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Hotels of Burundi

A hotel in Burundi is an establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis. Facilities provided may range from a basic bed and storage for clothing, to luxury features like en-suite bathrooms. Larger in Burundi hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference facilities and social function services. Hotel rooms in Burundi are usually numbered (or named in some smaller hotels and B&Bs) to allow guests to identify their room. Some Burundi hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. Hotel operations vary in size, function, and cost. Most Burundi hotels and major hospitality companies that operate hotels in Burundi have set widely accepted industry standards to classify hotel types. General categories include the following:

Upscale luxury hotels in Burundi
An upscale full service hotel facility in Burundi that offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and the highest level of personalized and professional service. Luxury Burundi hotels are normally classified with at least a Four Diamond or Five Diamond status or a Four or Five Star rating depending on classification standards.

Full service hotels in Burundi
Full service Burundi hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with a large volume of full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and a variety of on-site amenities such as swimming pools, a health club, children's activities, ballrooms, on-site conference facilities, etc.

Historic inns and boutique hotels in Burundi
Boutique hotels of Burundi are smaller independent non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities of varying size in unique or intimate settings with full service accommodations. Burundi boutique hotels are generally 100 rooms or less. Some historic inns and boutique hotels in Burundi may be classified as luxury hotels.

Focused or select service hotels in Burundi
Small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer a limited amount of on-site amenities that only cater and market to a specific demographic of Burundi travelers, such as the single business traveler. Most Burundi focused or select service hotels may still offer full service accommodations but may lack leisure amenities such as an on-site restaurant or a swimming pool.

Economy and limited service hotels in Burundi
Small to medium-sized Burundi hotel establishments that offer a very limited amount of on-site amenities and often only offer basic accommodations with little to no services, these facilities normally only cater and market to a specific demographic of travelers, such as the budget-minded Burundi traveler seeking a "no frills" accommodation. Limited service Burundi hotels often lack an on-site restaurant but in return may offer a limited complimentary food and beverage amenity such as on-site continental breakfast service.

Guest houses and B&Bs in Burundi
A bed and breakfast in Burundi is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and inclusive breakfast. Usually, Burundi bed and breakfasts are private homes or family homes offering accommodations. The typical Burundi B&B has between 4 and 11 rooms, with 6 being the average. Generally, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms, or in a suite of rooms including an en suite bathroom. Some homes have private bedrooms with a bathroom which is shared with other guests. Breakfast is served in the bedroom, a dining room, or the host's kitchen. Often the owners of guest house themselves prepare the breakfast and clean the rooms.

Hostels in Burundi
Burundi hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge, and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many Burundi hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk agents or housekeeping staff in exchange for experience or discounted accommodation.

Apartment hotels, extended stay hotels in Burundi
Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized Burundi hotels that offer longer term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Extended stay hotels may offer non-traditional pricing methods such as a weekly rate that cater towards travelers in need of short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Similar to limited and select service hotels, on-site amenities are normally limited and most extended stay hotels in Burundi lack an on-site restaurant.

Timeshare and destination clubs in Burundi
Burundi timeshare and destination clubs are a form of property ownership also referred to as a vacation ownership involving the purchase and ownership of an individual unit of accommodation for seasonal usage during a specified period of time. Timeshare resorts in Burundi often offer amenities similar that of a Full service hotel with on-site restaurant(s), swimming pools, recreation grounds, and other leisure-oriented amenities. Destination clubs of Burundi on the other hand may offer more exclusive private accommodations such as private houses in a neighborhood-style setting.

Motels in Burundi
A Burundi motel is a small-sized low-rise lodging establishment similar to that of a limited service hotel, but with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Common during the 1950s and 1960s, motels were often located adjacent to a major road, where they were built on inexpensive land at the edge of towns or along stretches of highways. They are still useful in less populated areas of Burundi for driving travelers, but the more populated an area becomes the more hotels fill the need. Many of Burundi motels which remain in operation have joined national franchise chains, rebranding themselves as hotels, inns or lodges.

