Saturday, March 2, 2024

Burundi Travel Guide - Travel S Helper


travel guide

Burundi is a landlocked nation in East Africa’s African Great Lakes area. It is bordered to the north by Rwanda, to the east and south by Tanzania, and to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Bujumbura is the capital of Burundi.

Burundi has been inhabited by the Twa, Hutu, and Tutsi peoples for at least 500 years. Burundi was an autonomous monarchy for more than 200 years, until Germany invaded the territory at the beginning of the twentieth century. Following Germany’s loss in World War I, it surrendered the region to Belgium. Both Germans and Belgians governed Burundi and Rwanda as part of the Ruanda-Urundi European colony. Contrary to popular belief, Burundi and Rwanda were never united under a single government prior to European invasion.

The European involvement worsened social divisions between Tutsi and Hutu and contributed to regional political instability. Burundi obtained independence in 1962 and initially had a monarchy, but a series of assassinations, coups, and a general environment of regional insecurity resulted in the formation of a republic and one-party state in 1966. Bouts of ethnic cleansing, followed by two civil wars and genocides in the 1970s and 1990s, left the nation underdeveloped and its inhabitants among the poorest in the world.

Large-scale political turmoil erupted in 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a third term, a coup attempt failed, and the country’s legislative and presidential elections were widely condemned by members of the international community.

Burundians frequently face corruption, inadequate infrastructure, limited access to health and education services, and hunger, in addition to poverty. Burundi is densely populated, and there has been significant emigration as young people seek better prospects overseas. According to the World Happiness Report 2016 Update, Burundi is the world’s unhappiest country.

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Burundi - Info Card




Burundian franc (FBu) (BIF)

Time zone



27,834 km2 (10,747 sq mi)

Calling code


Official language

Kirundi, French

Burundi - Introduction


The United Nations projected Burundi’s population in July 2015 to be 10,557,259 people. The population is growing at a rate of 2.5 percent per year, which is more than twice the world norm, and a Burundian woman has 6.3 children on average, which is almost triple the international fertility rate.

As a consequence of the civil conflict, many Burundians have fled to neighboring nations. The United States accepted approximately 10,000 Burundian refugees in 2006.

Burundi is a mostly agricultural country, with just 13% of the population residing in urban areas in 2013. The population density is approximately 315 people per square kilometer (753 people per square mile), which is the second highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Approximately 85 percent of the population is Hutu, 15 percent is Tutsi, and less than 1 percent is indigenous Twa/Pygmies. Burundi has the world’s fifth highest total fertility rate, with 6.08 children born per woman (2012 estimates).

Burundi’s official languages are English, French, and Kirundi, but Swahili is prevalent near the Tanzanian border.


According to sources, the Christian population is 80–90 percent, with Roman Catholics being the biggest denomination at 60–65 percent. The remaining 15–25 percent are Protestant and Anglican practitioners. Traditional indigenous religious beliefs are held by an estimated 5% of the population. Muslims account up 2–5% of the population, the bulk of whom are Sunnis and reside in cities.


Burundi has a tropical highland climate in general, with a wide variation of daily temperatures in several places. Temperature also fluctuates greatly from one area to the next, owing mostly to variations in height. With an average temperature of 20°C, the center plateau enjoys nice cool weather. The region surrounding Lake Tanganyika is warmer, with an average temperature of 23°C; the highest mountain elevations are colder, with an average temperature of 16°C. The average annual temperature in Bujumbura is 23°C. Rain is pouring in sporadic showers, with the greatest amount falling towards the north-west. The duration of the dry season varies, and there are occasionally lengthy periods of drought. 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) may all be differentiated. The majority of Burundi gets between 1,300 and 1,600 millimeters of rain each year. Between 750 and 1,000 mm of rain fall in the Ruzizi Plain and the north-east.


Burundi, one of Africa’s smallest nations, is landlocked and has an equatorial climate. Burundi is a country located in the Albertine Rift, which is the western continuation of the East African Rift. The nation is located in the middle of Africa on a rolling plateau. The center plateau has an average height of 1,707 m (5,600 ft), with lower altitudes near the boundaries. Mount Heha, at 2,685 m (8,810 ft),[69] is located to the southeast of the city, Bujumbura. The Nile River’s headwaters are in Bururi province, and the Ruvyironza River connects Lake Victoria to its headwaters. Lake Victoria is also a significant water supply, serving as a branch to the Kagera River. Lake Tanganyika, situated in Burundi’s southwestern portion, is another large lake.

Burundi’s land is mainly used for agriculture or grazing. Rural population settlement has resulted in deforestation, soil erosion, and habitat degradation. Overpopulation is nearly entirely to blame for the country’s deforestation, with just 600 km2 (230 sq mi) left and an annual loss of approximately 9%. Kibira National Park to the northwest (a tiny area of rain forest close to Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda) and Ruvubu National Park to the northeast are the two national parks (along the Rurubu River, also known as Ruvubu or Ruvuvu). Both were founded in 1982 with the goal of conserving animal populations.


