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Rwanda – Background

Population: 10,900,000
Population Growth Rate: 2.9%
Population Age <15: 42%
Total Fertility Rate: 4.6
GDP Per Capita: $860 (2007)
Literacy Rate – Female – Ages 15-24, 2000-04: 76%
Literacy Rate – Male – Ages 15-24, 2000-04: 77%
HIV/AIDS Adult Prevalence Rate: 2.8% (2008 est.)

*Statistics are from Population Reference Bureau’s website (www.prb.org).

Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Ninety percent of Rwandan families are farmers; however, because of the high population density, there is limited land to cultivate crops. With the growing population comes a greater demand on the land to produce, with only a limited amount of space.

One of Rwanda’s most precious ecological and economic resources is the endangered mountain gorillas, who live on the slopes of the Virunga volcanoes, a territory divided between Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ecotourism to see the mountain gorillas is the third greatest source of revenue for Rwanda, after coffee and tea. The gorillas’ territory is being encroached upon by land-starved farmers as the pressure to produce more food increases with the rapidly expanding population. Potatoes and maize are now being cultivated on the mountain sides directly below the gorilla habitat. If the gorillas are forced out, Rwanda will lose an important source of revenue from tourism. With about 640 mountain gorillas living today, one of the closest relatives of humans is in danger of extinction.

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