Virunga Mountains

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Gahinga (left) and Muhabura (right)

The Virunga Mountains are a chain of volcanoes in East Africa, along the northern border of Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda. The mountain range is a branch of the Albertine Rift Mountains, which border the western branch of the East African Rift. They are located between Lake Edward and Lake Kivu. The name "Virunga" is an English version of the Kinyarwanda word ibirunga, which means "volcanoes".

The mountain range consists of eight major volcanoes. Most of them are dormant, except Mount Nyiragongo 3,462 metres (11,358 ft) and Mount Nyamuragira 3,063 metres (10,049 ft), both in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Recent eruptions occurred in 2006, and in January, 2010. Mount Karisimbi at 4,507 metres (14,787 ft), is the highest volcano. The oldest mountain is Mount Sabyinyo which rises 3,634 metres (11,923 ft), above sea level.

The Virunga Mountains are home of the critically endangered mountain gorilla, listed on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species due to habitat loss, poaching, disease, and war (Butynski et al. 2003). The Karisoke Research Center, founded by Dian Fossey to observe gorillas in their native habitat, is located between Mount Karisimbi and Mount Bisoke.

List of mountains in the Virunga Mountain Range[edit]

Name of mountain Location Elevation in Metres Elevation in Feet
Mount Karisimbi  Rwanda /  DRC 4,507 14,790
Mount Mikeno  Democratic Republic of the Congo 4,437 14,560
Mount Muhabura  Rwanda /  Uganda 4,127 13,540
Mount Bisoke  Rwanda /  DRC 3,711 12,180
Mount Sabyinyo  Rwanda /  Uganda /  DRC 3,674 12,050
Mount Gahinga  Rwanda /  Uganda 3,474 11,400
Mount Nyiragongo  Democratic Republic of the Congo 3,470 11,400
Mount Nyamuragira  Democratic Republic of the Congo 3,058 10,031

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Coordinates: 01°25′45″S 29°32′54″E / 1.42917°S 29.54833°E / -1.42917; 29.54833