Rwanda Geography

What is the terrain and geography like in Rwanda?

Overview:

The Republic of Rwanda is located along the Great Rift Valley in the mountains of east central Africa and covers 10,169 square miles, 4,587 sq. miles of which is water. Rwanda is circular in shape. The western edge of the country along the Congo/Nile watershed rises steeply, formed by a chain of volcanoes called the Virunga Mountains. It is here that the country's highest point, the volcano Karisimbi at an elevation of 14,782 feet, is found. Gisenyi, a town at the northern end of Lake Kivu, enjoys spectacular vistas of the surrounding volcanoes. Rwanda’s green valleys produce beans, sorghum, corn, manioc, Irish potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes, soybeans, bananas, coffee, and tea.

The low mountains and steep hills of the remainder of the country diminish in height as one travels towards the east and southeast. On the Tanzania border, low hills, papyrus swamps, and shallow lakes are interspersed with semiarid savanna. Hardy thickets, 8 to 15 feet tall, cactus-like candelabrum trees, and grassy glades are found here.

Geography - note:

landlocked; most of the country is savanna grassland with the population predominantly rural

Climate:

Despite Rwanda’s location of only two degrees below the equator, the altitude provides a mild, temperate climate for most parts of the country. The average 24-hour temperature in Kigali is 73° F. The higher reaches above 14,700 feet might even experience frost and snow.

Two rainy seasons generally occur from February through May, and from September through December; but variations do occur. The rains can be torrential, although brief, and sometimes are accompanied by strong winds and lightning. Annual rainfall averages 31 inches and is generally heavier in the western and northwestern mountains than in the eastern savanna.

The long dry summer season from May to September turns the hills around Kigali a reddish ochre, fine dust is everywhere, and the grass dries up.

Rwanda Use of Natural Resources

Rwanda Environment

Climate:

Despite Rwanda’s location of only two degrees below the equator, the altitude provides a mild, temperate climate for most parts of the country. The average 24-hour temperature in Kigali is 73° F. The higher reaches above 14,700 feet might even experience frost and snow.

Two rainy seasons generally occur from February through May, and from September through December; but variations do occur. The rains can be torrential, although brief, and sometimes are accompanied by strong winds and lightning. Annual rainfall averages 31 inches and is generally heavier in the western and northwestern mountains than in the eastern savanna.

The long dry summer season from May to September turns the hills around Kigali a reddish ochre, fine dust is everywhere, and the grass dries up.

Terrain:

mostly grassy uplands and hills; relief is mountainous with altitude declining from west to east

Natural Resources:

gold, cassiterite (tin ore), wolframite (tungsten ore), methane, hydropower, arable land

Natural Hazards:

periodic droughts; the volcanic Virunga mountains are in the northwest along the border with Democratic Republic of the Congo

Irrigated Land:

37 Square Miles
96 Square Kilometers

Environmental Issues:

deforestation results from uncontrolled cutting of trees for fuel; overgrazing; soil exhaustion; soil erosion; widespread poaching

Environment - International Agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Rwanda Geography

Geographic Location Africa
Total Area 10,169 Square Miles
26,338 Square Kilometers
Land Area 9,524 Square Miles
24,668 Square Kilometers
Water Area 645 Square Miles
1,670 Square Kilometers
Land Boundaries 555 Miles
893 Kilometers
Irrigated Land 37 Square Miles
96 Square Kilometers
Border Countries Burundi 290 km, Democratic Republic of the Congo 217 km, Tanzania 217 km, Uganda 169 km
Geographic Coordinates 2 00 S, 30 00 E
Terrain mostly grassy uplands and hills; relief is mountainous with altitude declining from west to east
Highest Point 4,519 Meters
Highest Point Location Volcan Karisimbi 4,519 m
Lowest Point 950 Meters
Lowest Point Location Rusizi River 950 m
Natural Resources gold, cassiterite (tin ore), wolframite (tungsten ore), methane, hydropower, arable land
Time Zone UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
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