Kigali is the largest city in Rwanda with a population of over 1 million people. It is the capital of the country, situated geographically in the center of Rwanda. When Rwanda gained independence in 1962, Kigali was chosen over the two other contenders, Butare, the seat of colonial power, and Nyanza, the traditional kings’ administrative seat. Kigali is the political, administrative, economic, social, educational, transport, health and leisure center of Rwanda. Kigali International Airport is the gateway to the rest of Africa and Europe; many large international airlines have regular schedules of stopping in Kigali. The road network from the hub, Kigali is quite extensive; connecting Rwanda with Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kigali was the center of the Rwandan Genocide which began April 6, 1994; as such, the city has a number of memorials, museums and centers dedicated to this time of conflict, including the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center. Other museums include the Kandt House Museum of Natural History. Dr. Richard Kandt had founded Kigali in 1907, under German Colonial Rule. There are many large international hotels in Kigali, recreation centers, shopping malls and local markets which all help to create one of the most desirable urban centers in Africa; famous for its friendliness and unrivaled cleanliness.
Walking the streets of Kigali, one has difficulty in imagining one is in an African city; there is no garbage to be seen, the roads are perfectly paved and there is a general sense of order throughout. Street vendors, prostitutes, hawkers and petty criminals are not to be seen in Kigali. It has produced a very clean and safe environment for tourists, although human rights agencies question the tactics used to rid the city of these ‘undesirables’, as the authorities call them. There is total ban on non-biodegradable plastic, which one is first introduced to at customs when entering the country; the customs officials confiscate all plastic in everyone’s luggage. Also, the last Saturday of every month, everyone must participate in an activity that is focused on improving the country’s public spaces, which involves everything from picking up garbage to washing down walls of public buildings.
Kigali is blessed with moderate weather all year round and in the evenings, the climate is perfect for walking about in town. In addition, the friendliness of the people of Kigali makes it one of the most desirable places in Africa to visit.