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Friday, January 6, 2012

COUNTRY #197: Rwanda

Welcome country #197:


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In 1959, three years before independence from Belgium, the majority ethnic group, the Hutus, overthrew the ruling Tutsi king. Over the next several years, thousands of Tutsis were killed, and some 150,000 driven into exile in neighboring countries. The children of these exiles later formed a rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and began a civil war in 1990. The war, along with several political and economic upheavals, exacerbated ethnic tensions, culminating in April 1994 in a state-orchestrated genocide, in which Rwandans killed up to a million of their fellow citizens, including approximately three-quarters of the Tutsi population. The genocide ended later that same year when the predominantly Tutsi RPF, operating out of Uganda and northern Rwanda, defeated the national army and Hutu militias, and established an RPF-led government of national unity. Approximately 2 million Hutu refugees - many fearing Tutsi retribution - fled to neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zaire. Since then, most of the refugees have returned to Rwanda, but several thousand remained in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC; the former Zaire) and formed an extremist insurgency bent on retaking Rwanda, much as the RPF tried in 1990. Rwanda held its first local elections in 1999 and its first post-genocide presidential and legislative elections in 2003. Rwanda in 2009 staged a joint military operation with the Congolese Army in DRC to rout out the Hutu extremist insurgency there and Kigali and Kinshasa restored diplomatic relations. Rwanda also joined the Commonwealth in late 2009.

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The UN has 193 countries, and 197 exceeds the total official number of countries, which today is 196 (UN nations plus Kosovo, the Vatican and Taiwan).  It turns out that there are 246 (various islands and even the continent of Antarctica, with a domain name of aq. and a population that varies from 1000 to 5000, are included) entities in Google's world, so I have forty-nine more to go. 

The president is Paul Kagame and Prime Minister is Pierre Habumuremyi.  The country is about as large as Haiti or Maryland.  Most of the inhabitants are Catholic (57%), with only 5% being Muslim.  GDP/capita is only around $1100, but almost four times that of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (my country #195), which borders to the west.  There is thus a kind of trend that the less developed entities are beginning to find this portal.  The capital is Kigali:

You best remember the movie Hotel Rwanda, with Don Cheadle, which was a depiction of the 1994 Genocide Period.  After all the killings mentioned above, Rwanda has stabilized with tourism growing, much related to tracking gorillas.  Known as the land of a thousand hills, there is more to see in Rwanda.

The Dow Jones Industrials fell 56 to 12,360, but remains plus one percent for the year.  World markets were mostly down.  Gold dropped a buck to $1617/toz, while the WTI is at $103/barrel and the Brent at $113/barrel.


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