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Travelling and vacation in Burundi

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 / -3.500; 30.000

Republic of Burundi
  • Republika y'Uburundi (Kirundi)
  • République du Burundi (French)
Flag of Burundi
Coat of arms of Burundi
Flag Coat of arms
Motto:
  • "Ubumwe, Ibikorwa, Amajambere" (Kirundi)
  • "Unité, Travail, Progrès" (French)
Anthem: Burundi Bwacu (Kirundi)
Our Burundi
Location of  Burundi  (dark blue)– in Africa  (light blue & dark grey)– in the African Union  (light blue)
Location of Burundi (dark blue)

– in Africa (light blue & dark grey)
– in the African Union (light blue)

Capital
and largest city
Bujumbura
 / -3.500; 30.000
Official languages
  • French
    Kirundi
Ethnic groups
  • 85% Hutu
  • 14% Tutsi
  • 1% Twa
  • ~3,000 Europeans
  • ~2,000 South Asians
Demonym Burundian
Government Presidential republic
• President
Pierre Nkurunziza
• 1st Vice-President
Gaston Sindimwo
• 2nd Vice-President
Joseph Butore
Legislature Parliament
• Upper house
Senate
• Lower house
National Assembly
Status
Part of Ruanda-Urundi
(UN trust territory)
1945–1962
• Independence from Belgium
1 July 1962
• Republic
1 July 1966
• Constitution of Burundi
28 February 2005
Area
• Total
27,834 km (10,747 sq mi)
• Water (%)
10
Population
• 2015 estimate
11,178,921
• 2008 census
8,053,574
• Density
401.6/km (1,040.1/sq mi)
GDP (PPP) 2016 estimate
• Total
$7.892 billion
• Per capita
$818
GDP (nominal) 2016 estimate
• Total
$2.742 billion
• Per capita
$284
Gini (2006) 33
medium
HDI (2015) Decrease 0.404
low · 184th
Currency Burundian franc (FBu) (BIF)
Time zone CAT (UTC+2)
Date format dd/mm/yyyy
Drives on the right
Calling code +257
ISO 3166 code BI
Internet TLD .bi

Burundi (/bəˈrʊndi/ or /bəˈrʌndi/), officially the Republic of Burundi (Kirundi: Republika y'Uburundi, [buˈɾundi]; French: République du Burundi, [buʁundi] or [byʁyndi]), is a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes region of East Africa, bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. It is also considered part of Central Africa. Burundi's capital is Bujumbura. The southwestern border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika.

The Twa, Hutu and Tutsi peoples have lived in Burundi for at least 500 years. For more than 200 of those years, Burundi was an independent kingdom, until the beginning of the 20th century, when Germany colonised the region. After the First World War and Germany's defeat, it ceded the territory to Belgium. Both Germans and Belgians ruled Burundi and Rwanda as a European colony known as Ruanda-Urundi. Despite common misconceptions, Burundi and Rwanda had never been under common rule until the time of European colonisation.

Burundi gained independence in 1962 and initially had a monarchy, but a series of assassinations, coups and a general climate of regional instability culminated in the establishment of a republic and one-party state in 1966. Bouts of ethnic cleansing and ultimately two civil wars and genocides during the 1970s and again in the 1990s left the country undeveloped and its population as one of the world's poorest. 2015 witnessed large-scale political strife as President Pierre Nkurunziza opted to run for a third term in office, a coup attempt failed and the country's parliamentary and presidential elections were broadly criticised by members of the international community.

Burundi's political system is that of a presidential representative democratic republic based upon a multi-party state. The President of Burundi is the head of state and head of government. There are currently 21 registered parties in Burundi. On 13 March 1992, Tutsi coup leader Pierre Buyoya established a constitution, which provided for a multi-party political process and reflected multi-party competition. Six years later, on 6 June 1998, the constitution was changed, broadening National Assembly's seats and making provisions for two vice-presidents. Because of the Arusha Accord, Burundi enacted a transitional government in 2000. In October 2016, Burundi informed the UN of its intention to withdraw from the International Criminal Court.

Burundi remains an overwhelmingly rural society, with just 13% of the population living in urban areas in 2013. The population density of around 315 people per square kilometre (753 per sq mi) is the second highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Roughly 85% of the population are of Hutu ethnic origin, 15% are Tutsi, and fewer than 1% are indigenous Twa (or Pygmies). The official languages of Burundi are French and Kirundi, although Swahili can be found spoken along the Tanzanian border.

One of the smallest countries in Africa, Burundi has an equatorial climate. Burundi is a part of the Albertine Rift, the western extension of the East African Rift. The country lies on a rolling plateau in the centre of Africa. The highest peak, Mount Heha at 2,685 m (8,810 ft), lies to the southeast of the capital, Bujumbura. The source of the River Nile is in Bururi province, and is linked from Lake Victoria to its headwaters via the Ruvyironza River Another major lake is Lake Tanganyika, located in much of Burundi's southwestern corner. There are two national parks, Kibira National Park to the northwest (a small region of rain forest, adjacent to Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda), Ruvubu National Park to the northeast (along the Rurubu River, also known as Ruvubu or Ruvuvu). Both were established in 1982 to conserve wildlife populations. Burundi's lands are mostly agricultural or pasture.

