Rwanda, just south of the Equator in central Africa, is a mountainous land. This tiny, landlocked country—the continent's most densely populated—gained independence from Belgium in 1962. Conflict and civil war between ethnic Hutus and Tutsis have marked the country's history. In 1994 the genocide of some 800,000 Tutsis by Hutus occurred before Tutsi forces could gain control of Rwanda. Hutu militias fled Rwanda and continued to attack Tutsis from Zaire until Rwandan forces invaded Zaire in 1997—where they remained until 2002, when the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) agreed to help disarm Hutu gunmen.
A combination of tropical location and high altitude ensures that most of Rwanda has a temperate year-round climate. Temperatures rarely stray above 30 degrees Celsius by day or below 15 degrees Celsius at night throughout the year. The exceptions are the chilly upper slopes of the Virunga Mountains, and the hot low-lying Tanzania border area protected in Akagera National Park. Throughout the country, seasonal variations in temperature are relatively insignificant. Most parts of the country receive in excess of 1,000mm of precipitation annually, with the driest months being July to September and the wettest February to May.