Burundi -- Geography --
Location of Burundi: Central Africa, east of Democratic Republic of the Congo
Bordering Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo 233 km, Rwanda 290 km, Tanzania 451 km
Arable Land: 35.57 %
Crops: 13.12 %
Land Area Total: 27,830 sq km
Land Area Land: 25,650 sq km
Land Area Water: 2,180 sq km
Lowest Elevation: 772 m
Largest City in Burundi: Bujumbura
Bujumbura’s Population: 321,000
Threatened Species: 17
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
Geographical Terrain: hilly and mountainous, dropping to a plateau in east, some plains
Natural Hazards: flooding, landslides, drought.
One of the smallest countries in Africa, Burundi is landlocked and has an equatorial climate. Burundi is a part of the Albertine Rift, the western extension of the Great Rift Valley. The country lies on a rolling plateau in the center of Africa. The average elevation of the central plateau is 1,700 m, with lower elevations at the borders. Average annual temperature varies from 17 to 23 degrees centigrade but the clime is generally moderate; average annual rainfall is about 1500 mm. Wet seasons are from February to May and September to November, and dry seasons are from June to August and December to January. The highest peak, Mount Heha at 2,690 m, lies to the southeast of the capital, Bujumbura. The Nile is a major river in Burundi. Lake Victoria is also an important water source. Another major lake is Lake Tanganyika, located in much of Burundi's southwestern corner. Burundi's lands are mostly agricultural or pasture. Settlement by rural populations has led to deforestation, soil erosion and habitat loss. Deforestation of the entire country is almost completely due to overpopulation, with a mere 600 sq.km remaining and an ongoing loss of about 9% per annum.
Burundi -- History --
The Twa, Tutsi, and Hutu peoples have occupied Burundi since the country's formation five centuries ago. Burundi was ruled as a kingdom by the Tutsi for over two hundred years. However, at the beginning of the twentieth century, Germany and Belgium occupied the region, and Burundi and Rwanda became a European colony known as Ruanda-Urundi. Political unrest occurred throughout the region because of social differences between the Tutsi and Hutu, provoking civil war in Burundi throughout the middle twentieth century. Presently, Burundi is governed as a presidential representative democratic republic. Sixty-two percent of Burundians are Roman Catholic, eight to ten percent are Muslims and the rest follow indigenous beliefs and other Christian denominations. Burundi is one of the ten poorest countries in the world and also has a low gross domestic product, largely due to civil wars, corruption, poor access to education, and the effects of HIV/AIDS. Burundi is densely populated, with substantial emigration. In 1899 Burundi was colonized by Germany and became part of German East Africa. In 1916, after its defeat in World War I, Germany handed control of Burundi to Belgium. On October 20, 1924, Burundi officially became a part of the Belgian colonial empire and was known as Ruanda-Urundi, and consisted of Rwanda and Burundi. However, the Belgians allowed Ruanda-Urundi to continue its kingship dynasty. Following World War II, Ruanda-Urundi was a United Nations Trust Territory under Belgian administrative authority.
On September 18, 1962, just over a month after declaring independence from Belgium, Burundi joined the United Nations.The country claimed independence in July 1, 1962, and legally changed its name from Ruanda-Urundi to Burundi. Upon Burundi’s independence, a constitutional monarchy was established and the Hutus and Tutsis held equal representation in Parliament. Four years later the country was claimed to be Republic. In June 1993, Melchior Ndadaye, leader of the Hutu-dominated Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU), won the first democratic election and became the first Hutu head of the state, leading a pro-Hutu government. In October 1993, Tutsi soldiers assassinated Ndadaye, which started further years of violence between Hutus and Tutsis. It is estimated that some 300,000 were killed in 1993. In 2005, Pierre Nkurunziza, once a leader of a Hutu rebel group, was elected to president.