Settlement by rural populations has led to deforestation, soil erosion and habitat loss. Deforestation of the entire country is almost completely due to overpopulation, with a mere 600 km (230 sq mi) remaining and an ongoing loss of about 9% per annum. In addition to poverty, Burundians often have to deal with corruption, weak infrastructure, poor access to health and education services, and hunger. Burundi is densely populated and has had substantial emigration as young people seek opportunities elsewhere. The World Happiness Report 2017 ranked Burundi as the world's second least happy nation with a rank of 154.

Burundi: History

Burundi: Kingdom of Burundi

The last Burundian monarchy is said to have begun in the late 17th century.

Burundi: Colonisation

Germany established armed forces in Ruanda and Burundi at the end of the 19th century, colonising the area and establishing German East Africa. The location of the present-day city of Gitega was chosen as the site of the capital. After being defeated in the First World War, Germany was forced to cede "control" of a section of the former German East Africa to Belgium.

On 20 October 1924, this land, which consisted of modern-day Rwanda and Burundi, became a Belgian League of Nations mandate territory. In practical terms it was considered part of the Belgian colonial empire, and was known as Ruanda-Urundi. Ruanda-Urundi continued its kingship dynasty despite the invasion of Europeans.

Following the Second World War, Ruanda-Urundi was classified as a United Nations Trust Territory under Belgian administrative authority. During the 1940s, a series of policies caused divisions throughout the country. On 4 October 1943, powers were split in the legislative division of Burundi's government between chiefdoms and lower chiefdoms. Chiefdoms were in charge of land, and lower sub-chiefdoms were established. Native authorities also had powers. In 1948, Belgium allowed the region to form political parties. These factions contributed to gaining Burundi's independence from Belgium.

Burundi: Independence

flag white saltire cross on green and red background with plant in centre white rondel
Flag of the Kingdom of Burundi (1962–1966).
flag sign at flagpole and raised plaza
Independence Square and monument in Bujumbura.

On 20 January 1959, Burundi's ruler Mwami Mwambutsa IV requested Burundi's independence from Belgium and dissolution of the Ruanda-Urundi union. In the following months, Burundian political parties began to advocate for the end of Belgian colonial rule and the separation of Rwanda and Burundi. The first and largest of these political parties was the Union for National Progress (UPRONA).

Burundi's push for independence was influenced by the Rwandan Revolution and the accompanying instability and ethnic conflict that occurred there. As a result of the Rwandan Revolution, many Rwandan Tutsi refugees arrived in Burundi during the period from 1959 to 1961.

Burundi's first elections took place on 8 September 1961 and UPRONA, a multi-ethnic unity party led by Prince Louis Rwagasore won just over 80% of the electorate's votes. In the wake of the elections, on 13 October, the 29-year-old Prince Rwagasore was assassinated, robbing Burundi of its most popular and well-known nationalist.

The country claimed independence on 1 July 1962, and legally changed its name from Ruanda-Urundi to Burundi. Burundi became a constitutional monarchy with Mwami Mwambutsa IV, Prince Rwagasore's father, serving as the country's king. On 18 September 1962 Burundi joined the United Nations.

In 1963, King Mwambutsa appointed a Hutu prime minister, Pierre Ngendandumwe, but he was assassinated on 15 January 1965 by a Rwandan Tutsi employed by the US Embassy. The assassination occurred in the broader context of the Congo Crisis during which Western anti-communist countries were confronting the communist People's Republic of China as it attempted to make Burundi a logistics base for communist insurgents battling in Congo. Parliamentary elections in May 1965 brought a majority of Hutu into the parliament, but when King Mwambutsa appointed a Tutsi prime minister, some Hutu felt this was unjust and ethnic tensions were further increased. In October 1965, an attempted coup d'état led by the Hutu-dominated police was carried out but failed. The Tutsi dominated army, then led by Tutsi officer Captain Michel Micombero purged Hutu from their ranks and carried out reprisal attacks which ultimately claimed the lives of up to 5,000 people in a predecessor to the 1972 Burundian Genocide.

King Mwambutsa, who had fled the country during the October coup of 1965, was deposed by a coup in July 1966 and his teenage son, Prince Ntare V, claimed the throne. In November that same year, the Tutsi Prime Minister, then-Captain Michel Micombero, carried out another coup, this time deposing Ntare, abolishing the monarchy and declaring the nation a republic, though his one-party government was effectively a military dictatorship. As president, Micombero became an advocate of African socialism and received support from the People's Republic of China. He imposed a staunch regime of law and order and sharply repressed Hutu militarism.

