phone service, run by Bharti Airtel, is scheduled for launch in the first quarter of 2012. Rwandatel also operated a mobile phone network, but the industry regulator revoked its licence in April 2011, following the company's failure to meet agreed investment commitments. Internet penetration is low but rising rapidly; in 2010 there were 7.7 internet users per 100 peopleDell Studio 1558 Battery, up from 2.1 in 2007. In 2011, a 2,300 kilometres (1,400 mi) fibre-optic telecommunications network was completed, intended to provide broadband services and facilitate electronic commerce. This network is connected to SEACOM, a submarine fibre-optic cable connecting communication carriers in southern and eastern Africa. Within Rwanda the cables run along major roads, linking towns around the country. Mobile provider MTN also runs a wireless internet service accessible in most areas of Kigali via pre-paid subscription. Dell Studio 1735 Battery
Main articles: Transport in Rwanda and Water supply and sanitation in Rwanda
Rural water pump
The Rwandan government prioritised funding of water supply development during the 2000s, significantly increasing its share of the national budget. This funding, along with donor support, caused a rapid increase in access to safe water; in 2008, 73% of the population had access to safe water, up from about 55% in 2005Dell Studio 1737 Battery. The country's water infrastructure consists of urban and rural systems which deliver water to the public, mainly through standpipes in rural areas and private connections in urban areas. In areas not served by these systems, hand pumps and managed springs are used. Despite rainfall exceeding 100 centimetres (39 in) annually in many areas, little use is made of rainwater harvesting. Dell Inspiron 1210 Battery Access to sanitation remains low; the United Nations estimates that in 2006, 34% of urban and 20% of rural dwellers had access to improved sanitation. Government policy measures to improve sanitation are limited, focusing only on urban areas. The majority of the population, both urban and rural, use public shared pit latrines for sanitation.
Rwanda's electricity supply was, until the early 2000s, generated almost entirely from hydroelectric sourcesDell Inspiron Mini 12 Battery; power stations on Lakes Burera and Ruhondo provided 90% of the country's electricity. A combination of below average rainfall and human activity, including the draining of the Rugezi wetlands for cultivation and grazing, caused the two lakes' water levels to fall from 1990 onwards; by 2004 levels were reduced by 50%, leading to a sharp drop in output from the power stations. Dell Latitude E4300 Battery This, coupled with increased demand as the economy grew, precipitated a shortfall in 2004 and widespread loadshedding. As an emergency measure, the government installed diesel generators north of Kigali; by 2006 these were providing 56% of the country's electricity, but were very costly. The government enacted a number of measures to alleviate this problemDell Latitude E4310 Battery, including rehabilitating the Rugezi wetlands, which supply water to Burera and Ruhondo and investing in a scheme to extract methane gas from Lake Kivu, expected in its first phase to increase the country's power generation by 40%. Only 6% of the population had access to electricity in 2009.
The government has increased investment in the transport infrastructure of Rwanda since the 1994 Genocide, with aid from the United StatesDell Vostro 1310 Battery, European Union, Japan, and others. The transport system centres primarily around the road network, with paved roads between Kigali and most other major cities and towns in the country. Rwanda is linked by road to other countries in East Africa, such as Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Kenya, as well as to the eastern Congolese cities of Goma and Bukavu; the country's most important trade route is the road to the port of Mombasa via Kampala and Nairobi. Dell Vostro 1320 Battery The principal form of public transport in the country is the shared taxi. Express routes link the major cities and local service is offered to most villages along the main roads. Coach services are available to various destinations in neighbouring countries. The country has an international airport at Kigali that serves one domestic and several international destinations. Dell Vostro 1510 BatteryAs of 2011 the country has no railways, although funding has been secured for a feasibility study into extending the Tanzanian Central Line into Rwanda. There is no public water transport between the port cities on Lake Kivu, although a limited private service exists and the government has initiated a programme to encourage development of a full service. Dell Vostro 1520 Battery
Main articles: Demographics of Rwanda, Religion in Rwanda, and Languages of Rwanda
2012 estimates place Rwanda's population at 11,689,696. The population is young: an estimated 42.7% are under the age of 15, and 97.5% are under 65. The annual birth rate is estimated at 40.2 births per 1,000 inhabitants, and the death rate at 14.9. The life expectancy is 58.02 years (59.52 years for females and 56.57 years for males), which is the 30th lowest out of 221 countries and territories. The sex ratio of the country is relatively even. Dell Vostro 2510 Battery
At 408 inhabitants per square kilometre (1,060 /sq mi), Rwanda's population density is amongst the highest in Africa. Historians such as Gérard Prunier believe that the 1994 genocide can be partly attributed to the population density. The population is predominantly rural, with a few large towns; dwellings are evenly spread throughout the country. Dell Inspiron 1410 Battery The only sparsely populated area of the country is the savanna land in the former province of Umutara and Akagera National Park in the east. Kigali is the largest city, with a population of around one million. Its rapidly increasing population challenges its infrastructural development. Other notable towns are Gitarama, Butare, and Gisenyi, all with populations below 100,000. The urban population rose from 6% of the population in 1990Dell Vostro 1014 Battery, to 16.6% in 2006; by 2011, however, the proportion had dropped slightly, to 14.8%.
