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Burundi Bureau of African Affairs
July 2007

Background Note: Burundi

Burundian traditional dancers
practice for ceremony. Bujumbura,
Burundi, April 29, 2003. [© AP
Images]

Flag of Burundi is divided by a white diagonal cross into red panels (top and
bottom) and green panels (hoist side and outer 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).

PROFILE

OFFICIAL NAME:
Republic of Burundi

Geography
Location: Central Africa. Bordering nations--Tanzania, the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, Rwanda.
Area: 27,830 sq. km. (10,747 sq. mi.); about the size of Maryland.
Cities: Capital--Bujumbura (pop. 300,000). Other cities--Cibitoke, Muyinga,
Ngozi, Bubanza, Gitega, Bururi.
Climate: Equatorial; high plateau with considerable altitude variation (772 m
to 2,670 m above sea level); average annual temperature varies with altitude
from 23 to 17 degrees centigrade but is generally moderate as the average
altitude is about 1,700 m; average annual rainfall is about 150 cm; two wet
seasons (February to May and September to November), and two dry seasons
(June to August and December to January).
Terrain: Hilly, rising from 780 meters (2,600 ft.) at the Shore of Lake
Tanganyika to mountains more than 2,700 meters (9,000 ft.) above sea level.

People
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Burundian(s).
Population (July 2007 est.): 8,390,505.
Annual growth rate (2007 est.): 3.593%.
Ethnic groups (estimated): Hutu 85%; Tutsi 14%; Twa 1.0%.
Religions (estimated): Christian 67% (Roman Catholic 62%, Protestant 5%),
indigenous beliefs 23%, Muslim 10%.
Languages: Kirundi (official), French (official), Swahili (along Lake
Tanganyika and in the Bujumbura area), English.
Education: Years compulsory--6. Attendance--84.05% male, 62.8% female.
Literacy--51.6% of total adult population (2003 estimate).
Health (2007 est.): Life expectancy--total population: 51.29 years; male:
50.48 years; female: 52.12 years. Infant mortality rate--61.93/1,000.

Government
Type: Republic. Democratically elected, post-transition government
established August 26, 2005.
Independence: July 1, 1962 (from Belgium).
Constitution: A transitional constitution was adopted October 18, 2001. The
parliament adopted a post-transition constitution on September 17, 2004,
which was approved in a nation-wide referendum held February 28, 2005.
Branches: Executive--President, First Vice President in charge of political
and administrative affairs, Second Vice President in charge of social and
economic affairs, 20-member Council of Ministers. Legislative--A 100-member
directly elected National Assembly plus additional deputies appointed as
necessary (currently 18 appointed) to ensure an ethnic and gender composition
of 60% Hutu, 40% Tutsi, 30% female, and 3 Batwa members. A 54-member Senate
(3 seats reserved for former presidents; 3 seats reserved for the ethnic Twa
minority; 2 Senators, one Hutu and one Tutsi, from each of the 16 provinces
plus the city of Bujumbura appointed by an electoral college comprised of
members of locally elected communal and provincial councils; 14 Senators
appointed by the president according to the president's own criteria. Women
must comprise 30% of the Senate.) Judicial--constitutional and subsidiary
courts.
Administrative subdivisions: 17 provinces including Bujumbura, 117 communes.
Political parties: Multi-party system consisting of 21 registered political
parties, of which CNDD (the National Council for the Defense of Democracy,
Hutu), FRODEBU (the Front for Democracy in Burundi, predominantly Hutu with
some Tutsi membership), and UPRONA (the National Unity and Progress Party,
predominantly Tutsi with some Hutu membership) are national, mainstream
parties. Other Tutsi and Hutu opposition parties and groups include, among
others, PARENA (the Party for National Redress, Tutsi), ABASA (the Burundi
African Alliance for the Salvation, Tutsi), PRP (the People's Reconciliation
Party, Tutsi), PALIPEHUTU (the Party for the Liberation of the Hutu People,
Hutu) and FROLINA/FAP (the Front for the National Liberation of Burundi/
Popular Armed Forces, Hutu).
Suffrage: Universal adult.

