Rwanda Demographic

In 2012, estimates place Rwanda’s population at 11,689,696. The population is young: an estimated 42.7% are under the age of 15, and 97.5% are under 65. The annual birth rate is estimated at 40.2 births per 1,000 inhabitants, and the death rate at 14.9. The life expectancy is 58.02 years (59.52 years for females and 56.57 years for males), which is the 30th lowest out of 221 countries and territories. The sex ratio of the country is relatively even.

At 408 inhabitants per square kilometer (1,060 /sq. mi), Rwanda’s population density is amongst the highest in Africa. Historians such as GĂ©rard Prunier believe that the 1994 genocide can be partly attributed to the population density. The population is predominantly rural, with a few large towns; dwellings are evenly spread throughout the country. The only sparsely populated area of the country is the savanna land in the former province of Umutara and Akagera National Park in the east. Kigali is the largest city, with a population of around one million. Its rapidly increasing population challenges its infrastructural development. Other notable towns are Gitarama, Butare, and Gisenyi, all with populations below 100,000. The urban population rose from 6% of the population in 1990, to 16.6% in 2006; by 2011, however, the proportion had dropped slightly, to 14.8%.

Rwanda has been a unified state since pre-colonial times, and the population is drawn from just one ethnic and linguistic group, the Banyarwanda; this contrasts with most modern African states, whose borders were drawn by colonial powers and did not correspond to ethnic boundaries orpre-colonial kingdoms. Within the Banyarwanda people, there are three separate groups, the Hutu (84% of the population as of 2009), Tutsi (15%) and Twa (1%). The Twa are a pygmy people who descend from Rwanda’s earliest inhabitants, but scholars do not agree on the origins of and differences between the Hutu and Tutsi. Anthropologist Jean Hiernaux contends that the Tutsi are a separate race, with a tendency towards “long and narrow heads, faces and noses”; others, such as Villia Jefremovas, believe there is no discernible physical difference and the categories were not historically rigid. In pre-colonial Rwanda the Tutsi were the ruling class, from whom the Kings and the majority of chiefs were derived, while the Hutu were agriculturalists. The current government discourages the Hutu/Tutsi/Twa distinction, and has removed such classification from identity cards.

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