History of Rwanda
Discover the heritage and history of Rwanda with our travel tips.
Rwanda’s human history is thought to have begun after the last ice age. Kingdoms were formed and settlements were organized. Rwanda was visited by German Count Von Goetzen in 1894 and European missionaries followed. Five years later, the country became a German protectorate.
The Belgians took control of Rwanda in 1915 after the First World War and divided the country into three groups: potters (Twa), farmers (Hutu) and cattle breeders (Tutsi). A national ethnic identity card was introduced two decades later that reflected which group an individual belonged to. This card played a key part in one of modern Africa’s saddest times.
In 1959 the Hutu majority, supported by Belgium, overthrew what had been a Tutsi monarchy. Many Rwandans were killed or fled the country during this uprising. Rwanda obtained its independence in 1962, but the existing tension of ethnic division led to a 100 days genocide in 1994. This started when a plane carrying Rwanda’s president was shot down. The Hutu and the national army struck back at the Tutsi people.
Rwanda’s genocide, that took the lives of 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu sympathizers, ended when a military group of exiled Tutsis, known as the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), slowly took over the country.
We highly recommend you watch the highly acclaimed movie, Hotel Rwanda, for an insight into this sad time in Rwanda’s history.
Today, the country is peaceful and many of the two million citizens who had fled to neighboring countries have returned to their land. Tourism in Rwanda has increased, especially due to the opportunities for gorilla trekking in Rwanda.
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