Burundi is a country of Africa
with a surface area of 27,834 km² (density of 354.35 inhab./km²). The population of Burundi is 9,863,117 inhabitants in the last census.The capital of Burundi is the city of Bujumbura which has 800,000 inhabitants. The President of the Republic is Pierre Nkurunziza.
"Union, Work, Progress"
Burundi or the Republic of Burundi is a landlocked country in East Africa sharing borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania.
Formerly a Belgian colony, the country has been independent since 1962. It is a member of the Organization internationale de la francophonie and the Parliamentary Assembly de la francophonie.
Burundi at a glance
Administrative divisions: 18 provinces
Population: more than 11 million inhabitants
Main Languages: French, Kirundi
Main religion: Christianity
Current Chairman: Pierre Nkurunziza
Currency: Burundi franc (1 franc = 100 centimes)
Conversion into euro: 100 Burundi francs = 0.05 euro
Tourism: the country is not safe because of the attacks and the tensions in the country. The greatest caution is recommended and it is not necessary to move after 18:30. The areas close to the DRC border should be avoided absolutely.
A country of lakes
Burundi is a landlocked country on the African continent and therefore has no access to the sea. Its south-western facade is bordered by Lake Tanganyika, one of the Great Lakes of Africa.
With an area of 32,900 km², Tanganyika is the second largest African lake after Lake Victoria.
The Great Lakes are located in the southern part of the Great Rift Valley, which stretches for more than 6,000 kilometers along a north-south axis at the border between the African (west) and Somali (eastern) plates). The rift separates into two branches on either side of the succession of the great lakes before coming together. These Great Lakes were formed 20 million years ago during the Miocene, along with the rift.
The Lake Tanganyika forms a natural border between Burundi, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is part of the Congo River basin into which it flows via the Lukuga River. Before 1878, the direction of this river was reversed and flowed into the lake but the movements of the tectonic plates caused a change in water level leading to this inversion. Today, the lake is fed by several rivers, including the Malagarasi which originates in the Burundian mountains and the Rusizi, a natural border between Burundi and Rwanda.
The lake basin forms an eco-region of great wealth protected by several national parks. Its lake-type fauna is particularly diverse and there are several species of endemic fish and reptiles including the Tanganyika sardine and the water cobra. The lake is also a great supplier of aquarium fish (cichlids). The shores of the lake are populated by crocodiles, hippos and many species of birds.
Apart from the lowlands of Imbo forming narrow sedimentary plains bordering Lake Tanganyika, Burundi is a mountainous country interspersed with plateaus and valleys and its highest peak, Mount Heha, peaks at 2,670 meters. It is located in the western part of the country, close to Lake Tanganyika and Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, and forms part of the Kibira Ridge (or Congo-Nile Crest), whose steep sides dominate the Lowlands.
The ridge that separates the Tanganyika basin from the central plateaus of the country is largely covered by a tropical mountain forest that transforms into shrubs above 2,500 meters. The fauna of the forest is very diverse, including different species of antelopes and primates and more than 200 species of birds including the eagle and the giant touraco. The flora is just as rich as the fauna.
The Congo-Nile ridge extends to the east by plateaus of an average altitude of 1,700 meters which occupy the greater part of the country and extend to the depression of the Kumoso and the basin of the Bugesera. The plateaus are separated by broad valleys formerly marshy but which are nowadays often cleansed for cultivation.
The eastern and northeastern facades of the country are formed by several depressions whose altitude varies between 1,100 and 1,500 meters. They separate Burundi from Tanzania and Rwanda.
Burundi is a country with significant water resources thanks to its numerous natural lakes or reservoirs and rivers. The country is part of both the Congo and the Nile basins, and the whole country is dotted with rivers.
The climate of Burundi is of tropical humid type in two seasons. The dry season extends from June to September and the rainy season extends from October to May. The rainfall is higher at higher elevations, as temperatures gradually decrease as they approach summits (average annual temperatures ranging from 24 ° in the plains to 15 ° in the Congo-Nile crest).
