Burundi Facts

Burundi Facts and History


Burundi – a biodiverse country in Central Africa

Burundi is one of the smaller states in Africa.

The country lies between Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika and is traversed by a high plateau (1,400 to 1,800 meters) that gradually rises to over 2,700 meters. This fringe mountain range, which belongs to the Central African Rift, drops steeply towards the interior of the rift valley. This is filled by Lake Tanganyika.

The climate is tropical and humid. The temperatures are tempered by the altitude.

The species-rich animal world includes leopards, lions, baboons, zebras and antelope species, while crocodiles and hippos live in the rivers.

Name of the country Republic of Burundi
Form of government Presidential Republic
Geographical location Central Africa
National anthem Burundi bwacu (Beloved Burundi)
Population approx. 12 million (Credit: Countryaah: Burundi Population)
Ethnicities approx. 85% Hutu (Bantu), 14% Tutsi, 1% Twa (Pygmies)
Religions approx. 80% Christians, 18% followers of natural religions and approx. 2% Muslims
Languages Kirundi (Bantu) and French are the official languages
Capital Bujumbura
Surface 27,834 km²
Highest mountain Karonje with a height of 2,685 m
Longest river Ruvubu
Largest lake in area Lake Tanganyika with an area of 32,893 km²
International license plate BU
National currency 1 Burundi Franc = 100 Centimes
Time difference to CET + 1 h
International phone code 00257
Mains voltage, frequency 220 volts and 50 hertz(an adapter is required)
Internet TLD (Top Level Domain) .bi

Burundi: history

Until the 19th century

The earliest residents of Burundi were probably the Twa, a pygmy people, about whose history little is known. From around the 8th century onwards, they were gradually displaced by the Bantu people of the Hutu who immigrated from the south and who lived mainly from agriculture. Since the 14th or 15th century, the Hutu were subjugated by the East Hamite nomadic people of the Tutsi (formerly Watussi warriors) who invaded the country from the north. They founded the kingdoms of Burundi and Rwanda in the 17th century. From the middle of the 19th century, the advance of the Europeans into the territory of today’s Burundi began. In 1890 the colony “German East Africa” was formed from what is now Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania.

In the 20th century

According to Abbreviationfinder website, during the Second World War, Belgian troops from the Congo conquered Burundi and Rwanda, and in 1920 Belgium received the League of Nations mandate for these areas. In 1946 Burundi became a United Nations trustee territory under Belgian administration. Up until this point in time, the predominance of the Tutsi minority over the Hutu had remained completely intact.

In 1961 the country received internal autonomy and the Tutsi Louis Rwagasore became head of government. He was murdered after a few days. After a retaliatory strike that killed four Hutu trade unionists, open conflict broke out between the two peoples in early 1962.

Since the Hutu came to power in neighboring Rwanda, the entire Tutsi upper class fled to Burundi and from there, under the exile king Mwami Kigéri V, attempted invasions into Rwanda, which in turn triggered retaliatory strikes by the Rwandan troops. In 1962, Burundi declared independence as a constitutional monarchy with Mwami Mwambutsa II as head of state. The violent conflicts between the Hutu and the Tutsi continued, in October 1965 alone over 5,000 Hutu were murdered by the Tutsi army. In 1966 the king was overthrown and the first republic was founded under Captain Micombero. Since then, various Tutsi clans have been fighting for power in the country, with Tutsi from the southern province of Bururi increasingly asserting themselves.

In 1972 there was a Hutu uprising that killed thousands of Tutsis. The retaliation consisted of several mass murders of the Hutu. The number of victims is imprecise, between 50,000 and 300,000 dead. The massacres triggered flows of refugees to the neighboring countries Tanzania, Rwanda and Zaire. In the following years, Hutu guerrillas from the surrounding countries and the Burundian military fought.

In 1982 Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, who had ruled since 1976, was confirmed in his office as President by elections and a new constitution was adopted. Bagaza was overthrown bloodless by the military in 1979, the new head of state was Major Pierre Buyoya of the Tutsi.

Another Hutu uprising in August 1988 was followed by a military campaign of repression, which killed at least 5,000 Hutu. A government of “National Reconciliation” was then formed, initially consisting of twelve Hutu and eleven Tutsi. In 1992, a constitutional amendment reintroduced the multi-party system.

The candidate of the main Hutu opposition party (FRODEBU), Melchior Ndadaye, emerged victorious from the presidential elections in June 1993. In the parliamentary elections that followed, the FRODEBU (Front for Democracy) won 65 of the 81 seats in parliament. After Ndadaye and six other Hutu politicians were murdered in October of the same year, there were again massacres with a total of around 200,000 dead. The resulting stream of refugees of around 1 million people led to famine and epidemics in neighboring countries.

The new Hutu head of state, Cyprien Ntaryamira, elected in 1994, appointed the Tutsi Anatole Kanyen Kiko to head a coalition government. Both politicians lost their lives in a plane crash that same year, which resulted in another massacre. The new Hutu state president Sylvestre Ntibantunganya also ruled in coalition with a Tutsi head of government, but the bloody clashes between the Hutu militias and the Tutsi-dominated army continued, claiming countless civilian casualties.

Another coup under Major Pierre Buyoya, followed by a military dictatorship, led to economic sanctions by the OAU (Organization for African Unity) in 1996, which were lifted after a number of democratization measures. Despite international mediation efforts, however, no long-term agreement could be reached between the conflicting parties in Burundi for the time being.

In 2001 a transitional government took office under President Pierre Buyoya and a transitional constitution came into force. In 2002 a transitional national assembly was constituted under President Dr. Jean Minani (FRODEBU, Hutu) and a transitional senate under President Libère Bararunyeretse (UPRONA, Tutsi). Several armistice agreements were also signed in the same year.

As early as 2003, there was renewed fighting between government troops and rebels. In the summer of 2004 the UN Security Council sent a blue helmet mission with 5,600 soldiers to implement the ceasefire agreements, disarm the rebels and monitor elections.

In August 2004, the future electoral system was decided in Pretoria: with 60% Hutus and 40% Tutsis in parliament and 50% each in the Senate, plus 3 parliamentary and senate seats each for the Batwa ethnic minority. In the same month, around 150 women and children of the Banyamulenge (Tutsi refugees from the DR Congo) were murdered in an attack by FNL rebels and militias from the Congo on the Gatumba refugee camp on the border with the DR Congo. In September 2004 the Senate and Parliament passed an interim constitution.

In the persistent conflicts between the Hutu and the Tutsi as well as between Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the DR Congo, the rich mineral deposits in the region (gold, diamonds and rare metals) play no small role. Nevertheless, Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world.

In 2005, Pierre Nkurunziza was elected President of the country.

Burundi Facts