Country Code: 257
ISO Code: BDI/BI
Burundi or Burundi, officially the Republic of Burundi (in Kirundi, Republika and’u Burundi, pronounced / buɾundi /; in French, République du Burundi, pronounced /by.ʁyndi/), is a small sovereign nation located in the region of the great lakes of Africa in East Africa that has no outlet to the sea. It borders to the north with Rwanda, Tanzania to the south and east and with the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. It has an estimated population of 10.5 million inhabitants and its territory extends over an area of 27 830 km². Its capital, and in turn, the most populated city is Bujumbura, with 1,030,000 inhabitants [EIU 2013]. Other important cities are Gitega and Ngozi. Although it is a landlocked country, part of the western border borders Lake Tanganyika.
The Twa, Tutsi and Hutu peoples have occupied the country since its formation five centuries ago. Burundi was ruled as a kingdom by the Tutsi people for more than two hundred years. However, at the beginning of the 20th century, Germany and Belgium occupied the region, and Burundi and Rwanda became a European colony known as Rwanda-Urundi.
The old name of the country was Urundi-Ubrundi-Bruwanda. Urundi is the abbreviation of “Urundi Rwanda” (“The other Rwanda”), just as the Belgian colonial forces used to refer to the territory. The current name of the country comes from the Bantu Kirundi language.
The political instability that occurred in the region due to differences between the Tutsi and the Hutu, provoked two civil wars and genocides in the year 1970 and again in the 90s. Currently, Burundi is governed as a democratic presidential representative republic. 62% of the population is Catholic, 8% is Muslim and the remaining percentage is animist or belongs to other Christian religions.
Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world and has the second lowest GDP per capita according to the World Bank, after the Central African Republic. Burundi’s GDP is low due to civil wars, corruption, poor access to education and health services, weak infrastructure and the effects of HIV / AIDS. Burundi is densely overpopulated, with substantial emigration. Cobalt and copper are its main natural resources, and some of the main exports are sugar and coffee. Today, Burundi remains an overwhelmingly rural society, with only 13% of the population living in urban areas according to 2013 data and the occupation of rural populations has led to massive deforestation, soil erosion and habitat loss.
Burundi is one of the few countries in Africa that, together with the neighboring Rwanda with which it is closely related, is the direct continuation of an old African state. The origins of Burundi are known only through a mixture of historical oral sources and archeology. There are two main legends that narrate the founding of Burundi. The most popular tells the story of a Rwandan named Cambarantama, to whom he attributes the founding of the nation. The other version, more usual in pre-colonial Burundi, said that Cambarantama came from the southern state of Buha. The notion of the Rwandan origin of the kingdom was promoted by the European colonizers, because it adapted to its ideal of a ruling class that came from the Hamitic Northeast. The theory has continued to become a semi-official dogma in the modern state of Burundi. Historians doubt the Hamitic origin of the Tutsi, although it is still believed that their ancestors migrated from the north to what is now Burundi in the fifteenth century.
The first proof of the existence of the state of Burundi dates back to the 16th century, when it emerged at the foot of the eastern hills. During the following centuries it expands, annexing small neighbors and even competing with Rwanda. It reached its greatest extension during the reign of Ntare Rugama, who ruled the nation between 1796 and 1850 approximately and saw how the kingdom doubled its size.
The Kingdom of Burundi was characterized by hierarchical political authority and tax economic exchange. The king, known as the (U) mwami, headed an aristocracy ((a) baganwa) who owned most of the land and demanded a tribute or fee from local farmers and ranchers. In the middle of the 18th century, this Tutsi royalty consolidated its authority over land, production and distribution with the development of the ubugabire – a clientelistic relationship similar to the characteristics of the Europe of feudalism, in which the people received real protection in exchange for tribute.
Although European explorers and missionaries made brief incursions into the area as early as 1856, it was not until 1899 that Burundi became part of East German Germany. Unlike the Rwandan monarchy, which decided to accept German advances, the King of Burundi Mwezi Gisabo opposed all European influence, refusing to wear European attire and resisting the advance of missionaries and administrators. The Germans used armed force successfully, although they could not wipe out the king’s power. Finally, they supported the king’s son-in-law, Maconco, in a revolt against Gisabo. Gisabo had to accept the tutelage of the Germans and the Germans helped him to end the revolt of Maconco. The small kingdoms that were along the western shore of Lake Victoria were annexed to Burundi.
Former German and Belgian colony, in 1962 it gained independence and the old Tutsi monarchy was restored, under the figure of King Mwambutsa IV. The republic was proclaimed in 1966. Since the 1960s, Burundi has been the scene of several coups d’état and massacres produced by the rivalry between the country’s two main ethnic groups, the Hutus and the Tutsis, especially between 1993 and 1999, in which violence ethnicity between Hutu and Tutsi factions in Burundi produced hundreds of thousands of refugees and some 250,000 deaths. Despite the fact that some refugees have returned from neighboring countries, inter-ethnic clashes have forced others to flee. The troops of Burundi, to secure their borders, have intervened in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
62% of the population of Burundi is Catholic. While 22% are Protestant (mainly Lutheran Church), 2% of the population is Muslim and finally 14% have traditional animist beliefs.
The official languages of Burundi are Kirundi and French, but Swahili is widely spoken by most of the population.