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After independence in 1962, the all-Hutu government sought to portray Rwanda as a Hutu country, emphasizing agrarian cultural symbols.Christianity became an important source of national symbols, with almost all national leaders openly identifying as Christians, the large majority as Catholic.The monarchy served as an important unifying symbol, representing the interest of all three ethnic groups.Hutu and Tutsi were also linked together throughout much of the territory in a system of cattle vassalage, in which Tutsi patrons provided cattle to Hutu clients.From the continental divide, the land drops sharply to the shores of Lake Kivu, which forms most of Rwanda's border with Congo.A range of high volcanoes forms Rwanda's northwest border.Rwanda is the most densely populated country in Africa.Prior to the 1994 war, Rwanda was among the most rural countries in the world, but the war precipitated rapid urbanization, with many refugees choosing not to return to their rural homes but to settle instead in the cities, primarily Kigali. Kinyarwanda is a unifying factor within Rwanda, since it is spoken almost universally.
During the 1994 genocide, an estimated 80 percent of the Tutsi population living in Rwanda was killed, perhaps 600,000 people, but after a Tutsi-dominated government came to power in Rwanda in 1994, an estimated 700,000 Tutsi refugees returned from abroad.
The mountainous topography continues in the North Kivu region of Congo, where almost half of the population identifies as Rwandan.