Rwanda's Collapse

Kaylin Bean

About Rwanda (Background Information)

  • Neighbors: Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lake Kivu

  • 3 Tribes: the Hutu, the Tutsi, and the Twa.

  • Between Rwanda and Burundi, the Hutu were 85% of the population. The Tutsi were 14% of the population. The Twa were 1% of the population.

  • Small area (about 26,338 square kilometers)

  • Big population for the small land (about 7,500,000 people)

  • Colonized by Belgium and Germany

  • The colonists felt that the Tutsi were superior to the Hutu so they allowed them to rule over the Hutu. This caused the revolt of the Hutu.

  • The revolt of the Hutu caused the Tutsi to murder the Hutu president. After his death, there was ethnic violence by the people as they tried to determine who would become the next ruler.

  • There was a genocide in 1994 that killed off most of the Rwandan population during the revolt of the Hutu.


Rwanda collapsed because of overpopulation, deforestation and shortages of food, which resulted in the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.

What is a Genocide?

*Genocide: the killing of a group of people, usually of ethnicity or nation.

Reason 1: Overpopulation

  • The population grew so big because at one point, there was a food surplus. The population didn't stop growing, but the food prices increased. A population tends to expand to "...consume all available food and not leave a surplus, unless population growth itself is halted by famine..."(Collapse 312). Jared Diamond hypothesizes that the population will cease to grow if the surplus of food is gone. (Refer to the graph below to see the steady increase in population before the significant decrease).

  • Rwanda's average population density is "...triple even that of Africa's third most densely populated country (Nigeria), and 10 times that of neighboring Tanzania"(Collapse 313). The population is very significant for a small country. Since Rwanda is only 26,338 square kilometers, it makes it hard to have a large population.

  • Rwanda's overpopulation led to deforestation in order to seek more land to farm on (and keep producing the necessary amount of food for the people), as well as, more land to live on.

  • The overpopulation impacted the collapse of Rwanda because there wasn't enough land for the inhabitants to live on.
Rwanda's Population as the Years go on
Rwanda's Population Density

Reason 2: Deforestation

  • Rwanda's growing population was accommodated by "...clearing forests and draining marshes to gain new farmland, shortening fallow periods, and trying to extract two or three consecutive crops from a field within one year"(Collapse 319). Because of the growing population, the people were forced to make agricultural changes in order to build more homes and farms.

  • Due to the deforestation, the streams dried-up. This caused a lack of food and water for crops, which resulted in famine. Without food and water, the population was unable to sustain itself, let alone grow or prosper. Rwanda is an example of a country that was unable to survive without precious resources.
Deforested Parts of Rwanda

Reason 3: Food Shortage

  • The overpopulation also had an impact on the amount of food available. As the food became more abundant, the population grew. Although there was more food, there was "...also more people, hence no improvement in food per person"(Collapse 320). Despite the fact that the people produced more food, the population grew which didn't help the initial problem of overpopulation.

  • Additionally, because of the droughts from deforestation and climate changes, there was a food shortage. The lack of water contributed to the famine.

  • The prices of coffee dropped by 50% in 1989-1992 because there was a meeting of coffee exporters that ended badly. This put pressure on the population since coffee is one of their biggest agricultural exports. Crashes in coffee prices were "...a factor in causing malnutrition as farmers were punished for planting subsistence crops over coffee trees, which resulted in a major lack of food reserves."(The Impacts of Coffee Production on Local Producers 29). The crash in the coffee prices made it difficult for the people to get the necessary food. This helped create more famine and, essentially, death.

  • As a result, food shortages and the decrease of coffee prices contributed to the death of many people and the overall collapse of Rwanda.
Rwanda coffee export revenues after the collapse of the Rwandan society.
The production of coffee between 1990-1993 continued to decrease and didn't start to increase again until 1994. The average growth decreased by 5 percent. Whereas, the other resources stayed constant.
Burundi, Rwanda's neighbor, had a similar amount of coffee production. This map shows that the area around Burundi and Rwanda had a significant amount of coffee production.
Food Shortages/Hungry People in Rwanda


This picture represents an outline of the Rwandan genocide. After the murder of the Hutu president, the ethnic violence began and caused the genocide. While, the genocide was the final blow to the collapse, Rwanda essentially collapsed from overpopulation, deforestation, and food shortages.

Works Cited

Source 1: Diamond, Jared M. "Malthus in Africa: Rwanda's Genocide." Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Viking, 2005. 311-28. Print.

Source 2: Liebhafsky, Des Forges Alison. "Introduction." Introduction. "Leave None to Tell the Story": Genocide in Rwanda. New York: Human Rights Watch, 1999. 6. Print.

Source 3: Kunzig, Robert. "Population 7 Billion." National Geographic Magazine - National Geographic Magazine -, Jan. 2011. Web. 03 Mar. 2014.

It is current because it was written in 2011. It is reliable because it is from National Geographic, a trusted source. It's author is Robert Kunzig. He is a geophysicist and a climate scientist who studied the climate changes in Rwanda and the causes of it genocide. This is not biased and the purpose is relative to my topic.

Source 4: Cleland, Danielle. "The Impacts of Coffee Production on Local Producers." Digital Commons. N.p., 2010. Web. 3 Mar. 2014.

It is current because it was written in 2010. The article is reliable because written from California Polytechnic State University. The website is also a .edu and not a .com. This has authority because Danielle Cleland wrote this at the University and she works for the Social Sciences Department at the University. She wrote this for a professor of that specific department. She is also very familiar with the Rwandan collapse. The point-of-view is not biased and contains the purpose of my topic.