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About Burundi




Historically and culturally, Burundian society has an original history, a national construction of more than six centuries and a homogeneous culture based on a common language, Kirundi. Founded in the 15th century, the kingdom of Burundi was one of the most organized kingdoms in the Great Lakes Region, with a well-structured administrative management system. Although under the authority of the Mwami, local chiefs and sub-chiefs enjoyed broad autonomy.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the kingdom fell under foreign domination. German precisely. Indeed, after fierce resistance against the invader, the Mwami Mwezi GISABO is forced to lay down his arms. On June 6, 1903, he signed the Treaty of Kiganda by which he agreed to submit and recognize German authority over his kingdom. Although remaining Mwami, he is no longer the one giving orders. Henceforth, all the regional chiefs obey orders from the German station of Usumbura (Today’s Bujumbura).

In 1916, in the middle of the First World War, Germany lost the kingdom of Burundi to the Belgians already present in the Congo since 1885 (The Belgian Congo was a personal possession of King Leopold II of Belgium at the time of its creation in 1885 before become a Belgian colony, November 15, 1908).

Germany defeated and the War ended, the kingdoms of Burundi and neighboring Rwanda are put under mandate from the League of Nations (League of Nations). And it is to Belgium that the exercise of this mandate is entrusted to this group, now known as Rwanda-Urundi. In 1925, this territory was attached to the Belgian Congo, of which it was to constitute the seventh province.

After the Second World War, Rwanda-Urundi became a trust territory of the United Nations under Belgian administrative authority.

On July 1, 1962, Burundi gained independence in a very tense political climate. Indeed, in the legislative elections of September 18, 1961, the Burundians overwhelmingly chose UPRONA (Union for National Progress) with a score of 58 out of the 64 seats of the new national assembly. But a month later, on October 13, Prince Louis Rwagasore, leader of the winning party, was assassinated. The country’s independence was proclaimed on July 1, 1962, and King Mwambutsa IV established a regime of constitutional monarchy.

On November 28, 1966, Ntare V, who succeeded his father Mwambutsa IV in the meantime, was the victim of a military coup (the first in the history of Burundi) led by Captain Micombero Michel. This young man under the age of 30 took power, abolished the monarchy and proclaimed the Republic.

Since then, Burundian political life has been punctuated by military coups, the worst of which was in 1993 against the first democratically elected president. An atrocious war followed, which ended with the Arusha Agreement of August 28, 2000, and then with the 2003 Pretoria Agreement between the transitional government and the CNDD-FDD. These agreements formed the basis of our current institutions.

Burundi is a country straddling Central and East Africa. It is surrounded by the United Republic of Tanzania to the east and south, the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west and Rwanda to the north. It is landlocked but has a large shore on Lake Tanganyika. Since February 4, 2019, Gitega has been designated as the political capital, while Bujumbura has become the economic capital.

With a population of around 12 million spread over an area of 27,834 km², Burundi is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa.

However, despite its small size and isolation, the country has been able to take advantage of this intermediate situation between Central and East Africa, between English-speaking and French-speaking Africa, in terms of economic, human or cultural exchanges as well as in the geopolitical balance.

Burundi’s economy is essentially a rural economy based on agriculture and livestock.
The agricultural sector employs 90% of the population and thus represents the big employer in the Burundian economy. However, it is the tertiary sector that contributes more to GDP. In its role as a hub, Bujumbura, the capital, stimulates the growth of large and small businesses.

In addition, in terms of business and investment climate, the Government of Burundi has undertaken bold reforms which have led to the improvement of its Doing Business ranking. At the Single Window for business creation, it is possible to create your company in less than 2 hours.

As a member of the United Nations and the African Union, Burundi naturally adheres to the goals and founding principles of both of these Organizations as set out in their respective Charters. In addition to protecting its sovereignty, Burundi’s action is always guided by the concern for international peace and security, the promotion of human rights, friendly relations and international cooperation with a view to sustainable and equitable development.

In its vision of its relations with the other nations of the world, Burundi considers that peace, security, cooperation must start with its immediate neighbors. It is in this perspective that in 1976, only 14 years after its independence, Burundi joined forces with its neighbors from Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Then Zaire ) to create the Economic Community of Land of the Great Lakes (CEPGL). According to the founding act of the Community, the Heads of State of the three countries had precisely the objectives of “consolidating the initiatives of peace, security and stability within the member countries;” ensuring the economic and social development of the three countries by intensifying trade and the free movement of people and goods and by “close” cooperation in the various fields of the national life of the three States.

On June 18, 2007, Burundi adhered to the Founding Treaty of the East African Community (EAC) of which it became a full member from July 1 of the same year. The other members are Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and South Sudan. Incidentally, Burundi is also part of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). Created in December 1994 to replace the former ZEP (preferential trading area) which had existed since 1981, COMESA today unites 21 member states and has more than 540 million inhabitants.

Within the framework of the United Nations, Burundi contributes to peacekeeping operations with a little over a thousand personnel distributed mainly within MINUSCA in the Central African Republic and in MINUSMA in Mali. Finally, during the crises in Darfur, Côte d’Ivoire or Haiti, Burundi made its soldiers and police available to the United Nations in order to restore peace and security in those countries.

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