Burundi: Civil war and genocide against Hutu

In late April 1972, two events led to the outbreak of the First Burundian Genocide. On 27 April 1972, a rebellion led by some Hutu members of the gendarmerie broke out in the lakeside towns of Rumonge and Nyanza-Lac and the rebels declared the short-lived Martyazo Republic. The rebels attacked Tutsi and Hutu who refused to join their rebellion. It is estimated that during this initial Hutu outbreak, anywhere from 800 to 1200 people were killed. At the same time, King Ntare V of Burundi returned from exile, heightening political tension in the country. On 29 April 1972, the 24-year-old Ntare V was murdered and in the subsequent months, the Tutsi-dominated government of Micombero used the army to combat the Hutu rebels and commit genocide in which they targeted members of the Hutu majority. The total number of casualties was never established, but contemporary estimates show that between 80,000 and 210,000 people were killed. In addition, several hundred thousand Hutu are estimated to have fled the genocide into Zaïre, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Following the civil war and genocide, Micombero became mentally distraught and withdrawn. In 1976, Colonel Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, a Tutsi, led a bloodless coup and toppled Micombero. He then set about promoting various reforms. His administration drafted a new constitution in 1981, which maintained Burundi as a one-party state. In August 1984, Bagaza was elected head of state. During his tenure, Bagaza suppressed political opponents and religious freedoms.

Major Pierre Buyoya (Tutsi) overthrew Bagaza in 1987 and suspended the constitution, dissolving the political parties. He reinstated military rule under the Military Committee for National Salvation (CSMN). Anti-Tutsi ethnic propaganda disseminated by the remnants of the 1972 UBU, which had re-organized as PALIPEHUTU in 1981, led to killings of Tutsi peasants in the northern communes of Ntega and Marangara in August 1988. The death toll was put at 5,000 by the government, though some international NGOs believe this understates the losses.

The new regime did not unleash the harsh reprisals of 1972. Its effort to gain trust was eroded when it decreed an amnesty for those who had called for, carried out, and taken credit for the killings. Many analysts consider this period as the beginning of the "culture of impunity." But other analysts consider the "culture of impunity" to have started from 1965 and 1972, when the revolt of a small and identifiable number of Hutus unleashed massive killings of Tutsis on the whole territory.

In the aftermath of the killings, a group of Hutu intellectuals wrote an open letter to Pierre Buyoya, asking for more representation of the Hutu in the administration. The signatories were arrested and jailed. A few weeks later, Buyoya appointed a new government, with an equal number of Hutu and Tutsi among his ministers. He appointed Adrien Sibomana (Hutu) as Prime Minister. Buyoya also created a commission to address issues of national unity. In 1992, the government put forth a new constitution that provided for a multi-party system. A civil war broke out.

An estimated 250,000 people died in Burundi from the combined conflicts between 1962 and 1993. Since Burundi's independence in 1962, there have been two events called genocides in the country: the 1972 mass killings of Hutus by the Tutsi-dominated army, and the 1993 mass killings of Tutsis by the Hutu majority. Both are described as genocide in the final report of the International Commission of Inquiry for Burundi presented in 2002 to the United Nations Security Council.

Burundi: First attempt at democracy and genocide against Tutsi

In June 1993, Melchior Ndadaye, leader of the Hutu-dominated Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU), won the first democratic election. He became the first Hutu head of state, leading a pro-Hutu government. In October 1993, Tutsi soldiers assassinated Ndadaye, an act which resulted in a genocide against Tutsi, which led to years of violence between Hutu rebels and Tutsi majority army. It is estimated that some 300,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the years following the assassination.

In early 1994, the parliament elected Cyprien Ntaryamira (Hutu) to the office of president. He and the president of Rwanda died together when their aeroplane was shot down. More refugees started fleeing to Rwanda. Speaker of Parliament, Sylvestre Ntibantunganya (Hutu), was appointed as president in October 1994. A coalition government involving 12 of the 13 parties was formed. A feared general massacre was averted, but violence broke out. A number of Hutu refugees in the capital, Bujumbura, were killed. The mainly Tutsi Union for National Progress withdrew from the government and parliament.

