BURUNDI – The Eden in the heart of Africa

In the heart of Africa sits an amazing landscape which gives the country a soft and temperate climate.
Like the explorers of the last century, you too will discover and find Eden as you always imagined it were in the beginning. Blessed with rich fauna that includes different animals such as antelopes and buffaloes. Off the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Burundi one can see crocodiles and hippopotamuses.

Burundi is a delightful blooming country blessed with different yet intertwining types of vegetation cover. Ecologists will find a great scientific value in some tourist sites of Burundi such as Kibira National Park, Ruvubu National Park and Lake Tanganyika. The country’s tourism industry is still in its infancy and busting with untapped potential in terms of natural and cultural resources.This provides ample opportunity for development. Burundi has launched a campaign to boost its tourism industry and take it to the next level.

In spite of the political tremors within the country in the past these courageous people together with their government have entered into peace building initiatives to bring stability in the country so as to promote tourism growth. The government hopes that the industry will help to develop the economy and ensure protection especially since tourism has community-based initiatives that help to eradicate poverty.

Despite it small size this country has a big heart and a big dream and step by step this nation full of hopeful people are getting there.

Quick Facts About Burundi

National name: Republika y’Uburundi/République du Burundi (Republic of Burundi)

National Flag

Flag Colours

Green expresses hope
White symbolizes peace
Red represents the blood shed in the struggle for independence
Saltire may have been based on the former flag of Belgian airline, Sabena

International Boundaries
It is bounded Rwanda North, Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) in west, Lake Tanganyika in the southwest and Tanzania in the southeast and east.

Capital city: Bujumbura
Language: Kirundi, French (both official), Kiswahili

Religion
Roman Catholic 62%, Pentecostals 5%, Anglican 23.9%, Muslim 1%, animist

Time difference
GMT +2

Major holidays
1 January, 1 May, 1 July, 15 August, 18 September, 1 November, 25 December; variable:

Ascension Thursday

Major towns/cities
Gitega, Bururi, Ngozi, Muyinga, Ruyigi, Kayanza

GEOGRAPHY
Burundi is a physical landlocked country with grassy highland lying across the waters of Nile, Congo, Lake Tanganyika and the Great Rift Valley. The country covers an Area of 27,834 sq km/10,746 sq mi.

Infrastructural Developments

Airports: Bujumbura international airport
Railways: none
Roads total road network: 14,480 km/8,998
Passenger cars: 3.1 per 1,000 people (1998)

GOVERNMENT
Head of state and government: President Pierre Nkuruziza

Burundi has a Political system consisting of the military Political executive, military Administrative divisions, 15 provinces and Political parties namely,

1. Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU), left of centre;
2. Union for National Progress (UPRONA),
3. Nationalist socialist-Socialist Party of Burundi (PSB);
4. People’s Reconciliation Party (PRP)

Death penalty is still used and maintained for ordinary crimes committed. Burundi has an armed forces of closely 50,500, paramilitary forces of 31,000 and military service is voluntary.
Security and Defence forms to the top priority of the Gross Domestic product allocation being 6.5% by 2004 compared to education 3.9% and Health 0.7% respectively.

ECONOMY
Currency: Burundi franc
GDP: (US$) 800 million (2005)
Real GDP growth: 6.1% (2006)
GNI: (US$) 724 million (2005)
GNI per capita (PPP): (US$) 640 (2005)
Consumer price inflation: 2.5% (2006)
Unemployment: 14% (2000)

Labour force
89.9% agriculture,
2.1% industry,
8% services (2003)
Foreign debt: (US$) 1.4 billion (2004)

Major trading partners
Germany, Kenya, the Netherlands, Tanzania, Japan, USA, Italy
Mineral Resources nickel, gold, tungsten, phosphates, vanadium, uranium, peat, petroleum deposits have been detected
Produce Industries textiles, leather, food and agricultural products
Exports Coffee, tea, glass products, hides and skins.

Principal market: Germany 41.8% (2005)

Imports

Machinery and transport equipment, petroleum and petroleum products, consumption goods, cement, malt (and malt flour).

Principal Source:

Arable land 35.6% (2006)

Agricultural products

Coffee, tea, cassava, sweet potatoes, bananas, beans; cattle rearing

POPULATION
Population: 7,834,000 (2006)
Population growth rate 3.7% (2005–10)
Population density (per sq km) 281 (2006)
Urban population 11% (2005)
Age distribution (% of total population) 0–14 45%, 15–59 51%, 60+ 4% (2005)
Ethnic groups: Agriculturalist Hutu 85%, pastoralist Tutsi 14%
Small Pygmy (Twa) minority 1%, a few Europeans and Asians
Life expectancy 45 (men), 47 (women) (2005–10)
Child mortality rate (Under 5, per 1,000 live births) 190 (2004)
Education 6 (compulsory years)
Literacy rate: 58% (men); 44% (women) (2004)

HEALTH

Physicians (Per 10,000 people) 0.5 (2004)
Hospital beds (Per 1,000 people) 0.7 (2002)
HIV infection (15–49) 3.3 (2005)
AIDS deaths 13,000 (2005)

Access to drinking-water source (% of total population) 90 (urban); 78 (rural) (2002)

COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA
Landline telephones (Per 100 people) 0.7 (2005)
Mobile phone subscribers (Per 100 people) 2 (2005)
Radios (Per 1,000 people) 220 (2001)
TV sets (Per 1,000 people) 40 (2004)
Personal computer users (Per 100 people) 0.5 (2005)
Internet users (Per 100 people) 0.4 (2005)

People and Culture

In Burundi, the main languages spoken are Kirundi, French (official language) and Swahili. The vast majority of people are Christians (75%), around 20% Burundians follow African religions with a few percent of people being Muslim. The major ethnic groups are Hutu (84%), Tutsi (14%) and Twa (1%).

Apagne is the traditional cloth which is wraparound. In rural areas women, girls and elderly men still wear them over dresses, blouses or shirts. Women also wear scarves over their heads. Men always wear long pants as shorts are just worn by young children and schoolboys.

Burundian cuisine often contains potatoes, bananas and beans and sometimes fish. Meat gets eaten just occasionally and through their reverence for cattle (status, wellbeing, security) it should not be their own and not a cow. In some regions it is taboo to heat or boil milk because people believe this might interfere with their cow’s dairy production- It is a traditional belief!!

During celebrations and gatherings, Burundians drink homemade banana wine and beer, sometimes drinking through straws from a single large container.

For entertainments, drumming and dancing contain aspects of both culture and competition: Traditional drumming of karyenda is an important part of Burundian cultural heritage, as indicated by the world-famous Royal Drummers of Burundi.

Traditional dance often accompanies the drumming, which is frequently seen in celebrations and family gatherings, the Intore Dancers, a group that celebrates national folklore, has won numerous international folk dance competitions, and drummers compete with the traditional Karyenda drums. Burundi’s best-known cultural export is a troupe of traveling musicians called Les Maîtres-Tambours du Burundi (Drummers of Burundi).

The original inhabitants of Burundi were the Twa, a Pygmy people who now make up only 1% of the population. Today the population is divided between the Hutu (approximately 85%) and the Tutsi, approximately 14%. While the Hutu and Tutsi are considered to be two separate ethnic groups, scholars point out that they speak the same language, have a history of intermarriage, and share many cultural characteristics.

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