Rwanda has been a unified state since pre-colonial times, and the population is drawn from just one ethnic and linguistic group, the Banyarwanda; this contrasts with most modern African states, whose borders were drawn by colonial powers and did not correspond to ethnic boundaries or pre-colonial kingdoms. Within the Banyarwanda people, there are three separate groups, the Hutu (84% of the population as of 2009) Dell Vostro 1015 Battery, Tutsi (15%) and Twa (1%). The Twa are a pygmy people who descend from Rwanda's earliest inhabitants, but scholars do not agree on the origins of and differences between the Hutu and Tutsi. Anthropologist Jean Hiernaux contends that the Tutsi are a separate race, with a tendency towards "long and narrow heads, faces and noses";Dell Vostro 1088 Batteryothers, such as Villia Jefremovas, believe there is no discernible physical difference and the categories were not historically rigid. In precolonial Rwanda the Tutsi were the ruling class, from whom the Kings and the majority of chiefs were derived, while the Hutu were agriculturalists. The current government discourages the Hutu/Tutsi/Twa distinction, and has removed such classification from identity cards. Dell XPS M2010 Battery
The majority of Rwandans are Catholic, but there have been significant changes in the nation's religious demographics since the Genocide, with many conversions to Evangelical Christian faiths and Islam. As of 2006, Catholics represented 56.5% of the population, Protestants 37.1% (of whom 11.1% were Seventh Day Adventists) and Muslims 4.6%. 1.7% claimed no religious beliefs. Dell Inspiron 1520 Battery Traditional African religions despite officially representing only 0.1% of the population, retains an influence. Many Rwandans view the Christian God as synonymous with the traditional Rwandan God Imana.
The country's principal language is Kinyarwanda, which is spoken by most Rwandans. The major European languages during the colonial era were German, and then French, which was introduced by Belgium and remained an official and widely spoken language after independence. Dell Inspiron 1521 Battery The influx of former refugees from Uganda and elsewhere during the late 20th century has created a linguistic divide between the English-speaking population and the French-speaking remainder of the country. Kinyarwanda, English and French are all official languages. Kinyarwanda is the language of government and English is the primary educational medium. Swahili, the lingua franca of East Africa, is also widely spoken, particularly in rural areas. Dell Inspiron 1720 Battery Additionally, inhabitants of Rwanda's Nkombo Island speak Amashi, a language closely related to Kinyarwanda.
Main articles: Culture of Rwanda, Music of Rwanda, and Cuisine of Rwanda
Traditional Rwandan intore dancers
Music and dance are an integral part of Rwandan ceremonies, festivals, social gatherings and storytelling. The most famous traditional dance is a highly choreographed routine consisting of three components: the umushagiriro, or cow danceDell Inspiron 1721 Battery, performed by women; the intore, or dance of heroes, performed by men; and the drumming, also traditionally performed by men, on drums known as ingoma. The best known dance group is the National Ballet, established by President Habyarimana in 1974, which performs nationally and internationally. Traditionally, music is transmitted orallyDell Vostro 1500 Battery, with styles varying between the social groups. Drums are of great importance; the royal drummers enjoyed high status within the court of the King (Mwami). Drummers play together in groups of varying sizes, usually between seven and nine in number. The country has a growing popular music industry, influenced by East African, Congolese, and American music. The most popular genre is hip hop, with a blend of rap, ragga, R&B and dance-popDell Vostro 1700 Battery.
The cuisine of Rwanda is based on local staple foods produced by subsistence agriculture such as bananas, plantains (known as ibitoke), pulses, sweet potatoes, beans, and cassava (manioc). Many Rwandans do not eat meat more than a few times a month. For those who live near lakes and have access to fish, tilapia is popular. The potato, thought to have been introduced to Rwanda by German and Belgian colonialists, is very popular. Dell Inspiron 1420 BatteryUbugari (or umutsima) is a paste made from cassava or maize and water to form a porridge-like consistency that is eaten throughout East Africa. Isombe is made from mashed cassava leaves and served with dried fish. Lunch is usually a buffet known as mélange, consisting of the above staples and sometimes meat. Brochettes are the most popular food when eating out in the eveningDell Vostro 1400 Battery, usually made from goat but sometimes tripe, beef, or fish. In rural areas, many bars have a brochette seller responsible for tending and slaughtering the goats, skewering and barbecuing the meat, and serving it with grilled bananas. Milk, particularly in a fermented yoghurt form called ikivuguto, is a common drink throughout the country. Dell Latitude 2100 Battery Other drinks include a traditional beer called urwagwa, made from sorghum or bananas, which features in traditional rituals and ceremonies. Commercial beers brewed in Rwanda include Primus, Mützig, and Amstel.
Rwandan woven basket
Traditional arts and crafts are produced throughout the country, although most originated as functional items rather than purely for decorationDell Latitude 2110 Battery. Woven baskets and bowls are especially common. Imigongo, a unique cow dung art, is produced in the southeast of Rwanda, with a history dating back to when the region was part of the independent Gisaka kingdom. The dung is mixed with natural soils of various colours and painted into patterned ridges to form geometric shapes. Other crafts include pottery and wood carving. Traditional housing styles make use of locally available materialsDell Latitude D620 Battery; circular or rectangular mud homes with grass-thatched roofs (known as nyakatsi) are the most common. The government has initiated a programme to replace these with more modern materials such as corrugated iron.
