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Burundi Country Information

Travel Advice with Country Information from the CIA.

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Burundi Map

Introduction

Background

Burundi is a small country in Central-East Africa bordered by Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Lake Tanganyika. Created in the 17th century, a Burundi Kingdom was preserved under German colonial rule in the late 19th and early 20th century, and then by Belgium after World War I. Burundi gained its independence from Belgium in 1962 as the Kingdom of Burundi, but the monarchy was overthrown in 1966 and a republic established. Political violence and non-democratic transfers of power have marked much of its history; Burundi's first democratically elected president, a Hutu, was assassinated in October 1993 after only 100 days in office. The internationally brokered Arusha Agreement, signed in 2000, and subsequent ceasefire agreements with armed movements ended the 1993-2005 civil war. Burundi’s second democratic elections were held in 2005. Pierre NKURUNZIZA was elected president in 2005 and 2010, and again in a controversial election in 2015. Burundi continues to face many economic and political challenges.

Geography

Location

Central Africa, east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, west of Tanzania

Geographic coordinates

3 30 S, 30 00 E

Map references

Africa

Area

total: 27,830 sq km

land:25,680 sq km

water:2,150 sq km

country comparison to the world: 146

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Maryland

Land boundaries

total: 1,140 km

border countries (3):Democratic Republic of the Congo 236 km, Rwanda 315 km, Tanzania 589 km

Coastline

0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)

Climate

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 Celsius 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)

Terrain

hilly and mountainous, dropping to a plateau in east, some plains

Elevation

highest point: Heha 2,670 m

lowest point:Lake Tanganyika 772 m

mean elevation:1,504 m

Natural resources

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

Land use

agricultural land: 73.3% (2018 est.)

arable land: 38.9% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 15.6% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 18.8% (2018 est.)

forest:6.6% (2018 est.)

other:20.1% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

230 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

12.536 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Population distribution

one of Africa's most densely populated countries; concentrations tend to be in the north and along the northern shore of Lake Tanganyika in the west; most people live on farms near areas of fertile volcanic soil as shown in this population distribution map

Natural hazards

flooding; landslides; drought

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified:Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban

Geography - note

landlocked; straddles crest of the Nile-Congo watershed; the Kagera, which drains into Lake Victoria, is the most remote headstream of the White Nile

People and Society

Population

12,241,065 (July 2021 est.)

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected

country comparison to the world: 77

Nationality

noun: Burundian(s)

adjective:Burundian

Ethnic groups

Hutu, Tutsi, Twa (Pygmy)

Languages

Kirundi only 29.7% (official); French only .3% (official); Swahili only .2%; English only .1% (official); Kirundi and French 8.4%; Kirundi, French, and English 2.4%, other language combinations 2%, unspecified 56.9% (2008 est.)

note: data represent languages read and written by people 10 years of age or older; spoken Kirundi is nearly universal

Religions

Roman Catholic 62.1%, Protestant 23.9% (includes Adventist 2.3% and other Protestant 21.6%), Muslim 2.5%, other 3.6%, unspecified 7.9% (2008 est.)

Government

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, German East Africa, Ruanda-Urundi, Kingdom of Burundi

etymology:name derived from the pre-colonial Kingdom of Burundi (17th-19th century)

Government type

presidential republic

Capital

name: Gitega (political capital), Bujumbura (commercial capital); note - in January 2019, the Burundian parliament voted to make Gitega the political capital of the country while Bujumbura would remain its economic capital; all branches of the government are expected to have moved from Bujumbura to Gitega by 2022

geographic coordinates:3 25 S, 29 55 E

time difference:UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the naming origins for both Gitega and Bujumbura are obscure; Bujumbura's name prior to independence in 1962 was Usumbura

Administrative divisions

18 provinces; Bubanza, Bujumbura Mairie, Bujumbura Rural, Bururi, Cankuzo, Cibitoke, Gitega, Karuzi, Kayanza, Kirundo, Makamba, Muramvya, Muyinga, Mwaro, Ngozi, Rumonge, Rutana, Ruyigi