Burundi is a landlocked nation with limited resources and an undeveloped industrial sector. The economy is mostly agrarian; agriculture accounts for little more than 30% of GDP and employs more than 90% of the workforce. Burundi’s main exports are coffee and tea, which contribute for 90 percent of foreign currency profits while accounting for a tiny portion of GDP. Burundi’s export profits – and capacity to pay for imports – are mostly determined by weather and worldwide coffee and tea prices.

Burundi is one of the poorest nations in the world, due to its landlocked location, weak legal system, lack of economic independence, lack of access to education, and the spread of HIV/AIDS. Approximately 80% of Burundi’s population is impoverished. Famines and food shortages have occurred across Burundi, most notably in the twentieth century, and the World Food Programme estimates that 56.8 percent of children under the age of five are chronically malnourished. According to one scientific survey of 178 countries, Burundi’s population has the lowest level of contentment with life in the world. Burundi is reliant on international assistance as a consequence of its extreme poverty.

Agriculture is Burundi’s most important sector, accounting for little more than 30% of GDP.

90 percent of agriculture is subsistence agriculture. Coffee, which accounts for 93 percent of Burundi’s exports, is the country’s most important source of income. Cotton, tea, maize, sorghum, sweet potatoes, bananas, manioc (tapioca), cattle, milk, and hides are among the other agricultural goods. According to Foreign Policy, subsistence farming is heavily depended upon; yet, owing to rapid population increase and a lack of clear laws regulating land ownership, many people lack the means to support themselves. The average farm size in 2014 was approximately one acre. Burundi has the worst rates of hunger and malnutrition among the 120 nations listed in the Global Hunger Index.”

Natural resources of Burundi include uranium, nickel, cobalt, copper, and platinum. Other sectors outside agriculture include import component assembly, public works construction, food processing, and light consumer products such as blankets, shoes, and soap.

Burundi is rated second to last in the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index (NRI) for telecoms infrastructure – an indicator for assessing the degree of development of a country’s information and communication technology. In the 2014 NRI rating, Burundi was placed 147th overall, down from 144th in 2013.

The bulk of the population lacks access to financial services, especially in densely populated rural areas: just 2% of the entire population has a bank account, and less than 0.5 percent uses bank loan services. Microfinance, on the other hand, plays a bigger role, with 4% of Burundians members of microfinance organizations — a higher proportion of the population than banking and postal services combined. Savings, deposits, and short- to medium-term loans are available from 26 regulated microfinance institutions (MFIs). The sector’s reliance on donor aid is minimal.

Burundi is a member of the East African Community and a possible member of the East African Federation. Burundi’s economy is growing steadily, although it is still lagging behind neighboring nations.

Things To Know Before Traveling To Burundi


Although most visitors will be able to get about with a decent understanding of French (and increasingly English), some acquaintance with Swahili or the related indigenous language, Kirundi, is beneficial, especially in rural regions. The difficulty in learning Kirundi may be the issue. Kirundi and Kinyarwanda (Rwanda’s official language) are quite close.


The Burundian Elders are held in high regard. Young people in the many communities and kinships respect their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even strangers. Burundians also respect everyone.

How To Travel To Burundi

Get in – By plane

Kenya Airways (Nairobi), RwandAir (Kigali), Ethiopian Airlines (Addis Abeba), Brussels Airlines (Brussels), Flydubai (Entebbe), and others service Bujumbura International Airport. As of March 2010, Air Burundi was no longer in operation.

Get in – By bus

Buses are mostly accessible from Bujumbura, primarily in the vicinity of the central market. Rwanda is only accessible by international bus. Amahoro, Belveder, Otraco, and Yahoo are among the companies. It’s also feasible to enter Burundi from the east. To do so, take a bus to Kabanga (Tanzania) and then a shared cab to the Burundian border. Minibuses operate from Kasulu to Manyovu, from whence boda-bodas transport you to the Burundi border station. Shared taxis continue to Mabanda from there. Minibuses operate from Gatumba, near the DRC border, to Bujumbura.

Get in – By boat

Ferries may be used to travel around Lake Tanganyika, although they do not run on a regular basis.

Destinations in Burundi

Cities in Burundi

  • Bujumbura – Bujumbura is the country’s capital and biggest city, located on Lake Tanganyika’s northwestern coast.
  • Bururi – southern city
  • Cibitoke – north-western city
  • Gitega – Gitega is the country’s second biggest city and the former colonial capital.
  • Muyinga – north-eastern city
  • Ngozi – northern city

Regions in Burundi

There are 17 provinces in the nation (Cibitoke, Kayanza, Ngozi, Kirundo, Muyinga, Bubanza, Muramvya, Gitega, Karuzi, Cankuzo, Bujumbura Rural, Bujumbura Mairie, Mwaro, Ruyigi, Bururi, Rutana, Makamba). There are “communes” in rural regions and “quartiers” in the capital, with a total of 117 such groups below the provincial level. There are many layers of governance underneath this, including the sector, the “colline,” or hillside, and the smallest unit, the “Nyumba Kumi,” or “group of ten homes.”

