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Facts


Population: 10,52 million (2016)
Area: 27 834 km²
Capital City: Bujumbura


About Burundi
Burundi, officially the Republic of Burundi, is a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes region of East Africa, bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. It is also considered part of Central Africa. Burundi’s capital is Bujumbura. The southwestern border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika.
Burundi is divided into eighteen provinces, each named after their respective capital with the exception of Bujumbura Rural. The newest province, Rumonge, was created on 26 March 2015 from five communes previously belonging to the provinces of Bujumbura Rural and Bururi.


Currency

The Burundian Franc is the currency of Burundi. The currency code for Francs is BIF.

Climate


Burundi in general has a tropical highland climate, with a considerable daily temperature range in many areas. Temperature also varies considerably from one region to another, chiefly as a result of differences in altitude. The central plateau enjoys pleasantly cool weather, with an average temperature of 20° C (68° F ). The area around Lake Tanganyika is warmer, averaging 23° C (73° F ); the highest mountain areas are cooler, averaging 16° C (60° F ). Bujumbura’s average annual temperature is 23° C (73° F ). Rain is irregular, falling most heavily in the northwest. Dry seasons vary in length, and there are sometimes long periods of drought. However, four seasons can be distinguished: the long dry season (June–August), the short wet season (September–November), the short dry season (December–January), and the long wet season (February–May). Most of Burundi receives between 130 and 160 cm (51–63 in) of rainfall a year. The Ruzizi Plain and the northeast receive between 75 and 100 cm (30–40 in).


Language

The official languages of Burundi are Kirundi, French and, since 2014, English. Swahili can be found spoken along the Tanzanian border and it has some official recognition by law as a language “spoken and taught” in the country.


Economy

Burundi is a landlocked, resource-poor country with an underdeveloped manufacturing sector. The economy is predominantly agricultural, accounting for 50% of GDP in 2017 and employing more than 90% of the population. Subsistence agriculture accounts for 90% of agriculture. Burundi’s primary exports are coffee and tea, which account for 90% of foreign exchange earnings, though exports are a relatively small share of GDP. Other agricultural products include cotton, tea, maize, sorghum, sweet potatoes, bananas, manioc (tapioca); beef, milk and hides. Foreign Policy reports, Subsistence farming is highly relied upon, however due to large population growth and no coherent policies governing land ownership, many people do not have the resources to sustain themselves. In 2014, the average farm size was about one acre. Burundi is one of the world’s poorest countries, owing in part to its landlocked geography, poor legal system, lack of economic freedom, 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. Burundi’s export earnings – and its ability to pay for imports – rests primarily on weather conditions and international coffee and tea prices.
The purchasing power of most Burundians has decreased as wage increases have not kept up with inflation. Burundi will remain heavily dependent on aid from bilateral and multilateral donors – foreign aid represents 42% of Burundis national income, the second highest rate in Sub-Saharan Africa. Burundi joined the East African Community in 2009, which should boost Burundi’s regional trade ties, and also in 2009 received $700 million in debt relief. Government corruption is hindering the development of a healthy private sector as companies seek to navigate an environment with ever-changing rules.
Studies since 2007 have shown Burundians to have extremely poor levels of satisfaction with life; the World Happiness Report 2018 rated them the world’s least happy in 2018. As a result of deep poverty, Burundi is dependent on foreign aid.
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 light consumer goods such as blankets, shoes and soap.
In regards to telecommunications infrastructure, Burundi is ranked 2nd to last in the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index (NRI) – an indicator for determining the development level of a country’s information and communication technologies. Burundi ranked number 147 overall in the 2014 NRI ranking, down from 144 in 2013.
Lack of access to financial services is a serious problem for the majority of the population, particularly in the densely populated rural areas: only 2% of the total population holds bank accounts, and fewer than 0.5% use bank lending services. Microfinance, however, plays a larger role, with 4% of Burundians being members of microfinance institutions – a larger share of the population than that reached by banking and postal services combined. 26 licensed microfinance institutions (MFIs) offer savings, deposits and short- to medium-term credit. Dependence of the sector on donor assistance is limited.
Burundi is part of the East African Community and a potential member of the planned East African Federation. Economic growth in Burundi is relatively steady but Burundi is still behind neighbouring countries.


Education

In 2009, the adult literacy rate in Burundi was estimated to be 67% (73% male and 61% female), with a literacy rate of 77% and 76%, respectively, for men and women between the ages of 15 to 24. By 2015, this had increased to 85.6% (88.2% male and 83.1% female).Literacy among adult women has increased by 17% since 2002. Burundi’s literacy rate is relatively low due to low school attendance and because literacy in Kirundi only provides access to materials printed in that language, though it is higher than many other African countries. Ten percent of Burundian boys are allowed a secondary education.
Burundi has just one public university, University of Burundi. There are museums in the cities, such as the Burundi Geological Museum in Bujumbura and the Burundi National Museum and the Burundi Museum of Life in Gitega.
There will be a new school opening in one of the poorest regions, Rusaga, funded by an English charity, the Burundi Education Foundation. The Burundi Education Foundation was hoping to open the school in the summer of 2014.
In 2010 a new elementary school was opened in the small village of Rwoga that is funded by the pupils of Westwood High School, Quebec, Canada.