Rwanda does not have a long history of written literature, but there is a strong oral tradition ranging from poetry to folk stories. Many of the country's moral values and details of history have been passed down through the generationsDell Latitude D630 Battery. The most famous Rwandan literary figure was Alexis Kagame (1912–1981), who carried out and published research into oral traditions as well as writing his own poetry. The Rwandan Genocide resulted in the emergence a literature of witness accounts, essays and fiction by a new generation of writers such as Benjamin Sehene. A number of films have been produced about the Rwandan GenocideDell Precision M2300 Battery, including the Golden Globe-nominated Hotel Rwanda, Shake Hands with the Devil, Sometimes in April, and Shooting Dogs, the last two having been filmed in Rwanda and having featured survivors as cast members.
Eleven regular national holidays are observed throughout the year, with others occasionally inserted by the government. The week following Genocide Memorial Day on 7 April is designated an official week of mourning.sony vgp-bps2 battery The last Saturday of each month is umuganda, a national day of community service, during which most normal services close down from 07:00 in the morning until 12:00 noon.
Education and health
Main article: Education in Rwanda
Pupils at a Rwandan secondary school
The Rwandan government provides free education in state-run schools for nine years: six years in primary and three years following a common secondary programme. President Kagame announced during his 2010 re-election campaign that he plans to extend this free education to cover the final three secondary years. sony vgp-bps3 batteryMany poorer children still fail to attend school due to the necessity of purchasing uniforms and books and commitments at home. There are many private schools across the country, some church-run, which follow the same syllabus but charge fees. A very small number offer international qualifications. From 1994 until 2009, secondary education was offered in either French or Englishsony vgp-bps4 battery; due to the country's increasing ties with the East African Community and the Commonwealth, only the English syllabi are now offered. The country has a number of institutions of tertiary education, with the National University of Rwanda (UNR), Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), and Kigali Institute of Education (KIE) being the most prominent. sony vgp-bps5 battery In 2009, the gross enrolment ratio for tertiary education in Rwanda was 5%. The country's literacy rate, defined as those aged 15 or over who can read and write, was 71% in 2009, up from 38% in 1978 and 58% in 1991.
A hospital at Butaro, Northern Province
The quality of healthcare is generally low, but improving. It once was that one in five children died before their fifth birthday, often from malaria., however, infant mortality has dropped to half of what it was in the period 2005-2010. sony vgp-bps7 battery There is a shortage of qualified medical professionals in the country, and some medicines are in short supply or unavailable. 87% have access to healthcare but there are only two doctors and two paramedics per 100,000 people. The government is seeking to improve the situation as part of the Vision 2020 development programme. In 2008, the government spent 9.7% of national expenditure on healthcare, compared with 3.2% in 1996. sony vgp-bpl7 battery It also set up training institutes including the Kigali Health Institute (KHI). Health insurance became mandatory for all individuals in 2008; in 2010 over 90% of the population was covered. Prevalence of some diseases is declining, including the elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus and a sharp reduction in malaria morbidity, mortality rate, and specific lethality, sony vgp-bps8 batterybut Rwanda's health profile remains dominated by communicable diseases. HIV/AIDS seroprevalence in the country is classified by the World Health Organization as a generalized epidemic; an estimated 7.3% of urban dwellers and 2.2% of rural dwellers, aged between 15 and 49, are HIV positive.
Eritrea), officially the State of Eritrea, sony vgp-bps8a battery is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea is the Italian form of the Greek name Ἐρυθραίᾱ (Erythraíā ), meaning "red [land]". The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast. The northeast and east of the country has an extensive coastline on the Red Sea, directly across from Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The Dahlak Archipelago and several of the Hanish Islands are part of Eritreasony vgp-bps8b battery. Eritrea's size is approximately 117,600 km2 (45,406 sq mi) with an estimated population of 6 million.
The Kingdom of Aksum, covering much of modern-day Eritrea and northern Ethiopia, rose somewhere around the first or second centuries. and adopted Christianity shortly after its formation. In medieval times much of Eritrea fell under the Medri Bahri Kingdom, with part being part of the Hamasien Republicsony vgp-bpl8 battery. The creation of modern day Eritrea is a result of the incorporation of independent Kingdoms and various vassal states of the Ethiopian empire and the Ottoman Empire, eventually resulting in the formation of Italian Eritrea. In 1947 Eritrea became part of a federation with Ethiopia, the Federation of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Subsequent annexation by Ethiopia led to the Eritrean War of Independence, ending with Eritrean independence in 1991sony vgp-bps9 battery.
Eritrea is a member of the African Union, the United Nations and IGAD, and is an observer in the Arab League.
Main article: History of Eritrea
Together with northern Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and the Red Sea coast of Sudan, Eritrea is considered the most likely location of the land known to the ancient Egyptians as Punt (or "Ta Netjeru", meaning "God's Land"), whose first mention dates to the 25th century BC. The ancient Puntites were a nation of people that had close relations with Pharaonic Egypt during the times of Pharaoh Sahure and Queen Hatshepsutsony vgp-bps9/s battery.
Map of the Kingdom D'mt in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia ca. 400 BC.