Burundi -- Economy --
Burundi is one of the poorest countries on the planet, owing in part to its landlocked geography, poor legal system, lack of access to education, and the proliferation of HIV/AIDS. Approximately 80% of Burundi's population lives in poverty. Famines and food shortages have occurred throughout Burundi, most notably in the 20th century, and according to the World Food Programme, 56.8% of children under age five suffer from chronic malnutrition. As a result of poverty, Burundi is dependent on foreign aid. Burundi's largest industry is agriculture, which accounted for 58% of the GDP in 1997. The nation's largest source of revenue is coffee, which makes up 93% of Burundi's exports. Other agriculture products include cotton, tea, maize, sweet potatoes, bananas, manioca (tapioca); beef, milk, and hides. Some of Burundi's natural resources include uranium, nickel, cobalt, copper, and platinum. Besides agriculture, other industries include: assembly of imported components; public works construction; food processing, and production of goods such as blankets, shoes, and soap. Burundi's currency is the Burundian franc (BIF). Burundi is part of the East African Community and a potential member of the planned East African Federation.
Burundi -- Culture --
Burundi's culture is based on local tradition and the influence of neighboring countries. Since farming is the main industry in Burundi, a typical Burundian meal consists of sweet potatoes, corn, and peas. Due to the expense, meat is only eaten a few times per month. Crafts are an important art form in Burundi and are attractive gifts to many tourists. Basket weaving is a popular craft for Burundian artisans. Other crafts such as masks, shields, statues, pottery are made in Burundi. Drumming is an important part of Burundian cultural heritage. The world-famous Royal Drummers of Burundiare noted for traditional drumming using the amashako, ibishikiso, and ikiranya drums. Dance often accompanies drumming performance, which is frequently seen in celebrations and family gatherings. The abatimbo, which is performed at official ceremonies and rituals, and the fast-paced abanyagasimbo are some famous Burundian dances. Some musical instruments of note are the flute, zither, ikembe, indonongo, umuduri, inanga, and the inyagara. Kirundi, French, and Swahili are spoken throughout Burundi. Burundi's literacy rate is low due to low school attendance. Burundi's oral tradition is strong and relays history and life lessons through storytelling, poetry, and song. Imigani, indirimbo and amazina are types of literary genres existing in Burundi. Basketball is noted sport in Burundi. Football is a popular pastime throughout the country. In Burundi most Christian holidays are celebrated, with Christmas being the largest. Burundian Independence Day is celebrated annually on July 1. In 2005, the Burundian government declared Eid al-Fitr, an Islamic holiday, to be a public holiday. Recently the government of Burundi passed changes in law, criminalising homosexuality. People found guilty of consensual same-sex relations risk two to three years in prison and a fine of 50,000 to 100,000 Burundian francs.
Burundi -- Political system, law and government --
Burundi's political system is presidential representative democratic republic based upon a multi-party state. The President of Burundi is the head of state and head of government. There are currently 21 registered parties in Burundi. On March 13, 1992, Tutsi coup leader Pierre Buyoya established a constitution, which provided for a multi-party political process and reflected multi-party competition. Six years later, on June 6, 1998, the constitution was changed, broadening National Assembly's seats and making provisions for two vice presidents. Burundi's legislative branch is a bicameral assembly, consisting of the Transitional National Assembly and the Transitional Senate. Ňhe Transitional National Assembly consists of 170 members. Members of the National Assembly are elected by popular vote and serve for five year terms. The Transitional Senate has fifty-one members, and three seats are reserved for former presidents. Due to stipulations in Burundi's constitution, 30% of Senate members must be female. Members of the Senate are elected by electoral colleges, which consist of members from each of Burundi's provinces and communes. For each of Burundi's seventeen provinces, one Hutu and one Tutsi senator are chosen. One term for the Transitional Senate is five years. Together, Burundi's legislative branch elect the President to a five-year term. As of 2008, the President of Burundi is Pierre Nkurunziza. The First Vice President is Dr. Yves Sahinguvu, and the Second Vice President is Gabriel Ntisezerana. Burundi's president appoints officials to his Council of Ministers, which is also part of the executive branch. The president can also pick fourteen members of the Transitional Senate to serve on the Council of Ministers. Members of the Council of Ministers must be approved by two-thirds of Burundi's legislature.
The Supreme Court is Burundi's highest court. There are three Courts of Appeals directly below the Supreme Court. Tribunals of First Instance are used as judicial courts in each of Burundi's provinces as well as 123 local tribunals.
Burundi is divided into 17 provinces, 117 communes, and 2,638 collines (hills).Provincial governments are structured upon these boundaries. In 2000, the province encompassing Bujumbura was separated into two provinces, Bujumbura Rural and Bunjumbura Mairie.
The provinces are:
• Bujumbura Mairie
• Bujumbura Rural