Other destinations in Burundi

  • Kibira National Park – Located at the pinnacle of the Zaire-Nile, this is Burundi’s biggest totally intact natural region, with 40,000 hectares of protected woods. Its natural life provides a safe haven for chimps, baboons, cercophitecus (a monkey), and black colobes, who disperse as humans approach, defying the rules of balance and gravity. A network of 180 km of roads and trails crisscross the park, mostly utilized by guard vehicle patrols and motorized visitors. The park’s guards will scout you in the woods secretly so you may experience the amazing appeal of the primeval forest and the beautiful sounds of birds. Thermal springs are hidden in mountain ranges, and entry to the park is achieved through the tea estates of Teza and Rwegura, which are among the finest natural scenery in the world.
  • Ruvubu National Park – The Ruvubu National Park is located on the banks of the Ruvubu River and is surrounded by high rise mountains. It was liberated from human encroachment and restored to its natural state. The route network is about 100 kilometers long and contains many viewing lookouts. You will be housed in a freshly constructed camp, and you will be able to tell your friends about following buffaloes through their paths, where the joyous delight of all the African birds you can think of can be heard at every turn.
  • Rusizi Natural Reserve – The Rusizi Natural Reserve will be your first stop in Burundi since it is so close to the capital city of Bujumbura. The River Delta has approximately 500 hectares of Phragmites mauritianus vegetation. It provides a natural habitat for a few families of antelopes and hippopotamuses that come here in search of grazing space. If you’re fortunate, you may come across a few crocodiles fast sleeping on the golden sand of the river banks at the conclusion of the trail. The Rusizi palm groves (located on the Cibitoke road, 10 kilometers from Bujumbura) are another spectacular scenery that will undoubtedly take your thoughts away from your daily concerns. It provides visitors with a lush flora fully adapted habitat satisfied by just a few scant rainfall, consisting of euphorbia, thorny shrubs, and towering palm palms of the Hyphaena bengalensis var ventricosa species. The natural ponds created by the Rusizi meanders may be seen right in the heart of the reserve. This location is a haven for birds, who flock here by the hundreds to feast on dive-fishing. Though you’re patient enough, you’ll observe some hippopotamuses paddling in the shallow waters, as if they’re at home in the water as well as on the land.
  • Bururi Natural Reserve – Bururi Natural Reserve is a 3300 hectares stretch of high wet woodland. The town of Bururi gives tourists this magnificent view; however, in order to access the park, first travel to the INECN office in Bururi; this is not well known among Bururians. It is not true that there is no entrance charge and that no guides are provided. You may pay the entrance charge (BIF5,000) and arrange for a guide (BIF5,000) at the office. In this location, 117 distinct bird species and 25 different animal species have been discovered in a forestland surrounded by diverse flora. The visitor will completely appreciate the natural coolness of our mountains thickly covered with trees of many different kinds on a walking circuit through the botanical roads and paths of our forest. This area is approximately 33 kilometers from Roumonge. The road that runs through it will take you from the lakes through miles of hallucinating and beautiful scenery.
  • Vyanda Natural Reserve – This is a woodland reserve that is accessible from Rumonge. The opportunity to observe chimps is the major draw here. Currently, visitor facilities are practically non-existent, but if you go to the INECN office in Rumonge (remember to say it the French way when asking for directions, approximately “ENCN” in the English way), you should be able to arrange a visit. It is usually designed for individuals who have their own transportation, although a visit by local transportation may be arranged. If you encounter chimpanzees, expect to pay BIF10,000 for admission and a guide, or BIF5,000 if you don’t. You should be able to arrange transportation from Rumonge for about BIF15,000 round way. Because the chimpanzees here aren’t used to people, don’t come anticipating close interactions like you may find in other locations.
  • Rwihinda Lake Natural Reserve – The Rwihinda Lake Natural Reserve is a true haven for migratory aquatic birds, who flock here by the millions to breed. All of these now-protected species may nest on the lake’s verdant marshes and islands in greater numbers. Crested cranes and herons dwell in harmony there. The visitor may float around on barges and approach several different bird species without fear of scaring them.
  • Nyakazu Break and the Karera Falls – The natural Forest Reserves of Roumonge, Kigwena, and Mugara are being developed so that chimps and cercopithecus may find adequate food to remain and reproduce. The thermal waterfalls in the Mugara reserve allow you to give yourself a natural massage by taking showers in these waters risen from the earth’s bosom. Tanganyika’s nearby beaches will welcome you for a well-deserved swim and relaxation.

Visa & Passport Requirements for Burundi

Except for residents of Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all nationalities need a visa to enter Burundi. Visas are available in Europe through the Burundi Embassy in London UK , as well as embassies in Berlin and Brussels. A tourist visa from the Burundi Embassy in London, UK, costs £60.

There are two kinds of visas available at the airport and, in principle, at borders in Bujumbura. A transit visa for three days costs USD40. A multiple entry, one-month visa costs USD90 on arrival or may be acquired in advance through embassies.

