Rwanda is a small landlocked mountainous country located a few degrees south of the Equator in the Great Lakes region of eastern-central Africa.  It is bounded by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in the west, by Uganda to the north, to the east by Tanzania, and by Burundi to the south. Rwanda has a total area of 26,338 km2 of which 6.3 per cent is water. The western arm of the Great Rift Valley passes down the western side of the country and is host to Lake Kivu and the Ruzizi River. The divide between the Congo and Nile drainage systems extends from north to south along the eastern margin of the rift through western Rwanda at an average elevation of almost 2,750 m. Mount Karisimbi, at 4,519 m is the highest volcanic peak of the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda and Lake Kivu on the border with the DRC, at 1,463 m asl is the highest lake in Africa. Although close to the equator the country has a cool temperate climate due to its high elevation.

Rwanda is the most densely populated country in Africa. It has one of the highest population growth rates in the continent.  The country has seen spectacular GDP growth at an average rate of over 8% at times. In 2009 with the global downturn and reduction in exports and tourism GDP growth declined to 5.5 per cent. The country has made a remarkable recovery since the mid 90’s and has been acclaimed as Africa's biggest success story, having achieved stability, economic growth (average income has tripled) and international integration. Nonetheless, the majority of the population still live below the poverty line. 


The geology of Rwanda is made up of low-grade metasediments principally quartzites and sandstones alternating with shales of the Mesoproterozoic Burundian Supergroup interspersed locally by granite intrusions. Paleoproterozoic “older granites”, granitic-gneisses and minor migmatites predominate in the east of the country. Neogene volcanics are found in the northwestern and southwestern parts of the country; while Quaternary alluvial and lake sediments infill parts of the Western Rift and occur along the rivers and lakes.