48 Interesting Facts About Burundi

Burundi, officially the Republic of Burundi, is a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes region of East Africa. With these 48 interesting facts about Burundi, let’s learn more about its culture, people, economy, food and civil war.

Facts about Burundi’s independence, people and politics

1. The country’s motto, “Ubumwe, Ibikorwa, Iterambere” means “Unity, Work, Progress” in Kirundi. Sadly, Burundi was ranked as the world’s least happy nation in the 2016 World Happiness Report.

2. HIV/AIDS is also a major threat to the population of the country.

3. Burundi won a gold medal in 1996 for the first time in Olympic history. In doing so, it became the poorest country ever to win an Olympic gold medal. The prestigious medal was won by Burundi’s runner Venuste Niyongabo in the 5000 meter race. Ironically, it has never won a regional title at the African Games.

4. Group jogging is banned in Burundi. In 2014, the country’s president banned the activity, citing the reason that such walks can help people plan subversive (anti-government) activities.

5. Due to farming and overgrazing, deforestation and soil erosion are becoming concerns for the population of the country.

6. The first election in the country took place on September 8, 1961.

7. Before independence, the country was named Ruanda-Urundi.

8. The first Prime Minister, Louis Rwagasore, was assassinated a few weeks after his election.

9. Melchior Ndadaye became the nation’s first Hutu ruler when he was elected as the president in 1993.

10. The country’s capital—Bujumbara—has the largest port.

Downtown Bujumbara, Burundi.
Interesting facts about Burundi: Downtown Bujumbara. Image credit – Dave Proffer

11. Gitega is the second-largest city in the county.

12. There are only two coffee-processing plants in Burundi. One is located in the capital, and the other is in Gitega.

13. A majority of the population of Burundi lives in villages that are scattered throughout the highlands.

Facts about Burundian food

14. Protein and fat intake in the population of Burundi is very limited. As a result of it, a disease known as kwashiorkor is common. 

15. People in the region mainly eat diets consisting of carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

16. Meat accounts for 2% or less of the average food intake.

17. Beer, which is an important part of social interactions, is drunk through straws.

18. Upon the death of a cow, its meat is eaten and horns are planted in the soil near the house. People in Burundi believe that this brings them good luck.

Facts about the economy

19. The country imports twice as much as it exports.

20. Ninety percent of the population of Burundi is employed in agriculture.

21. Burundi is a country heavily affected with sex trafficking and forced child labor.

22. Burundi lies on a “rolling” plateau in the center of Africa. These plateaus are at different elevations: a flat area at 1500m rises to 2000m, then descends to another plateau back at 1500m, creating an undulating (rolling) landscape. In Africa, these features are called rolling plateaus.

23. Burundians often have to deal with hunger, corruption, weak infrastructure and poor access to health and education services.

24. Traditionally, houses were built with mud and grass in the country. Nowadays, tin is used for roofing, as there is a shortage of grass and leaves.

25. The economic and political control of the country has been mainly in the hands of the Tutsi people, repressing the Twa and the Hutu majority.

Burundi’s culture and people

26. Burundi has been home to The Twa, Hutu and Tutsi peoples for at least five hundred years.

27. There has been continual dispute and conflict between the majority Hutus (85%) and minority Tutsi (14%) in the country since its independence. A cease-fire agreement was signed in 2003 to settle the dispute.

28. Hutus were agricultural people who were short and square, while Tutsi were the cattle-owning elite who were tall and thin.

29. Cows play a significant role in the national culture. A typical Kirundi greeting, “Amashyo,” translates as “May you have herds of cattle.” Cattle are a symbol of health, happiness and prosperity.

Burundi Map
Interesting facts about Burundi: Burundi Map

Burundi facts for kids

30. The people of the country are called “Burundians.”

31. Burundi became independent on July 1, 1962.

32. “Mount Heha” is the highest point in Burundi. It is 2684 m, or 8,806 feet high.

33. Football (soccer) is the national sport of Burundi.

34. The country is among the most densely populated countries in Africa.

35. The country has two official languages – French and Kirundi.

36. People belonging to both Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups can speak Kirundi.

37. There were a total of 144,550 internet users in the country in 2014.

38. There are seven airports and 12,322 km of total railway in the country.

39. The official currency of Burundi—the Burundi Franc—was first issued in 1963.

40. Burundi is also a member of the United Nations.

41. It is a landlocked country, and is about the size of Belgium.

42. The country is also one of the few republics in Africa to have a female prime minister.

43. In the past decades, the country’s rain forest housed one of the world’s biggest crocodiles.

44. The country receives an average rainfall of 848 mm every year. It experiences its driest weather in July and wettest weather in April.

Facts about Civil war in Burundi

45. An estimated 200,000 people were killed during the 12 years of the civil war in Burundi.

46. The civil war started as a conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups of Burundi after the assassination of the country’s president in 1993.

47. The war caused severe economic disruption and dislocation. During the period of dislocation, affected people became dependent on international humanitarian assistance.

48. Because of the ongoing civil war, hundreds of thousands of Burundians fled to neighboring countries.

Quick/fast facts about Burundi

Capital CityBujumbura
3°30′S 30°00′E
Largest CityBujumbura
3°30′S 30°00′E
Total area27,830 sq km
Population11,929,740 (2016)
Official LanguageFrench and Kirundi
BordersRwanda, Tanzania, and Democratic Republic of the Congo.
CurrencyBurundian franc
ReligionChristianity, Islam and Ingenious belief.
Life expectancy60.96 years (2016)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
Terrainhilly and mountainous, dropping to a plateau in east, some plains
Natural resourcesnickel, uranium, rare earth oxides, peat, cobalt, copper, platinum, vanadium, arable land, hydropower, niobium, tantalum, gold, tin, tungsten, kaolin, limestone
Agricultural land73.3%
Birth rate42.01 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate9.27 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio0.99 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Independence1 July 1962 (from UN trusteeship under Belgian administration)
National symbolslion; national colors: red, white, green
National anthem"Burundi Bwacu" (Our Beloved Burundi)
Industrieslight consumer goods (blankets, shoes, soap, beer); assembly of imported components; public works construction; food processing
Exports$96.6 million (2015 est.)
coffee, tea, sugar, cotton, hides
Imports$815.1 million (2015 est.)
capital goods, petroleum products, foodstuffs
GDP - per capita (PPP)$800 (2015 est.)
Internet country code.bi
Internet users523,000
percent of population: 4.9% (July 2015 est.)
Time ZoneCAT (UTC+2)
Calling Code+257
Drives on theRight


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  • http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/burundi-facts/
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