Geography of Rwanda
At 26,338 square kilometres (10,169 sq mi), Rwanda is the world's 149th-largest country. It is comparable in size to Haiti or the state of Maryland in the United States. The entire country is at a high altitude: the lowest point is the Rusizi River at 950 metres (3,117 ft) above sea level.
Rwanda is located in Central/Eastern Africa, and is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, and Burundi to the south. It lies a few degrees south of the equator and is landlocked. The capital, Kigali, is located near the centre of Rwanda.
Major geographic features
The watershed between the major Congo and Nile drainage basins runs from north to south through Rwanda, with around 80 per cent of the country's area draining into the Nile and 20 per cent into the Congo via the Rusizi River. The country's longest river is the Nyabarongo, which rises in the south-west, flows north, east, and southeast before merging with the Ruvubu to form the Kagera; the Kagera then flows due north along the eastern border with Tanzania. The Nyabarongo-Kagera eventually drains into Lake Victoria, and its source in Nyungwe Forest is a contender for the as-yet undetermined overall source of the Nile.
Rwanda has many lakes, the largest being Lake Kivu. This lake occupies the floor of the Albertine Rift along most of the length of Rwanda's western border, and with a maximum depth of 480 metres (1,575 ft), it is one of the twenty deepest lakes in the world. Other sizeable lakes include Burera, Ruhondo, Muhazi, Rweru, and Ihema, the last being the largest of a string of lakes in the eastern plains of Akagera National Park.
Mountains dominate central and western Rwanda. These mountains are part of the Albertine Rift Mountains that flank the Albertine branch of the East African Rift. This branch runs from north to south along Rwanda's western border. The highest peaks are found in the Virunga volcano chain in the northwest; this includes Mount Karisimbi, Rwanda's highest point, at 4,507 metres (14,787 ft).
This western section of Rwanda, which lies within the Albertine Rift montane forests ecoregion, has an elevation of 1,500 metres (4,921 ft) to 2,500 metres (8,202 ft). The centre of the country is predominantly rolling hills, while the eastern border region consists of savanna, plains and swamps.
Rwanda has a temperate tropical highland climate, with lower temperatures than are typical for equatorial countries due to its high elevation. Kigali, in the centre of the country, has a typical daily temperature range between 12 °C (54 °F) and 27 °C (81 °F), with little variation through the year. There are some temperature variations across the country; the mountainous west and north are generally cooler than the lower-lying east.
There are two rainy seasons in the year. The first runs from February to June and the second from September to December. These are separated by two dry seasons: the major one from June to September, during which there is often no rain at all, and a shorter and less severe one from December to February. Rainfall varies geographically, with the west and northwest of the country receiving more precipitation annually than the east and southeast.
Rwanda has an area of 26 thousands square kilometers, of which 3 percent is water.
Although Rwanda is located only two degrees south of the equator, Rwanda's high elevation makes the climate temperate. The average daily temperature near Lake Kivu, at an altitude of 4,800 feet (1,463 m) is 73 °F (22.8 °C). During the two rainy seasons (February–May and September–December), heavy downpours occur almost daily, alternating with sunny weather. Annual rainfall averages 800 mm (31.5 in) and is generally heavier in the western and northwestern mountains than in the eastern savannas.
|Climate data for Kigali, Rwanda|
|Average high °C (°F)||26.9
|Average low °C (°F)||15.6
|Precipitation mm (inches)||76.9
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)||11||11||15||18||13||2||1||4||10||17||17||14||133|
|Source: World Meteorological Organization |
Rwanda possesses the following natural resources:
- cassiterite (tin ore)
- wolframite (tungsten ore)
- arable land
- green beans
The use of land in Rwanda is largely for arable land, and other purposes. 40 km² of land in Rwanda is irrigated. The table below describes the land use in Rwanda, as of 2005.
|Use||Percentage of Area|
|permanent crops||10.25 plus the average height|
Natural hazards in Rwanda include periodic droughts and the volcanic activity of the Virunga Mountains, located in the northwest of the country, along the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Current issues concerning the environment in Rwanda include: the result of uncontrolled deforestation for fuel, overgrazing, soil exhaustion and widespread poaching.
Rwanda is a party to the following international agreements:
Rwanda has signed, but not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
This is a list of the extreme points of Rwanda, the points that are farther north, south, east or west than any other location.
- Northernmost point - unnamed location on the border with Uganda immediately north-west of the village of Kagitumba, Eastern province
- Easternmost point - unnamed location on the border with Tanzania in the Kagera river, Eastern province
- Southernmost point - unnamed location on the border with Burundi, Southern province
- Westernmost point - unnamed location on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the Ruzizi river immediately south of the DRC town of Bukavu, Western province
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