Notorious for the 1994 gruesome genocide, Rwanda, the so-called "land of a thousand hills," is now a reasonably safe and increasingly popular travel destination. The country's main attraction, the mountain gorillas, have miraculously survived—even thrived—despite a devastating civil war that brought poachers, settlers and rebel soldiers into their rugged park refuge.
The ethnically motivated war, which attracted worldwide media attention and eventually was made into the movie Hotel Rwanda, resulted in the massacre of at least 1 million people between April and July 1994. Since then, however, the news out of Rwanda has mostly involved positive change and gradual reconciliation. Local and international tribunals have dealt with the perpetrators of the genocide, and the country held its first elections in 1999, paving the way for the unveiling of a democratic constitution and peaceful presidential election in 2003.
The Volcanoes National Park, home to the rare mountain gorillas, reopened in July 1999, and travelers can once again visit these gentle giants made famous by Dian Fossey.
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