D'mt was a kingdom located in southern Eritrea and northern Ethiopia that existed during the 8th and 7th centuries BC. With its capital
The history of Eritrea is tied to its strategic position on the Red Sea littoral, with a coastline that extends more than 1,000 km. Many scientists believe that it is from this area that anatomically modern humans first expanded out of Africa. From across the seas came various invaders and colonizers, such as the South Arabians hailing from the present-day Yemen areasony vgp-bps9/b battery, as well as the Ottoman Turks, the Portuguese from Goa (India), the Egyptians, the British and, in the 19th century, the Italians. Over the centuries, invaders also came from the neighboring countries in Africa, like Egypt and Sudan to the west and north, as well as Ethiopia to the south. However, present-day Eritrea was largely affected by the Italian colonisers of the 19th centurysony vgp-bps9a/b battery.
In the period following the opening of the Suez canal in 1869, when European powers scrambled for territory in Africa and tried to establish coaling stations for their ships, Italy invaded Ethiopia and occupied Eritrea. On 1 January 1890, Eritrea officially became a colony of Italy. In 1936, it became a province of Italian East Africa (Africa Orientale Italiana) sony vgp-bps9a battery, along with Ethiopia and Italian Somaliland. By 1941, Eritrea had about 760,000 inhabitants, including 70,000 Italians. Through the 1941 Battle of Keren, the British expelled the Italians and took over the administration of the country. The British continued to administer the territory under a UN Mandate until 1951, when Eritrea was federated with Ethiopia per UN Resolution 390A(V) under the prompting of the United States adopted in December 1950. sony vgp-bps9b battery
Pre-Axumite monolithic columns in Qohaito.
This article contains Ethiopic text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Ethiopic characters.
The strategic importance of Eritrea, due to its Red Sea coastline and mineral resources, along with their shared history, was the main cause for the federation with Ethiopia, which in turn led to Eritrea's annexation as Ethiopia's 14th province in 1952sony vgp-bpl9c battery. This was the culmination of a gradual process of takeover by the Ethiopian authorities, a process which included a 1959 edict establishing the compulsory teaching of Amharic, the main language of Ethiopia, in all Eritrean schools. The lack of regard for the Eritrean population led to the formation of an independence movement in the early 1960s (1961) sony vgp-bpl9 battery, which erupted into a 30-year war against successive Ethiopian governments that ended in 1991. Following a UN-supervised referendum in Eritrea (dubbed UNOVER) in which the Eritrean people overwhelmingly voted for independence, Eritrea declared its independence and gained international recognition in 1993. sony vgp-bps10 battery
The de facto predominant languages are Tigrinya and Arabic, both of which belong to the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family. English is used in the government's international communication and is the language of instruction in all formal education beyond the fifth grade. Sony VGP-BPS12 Battery
Eritrea is a single-party state. Though its constitution, adopted in 1997, stipulates that the state is a presidential republic with a unicameral parliamentary democracy, it has yet to be implemented. In 1998 a border dispute with Ethiopia led to the two year long Eritrean–Ethiopian War. The war resulted in the death of as many as 100,000 Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers, although specific casualty estimates are varied. Sony VGP-BPL12 Battery
Government and Politics
Main article: Politics of Eritrea
Eritrea is run by the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ). Other political groups are not allowed to organize, although the unimplemented Constitution of 1997 provides for the existence of multi-party politics. The National Assembly has 150 seats, of which 75 are occupied by the PFDJ. National elections have been periodically scheduled and cancelledSony VGP-BPS13 Battery; none have ever been held in the country. The president, Isaias Afewerki, has been in office since independence in 1993. Independent local sources of political information on Eritrean domestic politics are scarce; in September 2001 the government closed down all of the nation's privately owned print media, and outspoken critics of the government have been arrested and held without trial, Sony VGP-BPS13B/Q battery according to various international observers, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. In 2004 the U.S. State Department declared Eritrea a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for its record of religious persecution.
Building of regional administration in Asmara.
Eritrean National elections were set for 2001 but was then decided that because 20% of Eritrea's land was under occupation, elections would be postponed until the resolution of the conflict with Ethiopia. However, local elections have continued in EritreaSony VGP-BPS13/Q battery. The most recent round of local government elections were held in 2010 and 2011. On further elections, the President's Chief of Staff, Yemane Gebremeskel said,
“The electoral commission is handling these elections this time round so that may be the new element in this process. The national assembly has also mandated the electoral commission to set the date for national elections, so whenever the electoral commission sets the date there will be national elections. It's not dependent on regional electionsSony VGP-BPS13A/B battery.”
As yet, no national elections have been held since independence.
Regions and districts
Main articles: Regions of Eritrea and Districts of Eritrea
Map of Eritrea
Eritrea is divided into six regions (zobas) and subdivided into districts (sub-zobas). The geographical extent of the regions is based on their respective hydrological properties. This a dual intent on the part of the Eritrean government: to provide each administration with sufficient control over its agricultural capacity, and to eliminate historical intra-regional conflictsSony VGP-BPS13/S battery.
Main article: Human rights in Eritrea
The human rights record of Eritrea is considered poor. Since Eritrea's conflict with Ethiopia in 1998–2001, Eritrea's human rights record has worsened. Several human rights violations are committed by the government or on behalf of the government. Freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association are limitedSony VGP-BPS13/B battery. Those that practice "unregistered" religions, try to flee the nation, or escape military duty are arrested and put into prison. Well known prisoners are usually held in underground cells and less known prisoners are usually put together in cargo containers or in very overcrowded prisons. Domestic and international human rights organizations are not allowed to function in EritreaSony VGP-BPS13B/S battery.
