48 Important Facts About Burundi

Last updated on January 12th, 2022

Burundi, officially the Republic of Burundi, is a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes region of East Africa. With these 48 important 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.

Flag of Burundi

Flag of Burundi
Flag of Burundi – divided by a white diagonal cross into red panels (top and bottom) and green panels (hoist side and fly side) with a white disk superimposed at the center bearing three red six-pointed stars outlined in green arranged in a triangular design (one star above, two stars below); green symbolizes hope and optimism, white purity and peace, and red the blood shed in the struggle for independence; the three stars in the disk represent the three major ethnic groups: Hutu, Twa, Tutsi, as well as the three elements in the national motto: unity, work, progress. Source – CIA

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.
Downtown Bujumbura. Image credit – Dave Proffer

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

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. Learn more about kwashiorkor.

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 of Burundi

19. The country imports ($603.8 million) twice as much as it exports ($119 million) (2017 est.)

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

21. Burundi is a country heavily affected by 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 1500 m rises to 2000 m, then descends to another plateau back at 1500 m, 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.

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