Burundi

Burundi

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Overview

Burundi’s independence : Burundi, one of the world’s poorest nations, is struggling to emerge from a 12-year, ethnic-based civil war.

burundi

Burundi is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa, bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Its capital is Bujumbura. Although the country is landlocked, much of the southwestern border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika.
The Twa, Hutu and Tutsi peoples have lived in Burundi for at least five hundred years and, for over two hundred years, Burundi was ruled as a kingdom. At the beginning of the twentieth century, however, Germany and Belgium occupied the region and Burundi and Rwanda became a European colony known as Ruanda-Urundi. Social differences between the Tutsi and Hutu have since contributed to political unrest in the region, leading to civil war in the middle of the twentieth century. Presently, Burundi is governed as a presidential representative democratic republic.

Following World War II, Ruanda-Urundi was a United Nations Trust Territory under Belgian administrative authority. During the 1940s, a series of policies caused divisions throughout the country. On October 4, 1943, powers were split in the legislative division of Burundi’s government between chiefdoms and lower chiefdoms. Chiefdoms were in charge of land, and lower sub-chiefdoms were established. Native authorities also had powers. In 1948, Belgium allowed the region to form political parties. These factions would be one of the main influences for Burundi’s independence from Belgium.
Independence and civil war

On January 20, 1959, Burundi’s ruler Mwami Mwambutsa IV requested from the Belgian Minister of Colonies a separation of Burundi and Rwanda and a dissolution of Ruanda-Urundi. Six months later, political parties were formed to bring attention to Burundi’s independence from Europe and to separate Rwanda from Burundi. The first of these political parties was the Union for National Progress (UPRONA).
Burundi’s push for independence was influenced to some extent by the instability and ethnic persecution that occurred in Rwanda. In November 1959, Rwandese Hutu attacked the Tutsi and massacred them by the thousands. Many Tutsi escaped to Uganda and Burundi to find freedom from persecution. The Hutu took power in Rwanda by winning Belgian-run elections in 1960.

Reconstruction efforts in Burundi started to practically take effect after 2006. The UN shut down its peacekeeping mission and re-focused on helping with reconstruction. Toward achieving economic reconstruction, Rwanda, D.R.Congo and Burundi relaunched the regional economic bloc: The Great Lakes Countries Economic Community. In addition, Burundi, along with Rwanda, joined the East African Community in 2007.

 

The Situation

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 March 13, 1992, Tutsi coup leader Pierre Buyoya established a constitution,[38] which provided for a multi-party political process and reflected multi-party competition. Six years later, on June 6, 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 consists of 170 members, with the Front for Democracy in Burundi holding 38% of seats, and 10% of the assembly is controlled by UPRONA. Fifty-two seats are 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.

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. One scientific study of 178 nations rated Burundi’s population as having the lowest satisfaction with life in the world. As a result of poverty, Burundi is dependent on foreign aid.

Burundi’s largest industry is agriculture, which accounted for 58% of the GDP in 1997. Subsistence agriculture accounts for 90% of agriculture. The nation’s largest source of revenue is coffee, which makes up 93% of Burundi’s exports. Other agricultural products include cotton, tea, maize, sorghum, sweet potatoes, bananas, manioc (tapioca); beef, milk, and hides. 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. Burundi’s currency is the Burundian franc (BIF); as of May 26, 2012, 1,371.00 Burundian franc were equivalent to one United States dollar.

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.

 

 

Fun Trivia Facts
  • Full name: Republic of Burundi
  • Population: 8.7 million (UN, 2012)
  • Capital: Bujumbura
  • Area: 27,816 sq km (10,740 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Kirundi (official), French (official), Swahili
  • Major religions: Christianity, indigenous beliefs
  • Life expectancy: 50 years (men), 53 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 Burundi franc = 100 centimes
  • Main exports: coffee, tea, sugar, cotton, hides
  • GNI per capita: US $250 (World Bank, 2011)
  • Internet domain: .bi
  • International dialling code: +257
Karera falls in Bujumbura, Burundi's capital.

Karera falls in Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital.

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Other African Nations.

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