Indigenous inhabitants of Rwanda, the Batwa (or Twa) are a pygmy people on the point of extinction.

The Batwa live in forested or mountainous areas. Their average height is under 59 inches (150cm). They are hunter-gatherers who maintain a semi-nomadic way of life.

In pre-Colonial times, there existed a symbiotic relationship between the Tutsi, Hutu and Batwa. The Batwa pygmies specialised in pottery, hunting and court musicians and attendants of the Tutsi kings.

Under German and Belgian administration, that balance was destoyed as Hutus battled with Tutsis for power in a newly cash based society. In 1969, the World Bank funded agricultural development in the Gishwati forest which resulted the destruction of much of the Batwa's natural habitat.

Before the 1994 genocide, there were about 20,000 Batwa, 1.5% of the population of Rwanda. Many were killed in that conflict or ended up in refugee camps in neighbouring Congo, Uganda,Zaire,Burundi and Tanzania. It is not known how many Batwa people survive.

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