In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Rwanda was colonized by Germany and Belgium.
Both colonizers were obsessed with race, amplifying differences among Rwanda's people, in particular the ethnic designations of Hutu and Tutsi.
Colonial structures and practices cemented notions of identity into a believed reality, creating conflict between Rwanda's main groups.
In 1962, Rwanda declared independence from Belgium, yet a fixation on ethnicity continued to plague the country.
For several decades, Hutu and Tutsi groups engaged in patterns of discrimination and exclusion.
Decades of manipulation, marginalization and land pressures exploded in 1994 when Hutus targeted Tutsis in the genocide of nearly 1 million Rwandans.
Ignoring the warnings of impending violence in Rwanda and neglecting to help during the genocide, the international community invested heavily in Rwanda after 1994.
President Paul Kagame has focused investment and development efforts on reshaping Rwanda into a hub of technology and innovation, and shifting the country from an aid-based economy to a trade-based one.
Since 1994, Rwanda has achieved impressive gains, among them political stability, structural reforms and steady economic growth.
Rwanda is home to the "Big Five" species: lions, leopards, black rhinos and Africa buffalos.
The country is also a refuge for rare mountain gorillas and chimpanzees.
Through its national parks, Rwanda works to protect its wildlife and ecosystem.
Umuganda, "coming together with a common purpose to achieve an outcome," or community work.
The last Saturday of each month, Rwandans and visitors work together to repair, clean and take care of buildings, roads and community areas.
Kigali hosts "car free" days each month to promote health and sustainability.
Rwanda's "Green Fund" promotes projects that support the country's commitment to building a green economy.
Rwanda won a Green Globe Award highlighting the commitment to conservation efforts such as forest restoration, environmental protection, ecotourism, and hydropower.
Goals including tree-planting and reforestation efforts earned Rwanda the Future Policy Award in 2011.