Independence

1 July 1962 (from UN trusteeship under Belgian administration)

National holiday

Independence Day, 1 July (1962)

Constitution

history: several previous, ratified by referendum 28 February 2005

amendments:proposed by the president of the republic after consultation with the government or by absolute majority support of the membership in both houses of Parliament; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote by the Senate membership and at least four-fifths majority vote by the National Assembly; the president can opt to submit amendment bills to a referendum; constitutional articles including those on national unity, the secularity of Burundi, its democratic form of government, and its sovereignty cannot be amended; amended 2018 (amendments extended the presidential term from 5 to 7 years, reintroduced the position of prime minister, and reduced the number of vice presidents from 2 to 1)

Legal system

mixed legal system of Belgian civil law and customary law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; withdrew from ICCt in October 2017

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only:the father must be a citizen of Burundi

dual citizenship recognized:no

residency requirement for naturalization:10 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Evariste NDAYISHIMIYE (since 18 June 2020); Vice President Prosper BAZOMBANZA (since 24 June 2020); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government:President Evariste NDAYISHIMIYE (since 18 June 2020); Vice President Prosper BAZOMBANZA (since 24 June 2020); Prime Minister Alain-Guillaume BUNYONI (since 24 June 2020)

cabinet:Council of Ministers appointed by president

elections/appointments:president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 7-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 20 May 2020 (next to be held in 2025); vice presidents nominated by the president, endorsed by Parliament; note - a 2018 constitutional referendum effective for the 2020 election, increased the presidential term from 5 to 7 years with a 2-consecutive-term limit, reinstated the position of the prime minister position, and reduced the number of vice presidents from 2 to 1

election results:Evariste NDAYISHIMIYE elected president; percent of vote - Evariste NDAYISHIMIYE (CNDD-FDD) 71.5%, Agathon RWASA (CNL) 25.2%, Gaston SINDIMWO (UPRONA) 1.7%, OTHER 1.6%

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament or Parlement consists of:
Senate or Inama Nkenguzamateka (39 seats in the July 2020 election); 36 members indirectly elected by an electoral college of provincial councils using a three-round voting system, which requires a two-thirds majority vote in the first two rounds and simple majority vote for the two leading candidates in the final round; 3 seats reserved for Twas, and 30% of all votes reserved for women; members serve 5-year terms)
National Assembly or Inama Nshingamateka (123 seats in the May 2020 election; 100 members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote and 23 co-opted members; 60% of seats allocated to Hutu and 40% to Tutsi; 3 seats reserved for Twas; 30% of total seats reserved for women; members serve 5-year terms)

elections:
Senate - last held on 20 July 2020 (next to be held in 2025)
National Assembly - last held on 20 May 2020 (next to be held in 2025)

election results:Senate - percent of vote by party - CNDD-FDD 87.2%, Twa 7.7%, CNL 2.6%, UPRONA 2.6%; seats by party - CNDD-FDD 34, CNL 1, UPRONA 1, Twa 3; composition - men 23, women 16, percent of women 37.2% 
National Assembly - percent of vote by party - CNDD-FDD 70.9%, CNL 23.4%, UPRONA 2.5%, other (co-opted Twa) 3.2%; seats by party - CNDD-FDD 86, CNL 32, UPRONA 2, Twa 3; composition - men 76, women 47, percent of women 38.2%; note - total Parliament percent of women 38%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of 9 judges and organized into judicial, administrative, and cassation chambers); Constitutional Court (consists of 7 members)

judge selection and term of office:Supreme Court judges nominated by the Judicial Service Commission, a 15-member independent body of judicial and legal profession officials), appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate; judge tenure NA; Constitutional Court judges appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate and serve 6-year nonrenewable terms

subordinate courts:Courts of Appeal; County Courts; Courts of Residence; Martial Court; Court Against Corruption; Commercial Court

