Rwanda is located in Central/Eastern Africa, and is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, and Burundi to the south. It lies a few degrees south of the equator and is landlocked. The capital, Kigali, is located near the centre of Rwanda. At 26,338 square kilometers (10,169 sq mi), Rwanda is the world’s 149th-largest country. It is comparable in size to Haiti or the state of Massachusetts in the United States. The entire country is at a high altitude: the lowest point is the Rusizi River at 950 meters (3,117 ft) above sea level.

Rwanda is located in Central/Eastern Africa and is bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, and Burundi to the south. It lies a few degrees south of the equator and is landlocked. The capital, Kigali, is located near the centre of Rwanda.

Major geographic features

The watershed between the major Congo and Nile drainage basins runs from north to south through Rwanda, with around 80 percent of the country’s area draining into the Nile and 20 percent into the Congo via the Rusizi River. The country’s longest river is the Nyabarongo, which rises in the south-west, flows north, east, and southeast before merging with the Ruvubu to form the Akagera; the Akagera then flows due north along the eastern border with Tanzania. The Nyabarongo – Akagera eventually drains into Lake Victoria, and its source in Nyungwe Forest is a contender for the as-yet undetermined overall source of the Nile.

Rwanda has many lakes, the largest being Lake Kivu. This lake occupies the floor of the Albertine Rift along most of the length of Rwanda’s western border, and with a maximum depth of 480 meters (1,575 ft), it is one of the twenty deepest lakes in the world. Other sizeable lakes include Burera, Ruhondo, Muhazi, Rweru and Ihema, the last being the largest of a string of lakes in the eastern plains of Akagera National Park.

Mountains dominate central and western Rwanda. These mountains are part of the Albertine Rift Mountains that flank the Albertine branch of the East African Rift. This branch runs from north to south along Rwanda’s western border. The highest peaks are found in the Virunga volcano chain in the northwest; this includes Mount Karisimbi, Rwanda’s highest point, at 4,507 meters (14,787 ft).

This western section of Rwanda, which lies within the Albertine Rift montane forests Eco – region, has an elevation of 1,500 meters (4,921 ft) to 2,500 meters (8,202 ft). The centre of the country is predominantly rolling hills, while the eastern border region consists of savanna, plains and swamps.

Rwanda has a temperate tropical highland climate, with lower temperatures than are typical for equatorial countries due to its high elevation. Kigali, in the centre of the country, has a typical daily temperature range between 12 °C (54 °F) and 27 °C (81 °F), with little variation through the year. There are some temperature variations across the country; the mountainous west and north are generally cooler than the lower-lying east.

There are two rainy seasons in the year. The first runs from February to June and the second from September to December. These are separated by two dry seasons: the major one from June to September, during which there is often no rain at all, and a shorter and less severe one from December to February. Rainfall varies geographically, with the west and northwest of the country receiving more precipitation annually than the east and southeast.

Political geography

Rwanda borders Burundi for 290 km, the Democratic Republic of the Congo for 217 km, Tanzania for 217 km, and Uganda for 169 km.

Physical geography

Rwanda has an area of 26 thousands square kilometers, of which 3 percent is water.

Topography of Rwanda

Photograph of confluence of the Kagera and the Ruvubu, with the Rwanda-Tanzania border post in foreground, taken from a nearby hilltop and the Kagera and Ruvubu rivers, part of the upper Nile.