What is the terrain and geography like in Rwanda?
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
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.