In 1996, Pierre Buyoya (Tutsi) took power through a coup d’état. He suspended the constitution and was sworn in as president in 1998. In response to rebel attacks, the government forced much of the population to move to refugee camps. Under Buyoya's rule, long peace talks started, mediated by South Africa. Both parties signed agreements in Arusha, Tanzania and Pretoria, South Africa, to share power in Burundi. The agreements took four years to plan.

color map of African countries showing Uganda Rwanda and Burundi backing rebels against Kabila
Belligerents of the Second Congo War. Burundi backed the rebels.

On 28 August 2000, a transitional government for Burundi was planned as a part of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement. The transitional government was placed on a trial basis for five years. After several aborted cease-fires, a 2001 peace plan and power-sharing agreement has been relatively successful. A cease-fire was signed in 2003 between the Tutsi-controlled Burundian government and the largest Hutu rebel group, CNDD-FDD (National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy).

In 2003, FRODEBU leader Domitien Ndayizeye (Hutu) was elected president. In early 2005, ethnic quotas were formed for determining positions in Burundi's government. Throughout the year, elections for parliament and president occurred.

Pierre Nkurunziza (Hutu), once a leader of a rebel group, was elected president in 2005. As of 2008, the Burundian government was talking with the Hutu-led Palipehutu-National Liberation Forces (NLF) to bring peace to the country.

Burundi: Peace agreements

three soldiers in a wood by roadside with machine gun
Tutsi militia near the Zairian border, 1996

African leaders began a series of peace talks between the warring factions following a request by the United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali for them to intervene in the humanitarian crisis. Talks were initiated under the aegis of former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere in 1995; following his death, South African President Nelson Mandela took the helm. As the talks progressed, South African President Thabo Mbeki and United States President Bill Clinton also lent their respective weight.

The peace talks took the form of Track I mediations. This method of negotiation can be defined as a form of diplomacy involving governmental or intergovernmental representatives, who may use their positive reputations, mediation or the "carrot and stick" method as a means of obtaining or forcing an outcome, frequently along the lines of "bargaining" or "win-lose".

The main objective was to transform the Burundian government and military structurally in order to bridge the ethnic gap between the Tutsi and Hutu. It was to take place in two major steps. First, a transitional power-sharing government would be established, with the presidents holding office for three-year terms. The second objective involved a restructuring of the armed forces, where the two groups would be represented equally.

As the protracted nature of the peace talks demonstrated, the mediators and negotiating parties confronted several obstacles. First, the Burundian officials perceived the goals as "unrealistic" and viewed the treaty as ambiguous, contradictory and confusing. Second, and perhaps most importantly, the Burundians believed the treaty would be irrelevant without an accompanying cease fire. This would require separate and direct talks with the rebel groups. The main Hutu party was sceptical of the offer of a power-sharing government; they alleged that they had been deceived by the Tutsi in past agreements.

In 2000, the Burundian President signed the treaty, as well as 13 of the 19 warring Hutu and Tutsi factions. Disagreements persisted over which group would preside over the nascent government and when the ceasefire would begin. The spoilers of the peace talks were the hardliner Tutsi and Hutu groups who refused to sign the accord; as a result, violence intensified. Three years later at a summit of African leaders in Tanzania, the Burundian president and the main opposition Hutu group signed an accord to end the conflict; the signatory members were granted ministerial posts within the government. However, smaller militant Hutu groups – such as the Forces for National Liberation – remained active.

Burundi: UN involvement

Between 1993 and 2003, many rounds of peace talks, overseen by regional leaders in Tanzania, South Africa and Uganda, gradually established power-sharing agreements to satisfy the majority of the contending groups. Initially the South African Protection Support Detachment was deployed to protect Burundian leaders returning from exile. These forces became part of the African Union Mission to Burundi, deployed to help oversee the installation of a transitional government. In June 2004, the UN stepped in and took over peacekeeping responsibilities as a signal of growing international support for the already markedly advanced peace process in Burundi.

The mission’s mandate, under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, has been to monitor cease-fire; carry out disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of former combatants; support humanitarian assistance and refugee and IDP return; assist with elections; protect international staff and Burundian civilians; monitor Burundi’s troublesome borders, including halting illicit arms flows; and assist in carrying out institutional reforms including those of the Constitution, judiciary, armed forces and police. The mission has been allotted 5,650 military personnel, 120 civilian police and about 1,000 international and local civilian personnel. The mission has been functioning well. It has greatly benefited from the transitional government, which has functioned and is in the process of transitioning to one that will be popularly elected.

The main difficulty in the early stages was continued resistance to the peace process by the last Hutu nationalist rebel group. This organisation continued its violent conflict on the outskirts of the capital despite the UN’s presence. By June 2005, the group had stopped fighting and its representatives were brought back into the political process. All political parties have accepted a formula for inter-ethnic power-sharing: no political party can gain access to government offices unless it is ethnically integrated.

