Rwanda is located in Central Africa between latitudes 1°04’ and 2°51’ south and longitudes 28°45’ and 31°15’ east. It is neighboured to the north by Uganda, to the east by Tanzania, to the south by Burundi and to the west by Lake Kivu and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has a surface area of 26.338 km2 with the arable land estimated at 52%. The last population census of 2012 puts the population at 10.5 million with a population density of 415 inhabitants per square kilometer.


The Rwandan relief is hilly and mountainous with an altitude averaging 1700 meters. The highest point on Mt Karisimbi is 4507 meters above sea level. Rwanda’s relief can be divided into four broad categories: the Congo-Nile Ridge, the Central Plateau, the lowlands of the East and the Bugarama plains. Rwanda has volcanic mountains at the northern fringe and undulating hills in most of the central plateau. However, the eastern lowlands are dominated by depressed relief, with altitudes between 1 500 m at its highest elevation and 1 100m at its lowest. The lowlands of the southwest in Bugarama plain with an altitude of 900m are part of the tectonic depression of the African Rift Valley. Even though Rwanda is entirely situated within the equatorial zone, it enjoys a moderate tropical climate due to its high altitude, and annual average temperatures of 20°C. Rainfall follows a bimodal cycle although it is generally abundant throughout the year with average rainfall of about 1,250 mm per annum.


Rwanda has diverse ecosystems ranging from humid montane and planted forests to savannahs and aquatic resources. It is renowned for the mountain gorilla (Gorilla gorilla beringei) that is a major tourists’ attraction to the country. The country is endowed with abundant water resources distributed in a very dense hydrological network consisting of 101 lakes covering 149 487 ha, 860 marshlands covering a total surface of 278 536 ha and 861 rivers with a combined length of 6 462 km (REMA 2008). The country is split into two hydrographical basins the Congo basin and the Nile basin.

The country is predominantly agricultural contributing 47 per cent of the GNP and accounting for 71 per cent of the country’s export revenue. It is the main source of income for 87 per cent of the population (MINAGRI 2006). Only 52 per cent of the land surface area is arable, representing approximately 1,385,000 hectares (ROR 2004).