5 Things you didn’t know about Rwanda

  1. Paper or Plastic? Rwanda was one of the first countries in the world to ban the use of plastic bags.  In 2004 thousands of people ditched work to help pick up the piles of plastic bags strewn about the country.  Two years later in 2006 lawmakers brought in a bylaw banning the use of plastic bags in an effort to clean up the country, including its rivers and lakes.
  2. Coup de grace: Following the Rwanda genocide and a deteriorating relationship between France and the current government, Rwandan officials decided to change the country’s language of instruction from French to English.  A desire to become an international IT hub in a world of English dominance has also been cited as a reason. English is now the co-official language, along with Kinyarwanda.  In 2008 only five per cent of Rwandans spoke English.  However, English language schools are now a common sight on the streets of Rwanda’s cities. 
  3. Smashing the glass ceiling: The 2008 Rwandan Parliamentary election produced the first ever national legislative chamber with a female majority in a modern nation state.  Women secured 45 seats out of 80; 56 per cent of the vote.  A new law in Rwanda also states that at least one third of parliamentarians must be women. 
  4. Crowded: Rwanda is the most densely populated country in Africa with an estimated population of more than 10 million people in a country the size of Maryland or Belgium (26,338 square kilometers).
  5. Gorillas in the Mist: Rwanda is home to the mountain gorilla, one of the most endangered species.  Tracking these gorillas is the number one tourist draw in Rwanda.  Hundreds of people visit the country every year to seek out the famous apes in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.  2009 was the UN’s Year of the Gorilla.

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