The focus of the UN’s mission had been to enshrine the power-sharing arrangements in a popularly voted constitution, so that elections may be held and a new government installed. Disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration were done in tandem with elections preparations. In February 2005, the Constitution was approved with over 90% of the popular vote. In May, June and August 2005, three separate elections were also held at the local level for the Parliament and the presidency.

While there are still some difficulties with refugee returns and securing adequate food supplies for the war-weary population, the mission managed to win the trust and confidence of a majority of the formerly warring leaders, as well as the population at large. It was involved with several "quick effect" projects, including rehabilitating and building schools, orphanages, health clinics and rebuilding infrastructure such as water lines.

Burundi: 2006 to 2015

aerial view of highrise building and low rise red roofed buildings
View of the capital city Bujumbura in 2006.

Reconstruction efforts in Burundi started to practically take effect after 2006. The UN shut down its peacekeeping mission and re-focused on helping with reconstruction. Toward achieving economic reconstruction, Rwanda, D.R.Congo and Burundi relaunched the regional Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries. In addition, Burundi, along with Rwanda, joined the East African Community in 2007.

However, the terms of the September 2006 Ceasefire between the government and the last remaining armed opposition group, the FLN (Forces for National Liberation, also called NLF or FROLINA), were not totally implemented, and senior FLN members subsequently left the truce monitoring team, claiming that their security was threatened. In September 2007, rival FLN factions clashed in the capital, killing 20 fighters and causing residents to begin fleeing. Rebel raids were reported in other parts of the country. The rebel factions disagreed with the government over disarmament and the release of political prisoners. In late 2007 and early 2008, FLN combatants attacked government-protected camps where former combatants were living. The homes of rural residents were also pillaged.

The 2007 report of Amnesty International mentions many areas where improvement is required. Civilians are victims of repeated acts of violence done by the FLN. The latter also recruits child soldiers. The rate of violence against women is high. Perpetrators regularly escape prosecution and punishment by the state. There is an urgent need for reform of the judicial system. Genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity remain unpunished. The establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Special Tribunal for investigation and prosecution has not yet been implemented. The freedom of expression is limited; journalists are frequently arrested for carrying out legitimate professional activities. A total of 38,087 Burundian refugees have been repatriated between January and November 2007.

In late March 2008, the FLN sought for the parliament to adopt a law guaranteeing them ‘provisional immunity’ from arrest. This would cover ordinary crimes, but not grave violations of international humanitarian law like war crimes or crimes against humanity . Even though the government has granted this in the past to people, the FLN has been unable to obtain the provisional immunity.

On 17 April 2008, the FLN bombarded Bujumbura. The Burundian army fought back and the FLN suffered heavy losses. A new ceasefire was signed on 26 May 2008. In August 2008, President Nkurunziza met with the FLN leader Agathon Rwasa, with the mediation of Charles Nqakula, South Africa’s Minister for Safety and Security. This was the first direct meeting since June 2007. Both agreed to meet twice a week to establish a commission to resolve any disputes that might arise during the peace negotiations.

Refugee camps are now closing down and 450,000 refugees have returned. The economy of the country is shattered – as of 2011 Burundi has one of the lowest per capita gross incomes in the world. With the return of refugees, amongst others, property conflicts have started.

Burundi now participates in African Union peacekeeping missions, including the mission to Somalia against Al-Shabaab militants.

Burundi: 2015 unrest

In April 2015 protests broke out after the ruling party announced President Pierre Nkurunziza would seek a third term in office. Protestors claimed Nkurunziza could not run for a third term in office but the country's constitutional court agreed with the President (although some of its members had fled the country at the time of its vote).

An attempted coup d'état on 13 May failed to depose Nkurunziza. He returned to Burundi, began purging his government, and arrested several of the coup leaders. Following the attempted coup, protests however continued and over 100,000 people had fled the country by 20 May causing a humanitarian emergency. There are reports of continued and widespread abuses of human rights, including unlawful killings, torture, disappearances, and restrictions on freedom of expression.

Despite calls by the United Nations, the African Union, the United States, France, South Africa, Belgium, and various other governments, the ruling party held parliamentary elections on 29 June, but these were boycotted by the opposition.

Burundi: Politics

Pierre Nkurunziza at World Economic Forum 2008 looking right
Pierre Nkurunziza, President of Burundi.

