Stamps issued: 1962-PRESENT
A republic in East Africa. Until 1916, part of German East Africa, Rwanda, along with Burundi, was administered by Belgium under a League of Nations (later U.N.) mandate as the Trust Territory of Ruanda-Urundi. For centuries, Rwanda was a monarchy, in which the majority Hutu tribe, comprising 80% of the population was ruled by the minority Tutsi tribe. In 1959 the Tutsi king was overthrown in a Hutu uprising, and 1961 referendum under United Nations' auspices established a republic, controlled by the Hutu party. On July 1, 1962, Rwanda became independent. In 1990 rebel Tutsi forces invaded from Uganda, igniting a civil war that lasted until 1992. In 1994 the death of the Hutu president in a plane crash, widely believed to have been engineered by Tutsis in the military, provoked a bloody anti-Tutsi pogrom by the Hutu regime, in which hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. Rebel Tutsi forces retaliated, driving the Hutu government, and some 1.7 million refugees, across the border into Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). The civil war lasted through 1995, but in 1996 efforts began to repatriate refugees. The effort continues, as Rwanda attempts to repair the devastation of the conflict.