Things To See in Burundi

Bujumbura is located in the country’s west. Moving east, visitors may visit Gitega, a huge market conducted directly in the center of town, as well as its Museum of Traditions (ancient utensils, pictures, commented visit). Travellers will need to make prior reservations to see an unusual and interesting performance that is unique in the world: “The Drummers of Giheta” performing in their traditional surroundings. Then you’ll be on your way to Rutana to view the magnificent vista of the Karea Falls and the Nykazu Break, also known as the “Break of the Germans,” which is an excellent vantage that overlooks the Kumoso plain. You will conclude your trip with a visit to Gihofi, a thriving town in the midst of sugar cane plantation region with a modern sugar refinery.

Don’t miss a visit to the Nile Sources at Rutovu if you’re in the country’s south-eastern corner. Remember to bring your swimming gear; otherwise, you may lose out on the benefits of the hot springs in beautiful and delicate settings. You will also be able to view the remaining historic enclosed villas on your route (round habitations surrounded by wooden fences strip in turn surrounded by grazing meadows and ploughed fields).

Further south, you will be able to pass through a series of settlements, one after the other, squeezed between the lake and steep mountains. Fortunately, you will be able to pause for a break, participate in nautical sports, eat at restaurants, or just stop for a drink on well-kept fine sand beaches. Nyanza Lake is located much farther south. Why not take a boat across the lake to Tanzania and explore the Gombe Natural Park?

An major market for high quality fresh goods may be found to the north, right before reaching Bugarama. You may stroll through Kibira’s primeval woodland, which is still tough to enter but is in the process of being beaconed. Continue on to Kayanza and Ngozi, two large agricultural production and trading communities. At Kirundo, near the Rwandan border, you will discover the little lakes of the north, as well as the calm and tranquility of their jagged boundaries. Take a boat and drift around Rwihinda Water to see many bird species that are completely free on the lake (crested cranes, wild ducks, fishing eagles, etc.).

On the route from Muyinga to Cankuzo, a stop at the Natural Park of the Ruvuvu Rivers, which now has lodging facilities, is a must; there, you can view Burundi’s protected remnant buffaloes and dorcas (gazelles). The surrounding primeval woodland will undoubtedly leave you with a lasting memory.

Landmarks and Monuments

Climb to the summit of the hill in Bujumbura to reach the “Belvedere,” the town’s dominant point. You will be able to visit the tomb of Prince Louis Rwagasore, the founder of the Uprona party and a hero of Burundi’s independence.

The Livingstone-Stanley Monument is located ten kilometers south of Bujumbura in Mugere. It is a stone that marks the location where the two famous explorers David Livingstone and H. M. Stanley spent two nights as guests of Chief Mukamba on November 25-27, 1871, during their joint exploration of the northern end of Lake Tanganyika, following their first meeting 15 days earlier in Ujiji, Tanzania.

Rutovu, 114 kilometers from Bujumbura, is located on the Bujumbura-Ijenda-Matana route, where a pyramid was built near the Nile’s southernmost source, at an elevation of 2,000 meters.

It is difficult to create a list of all the locations worth seeing, since Burundi is a true Garden of Eden, resisting the elements and exerting an irresistible allure on visitors. When you arrive in Bujumbura, head to the National Office of Tourism for all your circuits, itineraries, and tours, where you will find a wide range of options. Everything will be visible: the Nyakazu Break to the east, the Karera Falls, the Tanganyika Lake vistas at Vyanda and Kabonambo, and the tea estates of Teza or Rwegura. The reservoir constructed here is surrounded by magnificent scenery. In a nutshell, a synthesis of oddities worth spending a portion of your vacation budget to.


In Bujumbura and Gitega, there are two museums.

The National Museum in Gitega, the country’s second largest city, was founded in 1955 and houses an exhibition of a magnificent ethnographic collection of Crown-owned objects that could be seen at the Court in the early twentieth century, as well as an archaeological collection and historical photographs.

You will enjoy old photographs of our kings, princes, and queens from the nineteenth century, which are surrounded by a variety of objects owned by men and women of the time, such as jewelry, baskets from all over the world, earthenware for various purposes, calabashes to keep water or for churning, war and hunting spears, ploughing instruments, and iron-working and sculpting instruments.

The Musée Vivant near the lake in Bujumbura houses a large portion of the artifacts in a larger space surrounded by beautiful gardens. In charming tiny cottages, old and new crafts are shown. The museum’s crowning achievement, however, is a full-scale recreation of a royal residence. The main hut, topped by an interwoven dome covered by a thin thatched roof, and the whole surrounding courtyard may be explored.

The Musée Vivant also maintains a bird house with a few local species on exhibit, as well as a Herpetological Centre with snakes and reptiles on display. Since its collection was exposed to the public in 1988, this living museum has been recognized as one of Africa’s most famous.

Although not everyone will like it, the Musée Vivant allows visitors to feed the crocodiles, leopards, and certain snakes. You may purchase a (live) guinea pig for BIF2,000 and choose the fortunate diner.

Food & Drinks in Burundi

Food in Burundi

Burundi has several gastronomic delights in store for foreign visitors, including fresh fish from Lake Tanganyika and vegetables grown on the country’s rich volcanic soil. There is a sizable South Asian population, which serves curried meals with more typical rice and beans, as well as French-inspired European fare. Samosas and skewered meats are popular lighter fare, while bananas and fresh fruit are often offered as a sweet snack.