Burundi's political system is that of a presidential representative democratic republic based upon a multi-party state. The President of Burundi is the head of state and head of government. There are currently 21 registered parties in Burundi. On 13 March 1992, Tutsi coup leader Pierre Buyoya established a constitution, which provided for a multi-party political process and reflected multi-party competition. Six years later, on 6 June 1998, the constitution was changed, broadening National Assembly's seats and making provisions for two vice-presidents. Because of the Arusha Accord, Burundi enacted a transitional government in 2000.

Burundi's legislative branch is a bicameral assembly, consisting of the Transitional National Assembly and the Transitional Senate. As of 2004, the Transitional National Assembly consists of 170 members, with the Front for Democracy in Burundi holding 38% of seats, and 10% of the assembly is controlled by UPRONA. Fifty-two seats are controlled by other parties. Burundi's constitution mandates representation in the Transitional National Assembly to be consistent with 60% Hutu, 40% Tutsi, and 30% female members, as well as three Batwa members. Members of the National Assembly are elected by popular vote and serve for five-year terms.

The Transitional Senate has fifty-one members, and three seats are reserved for former presidents. Due to stipulations in Burundi's constitution, 30% of Senate members must be female. Members of the Senate are elected by electoral colleges, which consist of members from each of Burundi's provinces and communes. For each of Burundi's eighteen provinces, one Hutu and one Tutsi senator are chosen. One term for the Transitional Senate is five years.

Together, Burundi's legislative branch elect the President to a five-year term. Burundi's president appoints officials to his Council of Ministers, which is also part of the executive branch. The president can also pick fourteen members of the Transitional Senate to serve on the Council of Ministers. Members of the Council of Ministers must be approved by two-thirds of Burundi's legislature. The president also chooses two vice-presidents. As of 7 May 2015, the President of Burundi is Pierre Nkurunziza. The First Vice-President is Therence Sinunguruza, and the Second Vice-President is Gervais Rufyikiri.

The Cour Suprême (Supreme Court) is Burundi's highest court. There are three Courts of Appeals directly below the Supreme Court. Tribunals of First Instance are used as judicial courts in each of Burundi's provinces as well as 123 local tribunals.

Burundi: Subdivisions

Burundi is divided into 18 provinces, 117 communes, and 2,638 collines (hills). Provincial governments are structured upon these boundaries. In 2000, the province encompassing Bujumbura was separated into two provinces, Bujumbura Rural and Bujumbura Mairie. The newest province, Rumonge, was created on 26 March 2015 from portions of Bujumbura Rural and Bururi.

Burundi: Geography

tan colour map of Burundi with cities
Map of Burundi.

One of the smallest countries in Africa, Burundi is landlocked and has an equatorial climate. Burundi is a part of the Albertine Rift, the western extension of the East African Rift. The country lies on a rolling plateau in the centre of Africa. The average elevation of the central plateau is 1,707 m (5,600 ft), with lower elevations at the borders. The highest peak, Mount Heha at 2,685 m (8,810 ft), lies to the southeast of the capital, Bujumbura. The source of the Nile River is in Bururi province, and is linked from Lake Victoria to its headwaters via the Ruvyironza River Lake Victoria is also an important water source, which serves as a fork to the Kagera River. Another major lake is Lake Tanganyika, located in much of Burundi's southwestern corner.

Burundi's lands are mostly agricultural or pasture. Settlement by rural populations has led to deforestation, soil erosion and habitat loss. Deforestation of the entire country is almost completely due to overpopulation, with a mere 600 km (230 sq mi) remaining and an ongoing loss of about 9% per annum. There are two national parks, Kibira National Park to the northwest (a small region of rainforest, adjacent to Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda), Ruvubu National Park to the northeast (along the Rurubu River, also known as Ruvubu or Ruvuvu). Both were established in 1982 to conserve wildlife populations.

Burundi: Economy

Burundi is a landlocked, resource-poor country with an underdeveloped manufacturing sector. The economy is predominantly agricultural; agriculture accounts for about 30% -2008, 40% - 2016, 50% - 2017 of GDP and employs more than 90% of the population. Burundi's primary exports are coffee and tea, which account for 90% of foreign exchange earnings, though exports are a relatively small share of GDP. Burundi's export earnings – and its ability to pay for imports – rests primarily on weather conditions and international coffee and tea prices.

color chart of exports by value with percentages
Graphical depiction of Burundi's product exports in 28 colour-coded categories.