An early settlement
At present, the origin of Burundi's settlement remains unclear. Nevertheless, it seems certain that this settlement is closely linked to that of East Africa, which is considered the cradle of humanity. The different traces of human occupation dating from the Acheulean (500,000 years) were discovered in the country.
According to the most probable theory, the Batwa arrived first in the country, followed by the Bahutu and the Batutsi.
The tribe of the Batwa pygmy type who subsisted from the hunting was gradually repressed by the Bahutu, a sedentary people of farmers who arrived in the first millennium AD.
The Bahutu belong to the Bantu ethnic group much larger than the Batwa.
Two theories concerning their origin are opposed. For some, they would have arrived from Oceania by sailing island-to-Madagascar and from there, would have joined the African coast. For the others, they would have arrived from Asia by transiting through southern Europe and through the northeast of the African continent. The similarity of the traits between the Bantu and the Australian aborigines would tend to prove in all cases a common Asian origin.
The Batutsi originating from northeastern Africa, probably from Egypt or Ethiopia, are mostly the farmers who have settled down in successive waves in Burundi and Rwanda.
Tutsis and Hutus
The history of Burundi really begins in the 17th century when the Tutsis take over the Hutus thus marking the beginning of the conflicts that lasted officially until 1993 although the situation is still tense these days. The King Ntare I founded the kingdom of Burundi in 1675 and extended its territories by annexing the neighboring clans. It is the first king of the Ganwa dynasty who will remain in power for three centuries.
The Belgian Congo
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Germans who had already colonized Tanzania continue their expansion and occupy Burundi offering protection to King Mwezi Gisabo. Burundi is therefore part of East German Germany.
At the end of the First World War the German colonies were redistributed and the territories corresponding to Rwanda and Burundi were granted by the League of Nations at the Versailles Conference of 1919 to Belgium. In 1925, Ruanda-Urundi became the seventh province of the Belgian Congo, but it retains a separate status. Indeed, the former German colonies were regarded as mandates of the League of Nations and the mandatory countries had to comply with certain rules.
Ruanda-Urundi was a Class B warrant and the mandatory, in this case Belgium, was to "administer the territory on terms which, with the prohibition of abuse, such as the slave trade, the arms trafficking and that of the alcohol shall guarantee freedom of conscience and religion without any limitations other than those which may be imposed by the maintenance of public order and good morals and the prohibition of the establishment of fortifications or military or naval bases and to give the natives military instruction, except for the police or for the defense of the territory, and which will also assure to the other Members of the League of Nations the equality for trade and commerce".
Belgium entrusts the key functions of the administration to the Tutsi aristocracy.
On July 1st, 1962, the country became independent and Mwambutsa IV of the Ganwa dynasty was proclaimed king. Burundi is then a constitutional monarchy but the country will soon be shaken by tensions between Tutsis and Hutus. In 1966, a putsch overthrew the last king of Burundi, Ntare V and Burundi became a Republic with Michel Micombero of Tutsi origin. He established a military dictatorship and expelled the Hutus from the political arena.
In the 1970s, Hutus were the victims of genuine massacres and it was estimated that several tens of thousands were killed for ethnic differences. These abuses will precipitate a new putsch in 1976 and the accession of Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, also Tutsi, to power. It will improve the health and education system, boost the coffee industry and produce, and provide the country with many infrastructures and a good road network. He was also overthrown in 1987 and forced into exile.
Pierre Buyoya established the Third Republic of Burundi that he wanted to democratize. In 1993, he was replaced by a politician of Hutu origin in the country's first free elections. The new president and several members of the government are murdered a few weeks later, which triggers a civil war that will tear the country until 2005 despite the elaboration of a new constitution in 2001 guaranteeing an ethnic alternation of president and Vice-president every 18 months.
The peace between the two ethnic groups was signed in 2005 and Pierre Nkurunziza, a Hutu by his mother and Tutsi by his father, was elected president of the republic for a five-year term renewed in 2010.
When he remembers in the 2015 elections, ignoring the constitution, he provoked a new political crisis within his own party and a coup that was repressed in a bloodbath.
He is nevertheless re-elected even if the elections are not only illegal but also suspected of irregularity.
