About Rwanda and its Geography
Republic of Rwanda or Rwanda is a sovereign state situated in the eastern central part of Africa. It’s one of the smallest countries of the African mainland. Rwanda’s natural borders touch with Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda. The country is highly elevated and is based in the region of African Great Lakes. Its geography is heavily dominated by savanna in its eastern parts and mountains in the west. There are various lakes spread all over the country. Climatic conditions in Rwanda vary from subtropical to temperate, featuring two dry seasons and two rainy seasons every year. Rwandan people are predominantly rural and young. The population density is among the highest in all of Africa.
Situated over a land spanning 26,338 km², Rwanda is considered the 149th-largest country of the world, and 4th-smallest of all the countries situated on the African mainland, only after Swaziland, Djibouti and Gambia. The size of the country can be compared to the other countries like Albania, Haiti and Burundi. The lowest point of the country is situated at the Rusizi River, located 950 metres above the sea level.
Majority of the country is situated at a high altitude. Rwanda is landlocked and its exact geographical position is few degrees south of equator. Capital Kigali of Rwanda is right at its center.
The watershed separating the Nile drainage basins and major Congo runs from the north to south of Rwanda, and approximately 20% of Rwanda’s area drains into Congo, and remaining 80% into Nile via Lake Tanganyika and Rusizi River. Nyabarongo is the longest river of the country, rising in its south-west region and flowing towards south-eastern, eastern and northern areas before merging into the Ruvubu for formation of the Kagera. Kagera River then continues its flow towards north alongside the eastern border shared between Rwanda and Tanzania.
The eventual draining of the Nyabarongo-Kagera happens in the Lake Victoria. Its probable source in the Nyungwe forest is believed to be a strong contender for the still-undetermined overall source of the Nile.
As mentioned earlier, there are various lakes spread over the entire Rwandan landscape, with the largest one of them being the Lake Kivu. It occupies the Albertine Rift’s floor throughout its length of the Rwanda’s western border. The maximum depth of Lake Kivu is around 480 metres and it’s recognised as among the 20 deepest lakes all over the world! Other large lakes situated in the country include Rweru, Ihema, Ruhondo, Burerae and Muhazi, with Ihema being the biggest of all the lakes situated in the Akagera National Park’s eastern plains.
The western and central regions of Rwanda are dominated mostly by mountains. These mountains are an integral part of the Albertine Rift Mountains on the sides of the East African Rift’s Albertine branch. The East African Rift runs on the Rwanda’s western border, from north to south. The Virunga volcano chain of the northwest features some of the highest peaks of Rwanda, including the likes of Mount Karisimbi that has the highest point in Rwanda located 4507 metres above the sea level. Rwanda’s western region is a part of the Albertine Rift montane forests with an elevation level of 1500 – 2500 metres. The central region of the country comprises mainly of rolling hills, whereas the eastern border area is all about swamps, plains and savanna.
Rwanda’s climatic conditions
The climatic conditions in Rwanda are mostly temperate tropical highland with the lower temperatures quite like the equatorial countries, owing to its high elevation level. Kigali, the central region of the country has a normal daily temperature ranging between 12°C to 27°C, with slight variations throughout the year. The temperature variations occur throughout Rwanda, with the mountainous areas of the north and west being cooler than the lower lying areas of the east. Rwanda gets two rainy seasons per year, with the first one running from February till June, and the second one from September to December. Both are separated by couple of dry seasons, the prominent one of them being from December till the month of February.
Rainfall in Rwanda varies geographically. The north-west and western regions of the country receive more precipitation each year, compared to the south-eastern and eastern regions. Global warming is to be blamed for major changes in the pattern of rainy seasons in Rwanda. As per a report submitted by Strategic Foresight Group, the change in Rwanda’s climatic conditions has resulted in less number of rainy days each year and a major spike in the frequency of torrential rains. Both these have resulted in all sorts of problems for the farmers, reducing their productivity considerably. The group also highlighted Rwanda as being one of the fastest warming countries of the world, with its average temperature having increased between 0.7°C to 0.9°C, over the period of 50 years.
If you go back to the prehistoric times, the montane forest used to occupy almost one third of the present-day Rwanda. The naturally occurring vegetation has gotten restricted only to the three main national parks of Rwanda, with the majority of country indulging in terraced agriculture. The largest remaining forest tract – Nyungwe, comprises of 200 different species of trees and various begonias and orchids. Moorland and bamboo are the two main plant species that grow in the Volcanoes National Park, which comprises of some forest area too. On the other hand, Akagera features a savanna ecosystem comprising of acacia as the dominating flora. There are all sorts of endangered plant species one can find in Akagera, including the likes of Eulophia Guineensis and Markhamia Iutea. A good variety of mammals can be seen in the three different national parks of the country, which are designated as conservation areas.
About Project Rwanda
Tom Ritchey, the famous bicycle frame builder from America founded Project Rwanda after he visited the country in the year 2005. The project was a result of his sheer passion for cycling, the love he developed for Rwanda’s natural beauty and all sorts of hope-filled stories he heard about the Rwandan people. His trip to Rwanda made him realize that he could use bicycle as an important tool for contributing to the country, for building its national pride and for solving its various local issues. Project Rwanda emerged as a volunteer organization wherein a small core group of like-minded board members would donate their valuable energy and time for its continued operation and success. It was mostly about creation of goodwill and voluntary work completed back in the United States.
The main idea behind creation of Project Rwanda was to commit to the Rwanda’s economic development through initiatives focused on the use of bicycle as a symbol of hope and an important tool. The goal was to utilize bikes for boosting Rwandan economy and rebranding the country as an ideal and beautiful destination for tourism and business purposes.