Economy
GDP (2006 est.): $776 million.
Real growth rate (2006): 3.8%.
Per capita GDP (2004): $96; ($700 using purchasing power parity, 2006 est.).
Inflation rate (2006): 11%.
Central government budget (2006 est.): Revenues--$239.9 million; expenditures
--$297 million, including capital expenditures.
Natural resources: Nickel, uranium, rare earth oxides, peat, cobalt, copper,
platinum, vanadium, arable land, hydropower, niobium, tantalum, gold, tin,
tungsten, kaolin, limestone.
Agriculture (2006 est., 44.9% of GDP): Coffee, cotton, tea, corn, sorghum,
sweet potatoes, bananas, manioc (tapioca), beef, milk, hides. Arable land
--35.57% (2005 est.).
Industry (2006 est., 20.9% of GDP): Types--beverage production, coffee and
tea processing, cigarette production, sugar refining, pharmaceuticals, light
food processing, textiles, chemicals (insecticides), public works
construction, consumer goods, assembly of imported components, light consumer
goods such as blankets, shoes, soap.
Services (2006 est.): 34.1% of GDP.
Mining: Commercial quantities of alluvial gold, nickel, phosphates, rare
earth, vanadium, and other; peat mining.
Trade (2006 est.): Exports--$55.68 million f.o.b.: coffee (50% of export
earnings), tea, sugar, cotton fabrics, hides. Major markets--U.K., Germany,
Benelux, Switzerland. Imports--$207.3 million f.o.b.: food, beverages,
tobacco, chemicals, road vehicles, petroleum products. Major suppliers
--Benelux, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Japan.
Total external debt (2004 est.): $1.4 billion.

PEOPLE
At 206.1 persons per sq. km., Burundi has the second-largest population
density in Sub-Saharan Africa. Most people live on farms near areas of
fertile volcanic soil. The population is made up of three major ethnic
groups--Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa. Kirundi is the most widely spoken language;
French and Kiswahili also are widely spoken. Intermarriage takes place
frequently between the Hutus and Tutsis. Although Hutus encompass the
majority of the population, historically Tutsis have been politically and
economically dominant.

HISTORY
In the 16th century, Burundi was a kingdom characterized by a hierarchical
political authority and tributary economic exchange. A king (mwani) headed a
princely aristocracy (ganwa) that owned most of the land and required a
tribute, or tax, from local farmers and herders. In the mid-18th century,
this Tutsi royalty consolidated authority over land, production, and
distribution with the development of the ubugabire--a patron-client
relationship in which the populace received royal protection in exchange for
tribute and land tenure.

Although European explorers and missionaries made brief visits to the area as
early as 1856, it was not until 1899 that Burundi came under German East
African administration. In 1916 Belgian troops occupied the area. In 1923,
the League of Nations mandated to Belgium the territory of Ruanda-Urundi,
encompassing modern-day Rwanda and Burundi. The Belgians administered the
territory through indirect rule, building on the Tutsi-dominated aristocratic
hierarchy. Following World War II, Ruanda-Urundi became a United Nations
Trust Territory under Belgian administrative authority. After 1948, Belgium
permitted the emergence of competing political parties. Two political parties
emerged: the Union for National Progress (UPRONA), a multi-ethnic party led
by Tutsi Prince Louis Rwagasore and the Christian Democratic Party (PDC)
supported by Belgium. In 1961, Prince Rwagasore was assassinated following an
UPRONA victory in legislative elections.

Full independence was achieved on July 1, 1962. In the context of weak
democratic institutions at independence, Tutsi King Mwambutsa IV established
a constitutional monarchy comprising equal numbers of Hutus and Tutsis. The
1965 assassination of the Hutu prime minister set in motion a series of
destabilizing Hutu revolts and subsequent governmental repression. In 1966,
King Mwambutsa was deposed by his son, Prince Ntare IV, who himself was
deposed the same year by a military coup lead by Capt. Michel Micombero.
Micombero abolished the monarchy and declared a republic, although a de facto
military regime emerged. In 1972, an aborted Hutu rebellion triggered the
flight of hundreds of thousands of Burundians. Civil unrest continued
throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In 1976, Col. Jean-Baptiste Bagaza took power in a bloodless coup. Although
Bagaza led a Tutsi-dominated military regime, he encouraged land reform,
electoral reform, and national reconciliation. In 1981, a new constitution
was promulgated. In 1984, Bagaza was elected head of state, as the sole
candidate. After his election, Bagaza's human rights record deteriorated as
he suppressed religious activities and detained political opposition members.

In 1987, Maj. Pierre Buyoya overthrew Colonel Bagaza. He dissolved opposition
parties, suspended the 1981 constitution, and instituted his ruling Military
Committee for National Salvation (CSMN). During 1988, increasing tensions
between the ruling Tutsis and the majority Hutus resulted in violent
confrontations between the army, the Hutu opposition, and Tutsi hardliners.
During this period, an estimated 150,000 people were killed, with tens of
thousands of refugees flowing to neighboring countries. Buyoya formed a
commission to investigate the causes of the 1988 unrest and to develop a
charter for democratic reform.