The registered, census-based religions are the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church (a monophysite Oriental Orthodox denomination), the Roman Catholic Church, Eritrean Lutheran Church, and Sunnite Islam. All other religions are persecuted, including other denominations of Islam, such as Shi'ism, and other denominations of Christianity, Sony VGP-BPS13A batterysuch as any of the myriad Protestant denominations. All denominations of Christianity enjoyed freedom of worship until 2002 when the government outlawed worship and assembly outside the 'registered' denominations. All groups who worship secretly in a house or other any unregistered place of assembly are arrested and imprisoned without charge or trialSony VGP-BPS13A/S battery. Religious prisoners are often tortured in Eritrea. Freedom of worship is one of the top reasons thousands of Eritreans flee the country. There are thousands of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia and the Sudan seeking asylum in Europe or another region of the West. Eritrea is a one-party state in which national legislative elections have been repeatedly postponed. Sony VGP-BPS13AS battery
In its 2010 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders classified the media environment in Eritrea at 178 out of 178, the lowest possible rating and below that of totalitarian North Korea at 177. According to the BBC, "Eritrea is the only African country to have no privately owned news media", and Reporters Without Borders said of the public media, "[they] do nothing but relay the regime's belligerent and ultra-nationalist discourse. ... Sony VGP-BPS13S batteryNot a single [foreign correspondent] now lives in Asmara." The state-owned news agency censors news about external events. Independent media have been banned since 2001.
Main article: Foreign relations of Eritrea
Embassy of Eritrea in Washington, D.C.
Eritrea is a full member of the African Union (AU), the successor of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). However, it had withdrawn its representative to the AU in protest at the AU's alleged lack of leadership in facilitating the implementation of a binding border decision demarcating the border between Eritrea and EthiopiaSony VGP-BPS13A/Q battery. The Eritrean government has since January 2011 appointed an envoy, Tesfa-Alem Tekle, to the AU.
Relations with the United States
Eritrea's relationship with the United States has a short yet complex history. The United States Army operated Kagnew Station in Eritrea (which at the time was under British, then Ethiopian rule) from 1943 to 1977 as part of an agreement with Ethiopia's Emperor Haile Selassie I. When the United Nations was debating the future of the territory of Eritrea in the beginning of the 1950s Sony VGP-BPS13A/R battery (while it was under British trusteeship as a result of the end of World War II and Italian colonialism), the United States was instrumental in promoting Eritrea's linkage with Imperial Ethiopia, opposing the idea of an independent Eritrea, irrespective of the wishes of the Eritrean people. This was succinctly put by then US ambassador to the UN (later to become US Secretary of State) John Foster Dulles: "From the point of view of justice, the opinions of the Eritrean people must receive considerationSony VGP-BPS13B battery. Nevertheless the strategic interest of the United States in the Red Sea basin and the considerations of security and world peace make it necessary that the country has to be linked with our ally Ethiopia." When Ethiopia deposed its Emperor and became a communist state 1974–1991, the United States did not support the Eritrean rebels' struggle for independence from communist Ethiopia, but remained committed to Eritrea's linkage with EthiopiaSony VGP-BPS13B/B battery, albeit under a different, more pro-western Ethiopian administration.
In spite of all this, independent Eritrea enjoyed cordial relations with the United States which extended considerable amounts of development aid to Eritrea. In the late 90's, prior to the renewed conflict with Ethiopia, the United States cooperated extensively with Eritrea in an effort to contain and isolate the Islamist regime of SudanSony VGP-BPL21 battery. The US under the Bill Clinton administration was one of the main mediating parties during the border war between Eritrea and Ethiopia 1998–2001, although the Eritrean government continuously expressed its reservations against what it saw as a clear pro-Ethiopia bias from the US and thus began the gradual deterioration of relations with the USSony VGP-BPS21 battery.
During the beginning of the George W. Bush administration and the US "War on Terrorism" of the early 2000s, the US still considered Eritrea a friendly state and US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld paid Eritrea's president a visit in Eritrea. Relations ultimately worsened in October 2008 when U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer called the nation a 'state sponsor of terrorism' and stated that the U.S. government might add Eritrea to its list of rogue statesSony VGP-BPS21A battery, along with Iran and Sudan. The stated reason for this was the presence of Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, an exiled Somali Islamist leader, whom the U.S. suspects of having links to Al Qaeda, at a Somali opposition conference in Asmara.
During the week of 2 August 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed that Eritrea was supplying weapons to the Somali militant group al-Shabab. Although Eritrea denied this accusation in a public statement the following day, Sony VGP-BPS21B batterythe United Nations, with the backing of the African Union, imposed sanctions and an arms embargo on Eritrea under Resolution 1907 for its alleged role in Somalia and refusal to withdraw troops from the border with Djibouti.
Relations with the European Union
Eritrea's relationship with the Italian Republic and the European Union are still both reasonably strong and do not seem to be as strained as is the country's relationship with the United States. On 27 January 2009, the Dutch Ambassador, Yoka BrandtSony VGP-BPS26 Battery, Director General of International Development Cooperation, paid an official visit to the country for bilateral talks with President Isaias' government, which were held in Massawa.