Beef brochettes (kebabs) and grilled plantains (cooked bananas) are the national meal, which can be found nearly everywhere.

Drinks in Burundi

Beer and soft drinks are widely accessible. Big 72cl Primus bottles, as well as Amstel, are available for USD1-2, as they are in Rwanda and the DRC. Both are made in the United States and are of high quality.

Money & Shopping in Burundi

Burundi is blessed with blooming workmanship, as well as distinctive delicate and appealing forms.

Burundi has just lately created plastic arts. Visitors will be able to discover skilled artists from Gitega and Bujumbura who can carve scenes on wooden boards and paint landscapes with nicely colored blue backgrounds.


Banknotes of 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 francs are in circulation.

Ecobank offers ATMs located across Burundi where you may withdraw cash using your Visa or MasterCard. A complete list of locations may be seen on the Ecobank website.

Culture Of Burundi

Burundi’s culture is founded on indigenous custom and the influence of surrounding nations, but civil instability has hampered cultural significance. A typical Burundian dinner consists of sweet potatoes, maize, and peas, since farming is the primary industry. Meat is only consumed a few times each month due to the cost.

When many Burundians of close acquaintance assemble for a party, they drink impeke, a beer, from a big container together to signify togetherness.

Burundians of note include footballer Mohammed Tchité and musician Jean-Pierre Nimbona, better known as Kidumu (who is based in Nairobi, Kenya).

Crafts are a popular type of art in Burundi and make excellent presents for visitors. Basket weaving is a common skill among local craftspeople. Burundi also produces other crafts such as masks, shields, sculptures, and ceramics.

Drumming is an essential component of cultural heritage. Burundi’s world-famous Royal Drummers, who have been performing for over 40 years, are known for traditional drumming on the karyenda, amashako, ibishikiso, and ikiranya drums. Dance often accompanies drumming performances, which are common during festivals and family gatherings. Burundian dances include the abatimbo, which is performed during formal events and rites, and the fast-paced abanyagasimbo. The flute, zither, ikembe, indonongo, umuduri, inanga, and inyagara are some notable musical instruments.

Burundi’s official languages are Kirundi, French, and Swahili. The country’s oral culture is robust, with stories, poetry, and song conveying history and life lessons. Burundi’s literary genres include imigani, indirimbo, amazina, and ivyivugo.

Basketball and track & field are both well-known sports. Martial arts are also popular. There are five main judo clubs in the city: Club Judo de l’Entente Sportive, located downtown, and four others scattered around the city. Mancala games and association football are popular pastimes across the nation.

Most Christian festivals are observed, with Christmas being the most widely observed. Burundians commemorate Independence Day on July 1st each year. The Burundian government proclaimed Eid al-Fitr, an Islamic festival, a public holiday in 2005.

Burundi’s government amended the legislation in April 2009 to criminalize homosexuality. Persons found guilty of consenting same-sex relationships face two to three years in jail and a fine ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 Burundian francs. Amnesty International has criticized the action, describing it as a breach of Burundi’s responsibilities under international and regional human rights legislation, as well as a violation of the country’s constitution, which protects the right to private.

History Of Burundi


At the end of the nineteenth century, Germany deployed military troops in Ruanda and Burundi, conquering the region and creating German East Africa. The present-day city of Gitega was selected as the location of the capital. Following its loss in World War I, Germany was obliged to hand up “management” of a portion of old German East Africa to Belgium.

This area, which included modern-day Rwanda and Burundi, became a Belgian League of Nations mandate territory on October 20, 1924. In practice, it was known as Ruanda-Urundi and was part of the Belgian colonial empire. Despite European invasion, Ruanda-Urundi maintained its royal dynasty.

Following World War II, Ruanda-Urundi was designated as a United Nations Trust Territory administered by Belgium. Throughout the nation, a number of measures created divides throughout the 1940s. On 4 October 1943, the legislative division of Burundi’s government was divided into chiefdoms and lesser chiefdoms. Land was administered by chiefdoms, and lesser sub-chiefdoms were created. Native officials were also given authority. Belgium granted the area the right to establish political parties in 1948. These factions helped Burundi achieve independence from Belgium.


Burundi’s monarch, Mwami Mwambutsa VI, sought independence from Belgium and the breakup of the Ruanda-Urundi union on January 20, 1959. Burundian political groups started to agitate for the end of Belgian colonial authority and the separation of Rwanda and Burundi in the months that followed. The Union for National Progress was the earliest and biggest of these political parties (UPRONA).

The Rwandan Revolution, as well as the following instability and ethnic strife, impacted Burundi’s quest for independence. Many Tutsi Rwandans left Rwanda and settled in Burundi.

Burundi’s first elections were held on September 8, 1961, and UPRONA, a multi-ethnic unity party headed by Prince Louis Rwagasore, received slightly more than 80% of the vote. Following the elections, on October 13, the 29-year-old Prince Rwagasore was murdered, taking Burundi’s most popular and well-known nationalist with him.

On July 1, 1962, the nation declared independence and officially changed its name from Ruanda-Urundi to Burundi. Burundi established a constitutional monarchy, with Mwami Mwambutsa VI, Prince Rwagasore’s father, as King. Burundi became a member of the United Nations on September 18, 1962.

