The majority of Rwandans are Catholic, but there have been significant changes in the nation’s religious demographics since the Genocide, with many conversions to Evangelical Christian faiths and Islam. As of 2006, Catholics represented 56.5% of the population, Protestants 37.1% (of whom 11.1% were Seventh Day Adventists) and Muslims 4.6%. 1.7% claimed no religious beliefs. Traditional religion, despite officially being followed by only 0.1% of the population, retains an influence. Many Rwandans view the Christian God as synonymous with the traditional Rwandan God Imana.
The country’s principal language is Kinyarwanda, which is spoken by most Rwandans. The major European languages during the colonial era were German, and then French, which was introduced by Belgium and remained an official and widely spoken language after independence. The influx of former refugees from Uganda and elsewhere during the late 20th century has created a linguistic divide between the English-speaking population and the French-speaking remainder of the country. Kinyarwanda, English and French are all official languages. Kinyarwanda is the language of government and English is the primary educational medium. Swahili, the lingua franca of East Africa, is also widely spoken, particularly in rural areas. Additionally, inhabitants of Rwanda’s Nkombo Island speak Amashi, a language closely related to Kinyarwanda.