Relations with Israel
Main article: Eritrea–Israel relations
Eritrea and Israel have ambassadors in each other's capitals. Avi Granot, head of the Africa division in the Israeli foreign ministry, has described Eritrea as a strategic ally, the one friendly port on the Red SeaSony VGP-BPS26A Battery.
Relations with neighbouring countries
Eritrea's relations with its neighbours have been strained due to a series of wars and disputes. These include a break of diplomatic relations with Sudan when Eritrea accused Sudan of hosting a network of terrorists in 1994, a war with Yemen over the Hanish Islands in 1996 (the conflict was settled through the verdict of the International Court of Arbitration in 1998), and a border conflict with Ethiopia from 1998–2001Sony VGP-BPS14/B Battery. An international border commission, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission had delimited and virtually demarcated the border, but Ethiopia has refused to implement it.
Eritrea's relations with the Sudan have normalised. Meanwhile, Eritrea has been recognised as a broker for peace between the separate factions of the Sudanese civil war: "It is known that Eritrea played a role in bringing about the peace agreement [between the Southern Sudanese and Government]." Sony VGP-BPS14B Battery In addition, the Sudanese government and Eastern Front rebels requested Eritrea to mediate peace talks in 2006.
A dispute with Yemen over the Hanish Islands in 1996 resulted in a brief war. As part of an agreement to cease hostilities the two nations agreed to refer the issue to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague in 1998. Yemen was granted full ownership of the larger islands while Eritrea was awarded the peripheral islands to the southwest of the larger islands. Sony VGP-BPS14/S Battery At the conclusion of the proceedings, both nations acquiesced to the decision. Since 1996, both governments have remained wary of one another but relations are relatively normal.
Relations with Ethiopia
A train tunnel on the Eritrean Plateau
See also: Eritrean–Ethiopian War
The undemarcated border with Ethiopia is the primary external issue currently facing Eritrea. Eritrea's relations with Ethiopia turned from that of cautious mutual tolerance, following the 30-year war for Eritrean independence, to a deadly rivalry that led to the outbreak of hostilities from May 1998 to June 2000 which claimed approximately 70,000 casualties from both sidesSony VGP-BPL14/B Battery The border conflict cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
Disagreements following the war have resulted in stalemate punctuated by periods of elevated tension and renewed threats of war. The stalemate led the President of Eritrea to urge the UN to take action on Ethiopia with the Eleven Letters penned by the President to the United Nations Security CouncilSony VGP-BPL14 Battery. The situation is further escalated by the continued efforts of the Eritrean and Ethiopian leaders in supporting opposition in one another's countries. In 2011, Ethiopia accused Eritrea of planting bombs at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, which was later supported by a UN report. Eritrea has denied the claims. U.S. diplomats in a cable leaked by Wikileaks stated that according to an embassy source, as well as clandestine reportingSony VGP-BPL14B Battery, the bombing may have in fact been the work of Ethiopian government's security forces.
Amid fears of an emerging Islamic and nationalist Somalia, Ethiopia invaded Somalia with U.S. assistance, putting in place the at first weak and locally unpopular UN/AU-backed Transitional Federal Government which, without Ethiopian support, had been unable to exercise any control beyond its base in Baidoa and along the Ethio-Somali borderSony VGP-BPL14/S Battery. The Transitional Federal Government as of 2011 taken full control of the capital and made significant gains on the territory of the now defunct Islamic Courts Union. The United States Central Intelligence Agency also conducted a covert program of funding and assisting a coalition of Somali warlords to replace the Islamic Courts Union government in southern Somalia. Sony VGP-BPS14 Battery
On its part, Eritrea used to host members of the ousted Union of Islamic Courts and the Somali Free Parliament, including the current President of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, who was also the leader of the Union of Islamic Courts ousted by Ethiopia in 2007. The Eritrean government has been accused of sponsoring, arming and hosting numerous militant leaderships and separatist rebels in the Horn of Africa. Sony VGP-BPL15/B Battery
Main article: Geography of Eritrea
Eritrea is located in Northeast Africa and is bordered on the northeast and east by the Red Sea, on the south by Ethiopia, and on the northwest by Sudan. It lies between latitudes 12° and 18°N, and longitudes 36° and 44°E.
The country is virtually bisected by a branch of the East African Rift. It has fertile lands to the west, descending to desert in the east. Eritrea, at the southern end of the Red Sea, is the home of the fork in the riftSony VGP-BPS15/B Battery. The Dahlak Archipelago and its fishing grounds are situated off the sandy and arid coastline. The land to the south, in the highlands, is slightly drier and cooler.
The strategically important Bab-el-Mandeb strait connects the coasts of Eritrea and Yemen. The Afar Triangle or Danakil Depression of Eritrea is the probable location of a triple junction where three tectonic plates are pulling away from one another: the Arabian Plate, and the two parts of the African Plate (the Nubian and the Somali plate) splitting along the East African Rift Zone (USGS) Sony VGP-BPL15/S Battery. The highest point of the country, Emba Soira, is located in the center of Eritrea, at 3,018 meters (9,902 ft) above sea level.
The main cities of the country are the capital city of Asmara and the port town of Asseb in the southeast, as well as the towns of Massawa to the east, the northern town of Keren, and the central town MendeferaSony VGP-BPS15/S Battery.
