Burundi, officially the Republic of Burundi, is a small country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the south and east, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Although the country is landlocked, much of the southwestern border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika.

Background History

Burundi's first democratically elected president was assassinated in October 1993 after only 100 days in office, triggering widespread ethnic violence between Hutu and Tutsi factions. More than 200,000 Burundians perished during the conflict that spanned almost a dozen years. Hundreds of thousands of Burundians were internally displaced or became refugees in neighboring countries. An internationally brokered power-sharing agreement between the Tutsi-dominated government and the Hutu rebels in 2003 paved the way for a transition process that led to an integrated defense force, established a new constitution in 2005, and elected a majority Hutu government in 2005. The government of President Pierre Nkurunziza, who was reelected in 2010, continues to face many political and economic challenges.


Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Republic of Burundi
  • conventional short form: Burundi
  • local long form: Republique du Burundi/Republika y'u Burundi
  • local short form: Burundi
  • former: Urundi


  • name: Bujumbura
  • population: 455,000
  • geographic coordinates: 3 22 S, 29 21 E
  • time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • 1 July 1962 (from UN trusteeship under Belgian administration)

Government Type:

  • republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Pierre Nkurunziza - Hutu (since 26 August 2005); First Vice President Therence Sinunguruza - Tutsi (since 29 August 2010); Second Vice President Gervais Rufyikiri - Hutu (since 29 August 2010)
  • head of government: President Pierre Nkurunziza (since 26 August 2005)
  • elections: the president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); elections last held on 28 June 2010 (next to be held in 2015); vice presidents nominated by the president, endorsed by parliament

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: bicameral Parliament consists of a Senate and a National Assembly

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Court; Constitutional Court; High Court of Justice

People & Society


  • 10,557,259 (global rank: 81)
  • growth rate: 3.104% (global rank: 8)


  • noun: Burundian(s)
  • adjective: Burundian

Major Cities:

  • Bujumbura (capital): 455,000

Ethnic Groups:

  • Hutu (Bantu) 85%, Tutsi (Hamitic) 14%, Twa (Pygmy) 1%, Europeans 3,000, South Asians 2,000


  • Christian 67% (Roman Catholic 62%, Protestant 5%), indigenous beliefs 23%, Muslim 10%


  • Kirundi (official), French (official), Swahili (along Lake Tanganyika and in the Bujumbura area)

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 59.24 years (global rank: 190)
  • male: 57.52 years
  • female: 61.02 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 60.32 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 28)
  • male: 64.85 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 55.67 deaths/1,000 live births

HIV/AIDS (2009 est.):

  • adult prevalence rate: 3.3% (global rank: 21)
  • people living with AIDS: 180,000 (global rank: 29)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 59.3%
  • male: 67.3%
  • female: 52.2%


Burundi is a landlocked, resource-poor country with an underdeveloped manufacturing sector. The economy is predominantly agricultural which accounts for just over 30% of GDP and employs more than 90% of the population. Burundi's primary exports are coffee and tea, which account for 90% of foreign exchange earnings, though exports are a relatively small share of GDP. Burundi's export earnings - and its ability to pay for imports - rests primarily on weather conditions and international coffee and tea prices. The Tutsi minority, 14% of the population, dominates the coffee trade. An ethnic-based war that lasted for over a decade resulted in more than 200,000 deaths, forced more than 48,000 refugees into Tanzania, and displaced 140,000 others internally. Only one in two children go to school, and approximately one in 15 adults has HIV/AIDS. Food, medicine, and electricity remain in short supply. Less than 2% of the population has electricity in its homes. Burundi's GDP grew around 4% annually in 2006-11. Political stability and the end of the civil war have improved aid flows and economic activity has increased, but underlying weaknesses - a high poverty rate, poor education rates, a weak legal system, a poor transportation network, overburdened utilities, and low administrative capacity - risk undermining planned economic reforms. The purchasing power of most Burundians has decreased as wage increases have not kept up with inflation. Burundi will continue to remain heavily dependent on aid from bilateral and multilateral donors--Burundi's foreign aid represents 42% of its national income, the second highest rate in Sub-Saharan Africa; the delay of funds after a corruption scandal cut off bilateral aid in 2007 reduced government's revenues and its ability to pay salaries. Burundi joined the East African Community, which should boost Burundi's regional trade ties, and received $700 million in debt relief in 2009. Government corruption is also hindering the development of a healthy private sector as companies seek to navigate an environment with ever-changing rules.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $3.672 billion (global rank: 172)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $400 (global rank: 222)
  • real growth rate: 4.2% (global rank: 94)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 31.1%, industry: 21.5%, services: 47.4%


  • currency: Burundi Francs (BIF)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 1,251


  • population below poverty line: NA
  • unemployment rate: NA

Agricultural Products:

  • coffee, cotton, tea, corn, sorghum, sweet potatoes, bananas, manioc (tapioca); beef, milk, hides


  • light consumer goods such as blankets, shoes, soap; assembly of imported components; public works construction; food processing

Export Commodities:

  • coffee, tea, sugar, cotton, hides

Import Commodities:

  • capital goods, petroleum products, foodstuffs



  • Central Africa, east of Democratic Republic of the Congo


  • total: 27,830 sq km (global rank: 147)
  • land: 25,680 sq km
  • water: 2,150 sq km
  • comparative: slightly smaller than Maryland


  • equatorial; high plateau with considerable altitude variation (772 m to 2,670 m above sea level); average annual temperature varies with altitude from 23 to 17 degrees centigrade but is generally moderate as the average altitude is about 1,700 m; average annual rainfall is about 150 cm; two wet seasons (February to May and September to November), and two dry seasons (June to August and December to January)

Land Use:

  • arable land: 35.57%
  • permanent crops: 13.12%
  • other: 51.31%

Natural Resources:

  • nickel, uranium, rare earth oxides, peat, cobalt, copper, platinum, vanadium, arable land, hydropower, niobium, tantalum, gold, tin, tungsten, kaolin, limestone

Current Environmental Issues:

  • soil erosion as a result of overgrazing and the expansion of agriculture into marginal lands; deforestation (little forested land remains because of uncontrolled cutting of trees for fuel); habitat loss threatens wildlife populations

Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: Burundi and Rwanda dispute two sq km (0.8 sq mi) of Sabanerwa, a farmed area in the Rukurazi Valley where the Akanyaru/Kanyaru River shifted its course southward after heavy rains in 1965; cross-border conflicts among Tutsi, Hutu, other ethnic groups, associated political rebels, armed gangs, and various government forces persist in the Great Lakes region
  • refugees (country of origin): 9,849 (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
  • internally displaced peoples: 100,000 (armed conflict between government and rebels; most IDPs in northern and western Burundi)

Published: Friday, February 13, 2009