Burundi is one of the world's poorest countries, owing in part to its landlocked geography, poor legal system, lack of economic freedom, lack of access to education and the proliferation of HIV/AIDS. Approximately 80% of Burundi's population lives in poverty. Famines and food shortages have occurred throughout Burundi, most notably in the 20th century, and according to the World Food Programme, 56.8% of children under age five suffer from chronic malnutrition. One scientific study of 178 nations rated Burundi's population as having the lowest satisfaction with life in the world. As a result of deep poverty, Burundi is dependent on foreign aid.

two sitting in skiff on beach on lakeshore with mountains in bckround
Fishermen on Lake Tanganyika.

Burundi's largest industry is agriculture, which accounted for just over 30% of the GDP. Subsistence agriculture accounts for 90% of agriculture. The nation's largest source of revenue is coffee, which makes up 93% of Burundi's exports. Other agricultural products include cotton, tea, maize, sorghum, sweet potatoes, bananas, manioc (tapioca); beef, milk and hides. Foreign Policy reports, Subsistence farming is highly relied upon, however due to large population growth and no coherent policies governing land ownership, many people don't have the resources to sustain themselves. In 2014, the average farm size was about one acre. Burundi has the severest hunger and malnourishment rates of all 120 countries ranked in the Global Hunger Index."

Some of Burundi's natural resources include uranium, nickel, cobalt, copper and platinum. Besides agriculture, other industries include: assembly of imported components; public works construction; food processing and light consumer goods such as blankets, shoes and soap.

In regards to telecommunications infrastructure, Burundi is ranked 2nd to last in the World Economic Forum's Network Readiness Index (NRI) – an indicator for determining the development level of a country’s information and communication technologies. Burundi ranked number 147 overall in the 2014 NRI ranking, down from 144 in 2013.

Lack of access to financial services is a serious problem for the majority of the population, particularly in the densely populated rural areas: only 2% of the total population holds bank accounts, and fewer than 0.5% use bank lending services. Microfinance, however, plays a larger role, with 4% of Burundians being members of microfinance institutions – a larger share of the population than that reached by banking and postal services combined. 26 licensed microfinance institutions (MFIs) offer savings, deposits and short- to medium-term credit. Dependence of the sector on donor assistance is limited.

Burundi is part of the East African Community and a potential member of the planned East African Federation. Economic growth in Burundi is relatively steady but Burundi is still behind neighbouring countries.

Burundi: Currency

Burundi's currency is the Burundian franc (ISO 4217 code BIF). It is nominally subdivided into 100 centimes, though coins have never been issued in centimes in independent Burundi, centime coins were circulated only when Burundi used the Belgian Congo franc.

Monetary Policy is controlled by the central bank, Bank of the Republic of Burundi.

Current BIF exchange rates
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Burundi: Transport

two bicyclists hold on to back of truck descending a hill
Bicycles are a popular means of transport in Burundi

Burundi's transport network is limited and underdeveloped. According to a 2012 DHL Global Connectedness Index, Burundi is the least globalised of 140 surveyed countries. Bujumbura International Airport is the only airport with a paved runway and as of May 2015 it was serviced by five airlines (Brussels Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, flydubai, Kenya Airways and RwandAir). Kigali is the city with the most daily flight connections to Bujumbura. The country has a road network but as of 2005 less than 10% of the country's roads were paved and as of 2013 private bus companies were the main operators of buses on the international route to Kigali; however, there were no bus connections to the other neighbouring countries (Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo). Bujumbura is connected by a passenger and cargo ferry (the MV Mwongozo) to Kigoma in Tanzania. There is a long-term plan to link the country via rail to Kigali and then onward to Kampala and Kenya.

Burundi: Demographics

women in colourful dresses tending goats
A group of Burundian women rearing goats.
three children looking directly at camera
Children in Bujumbura, Burundi

As of July 2015, Burundi was estimated by the United Nations to have a population of 10,557,259 people. The population growth rate is 2.5 percent per year, more than double the average global pace, and a Burundian woman has on average 6.3 children, nearly triple the international fertility rate.

Many Burundians have migrated to other countries as a result of the civil war. In 2006, the United States accepted approximately 10,000 Burundian refugees.

Burundi remains an overwhelmingly rural society, with just 13% of the population living in urban areas in 2013. The population density of around 315 people per square kilometre (753 per sq mi) is the second highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Roughly 85% of the population are of Hutu ethnic origin, 15% are Tutsi and fewer than 1% are indigenous Twa/Pygmies. Burundi has the fifth highest total fertility rate in the world, at 6.08 children born/woman (2012 estimates).

The official language of Burundi is Kirundi, but French is considered de facto official as the language of administration, education and aspects of public life, and Swahili can be found spoken along the Tanzanian border.