Political parties and leaders

Front for Democracy in Burundi-Nyakuri or FRODEBU-Nyakuri [Keffa NIBIZI]
Front for Democracy in Burundi-Sahwanya or FRODEBU-Sahwanya [Pierre Claver NAHIMANA]
National Congress for Liberty or CNL [Agathon RWASA]
National Council for the Defense of Democracy - Front for the Defense of Democracy or CNDD-FDD [Evariste NDAYISHIMIYE]
National Liberation Forces or FNL [Jacques BIGITIMANA]
Union for National Progress (Union pour le Progress Nationale) or UPRONA [Abel GASHATSI]

International organization participation

ACP, AfDB, AU, CEMAC, CEPGL, CICA, COMESA, EAC, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNISFA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Aimable NIYONKURU (since 24 December 2020)

chancery:2233 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 408, Washington, DC 20007

telephone:[1] (202) 342-2574

FAX:[1] (202) 342-2578

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d’Affaires Eunice S. REDDICK (since May 2019)

telephone:[257] 22-207-000

embassy:Avenue Des Etats-Unis, Bujumbura, BP1720

mailing address:B.P. 1720, Bujumbura

FAX:[257] 22-222-926

Flag description

divided by a white diagonal cross into red panels (top and bottom) and green panels (hoist side and fly side) with a white disk superimposed at the center bearing three red six-pointed stars outlined in green arranged in a triangular design (one star above, two stars below); green symbolizes hope and optimism, white purity and peace, and red the blood shed in the struggle for independence; the three stars in the disk represent the three major ethnic groups: Hutu, Twa, Tutsi, as well as the three elements in the national motto: unity, work, progress

National symbol(s)

lion; national colors: red, white, green

National anthem

name: "Burundi Bwacu" (Our Beloved Burundi)

lyrics/music:Jean-Baptiste NTAHOKAJA/Marc BARENGAYABO

note: adopted 1962

Economy

Economic overview

Burundi is a landlocked, resource-poor country with an underdeveloped manufacturing sector. Agriculture accounts for over 40% of GDP and employs more than 90% of the population. Burundi's primary exports are coffee and tea, which account for more than half of foreign exchange earnings, but these earnings are subject to fluctuations in weather and international coffee and tea prices, Burundi is heavily dependent on aid from bilateral and multilateral donors, as well as foreign exchange earnings from participation in the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). Foreign aid represented 48% of Burundi's national income in 2015, one of the highest percentages in Sub-Saharan Africa, but this figure decreased to 33.5% in 2016 due to political turmoil surrounding President NKURUNZIZA’s bid for a third term. Burundi joined the East African Community (EAC) in 2009.

Burundi faces several underlying weaknesses – low governmental capacity, corruption, a high poverty rate, poor educational levels, a weak legal system, a poor transportation network, and overburdened utilities – that have prevented the implementation of planned economic reforms. The purchasing power of most Burundians has decreased as wage increases have not kept pace with inflation, which reached approximately 18% in 2017.

Real GDP growth dropped precipitously following political events in 2015 and has yet to recover to pre-conflict levels. Continued resistance by donors and the international community will restrict Burundi’s economic growth as the country deals with a large current account deficit.

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 20,758

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:less than 1 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 175

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 6,644,833

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:57.62 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 105

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: with the great population density Burundi remains one of the most alluring telecom markets in Africa for investors; the government in early 2018 began the Burundi Broadband project, which plans to deliver nationwide connectivity by 2025; mobile operators have launched 3G and LTE mobile services to capitalize on the expanding demand for Internet access; mobile penetration is at 52%, and remains low by regional standards; future plans to privatize the national telecoms (2020)

domestic:telephone density one of the lowest in the world; fixed-line connections stand at well less than 1 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular usage is 58 per 100 persons (2019)

international:country code - 257; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean); the government, supported by the Word Bank, has backed a joint venture with a number of prominent telecoms to build a national fiber backbone network, offering onward connectivity to submarine cable infrastructure landings in Kenya and Tanzania (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

state-controlled Radio Television Nationale de Burundi (RTNB) operates a TV station and a national radio network; 3 private TV stations and about 10 privately owned radio stations; transmissions of several international broadcasters are available in Bujumbura (2019)

