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Rwanda Timeline

  • Before 1000- The Twa, a pygmy people, inhabited what is now Rwanda
  • About 1000- The Hutu people settled in the area to farm, ultimately displacing the Twa
  • 15th century- The Tutsi people migrated South into Rwanda, where they could herd their cattle. They gradually took over the Hutu
  • 18th Century- Rwanda and Burundi formed a single state ruled by a president, Mwami, and the Tutsi
  • 1890- Germany took over the area and reestablished it as German East Africa
  • 1916- Belgian forces invaded as part of World War I and took control
  • 1919- The country became part of the Belgian League of Nations as Ruanda-Urundi territory
  • 1946- The area became a UN Trust Territory, and the Hutu, who lacked power but were a majority group, demanded representation
  • 1959- The Tutsi Mwami died, and a Tutsi vs. Hutu civil war broke out
  • 1960- Grégoir Kayibanda and the Hutu Emancipation movement won the election, and there was a mass exodus of the Hutus
  • 1962- The country was granted independence by Belgium, and Kayibanda became president. The country still suffered constant incursions by the Tutsis from Burundi and Uganda
  • 1963- Dian Fossey went on a safari in the country and began her research on the mountain Gorillas
  • 1967- Fossey returned to establish the Karisoke Research Center in Ruhengeri, Rwanda. The research done here was critical for the field of Primatology
  • 1973- Kayibanda was overthrown in a military coup led by Major General Habyarimana 
  • 1978- Habyarimana became president
  • 1980’s- A major drought caused 50,000 refugees to escape to Burundi
  • 1990- Rwandan Patriot Front (RPF), led by Tutsis, invaded Rwanda and forced Habyarimana into forming a Military Constitution
  • 1994

  >>April-Both Habyarimana and the president of Burundi were killed in a rocket attack. The Hutu military started a genocide of the Tutsis which led to more than 800,000 Tutsi and Hutu Deaths

  >>July- RPF took over the government, displacing more than 2 million Hutu refugees. A government of national unity was founded. The government included both Hutus and Tutsis. 

  • 1997- Rwandan government supported the overthrow of the president of Zaïre. The problems in Rwanda and the resulting refugees had worked to destabilize surrounding countries. 
  • 1998, the UN International Criminal Tribunal sentenced Rwanda's former prime minister Jean Kambanda to life imprisonment for genocide
  • 2000- An RPF leader, Paul Kagame, became president and brought stability with suppressed oppression
  • 2002- Rwanda withdrew from the DR Congo after signing a peace deal with Kinshasa 
  • 2003- Kagame was reelected in a biased election
  • 2004- The film Hotel Rwanda brought the genocide back to the world’s attention as it centered around a hotel in the nation’s capital, Kigali, which was one of the few safe places for Tutsis, Hutus, and foreigners who were trapped by the genocide
  • 2010- Kagame was reelected as president during a very biased election. His three competitors were very similar to himself in ideas, and any other 
  • opposition had been disqualified from participation. There is thought to be government harassment and murder involved in the disqualification of those parties. 
  • 2013- Rwanda decides to sell bonds to international investors to help with debt

Ruffoni, Serena. "Rwanda to Sell First International Bond." article in Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition ed.Apr 25 2013. ProQuest. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.

Childress, Sarah. "World News: Opposition Parties Cowed in Rwanda Election --- with the Three Main Opposition Candidates Disqualified, Voters have Few Options to Challenge the Incumbent President." article in Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition ed.Aug 07 2010. ProQuest. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.

Corfield, J. (2008). "Rwanda." In Africa and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and HistoryRetrieved from

"Rwanda." (2008). In Philip's Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Research compiled by Hannah Insuik

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