King Mwambutsa chose a Hutu prime minister, Pierre Ngendandumwe, in 1963, but he was murdered on January 15, 1965, by a Rwandan Tutsi working for the US Embassy. The murder took place in the backdrop of the Congo Crisis, in which Western anti-communist nations faced off against the communist People’s Republic of China, which was attempting to turn Burundi into a logistical center for communist rebels fighting in Congo. Parliamentary elections in May 1965 resulted in a Hutu majority, but when King Mwambutsa chose a Tutsi prime minister, several Hutu thought this was unfair, and ethnic hostilities escalated. An attempted coup headed by the Hutu-dominated police was carried out but failed in October 1965. The Tutsi-dominated army, then headed by Tutsi commander Captain Michel Micombero, purged Hutu from their ranks and carried out revenge assaults, killing up to 5,000 people in a precursor to the 1972 Burundian Genocide.

King Mwambutsa, who had left the nation after the October revolution of 1965, was ousted in July 1966 by a coup, and his adolescent son, Prince Ntare V, took the throne. In November of that year, Tutsi Prime Minister then-Captain Michel Micombero led another coup, deposing Ntare, dissolving the monarchy, and proclaiming the country a republic, despite the fact that his one-party administration was essentially a military dictatorship. Micombero, as president, became a champion of African socialism and gained backing from the People’s Republic of China. He established a strict law and order system and harshly suppressed Hutu militarism.

Civil War and Genocide against Hutu

Two incidents in late April 1972 precipitated the beginning of the First Burundian Genocide. On April 27, 1972, a revolt headed by several Hutu gendarmerie members erupted in the lakeside villages of Rumonge and Nyanza-Lac, and the insurgents proclaimed the Martyazo Republic. Tutsi and Hutu were assaulted by the rebels because they refused to join their revolt. It is believed that between 800 and 1200 individuals died during the first Hutu epidemic. At the same time, Burundi’s King Ntare V returned from exile, escalating political tensions in the nation. On April 29, 1972, the 24-year-old Ntare V was assassinated, and in the months that followed, the Tutsi-dominated government of Micombero deployed the army to fight Hutu insurgents and perpetrate genocide against members of the Hutu majority. The exact number of victims was never determined, although current estimates place the death toll between 80,000 and 210,000 individuals. Furthermore, it is believed that hundreds of thousands of Hutu escaped the massacre into Zare, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

Micombero grew emotionally disturbed and reclusive as a result of the civil war and slaughter. Colonel Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, a Tutsi, staged a bloodless revolution that deposed Micombero in 1976. He subsequently began to advocate for different changes. In 1981, his government produced a new constitution that kept Burundi as a one-party state. Bagaza was elected President of the Republic of the Republic of the Republic of the Republic of the Republic of the Republic of the Republic of the Republic of the Bagaza repressed political opponents and religious liberties throughout his reign.

Major Pierre Buyoya (Tutsi) deposed Bagaza in 1987, suspending the constitution and dissolved political parties. He established the Military Committee for National Salvation to reestablish military authority (CSMN). Anti-Tutsi ethnic propaganda spread by the remains of the 1972 UBU, which had reorganized as PALIPEHUTU in 1981, resulted in the August 1988 murders of Tutsi peasants in the northern communes of Ntega and Marangara. The government estimated the death toll at 5,000, however several international NGOs think this is an underestimation of the losses.

The new government did not carry out the severe retaliation of 1972. Its efforts to build confidence were undermined when it declared amnesty for those who had advocated for, carried out, and claimed responsibility for the murders. Many experts believe this time to be the start of the “culture of impunity.” Other scholars, however, believe that the “culture of impunity” began between 1965 and 1972, when a small and identifiable group of Hutus revolted and unleashed enormous murders of Tutsis throughout the whole region.

Following the murders, a group of Hutu intellectuals sent an open letter to Pierre Buyoya, requesting greater Hutu participation in the government. The signatories were apprehended and imprisoned. A few weeks later, Buyoya formed a new cabinet that included an equal number of Hutu and Tutsi ministers. Adrien Sibomana (Hutu) was named Prime Minister. Buyoya also established a commission to address national unity problems. The administration proposed a new constitution in 1992 that included a multi-party system. A civil war erupted.

Between 1962 and 1993, an estimated 250,000 people perished in Burundi as a result of the country’s many wars. Burundi has seen two genocides since its independence in 1962: the 1972 mass murders of Hutus by the Tutsi-dominated army, and the 1993 mass slaughter of Tutsis by the Hutu majority. In the final report of the International Commission of Inquiry for Burundi, submitted to the United Nations Security Council in 2002, both are characterized as genocide.

First attempt at democracy and genocide against Tutsi

Melchior Ndadaye, head of the Hutu-dominated Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU), won the country’s first democratic election in June 1993. He became the first Hutu head of state, presiding over a Hutu-friendly administration. Tutsi troops murdered Ndadaye in October 1993, resulting in a genocide against Tutsi and years of warfare between Hutu rebels and the Tutsi dominated army. It is believed that 300,000 people were murdered in the years after the killing, the vast majority of them were civilians.

