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The Burundi Portal


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Burundi (IPA: [buˈɾundi]), officially the Republic of Burundi, is a small landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Its size is just under 28,000 km² with an estimated population of almost 8,700,000. Its capital is Bujumbura. Although the country is landlocked, much of the southwestern border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika.

The Twa, Tutsi, and Hutu peoples have occupied Burundi since the country's formation five centuries ago. Burundi was ruled as a kingdom by the Tutsi for over two hundred years. However, at the beginning of the twentieth century, Germany and Belgium occupied the region, and Burundi and Rwanda became a European colony known as Ruanda-Urundi.

Political unrest occurred throughout the region because of social differences between the Tutsi and Hutu, provoking civil war in Burundi throughout the middle twentieth century. Presently, Burundi is governed as a presidential representative democratic republic. Sixty-two percent of Burundians are Roman Catholic, eight to ten percent are Muslims and the rest follow indigenous beliefs and other Christian denominations.

Burundi is one of the ten poorest countries in the world. It has the lowest per capita GDP of any nation in the world. Burundi has a low gross domestic product largely due to civil wars, corruption, poor access to education, and the effects of HIV/AIDS. Burundi is densely populated, with substantial emigration. Cobalt and copper are among Burundi's natural resources. Some of Burundi's main exports include coffee and sugar.

Selected article

edit The Great Lakes refugee crisis is the common name for the situation beginning with the exodus in April 1994 of over two million Rwandans to neighboring countries of the Great Lakes region of Africa in the aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide. Many of the refugees were Hutu ethnics fleeing the predominantly Tutsi Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), which invaded to end the Rwandan Genocide. However, the humanitarian relief effort was vastly complicated by the presence among the refugees of many of the Interahamwe and government officials who carried out the genocide, who used the refugee camps as bases to launch attacks against the new government led by Paul Kagame. The camps in Zaire became particularly politicized and militarized. The knowledge that humanitarian aid was being diverted to further the aims of the genocidaires led many humanitarian organizations to withdraw their assistance.

The conflict escalated until the start of the First Congo War in late 1996, when RPF-supported rebels invaded Zaire (soon thereafter, the Democratic Republic of Congo) and the refugees were repatriated. (Read more...)

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Soldiers Holding Hands.jpg
Credit: Geordie Mott

Two soldiers on patrol in the streets of Bujumbura, Burundi express their affection for one another. It is not unusual in many societies throughout east Africa for men to display their friendship for one another by holding hands in public.

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Selected biography

edit Sylvie Kinigi (born 1953) was Prime Minister of Burundi from 10 July 1993 to 7 February 1994, the first and to date only woman to hold the position.

Kinigi was born in 1953, and is a member of the Tutsi ethnic group. Her husband, with whom she had five children, was a member of the Hutu ethnic group. Kinigi graduated from Burundi University, having studied economic management, and worked in the Burundi civil service. She eventually became a senior advisor in the Prime Minister's office, focusing on economic policy.

When Melchior Ndadaye was elected President of Burundi in 1993, he appointed Kinigi as his Prime Minister. This was part of an effort to build unity between Burundi's two ethnic groups — Ndadaye was a Hutu, and wished to decrease Tutsi hostility to his administration by appointing a Tutsi as Prime Minister. Kinigi stated that reconciliation between the two ethnic groups would be her highest priority.

(Read more...)

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