Interesting facts about Burundi

burundi flag

Burundi is a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes region of East Africa.

The official name of the country is the Republic of Burundi.

It is bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of
the Congo to the west.

Burundi has two official languages: French and Kirundi.

As of 1 January 2017, the population of Burundi was estimated to be 11,742,319 people.

It is the 142nd largest country in the world in terms of land area with 27,834 square kilometers (10,747 square miles).

Bujumbura is the capital, largest city, and main port of Burundi. It ships most of the country’s chief export, coffee, as well as cotton and tin ore. It is on the north-eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika.


The terrain of Burundi is hilly and mountainous, dropping to a plateau in the east.

Mount Heha is the highest point of Burundi, with an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,759 feet); the lowest point of the country is Lake Tanganyika at 772 meters (2,532 feet).

Major rivers include the Kanyaru, Malagarasi, Rusize and Ruvubu, and significant lakes include the Cohaha, Rwero and of course, Lake Tanganyika.

Lake Tanganyika is the second oldest freshwater lake in the world, second largest by volume, and the second deepest. It is divided among four countries – Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burundi, and Zambia.

lake tanganyika

Burundi has three national parks, Kibira National Park to the northwest (a small region of rainforest, adjacent to Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda), Ruvubu National Park to the northeast (along the Rurubu River), and Rusizi National Park [photo below] the most popular tourist attraction in Burundi.

rusizi national park

The Chutes de la Kagera or Kagera Falls are a spectacular series of waterfalls in southeastern Burundi. They are located to the south of Rutana. The falls occupy over 142 hectares, being made up of six branches divided on three landings. The biggest and most beautiful – the fourth waterfall falls from a height of 80 meters (262 feet) in two turbulent flows, concentrating at the bottom of the small lakes.

kagera falls

The Livingstone–Stanley Monument at Mugere in Burundi is 12 km south of the capital Bujumbura, overlooking Lake Tanganyika, and marks a location where explorer and missionary Dr David Livingstone and journalist and explorer Henry Morton Stanley visited and spent two nights on 25–27 November 1871.

livingstone stanley monument

Burundi is one of the few countries in Africa, along with its closely linked neighbour Rwanda among others, to be a direct territorial continuation of a pre-colonial era African state.

The first evidence of the Burundian state is from 16th century where it emerged on the eastern foothills. Over the following centuries it expanded, annexing smaller neighbours and competing with Rwanda.

The last Burundian monarchy is said to have begun in the late 17th century.

burundi vintage postcard

Germany established armed forces in Ruanda and Burundi at the end of the 19th century, colonising the area and establishing German East Africa.

After the First World War and Germany’s defeat, it ceded the territory to Belgium.

Both Germans and Belgians ruled Burundi and Rwanda as a European colony known as Ruanda-Urundi.

Burundi gained independence in 1962 and initially had a monarchy, but a series of assassinations, coups and a general climate of regional instability culminated in the establishment of a republic and one-party state in 1966.

flag map of burundi

Burundi has been plagued by ethnic conflict between the majority Hutus and the Tutsis, who tend to dominate the government and army — but are only 14 percent of the population.

The original inhabitants of Burundi were the Twa, a Pygmy people who now make up only 1% of the population.

Bouts of ethnic cleansing and ultimately two civil wars and genocides during the 1970s and again in the 1990s left the country undeveloped and its population as one of the world’s poorest.

Approximately 80 percent of Burundi’s population lives in poverty.

About 90 percent of the population depends on agriculture for a living.

Burundians traditionally built their houses of grass and mud in a shape reminiscent of a beehive and wove leaves together for the roof. The traditional Tutsi hut, called a rugo, was surrounded by cattle corrals. Today the most common materials are mud and sticks, although wood and cement blocks also are used. The roofs are usually tin, since leaves are in short supply as a result of deforestation.

Ninety-two percent of the population lives in a rural setting, mostly in family groupings too small to be called villages that are scattered throughout the highlands.

Group jogging is banned in Burundi. In 2014, the country’s president banned the activity, citing the reason that such walks can help people plan subversive (anti-government) activities.

The World Happiness Report 2017 ranked Burundi as the world’s second least happy nation with a rank of 154.

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