Eritrea formerly supported a large population of elephants. The Ptolemaic kings of Egypt used the country as a source of war elephants in the third century BC. Between 1955 and 2001 there were no reported sightings of elephant herds, and they are thought to have fallen victim to the war of independence. In December 2001 a herd of about 30, including 10 juveniles, was observed in the vicinity of the Gash RiverSony VGP-BPS15 Battery. The elephants seemed to have formed a symbiotic relationship with olive baboons. It is estimated that there are around 100 elephants left in Eritrea, the most northerly of East Africa's elephants. The endangered Painted Hunting Dog (Lycaon pictus) was previously found in Eritrea, but is now deemed extirpated from the entire country. Sony VGP-BPS18 battery
In 2006, Eritrea announced it would become the first country in the world to turn its entire coast into an environmentally protected zone. The 1,347 km (837 mi) coastline, along with another 1,946 km (1,209 mi) of coast around its more than 350 islands, will come under governmental protectionSony VGP-BPS22 Battery.
Another view of Asmara
Main article: Economy of Eritrea
Like the economies of many other African nations, the economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture, with 65% of the population involved in farming and herding. Drought has often created trouble in the farming areas.
The Real GDP (2009 est.): $4.4 billion, and the annual growth rate (2009 est.): 3.6%.
The Eritrean-Ethiopian War severely hurt Eritrea's economy. GDP growth in 1999 fell to less than 1%, and GDP decreased by 8.2% in 2000SONY VGN-FZ11E battery. In May 2000, the war resulted in some $600 million in property damage and loss, including losses of $225 million in livestock and 55,000 homes. The war also prevented the planting of crops in Eritrea's most productive region, causing food production to drop by 62%.
Even during the war, Eritrea developed its transportation infrastructure by asphalting new roads, improving its ports, and repairing war-damaged roads and bridges as a part of the Warsay Yika'alo ProgramSONY VGN-FZ11L battery. The most significant of these projects was the building of a coastal highway of more than 500 km connecting Massawa with Asseb as well as the rehabilitation of the Eritrean Railway. The rail line now runs between the Port of Massawa and the capital Asmara.
Main article: Demographics of Eritrea
A map indicating the ethnic composition of Eritrea
Eritrean society is ethnically heterogeneous. An independent census has yet to be conducted, but the Tigrinya people make up about 50% and Tigre people make up about 30% of the population. These form the bulk of the country's predominantly Semitic-speaking populationSONY VGN-FZ11M battery.
A wedding in Eritrea
Most of the rest of the population belong to other Afro-Asiatic-speaking communities of the Cushitic branch, such as the Saho, Hedareb, Afar and Bilen.
There are also a number of Nilotic ethnic minorities who are represented in Eritrea by the Kunama and Nara. Each ethnicity speaks a different native tongue but, typically, many of the minorities speak more than one languageSONY VGN-FZ11S battery.
In addition, there exist Italian Eritrean (concentrated in Asmara) and Ethiopian Tigrayan communities. Neither is generally given citizenship unless through marriage or, more rarely, by having it conferred upon them by the State.
The most recent addition to the nationalities of Eritrea is the Rashaida. The Rashaida came to Eritrea in the 19th century from the Arabian CoastSONY VGN-FZ11Z battery.
Main article: Languages of Eritrea
Rashaida children in the Eritrean lowlands.
As of 2012 citizens of Eritrea speak many languages. The country has no official language as such, as the Constitution establishes the "equality of all Eritrean languages", but Tigrinya and Arabic predominaate in official usage. English and Italian are also widely understood.
Most of the languages spoken in Eritrea stem from the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. SONY VGN-FZ15 battery The Semitic languages in Eritrea are Tigre, Tigrinya, the newly recognized Dahlik, and Arabic (spoken natively by the Rashaida Arabs).
Other Afro-Asiatic languages belonging to the Cushitic branch are also widely spoken in the country. The latter include Afar, Beja, Blin and Saho.
In addition, Nilo-Saharan languages (Kunama and Nara) are also spoken as a mother tongue by the Nilotic Kunama and Nara ethnic minority groups that live in the north and northwestern part of the country. SONY VGN-FZ150E battery
Main article: Education in Eritrea
There are five levels of education in Eritrea: pre-primary, primary, middle, secondary, and post-secondary. There are nearly 238,000 students in the primary, middle, and secondary levels of education. There are approximately 824 schools in Eritrea and two universities (the University of Asmara and the Institute of Science and Technology) as well as several smaller colleges and technical schoolsSONY VGN-FZ15G battery.
Education in Eritrea is officially compulsory between seven and 13 years of age. However, the education infrastructure is inadequate to meet current needs. Statistics vary at the elementary level, suggesting that between 65 and 70% of school-aged children attend primary school; Approximately 61% attend secondary school. Student-teacher ratios are highSONY VGN-FZ15L battery: 45 to 1 at the elementary level and 54 to 1 at the secondary level. There are an average 63 students per classroom at the elementary level and 97 per classroom at the secondary level. Learning hours at school are often less than six hours per day. Skill shortages are present at all levels of the education system, and funding for and access to education vary significantly by gender and locationSONY VGN-FZ15M battery. Illiteracy estimates for Eritrea range from around 40% to as high as 70%.
Barriers to education in Eritrea include traditional taboos, school fees (for registration and materials), and the opportunity costs of low-income households.