Internet country code

.bi

Internet users

total: 298,684

percent of population:2.66% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 165

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 3,935

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:less than 1 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 184

Transportation

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

9U

Airports

total: 7 (2013)

country comparison to the world: 166

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1 (2019)

over 3,047 m:1

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 6 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m:4 (2013)

under 914 m:2 (2013)

Heliports

1 (2012)

Roadways

total: 12,322 km (2016)

paved:1,500 km (2016)

unpaved:10,822 km (2016)

country comparison to the world: 130

Waterways

(mainly on Lake Tanganyika between Bujumbura, Burundi's principal port, and lake ports in Tanzania, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo) (2011)

Ports and terminals

lake port(s): Bujumbura (Lake Tanganyika)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

National Defense Forces (Forces de Defense Nationale, FDN): Army (includes maritime wing, air wing), National Police (Police Nationale du Burundi) (2020)

Military expenditures

1.8% of GDP (2019)

1.9% of GDP (2018)

1.8% of GDP (2017)

2.2% of GDP (2016)

2.1% of GDP (2015)

country comparison to the world: 68

Military and security service personnel strengths

the National Defense Forces (FDN) have approximately 25,000 active duty troops, the majority of which are ground forces (2020.)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the FDN is armed mostly with weapons from Russia and the former Soviet Union, with some Western equipment, largely from France; since 2010, the FDN has received small amounts of mostly second-hand equipment from China, South Africa, and the US (2020)

Military deployments

750 Central African Republic (MINUSCA); 5,400 Somalia (AMISOM) (Feb 2021)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for voluntary military service; the armed forces law of 31 December 2004 did not specify a minimum age for enlistment, but the government claimed that no one younger than 18 was being recruited (2019)

Military - note

in addition to its foreign deployments, the FDN is focused on internal security missions, particularly against rebel groups opposed to the regime such as National Forces of Liberation (FNL), the Resistance for the Rule of Law-Tabara (aka RED Tabara), and Popular Forces of Burundi (FPB or FOREBU); the groups are based in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo and have carried out sporadic attacks in Burundi (2020)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

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 persist among Tutsi, Hutu, other ethnic groups, associated political rebels, armed gangs, and various government forces in the Great Lakes region

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 79,662 (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (refugees and asylum seekers) (2021)

IDPs:135,058 (some ethnic Tutsis remain displaced from intercommunal violence that broke out after the 1,993 coup and fighting between government forces and rebel groups; violence since April 2015) (2020)

stateless persons:974 (2019)

Trafficking in persons

current situation: Burundi is a source country for children and possibly women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; business people recruit Burundian girls for prostitution domestically, as well as in Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and the Middle East, and recruit boys and girls for forced labor in Burundi and Tanzania; children and young adults are coerced into forced labor in farming, mining, informal commerce, fishing, or collecting river stones for construction; sometimes family, friends, and neighbors are complicit in exploiting children, at times luring them in with offers of educational or job opportunities

tier rating:Tier 3 – Burundi does not comply fully with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; corruption, a lack of political will, and limited resources continue to hamper efforts to combat human trafficking; in 2014, the government did not inform judicial and law enforcement officials of the enactment of an anti-trafficking law or how to implement it and approved – but did not fund – its national anti-trafficking action plan; authorities again failed to identify trafficking victims or to provide them with adequate protective services; the government has focused on transnational child trafficking but gave little attention to its domestic child trafficking problem and adult trafficking victims (2015)

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