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World Mission

Burundi

Basic info

  • Area: 27,830 sq km
  • Population: 11,466,756
  • Infant mortality: 58.8 deaths/1,000 live births
  • Life expectancy: 60.9 years
  • Urbanisation: 13% of total population
  • Literacy: 85.6%

History

Burundi is a small country in Central-East Africa bordered by Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Lake Tanganyika. Burundi gained its independence from Belgium in 1962. Much of its history has been marked by political violence and non-democratic transfers of power; 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.

Environment

It is an equatorial climate with a high plateau of 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). The terrain is hilly and mountainous, dropping to a plateau in the east and some plains too.

Economy

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. Thus, Burundi's export earnings - and its ability to pay for imports - rest primarily on favorable weather conditions and international coffee and tea prices, although exports are a relatively small share of GDP. 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 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. The 1993-2005 civil war resulted in more than 200,000 deaths, forced more than 48,000 refugees into Tanzania, and displaced 140,000 others internally. Political stability, aid flows, and economic activity improved following the war’s end, but underlying weaknesses – low governmental capacity, a high poverty rate, poor educational levels, a weak legal system, a poor transportation network, and overburdened utilities – have prevented the implementation of planned economic reforms. Government corruption has also hindered the development of a private sector. 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 isolation by donors and the international community will restrict Burundi’s economic growth as the country deals with a large current account deficit.

Ethnic groups

Ethnic Groups(%)

Hutu

85

Tutsi

14

Twa (Pygmy)

1

Religion

Religion(%)

Roman Catholic

62.1

Protestant

23.9

Other

3.6

Muslim

2.5

Languages

  • 29.7%

    Kirundi (official)

  • 9.1%

    Kirundi and other language

  • 0.3%

    French (official); French and other language

  • 0.2%

    Swahili; Swahili and other language

  • 0.06%

    English (official); English and other language