The African country where plastic is banned and where there are gorillas galore

…but you can also see the Big Five

In addition to gorillas, you can also see the so-called “Big Five” in Rwanda: lion, black rhino, buffalo, leopard and elephant. Akagera National Park is the only place you can do this after reintroducing lions in 2015 and black rhino in 2017. Here you can also see Maasai giraffe, Burchell’s zebra, warthog, vervet monkey , various species of antelope, among other species .

Rwanda and Burundi were once the same country

Rwanda and Burundi existed for a long time as separate kingdoms, but during the “Rush for East Africa” ​​in the late 1800s, Germany annexed the two countries as part of the German East Africa. During World War I, Belgium invaded the region, and after the war, German East Africa was partitioned among the Allied nations. What was known as Ruanda-Urundi came under Belgian control, which it remained until July 1, 1962, when the two kingdoms separated again into Rwanda and Burundi.

It became one of the first countries to ban plastic bags

In 2008, Rwanda banned plastic bags, and you can’t even bring them; if you travel to the country with a plastic bag in your luggage, it will be confiscated. Bangladesh (2002), India (2002), Eritrea (2005) and Uganda (2007) were the only countries to have introduced this measure earlier than Rwanda. In 2021, the country went even further by banning single-use plastics. Items such as plastic cutlery, plates, balloon holders and polystyrene food containers can no longer be sold in the country (except for a handful of products, such as plastics for delivering vaccines and sanitary products).

The last Saturday of the month is a national “cleanup day”

On the last Saturday of every month, all Rwandans take part in “Umuganda” (meaning “gathering together for a common purpose”), a compulsory national service where people aged between 18 and 65 come together to help clean up their neighborhoods, trim hedges, fill potholes and help vulnerable residents. The word has negative connotations, as weekly umuganda meetings were used by Hutu elites in 1994 to mobilize civilians for genocide, but President Paul Kagame reinvented the concept to help clean up the country after his worst period. darker.

It has the highest percentage of women of any parliament on the planet

Rwanda was the first country in the world to have a female majority in its national parliament. Currently, 61.4% of members of the Chamber of Deputies are women. This is partly explained by the fact that after the genocide, the population of Rwanda was between 60 and 70% women. Cuba has the second highest percentage of women in its parliament, at 53.4%, followed by Nicaragua at 50.6%. Mexico and the United Arab Emirates have 50 to 50 men and women, due to gender parity laws.

The president is a huge Arsenal fan

Rwandan President Paul Kagame is a big Gooner, and an outspoken too. After Arsenal lost 2-0 in the 2021/22 season opener to Brentford, he tweeted: “We just mustn’t excuse or accept mediocrity […] I’m sure we all know whose shoulders bear the heaviest burden. Some have spoken out to criticize Rwanda’s kit sponsorship deal with Arsenal, believed to be worth over £30m ($42m), which involves the Visit Rwanda logo on the shirt sleeves, saying that this is an example of a grant from an authoritarian leader of a poor country. a wealthy English football club. Rwandan tourism authorities insist they are reaping the rewards of brand exposure and bookings.

It is the most densely populated country in mainland Africa

Rwanda is one of the smallest countries in Africa (Djibouti, eSwatini, The Gambia, and São Tomé and Príncipe are the only smaller continental countries), and it also has the highest population density on the continent. There are 440 people per square kilometer. At the other end of the spectrum, Namibia has only three people per square kilometer. The United Kingdom, for comparison, has 281 people per square kilometre.

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