The parliament elected Cyprien Ntaryamira (Hutu) as president in early 1994. When their aircraft was shot down, he and Rwanda’s president perished together. More refugees began to escape to Rwanda. Sylvestre Ntibantunganya (Hutu), Speaker of Parliament, was named President in October 1994. A coalition government was established, with 12 of the 13 parties participating. Although a widespread slaughter was avoided, fighting erupted. A number of Hutu refugees were murdered in the capital, Bujumbura. The Tutsi Union for National Progress, primarily, withdrew from the government and parliament.

Pierre Buyoya (Tutsi) seized control in a coup in 1996. In 1998, he suspended the constitution and was sworn in as president. In reaction to rebel assaults, the government relocated a large portion of the population to refugee camps. Long peace negotiations, mediated by South Africa, began under Buyoya’s reign. Both parties made agreements to share power in Burundi in Arusha, Tanzania, and Pretoria, South Africa. It took four years to arrange the accords.

As part of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement, a transitional government for Burundi was scheduled for August 28, 2000. For five years, the transitional government was put on trial. Following many failed cease-fires, a peace plan and power-sharing deal signed in 2001 was largely effective. In 2003, the Tutsi-controlled Burundian government and the main Hutu rebel organization, CNDD-FDD, reached a cease-fire agreement (National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy).

Domitien Ndayizeye (Hutu), the head of FRODEBU, was elected president in 2003. Ethnic quotas were established in early 2005 to determine posts in Burundi’s government. Elections for parliament and president were held throughout the year.

Pierre Nkurunziza (Hutu), a former rebel commander, was elected president in 2005. As of 2008, the Burundian government was negotiating peace with the Hutu-led Palipehutu-National Liberation Forces (NLF).

Peace agreements

Following a plea from United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali for them to assist in the humanitarian catastrophe, African leaders started a series of peace negotiations between warring groups. In 1995, former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere began talks; after his death, South African President Nelson Mandela took over. As the discussions proceeded, South African President Thabo Mbeki and US President Bill Clinton added their voices.

Track I mediations were used during the peace negotiations. This negotiating technique may be described as a kind of diplomacy using governmental or intergovernmental officials who may utilize their good reputations, mediation, or the “carrot and stick” method to achieve or force a result, often along the lines of “bargaining” or “win-lose.”

The primary goal was to fundamentally restructure the Burundian administration and military in order to reconcile the ethnic divide between Tutsi and Hutu. It was to be accomplished in two main stages. First, a transitional power-sharing administration would be formed, with presidents serving three-year terms. The second goal included reorganizing the military such that all factions were represented equally.

As the length of the peace negotiations showed, the mediators and negotiating sides faced a number of challenges. First, Burundian authorities considered the objectives to be “unrealistic,” and the pact to be vague, inconsistent, and confusing. Second, and probably most crucially, the Burundians felt the pact would be meaningless unless accompanied by a cease-fire. Separate and direct discussions with the rebel factions would be required. The major Hutu party was dubious of the idea of a power-sharing government, claiming that the Tutsi had misled them in previous accords.

The pact was signed in 2000 by the Burundian President, as well as 13 of the 19 fighting Hutu and Tutsi groups. Disagreements remained about who would lead the fledgling administration and when the truce would begin. The peace negotiations were sabotaged by hardline Tutsi and Hutu factions that refused to sign the agreement, leading to an increase in bloodshed. Three years later, at an African leaders’ conference in Tanzania, the Burundian president and the major opposition Hutu organization signed an agreement to terminate the war; signatory members were given ministerial positions inside the government. Smaller Hutu militant organizations, like as the Forces for National Liberation, remained active.

UN involvement

Many rounds of peace negotiations between 1993 and 2003, supervised by regional leaders in Tanzania, South Africa, and Uganda, eventually produced power-sharing accords that satisfied the majority of the warring parties. The South African Protection Support Detachment was first sent to safeguard Burundian leaders returning from exile. These troops were sent to the African Union Mission in Burundi, which was tasked with overseeing the establishment of a transitional government. The UN stepped in and took over peacekeeping duties in June 2004, signaling increasing international support for Burundi’s already well-advanced peace process.

The mission’s mandate has been to monitor the cease-fire; carry out disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of former combatants; support humanitarian assistance and refugee and IDP return; assist with elections; protect international staff and Burundian civilians; monitor Burundi’s troubled borders, including halting illicit arms flows; and A total of 5,650 military troops, 120 civilian police officers, and about 1,000 foreign and local civilian employees have been assigned to the operation. The mission has been running well. It has benefitted tremendously from the transitional government, which has been operational and is in the process of transitioning to a democratically elected administration.

The major challenge in the early stages was the remaining Hutu nationalist rebel group’s persistent opposition to the peace process. Despite the presence of the UN, this group maintained its deadly struggle on the outskirts of the city. By June 2005, the organization had ceased fighting and its representatives had been reintegrated into the democratic process. All political parties have agreed to an inter-ethnic power-sharing formula: no political party may enter government positions unless it is ethnically integrated.