Politics

Burundi’s political system is that of a 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 13 March 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 6 June 1998, the constitution was changed, broadening National Assembly’s seats and making provisions for two vice-presidents. Because of the Arusha Accord, Burundi enacted a transitional government in 2000
Burundi’s legislative branch is a bicameral assembly, consisting of the Transitional National Assembly and the Transitional Senate. As of 2004, the Transitional National Assembly consisted of 170 members, with the Front for Democracy in Burundi holding 38% of seats, and 10% of the assembly controlled by UPRONA. Fifty-two seats were controlled by other parties. Burundi’s constitution mandates representation in the Transitional National Assembly to be consistent with 60% Hutu, 40% Tutsi, and 30% female members, as well as three Batwa 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 eighteen 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. 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 president also chooses two vice-presidents. As of 7 May 2015, the President of Burundi is Pierre Nkurunziza. The First Vice-President is Therence Sinunguruza, and the Second Vice-President is Gervais Rufyikiri.
The Cour Suprême (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.


Culture


Burundi’s culture is based on local tradition and the influence of neighbouring countries, though cultural prominence has been hindered by civil unrest. Since farming is the main industry, a typical Burundian meal consists of sweet potatoes, corn and peas. Due to the expense, meat is eaten only a few times per month.
When several Burundians of close acquaintance meet for a gathering they drink impeke, a beer, together from a large container to symbolise unity.
Notable Burundians include the footballer Mohammed Tchité and singer Jean-Pierre Nimbona, popularly known as Kidumu (who is based in Nairobi, Kenya).
Crafts are an important art form in Burundi and are attractive gifts to many tourists. Basket weaving is a popular craft for local artisans. Other crafts such as masks, shields, statues and pottery are made in Burundi.
Drumming is an important part of the cultural heritage. The world-famous Royal Drummers of Burundi, who have performed for over 40 years, are noted for traditional drumming using the karyenda, 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.
The country’s oral tradition is strong, relaying history and life lessons through storytelling, poetry and song. Imigani, indirimbo, amazina and ivyivugo are literary genres in Burundi.
Basketball and track and field are noted sports. Martial arts are popular, as well. There are five major judo clubs: Club Judo de l’Entente Sportive, in Downtown, and four others throughout the city. Association football is a popular pastime throughout the country, as are mancala games.
Most Christian holidays are celebrated, with Christmas being the largest. Burundian Independence Day is celebrated annually on 1 July. In 2005, the Burundian government declared Eid al-Fitr, an Islamic holiday, to be a public holiday.


Health

Burundi has the severest hunger and malnourishment rates of all 120 countries ranked in the Global Hunger Index.”
According to the WHO, the average life expectancy in the country is 58/62 years.
As in many other African countries, HIV infection is widespread. One source suggests 18.6% in the cities and 7.5% in the countryside as of 2002.
Be careful of kiosk foods and avoid unboiled water. Also ensure you have been vaccinated.


Safety


Although some semblance of normalcy has returned to much of the country with the conclusion of the nation’s democratic transition and a democratically chosen head of state in August 2005, travellers should be warned to exercise extreme caution. The still active rebel group, Forces Nationales de la Libération (FNL) continues to attack government forces and civilians. Threats posed by banditry and armed robbery, as well as petty crimes, remain. Avoid travelling after dark; be aware of curfew laws. Many roads close at night as some villages and neighbourhoods, most embassies and some organizations have curfews. As in any other conflict or post-conflict situations, visitors should consult their embassy to be apprised of the latest local developments, and be sensitive to the changing needs regarding the security of the local environment.


Transport

Travelling around the countryside is not as dangerous as it once was, though things change quickly (for better or for worse) in this part of the world.
As in Rwanda, most major roads in Burundi are sealed. Public transport mostly consists of modern Japanese minibuses, which are cheaper than shared taxis and not overcrowded. Destinations are displayed in the front window, and minibuses depart when full. You can usually find a minibus or shared taxi heading in your direction any day between early morning and early afternoon at the gare routière (bus station) in any town.


Cuisine


Burundi is situated in East Africa and has a territory full of mountains, savannas and agricultural fields, with forests in the surrounding of rivers and waters. Agriculture is spread on 80% of the country’s surface and it especially includes coffee, tea, corn, beans and manioc. Due to these characteristics, the Burundi cuisine is very representative of the African culinary culture, as it includes beans, which are the staple of Burundi cooking, exotic fruits (mainly bananas) plantains, sweet potatoes, cassava, peas, maize and cereals, like corn and wheat. Profiteroles are also sometimes enjoyed as a rare delicacy. Not much meat is consumed in Burundi, because animal breeding is a secondary occupation; still, there are some dishes that include goat and sheep meat but cows are very sacred.
A major aspect when discussing Burundian cuisine is based on the economic conditions of the country: the Burundian people usually eat homemade food, from homemade vessels also used for drinking, carrying water and storing grain.

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