NI Global Issues for Learners of English > Country profiles > Burundi



Flag of Burundi

Map of Burundi

Where Burundi is

Area of country: 27,830 square kilometers

Between 1993 and 1999, violence between two ethnic groups, the Hutu and the Tutsi, had a terrible effect on the country. Hundreds of thousands people became refugees. At least 250,000, were killed. Some people are still refugees.

Information at a Glance


Population: 6 million
Population Growth Rate: 3.15%
Ethnic groups: Hutu (Bantu) 85%, Tutsi (Hamitic) 14%, Twa (Pygmy) 1%, Europeans 3,000, South Asians 2,000
Religions: Christian 67% (Roman Catholic 62%, Protestant 5%), indigenous beliefs 23%, Muslim 10%

AIDS is a major factor in population changes, lowering life expectancy, and increasing infant mortality.

Since October 1993 the nation has suffered from massive ethnic-based violence which has resulted in the death of perhaps 250,000 persons and the displacement of about 800,000 others.


Currency: Burundi franc (FBu)
GDP per capita: $160 (1994) [compared to Mexico $4,180; Zimbabwe $500)
Growth rate: -0.70% (This means that the economy of Burundi got smaller by seven-tenths of a percent in the period from 1985-1994)
Main exports
:coffee provides 80% of export income. Other exports: tea, sugar, cotton, hides.
Debt service: 41.7% of imports

Burundi has very few resources and very little manufacturing. It is very difficult for it to develop world trade because the country has no seacoast; it is 1,400 kilometres to the nearest sea port.

The economy is predominantely agricultural with roughly 90% of the population dependent on agriculture for their basic needs. (The percentage of the population working in agriculture is one of the highest levels in the world)

Foods, medicines, and electricity remain in short supply.

Burundi is one of the countries that, according to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have an unsustainable debt burden. That means there is no way that Burundi can pay back the money it "owes".


Life expectancy: 46.18 years
Infant mortality: 71.5 deaths per 1000
Average calories consumed: 88% of calories needed
Safe water: 79% of population has access


Burundi imports 97% of the energy it uses.
Burundi imports 18% of the food it eats.
Development aid is 26% if the GNP.


Literacy rate:age 15 and over can read and write total population: 35.3% .
Languages: Kirundi (official), French (official), Swahili (along Lake Tanganyika and in the Bujumbura area)

Income Distribution

Almost all people are extremely poor.


The country is hilly, with some plateaus and some mountains.

Soil erosion as a result of overgrazing and the expansion of agriculture into marginal lands; deforestation (little forested land remains because of uncontrolled cutting of trees for fuel); habitat loss threatens wildlife populations



Conflict between the Hutu and the Tutsi has dominated politics in Burundi.

Recent history has seen a succession of coups and counter-coups.

Freedom & human rights

Burundi has had a Constitution that allows a multi-party system since 1992. However, strickes have been banned and elections suspended by Presidential decree.

Position of women: Sorry, not available.


Sources: the World Guide, CIA world fact book,

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Last modified 3 January 2000