In 1991, Buyoya approved a constitution that provided for a president,
multi-ethnic government, and a parliament. Burundi's first Hutu president,
Melchior Ndadaye, of the Hutu-dominated FRODEBU Party, was elected in 1993.
He was assassinated by factions of the Tutsi-dominated armed forces in
October 1993. The country was then plunged into civil war, which killed tens
of thousands of people and displaced hundreds of thousands by the time the
FRODEBU government regained control and elected Cyprien Ntaryamira president
in January 1994. Nonetheless, the security situation continued to
deteriorate. In April 1994, President Ntayamira and Rwandan President Juvenal
Habyarimana died in a plane crash. This act marked the beginning of the
Rwandan genocide, while in Burundi, the death of Ntaryamira exacerbated the
violence and unrest. Sylvestre Ntibantunganya was installed as president for
a 4-year term on April 8, but the security situation further deteriorated.
The influx of hundreds of thousands of Rwandan refugees and the activities of
armed Hutu and Tutsi groups further destabilized the regime.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
In November 1995, the presidents of Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zaire (now
Democratic Republic of the Congo) announced a regional initiative for a
negotiated peace in Burundi facilitated by former Tanzanian President Julius
Nyerere. In July 1996, former Burundian President Buyoya returned to power in
a bloodless coup. He declared himself president of a transitional republic,
even as he suspended the National Assembly, banned opposition groups, and
imposed a nationwide curfew. Widespread condemnation of the coup ensued, and
regional countries imposed economic sanctions pending a return to a
constitutional government. Buyoya agreed in 1996 to liberalize political
parties. Nonetheless, fighting between the army and Hutu militias continued.
In June 1998, Buyoya promulgated a transitional constitution and announced a
partnership between the government and the opposition-led National Assembly.
After Facilitator Julius Nyerere's death in October 1999, the regional
leaders appointed Nelson Mandela as Facilitator of the Arusha peace process.
Under Mandela the faltering peace process was revived, leading to the signing
of the Arusha Accords in August 2000 by representatives of the principal Hutu
(G-7) and Tutsi (G-10) political parties, the government, and the National
Assembly. However, the FDD and FNL armed factions of the CNDD and Palipehutu
G-7 parties refused to accept the Arusha Accords, and the armed rebellion
continued.

In November 2001, a 3-year transitional government was established under the
leadership of Pierre Buyoya (representing the G-10) as transitional president
and Domitien Ndayizeye (representing the G-7) as transitional vice president
for an initial period of 18 months. In May 2003, Mr. Ndayizeye assumed the
presidency for 18 months with Alphonse Marie Kadege as vice president. In
October and November 2003 the Burundian Government and the former rebel group
the CNDD-FDD signed cease-fire and power-sharing agreements, and in March
2004 members of the CNDD-FDD took offices in the government and parliament.
The World Bank and other bilateral donors have provided financing for
Burundi's disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration program for former
rebel combatants.

National and regional mediation efforts failed to reach a compromise on
post-transition power-sharing arrangements between the predominantly Hutu and
Tutsi political parties, and in September 2004 over two-thirds of the
parliament--despite a boycott by the Tutsi parties--approved a
post-transition constitution. The Arusha Peace Agreement called for local and
national elections to be held before the conclusion of the transitional
period on October 31, 2004. On October 20, 2004, however, a joint session of
the National Assembly and Senate adopted a previously approved draft
constitution as an interim constitution that provides for an extension of
transitional institutions until elections are held. On February 28, 2005,
Burundians overwhelmingly approved a post-transitional constitution in a
popular referendum, setting the stage for local and national elections. In
April 2005, Burundi's transitional government was again extended and an
electoral calendar was established at a regional summit held in Uganda.

In accordance with the new electoral calendar, the Burundian people voted in
Commune Council direct elections on June 3, 2005 and National Assembly direct
elections on July 4, 2005. An electoral college of commune and provincial
councils indirectly elected Senate members on July 29, 2005. A joint session
of the parliament elected Pierre Nkurunziza as President of Burundi on August
19, 2005 in a vote of 151 to 9 with one abstention, establishing the
post-transition government. Finally, the Burundian people established Colline
(hill) councils through direct elections on September 23, 2005.

Principal Government Officials
President--Pierre Nkurunziza
First Vice President--Martin Nduwimana
Second Vice President--Gabriel Ntiserzerana
Speaker of the National Assembly--Pie Ntavyohanyuma
President of the Senate--Isidore Rufyikiri
Minister of Defense--Germain Niyoyankana
Minister of External Relations and Cooperation--Antoinette Batumubwira
Minister of Interior and Public Security--Evariste Ndayishimiye
Ambassador to the United States--Celestin Niyongabo

Burundi maintains an embassy in the United States at Suite 212, 2233
Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20007 (tel. 202-342-2574).

