Often referred to as the Land of a Thousand Hills, Rwanda’s landscape is dominated by rainforests, mountains, volcanoes and lakes. Beautiful weather prevails, making the country a pleasant spot to call home. Locals are also some of the friendliest, most open and welcoming people in Africa. And, although Rwanda has a tumultuous history, the situation today is much more stable, with expats reporting feeling extremely safe in the country.
Life in Rwanda is pretty affordable for most, especially expats who tend to earn higher salaries than locals. Rwanda’s economy is predominantly based on subsistence agriculture, with coffee and tea being the main cash crops for export. Tourism is growing rapidly thanks to the naturally beautiful environment and the endangered animals Rwanda is home to, such as the mountain gorilla.
The Rwandan government provides free education in state-run schools but standards may fall short of expats' expectations. Alternatives include various private schools across Rwanda teaching the national curriculum, as well as a handful of international schools teaching foreign curricula. These are mostly located in the capital.
The quality of healthcare in Rwanda remains poor as the country suffers from a shortage of qualified medical professionals. In the case of a serious emergency, expats will most likely need to be evacuated by air to another country, such as South Africa or somewhere in Europe. Expats should ensure that they have a comprehensive medical insurance plan in place in case this situation arises.
To make the most of their time in Rwanda, expats should be adaptable and able to keep an open mind. Though a little off the beaten path and somewhat rough around the edges in some aspects, Rwanda offers a unique expat experience for those willing to venture outside of their comfort zone.
Population: About 13 million
Capital city: Kigali
Neighbouring countries: Rwanda is bordered by Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, Burundi to the south and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west.
Geography: Rwanda is a landlocked country in East Africa. The western part of the country is dominated by mountains with the eastern part of the country being defined by forest and savannah, plains and swamps. Lake Kivu makes up a significant part of Rwanda's western border.
Political system: Unitary presidential republic
Main languages: Kinyarwanda, French and English
Major religions: Catholicism, Christianity and Islam
Electricity: 230V, 50 Hz. Plugs with two or three round pins are used.
Currency: Rwandan franc (RWF), divided into 100 centimes. ATMs and card facilities are available in major urban centres, but cash is needed for rural areas.
International dialling code: +250
Internet domain: .rw
Emergency numbers: 112
Transport and driving: Vehicles in Rwanda drive on the right-hand side of the road. The public transport system is largely unreliable and expats are advised to purchase their own vehicles for the duration of their stay in the country.
Are you an expat living in Rwanda?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Rwanda. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.