Demographics

As of 2015, the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda estimates Rwanda’s population to be 11,262,564. The 2012 census recorded a population of 10,515,973. The population is young: in the 2012 census, 43.3% of the population were aged 15 and under, and 53.4% were between 16 and 64. According to the CIA World Fact book, the annual birth rate is estimated at 40.2 births per 1,000 inhabitants in 2015, and the death rate at 14.9. The life expectancy is 59.67 years (61.27 years for females and 58.11 years for males), which is the 26th lowest out of 224 countries and territories. The sex ratio of the country is relatively even.

At 445 inhabitants per square kilometre (1,150/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. According to the 2012 census, the second largest city is Gisenyi, which lies adjacent to Lake Kivu and the Congolese city of Goma, and has a population of 126,000. Other major towns include Ruhengeri, Butare, and Gitarama, 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 cultural 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 or pre – colonial kingdoms. Within the Banyarwanda people, there are three separate groups, the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. The CIA World Fact book gives estimates that the Hutu made up 84% of the population in 2009, the 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 precolonial 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. The 2002 census was the first since 1933 which did not categorize Rwandan population into the three groups.