ECONOMY
The mainstay of the Burundian economy is agriculture, accounting for 44.9% of
GDP in 2006. Agriculture supports more than 90% of the labor force, the
majority of whom are subsistence farmers. Although Burundi is potentially
self-sufficient in food production, the civil war, overpopulation, and soil
erosion have contributed to the contraction of the subsistence economy by 30%
in recent years. Large numbers of internally displaced persons have been
unable to produce their own food and are dependent on international
humanitarian assistance. Burundi is a net food importer, with food accounting
for 13% of imports in 2003.

The main cash crop is coffee, which accounted for some 50% of exports in
2003. This dependence on coffee has increased Burundi's vulnerability to
fluctuations in seasonal yields and international coffee prices. Coffee
processing is the largest state-owned enterprise in terms of income. Although
the government has tried to attract private investment to this sector, plans
for the privatization of this sector have stalled. Efforts to privatize other
publicly held enterprises have likewise stalled. Other principal exports
include tea, sugar, and raw cotton. Coffee production, after a severe drop in
2003, returned to normal levels in 2004. Revenues from coffee production and
exports are likewise estimated to return to pre-2003 levels.

Little industry exists except the processing of agricultural exports.
Although potential wealth in petroleum, nickel, copper, and other natural
resources is being explored, the uncertain security situation has prevented
meaningful investor interest. Industrial development also is hampered by
Burundi's distance from the sea and high transport costs. Lake Tanganyika
remains an important trading point.

Burundi is heavily dependent on bilateral and multilateral aid, with external
debt totaling $1.4 billion in 2004. IMF structural adjustment programs in
Burundi were suspended following the outbreak of violence in 1993; the IMF
re-engaged Burundi in 2002 and 2003 with post-conflict credits, and in 2004
approved a $104 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility loan. The World
Bank is preparing a Transition Support Strategy, and has identified key areas
for potential growth, including the productivity of traditional crops and the
introduction of new exports, light manufactures, industrial mining, and
services. Both the IMF and the World Bank are assisting the Burundians to
prepare a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. Serious economic problems include
the state's role in the economy, the question of governmental transparency,
and debt reduction.

Based on Burundi's successful transition from war to peace and the
establishment of a democratically elected government in Burundi in September
2005, the United States Government lifted all sanctions on assistance to
Burundi on October 18, 2005. Burundi also became eligible for trade benefits
under the African Growth and Opportunity Act in December 2005.

FOREIGN RELATIONS
Burundi's relations with its neighbors have often been affected by security
concerns. Hundreds of thousands of Burundian refugees have at various times
crossed into Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Hundreds of thousands of Burundians fled to neighboring countries during the
civil war. Most of them, more than 750,000 since 1993, are in Tanzania.
Burundi maintains close relations with all neighbors in the Great Lakes
region, including Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Burundi is a member of various international and regional organizations,
including the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the African
Union, the African Development Bank, COMESA, the free-tariff zone of eastern
and southern Africa, and the East Africa Community (EAC).

U.S.-BURUNDI RELATIONS
U.S. Government goals in Burundi are to help the people of Burundi realize a
just and lasting peace based upon democratic principles and sustainable
economic development. The United States encourages political stability,
ongoing democratic reforms, political openness, respect for human rights, and
economic development in Burundi. In the long term, the United States seeks to
strengthen the process of internal reconciliation and democratization within
all the states of the region to promote a stable, democratic community of
nations that will work toward mutual social, economic, and security interests
on the continent.

The United States supported the Arusha peace process, providing financial
support through our assessed contributions to a UN peacekeeping force
established in 2004.

Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Patricia Newton Moller
Deputy Chief of Mission--Ann K. Breiter
Political/Economic Officers--Lewis Carroll, Caren Brown
Management Officer--George Lawson
Consular Officer--Matthew Garret
Regional Security Officer--Michael Jordan
General Service Officer--Lynn Whiteheart

The U.S. Embassy is located at Avenue des Etats Unis (Boite Postale 1720),
Bujumbura (tel. [257] 22-34-54).

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans
traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public
Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency
regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political
disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.
Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about
terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that
pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings
are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad
should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet
web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution,
Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs
Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a
safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For
additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/
Citizen/Topics/Travel/International.shtml.

The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens who traveling or residing
abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or
at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your
presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an
emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security
conditions.

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained
by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular
toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of
State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport
information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service
representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00
a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP
(877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the
most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A
booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS
publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://
www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global
access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background
Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of
Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies
working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov

Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market
information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free
export counseling, help with the export process, and more.
STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides
authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from
the Federal government. The site includes current and historical
trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities,
and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank. ***********************************************************
See http://www.state.gov/r/pa/bgn/ for all Background notes
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