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Burundi Overview


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A tiny yet beautiful mountainous country, Burundi is minute in comparison to its neighbours Tanzania and Congo. The country's stormy history of tribal wars and factional struggles between the ruling families has been further complicated in recent times by colonisation, first by Germans and later by Belgians. Since independence, intertribal tensions have been a problem reaching its peak in the decade-long civil war which currently engulfs Burundi.

The economy is mostly agricultural, with coffee, the main commercial produce and accounts for about 65% of Burundi’s export income. Tea production has increased greatly over the past number of years. Other cash crops include cotton, palm oil and tobacco. Most of the cultivated land consist of subsistence crops which include cassava, bananas, sweet potatoes, maize and sorghum. Burundi’s balance of trade deficit is frightening and it is heavily dependent on foreign aid. The country’s repayments take up more than half of export earnings and inflation is running at around 10%.

Being embroiled in civil war it is advised to check the security situation carefully before traveling to and around the country. The current situation in the country makes it a non-tourist destination at the moment and hopefully these clashes will be sorted out sooner than later. It is a beautiful little destination in Africa and it is a pity that a tourist is unable to explore its countryside without fear.

Burundi Quick Facts
Location: Central Africa, east of Democratic Republic of the Congo
Area: 27,830 sq km
Border countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo 233 km, Rwanda 290 km, Tanzania 451 km
Population: 6.2 million
People: Hutu (Bantu) 85%, Tutsi (Hamitic) 14%, Twa (Pygmy) 1%, Europeans 3,000, South Asians 2,000
Language: Kirundi (official), French (official), Swahili (along Lake Tanganyika and in the Bujumbura area)
Religion: Christian 67% (Roman Catholic 62%, Protestant 5%), indigenous beliefs 23%, Muslim 10%
Independence: 1 July 1962 (from UN trusteeship under Belgian administration)
Head of State: President Domitien NDAYIZEYE
Capital: Bujumbura
Currency: Burundi franc (BIF) - Exchange Rate(link popup window)
Export Commodities: coffee, tea, sugar, cotton, hides
Agriculture - products: coffee, cotton, tea, corn, sorghum, sweet potatoes, bananas, manioc (tapioca); beef, milk, hides
GDP growth: 0% (2003 est.)
GDP per capita: $600 (2003 est.)
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