Burundi is a multi-party republic whose President elected for a five-year term, which is in principle only renewable once, is both Head of State and Government.
The executive power is assured by the president (currently Pierre Nkurunziza) and two vice-presidents (currently Thérence Sinunguruza and Gervais Rufyikiri).
The legislative power is assured by the Parliament constituted of the National Assembly and the Senate.
The judicial power is exercised by the High Court of Justice, the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeal as well as by the courts of high instance, residence and hills. The latter act as a "reconciler" between two parties.
A Great Poverty
Burundi is one of the three poorest countries in the world and nearly 60% live below the poverty line. Despite the renewed growth after the peace talks between the Tutsi and the Hutu, the country is experiencing serious difficulties following the election of the president for a third term in 2015. The budget deficit has increased and the community has reduced the financial support to the country resulting in a markedly negative growth.
Burundi's main economic resources come from the agricultural sector, which employs 90% of the population and accounts for more than half of GDP. This situation allows the rural population to resist the economic difficulties better than the urban dwellers who suffer the full recession and the inflation that affects the necessities such as sugar, rice or fuel.
In addition, the government has made drastic budget cuts in such crucial areas as education or health. More than a quarter of the population uses begging and robbery or relies on humanitarian aid to simply survive.
The Burundian government is trying to hide the exact situation of the country and refuses in particular the arrival of observers of the United Nations or of the African Union. However, it is estimated that several thousand people have died, been tortured, missing or imprisoned, while 400,000 Burundians have fled their country in the last two years.
The rivalry between Hutus and Tutsis
The total population of Burundi exceeds 11 million inhabitants and has a natural rate of increase of 3.6%.
Hutus are largely the majority in the country and represent 85% of the population against 14% Tutsis and 1% Twas.
French and Kirundi are the two official languages and taught in schools in Burundi. Kirundi, a Bantu language, is the mother tongue of 97% of Burundians, whether Hutus, Tutsis or Twas. French is spoken mainly by the well-to-do fringe of the population (8%). And Swahili, another Bantu language, is used mainly in urban areas (2% of the population).
82% of Burundians are Christian (61% Catholic and 21% Protestant) while 3% chose Islam as their religion.
Burundian cuisine is the image of the country. Very poor, Burundians feed mainly on sweet potatoes, beans and corn. The meat is rarely on the menu. On the other hand, the sorghum or banana beer is consumed in large quantities.
The music is an important part of the life of the Burundians and the famous "Drums of Burundi" have occurred all over the world. They often accompany the dances stemming from the traditions of the country.
Currently, the tourist stays in Burundi are not recommended. Nevertheless, people wishing to travel to this country must show their presence on the territory and file their itinerary with the French Embassy.
The attacks, followed by police repression, are prevalent in Bujumbura, the capital, and in the most important localities of the country.
It is recommended not to walk and in any case after 6 pm, it is necessary to avoid gatherings or the places frequented, especially the markets, the railway stations and the places of worship. It is necessary to avoid wearing external signs of wealth, to park vehicles outside secure car parks, to circulate with unlocked doors.
The border with the Republic of Congo and the forest of the Kibira are the theater of confrontations between rebels and armed forces and are therefore to be avoided absolutely. As a rule, you should only travel between 7 and 18 hr. Besides these hours, the roads are no longer secure and travelers are subjected to acts of robbery, sometimes violent and armed.
Apart from these precautions linked to the current tensions in the country, it is also necessary to avoid swimming in the waters of Tanganyika or approach the banks inhabited by wild animals.
At the health level, the vaccination against yellow fever is mandatory and the vaccinations against tuberculosis, typhoid fever, viral hepatitis A and B, meningitis A, C, Y and W135 as well as rabies are recommended.
The strict food hygiene precautions are observed to avoid cholera and it is imperative to protect against mosquito bites responsible for malaria, Chikungunya and Dengue. The risk behavior due to sexually transmitted infections and the HIV virus must also be avoided.
Burundi, however, is a country with a pleasant climate offering landscapes of unforgettable richness and diversity. Apart from ethnic conflicts, Burundians are welcoming and much attached to their traditions and culture.