Burundi country profile

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

Since independence in 1962 it has been plagued by tension between the usually-dominant Tutsi minority and the Hutu majority.

A civil war, sparked off in 1994 made Burundi the scene of one of Africa’s most intractable conflicts.

Read more country profiles – Profiles compiled by BBC Monitoring


Republic of Burundi

Capital: Bujumbura

  • 10.4m population – similar to Belgium

  • 27,816 sq km area – similar to Haiti

  • 50 years life expectancy for men

  • 50 years life expectancy for women

  • $900 GDP per capita – similar to Liberia

UN, World Bank, CIA World Factbook


LEADERSPresident: Pierre Nkurunziza

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Pierre Nkurunziza, a former Hutu rebel leader, became the first president to be chosen in democratic elections since the start of Burundi’s civil war in 1994.

In 2015 Burundi was plunged into its worst crisis since the end of a civil war in 2005, when Mr Nkurunziza’s ultimately successful bid for re-election to a third term sparked protests by opposition supporters who said the move was unconstitutional.

Official results from a referendum in May 2018 show that people voted overwhelmingly for constitutional reforms that could allow President Nkurunziza to stay in office until 2034.

The campaign leading up to the vote was marred by violence and intimidation.


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Getty Images

Image caption

An independent radio station was destroyed by supporters of President Nkurunziza

Operating in a turbulent political climate, Burundi’s media are subject to self-censorship and occasional government censorship.

In June 2013 President Nkurunziza approved a new media law which critics condemned as an attack on press freedom. The law forbids reporting on matters that could “undermine national security, public order or the economy”.

  • Read full media profile


Some key dates in Burundi’s history:

1890 – The kingdoms of Urundi and neighbouring Ruanda (Rwanda) incorporated into German East Africa.

1916 – Belgian army occupies the area, which later becomes a Belgian protectorate.

1962 – Urundi is separated from Ruanda-Urundi and becomes independent.

1993-94 – Ethnic conflict escalates into full-scale civil war,

2015 – Unrest sparked by President Nkurunziza’s plans to stand for third term.

  • Read full timeline

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