Main article: Religion in Eritrea
Enda Mariam Orthodox Church, St Joseph's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Al Khulafa Al Rashiudin Mosque in the capital AsmaraSONY VGN-FZ15S battery.
Eritrea has two dominant religions, Christianity and Islam. Various approximations have estimated that 50 to 62.5% are Christians (mostly followers of Orthodox Christianity and, to a lesser extent, Roman Catholicism) and 36.5 to 50% of the population is Sunni Muslim. The Christians are primarily members of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church, which is the local Oriental Orthodox church, while considerable groups of Roman Catholics SONY VGN-FZ15T battery (including Italian Eritreans), Protestants, and other denominations also exist. Most Muslims follow Sunni Islam.
Since May 2002, the government of Eritrea has officially recognized the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church, Sunni Islam, Catholicism, and the Evangelical Lutheran church. All other faiths and denominations are required to undergo a registration process. Among other things, the government's registration system requires religious groups to submit personal information on their membership to be allowed to worship. SONY VGN-FZ160E battery
The Eritrean government is against reformed or radical versions of its established religions. Therefore, radical forms of Islam, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Bahá'í Faith, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and numerous other Protestant denominations are not registered and cannot worship freely. Three named men are known to have been imprisoned since 1994. SONY VGN-FZ17 battery Additionally, on 28 June 2009, police raided a private home where Jehovah's Witnesses were meeting. 23 were arrested including children as young as two years old. Some of the women and children were later released. None have been charged officially or given access to the judicial process. As of 29 July 2010, 52 Jehovah's Witnesses have been imprisoned in Eritrea for attending their religious meetings, engaging in religious activity, and for refusing to serve in the national serviceSONY VGN-FZ17G battery.
In its 2006 religious freedom report, the U.S. State Department named Eritrea a "Country of Particular Concern" (CPC) for the third year in a row.
Main article: Health in Eritrea
Eritrea has achieved significant improvements in health care and is one of the few countries to be on target to meet its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets in health, in particular child health. Life expectancy at birth has increased from 39.1 in 1960 to 59.5 years in 2008SONY VGN-FZ17L battery, maternal and child mortality rates have dropped dramatically and the health infrastructure has been expanded. Due to Eritrea's relative isolation, information and resources are extremely limited and according the World Health Organisation (WHO) found in 2008 average life expectancy to be slightly less than 63 years. Immunisation and child nutrition has been tackled by working closely with schools in a multi-sectoral approachSONY VGN-FZ18 battery; the number of children vaccinated against measles almost doubled in seven years, from 40.7% to 78.5% and the underweight prevalence among children decreased by 12% in 1995–2002 (severe underweight prevalence by 28%). The National Malaria Protection Unit of the Ministry of Health has registered tremendous improvements in reducing malarial mortality by as much as 85% and the number of cases by 92% between 1998 and 2006. SONY VGN-FZ180E/B battery The Eritrean government has banned female genital mutilation (FGM), saying the practice was painful and put women at risk of life-threatening health problems.
However, Eritrea still faces many challenges. Despite number of physicians increasing from only 0.2 in 1993 to 0.5 in 2004 per 1000 population, this is still very low. Malaria and Tubercolosis both are common in Eritrea. SONY VGN-FZ180E battery HIV prevalence among the 15–49 group exceeds 2%. The fertility rate is at about 5 births per woman. Maternal mortality dropped by more than half from 1995 to 2002, although the figure is still high. Similarly, between 1995 and 2002, the number of births attended by skilled health personnel has doubled but still is only 28.3%. A major cause of deaths of neonates is by severe infection. Per capita expenditure on health is low in Eritrea. SONY VGN-FZ18E battery
Cyclists competing in the Tour of Eritrea in Asmara.
Kitcha fit-fit is a staple of Eritrean cuisine. A dish of shredded, oiled, and spiced bread, it is often served with a scoop of fresh yogurt and topped with berbere (spice).
Main article: Culture of Eritrea
See also: Cuisine of Eritrea and Music of Eritrea
The Eritrean region has traditionally been a nexus for trade throughout the world. Because of this, the influence of diverse cultures can be seen throughout Eritrea. Today the most obvious influences in the capital, Asmara, are those of Italy. Throughout AsmaraSONY VGN-FZ18G battery, there are small cafes serving beverages common in Italy. In Asmara, there is a clear merging of the Italian colonial influence with the traditional Tigrinya lifestyle. In the villages of Eritrea, these changes never took hold. In the cities, before the occupation and during the early years, the import of Bollywood films was commonplace, while Italian and American films were available in the cinemas as wellSONY VGN-FZ18M battery. In the 1980s and since independence, however, American films have become the most common. Vying for market share are films by local producers, who have slowly come into their own. The global broadcast of Eri-TV has brought cultural images to the large Eritrean population in the Diaspora that visits the country every summer. Successful domestic films are produced by government and independent studios with revenue from ticket sales typically covering the production costsSONY VGN-FZ18S battery.
Traditional Eritrean dress is quite varied, with the women of most lowland ethnicities traditionally dressing in brightly colored clothes, while the Tigrinya traditionally dress in bright white costumes. Of the Muslim ethnicities, only the Arab or Rashaida tribeswomen maintain a tradition of covering their facesSONY VGN-FZ18T battery.
Football and cycling are the most popular sports in Eritrea. In recent years, Eritrean athletes have also seen increasing success in the international arena.