The small landlocked African country has become famous in the 1980s for its mountain gorillas and the scientific work of Dian Fossey who studied them since 1967. There was even a movie about her life, and how she was finally murdered, presumably by poachers. Some years later, in the early 1990s the country became infamous for its civil war followed by a genocide. The country was off limits for foreign visitors and it took a decade until it was visited by tourists again. One of the main tourist draws is the possibility to see mountain gorillas safely. Gorilla tracking permits are available but very expensive.

The small country is located in the region of the African Great Rift system, which is a place where the African plate starts to break into two. The result is volcanism, and so there are many Cenozoic lava tubes in the country. Some of the longest are Ubuvumo Bwibihonga (L=4,530 m), Manjari (L=1,660 m), and Nyiragihima (L=1,116 m). There is a total of of 52 surveyed caves with a total of 15.2 km cave passages.