Rwanda is a landlocked country surrounded by Uganda in the north, Tanzania in the east, Burundi in the south, and Zaire to its west and northwest.
Rwanda lies on the East African plateau, with the divide between the water systems of the Nile and Zaire rivers passing in a north-south direction through the western part of the country. To the west of the divide, the land drops sharply to Lake Kivu in the Great African Rift Valley; to the east, the land falls gradually across the central plateau - its grassy highlands are the core areas of settlement of Rwanda's population - to the swamps and lakes on the country's eastern border.
Most of Rwanda is 3,000 ft above sea level, with much of the central plateau being higher than 4,700 ft. In the northwest, on the border with Zaire, are the volcanic Virunga Mountains; the highest peak, Mount Karisimbi (14,870 ft) is snowcapped. Lake Kivu, 4,700 feet above sea level, drains into Lake Tanganyika, through the sharply descending Ruzizi River. The Kagera River, which forms much of Rwanda's eastern border, flows into Lake Victoria.