The Republic of Burundi is situated in the Great Lakes region of East-Central Africa and shares borders with Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Tanzania. It covers an area of 10,745 square miles and is one of the smallest countries in Africa, with a population exceeding only 10 million (approximately half of whom are aged 14 or less). The majority of Burundians live in rural areas, and are of Hutu ethnic origin. Bujumbura is the capital and main port of Burundi. As of 2010, the President is Pierre Nkurunziza.
Burundi claimed independence from Belgium on July 1 1962, and the name of the country was legally changed from Ruanda-Urundi to Burundi. On September 18 of the same year, the state also joined the United Nations. Since the country’s independence in 1962, there have been two genocides in the country- the mass killings of Hutus by the Tutsi-dominated army in 1972 and the 1993 mass killings of Tutsis by the Hutu populace. Although the country still faces growing political unrest, the government is cooperating closely with the Hutu -ed Palipehutu National liberation Forces to bring peace and stability to the country.
The country is divided into 17 provinces. The major ones include Bubanza, Bujumbura, Mairie, Bururi and Karuzi. The political system of Burundi is that of a presidential representative democratic republic, based upon a multi-party state. There are currently 21 registered parties in the country. The President of Burundi is both the head of state and head of government. Burundi has a bicameral legislature, consisting of the Transitional National Assembly (Lower House) and the Transitional Senate (Upper House), The Transitional national Assembly consists of 170 members. At present, 38% of the seats are held by the Front for Democracy, 52 seats are controlled by other parties, and the remaining 10% is controlled by UPRONA. Under the country’s constitution, political representation in the Assembly must be consistent with 60% Hutu and 40% Tutsi. Quotas for women have also been implemented which require that at least 30% of Assembly members must be female. Members of the Transitional National Assembly are elected by popular votes for five-year terms. The Transitional Senate, on the other hand, contains fifty one seats, three of which are reserved for former Presidents. Members of the Senate are elected by electoral colleges consisting of members from each of Burundi’s provinces and communes. The Supreme Court is the country’s highest court.
Given Burundi’s equatorial climate and large pastures of land, it’s largest industry is by far agriculture, which contributed to 58% of the country’s GDP in 2007. About 90% of the population is dependent on subsistence farming. Coffee and sugar are the two largest sources of revenue, but other agricultural products include cotton, maize, tee, bananas, beef, milk and sweet potatoes. The country has a range of natural resources including uranium, nickel, cobalt, copper and platinum. Besides agriculture, other industries include public works construction, food processing, and light consumer goods such as blankets, shoes and soap. The Burundian Franc (BIF) is the country’s currency.
Burundi’s culture consists a mixture of local traditions and customs adopted from neighboring countries.Drumming is an important element of the Burundian cultural heritage, and is often accompanied with dance. Some famous Burundian dances include the abatimbo and the abanygasimbo. Burundian artisans are also known for their intricate handmade crafts such as baskets, masks, statues, and pottery. The two most popular sports in the country are basketball and football. The official languages of Burundi are French and Kurundi, but Swahili is also widely spoken across the country. An estimated 75% of the country’s population is Christian, 20% subscribe to indigenous religious beliefs and the remaining 5% are Muslim. The largest holiday celebrated in the country is Christmas, but as of 2005, Eid ul-Fitr (an Islamic holiday) is also a public holiday.