The UN mission’s primary goal had been to codify the power-sharing agreements in a democratically approved constitution, allowing elections to be conducted and a new government to be formed. Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration were carried out concurrently with election preparations. The Constitution was adopted with more than 90 percent of the public vote in February 2005. Three separate elections for the Parliament and the President were also conducted at the municipal level in May, June, and August 2005.

While there are still some problems with refugee returns and ensuring sufficient food supplies for the war-weary people, the operation was successful in gaining the trust and confidence of the majority of the previously fighting leaders, as well as the general public. It was engaged in a number of “rapid impact” projects, including the rehabilitation and construction of schools, orphanages, health clinics, and infrastructure such as water lines.

2006 to 2015

After 2006, Burundi’s reconstruction efforts began to bear fruit. The United Nations ended its peacekeeping operation and refocused on rebuilding assistance. Rwanda, DRC Congo, and Burundi revived the regional Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries in order to achieve economic rehabilitation. Burundi, along with Rwanda, also joined the East African Community in 2007.

However, the terms of the September 2006 ceasefire agreement reached between the government and the last remaining armed opposition group, the FLN (Forces for National Liberation, also known as the NLF or FROLINA), were not fully implemented, and senior FLN members later left the truce monitoring team, claiming that their security was jeopardized. Rival FLN groups fought in the capital in September 2007, killing 20 combatants and forcing civilians to evacuate. In other areas of the nation, there have been reports of rebel attacks. The rebel groups and the government differed on disarmament and the freeing of political detainees. FLN militants assaulted government-protected camps where former combatants were residing in late 2007 and early 2008. Rural inhabitants’ houses were also pillaged.

Amnesty International’s 2007 report identifies many areas for development. The FLN has committed many acts of violence against civilians. Child soldiers are also recruited by the latter. Women face a high incidence of violence. Perpetrators are often shielded from prosecution and punishment by the state. The court system is in desperate need of change. Genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity continue to go unpunished. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Special Tribunal for inquiry and prosecution have yet to be established. Journalists are often imprisoned for carrying out lawful professional duties, limiting their freedom of speech. Between January and November 2007, a total of 38,087 Burundian refugees were returned.

In late March 2008, the FLN requested that the parliament pass legislation providing them with “provisional immunity” from arrest. Ordinary offenses would be included, but not severe breaches of international humanitarian law such as war crimes or crimes against humanity. Despite the fact that the government has previously given this to individuals, the FLN has been unable to secure temporary immunity.

The FLN bombed Bujumbura on April 17, 2008. Burundi’s army fought back, and the FLN suffered significant casualties. On May 26, 2008, a new cease-fire agreement was reached. President Nkurunziza met with FLN leader Agathon Rwasa in August 2008, via the intervention of South Africa’s Minister of Safety and Security, Charles Nqakula. This was the first direct meeting between the two parties since June 2007. Both agreed to meet twice a week to form a commission to address any disagreements that may emerge during the peace talks.

Refugee camps are being closed down, and 450,000 people have gone home. The country’s economy is in shambles – as of 2011, Burundi has one of the world’s lowest per capita gross earnings. Property disputes have erupted as a result of the repatriation of refugees, among other things.

Burundi is currently a member of African Union peacekeeping operations, notably one in Somalia against Al-Shahab terrorists.

2015 unrest

Protests erupted in April 2015 when the governing party announced that President Pierre Nkurunziza will run for a third term. Protesters argued Nkurunziza could not seek for re-election for a third time, but the country’s constitutional court sided with the President (although some of its members had fled the country at the time of its vote).

On 13 May, an attempted coup failed to overthrow Nkurunziza, who returned to Burundi and started purging his government, arresting many coup leaders. Protests persisted in the aftermath of the failed coup, and by 20 May, over 100,000 people had left the nation, resulting in a humanitarian crisis. There have been allegations of extensive human rights violations, including illegal murders, torture, disappearances, and limitations on freedom of speech.

Despite demands from the United Nations, the African Union, the United States, France, South Africa, Belgium, and other countries, the governing party conducted legislative elections on June 29, which the opposition boycotted.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Burundi

Stay Safe in Burundi

Although much of the country has returned to some semblance of normalcy since the completion of the nation’s democratic transition and the election of a democratically elected head of state in August 2005, visitors should be aware that there is still significant insecurity throughout the country and should exercise extreme caution. Aside from the still-active rebel organization, the Troops Nationales de la Liberation (FNL), which continues to target government forces and people, banditry and armed robbery, as well as minor crimes, remain a danger. Visitors should be cautious, avoid traveling after dark, and be mindful of curfews. Many highways are closed at night, and most embassies impose curfews on their employees. Visitors should contact their embassy, as they would in any other conflict or post-conflict scenario, to stay up to date on the latest local events and to be aware of the shifting security environment.

Stay Healthy in Burundi

Avoid eating at kiosks and drinking unboiled water. Also, be sure you’ve been vaccinated.

HIV infection is common in Uganda, as it is in many other African nations. According to one source [www], the urban rate was 18.6 percent and the rural rate was 7.5 percent in 2002.



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