Burundi Country Facts

By | March 21, 2024
Capital city Gitega
Surface 27,834 km²
Population 11,866,000
Road network length 1,633 km
Length of highway network 0 km
First highway N/A
Motorway name N/A
Traffic drives Right
License plate code RU

Burundi, formally the Republic of Burundi (Kirundi: Republika y’Uburundi, French: République du Burundi), is a small country in Central Africa. The country is about the size of two thirds of the Netherlands and has almost 12 million inhabitants, making it one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. The capital is Gitega, the largest city is Bujumbura.


Burundi is a small country in the interior of Central Africa. It is located on the large Lake Tanganyika. It borders Rwanda to the north and is further wedged between Tanzania to the east and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west. The country measures approximately 180 kilometers from west to east and 230 kilometers from north to south. The capital Gitega is centrally located in the country, the former capital and largest city Bujumbura is located on Lake Tanganyika.

The country largely consists of a sloping plateau and, unlike neighboring Congo, has little afforestation. The plateau is on average about 1,700 meters above sea level, the lower areas lie in the west on Lake Tanganyika. The 2,684 meter high Mount Heha is the highest point in the country. The Nile River has its source in Burundi. The landscape of Burundi consists mainly of meadows, the land is largely deforested for agriculture due to the high population density of the countryside.

Burundi has a tropical savanna climate, which is somewhat tempered by the higher altitude. The average maximum temperature in the capital Bujumbura is between 29 and 31 °C all year round, somewhat lower in the highlands. There is approximately 800 mm of precipitation per year, most of it in the period from November to April. There is almost no precipitation in June and July.


Burundi had less than 2.5 million inhabitants in 1950, this doubled to 5 million in the 1980s and 10 million in 2015. The country has a high birth rate and therefore a high population growth. The country is also densely populated. The population is very rural, the only larger city is Bujumbura which has approximately 1 million inhabitants. The capital Gitega has 135,000 inhabitants. The other cities have between 10,000 and 50,000 inhabitants.

The official languages ​​of Burundi are Kirundi, French and English. Kirundi is considered the national language. French is spoken as a second language, but knowledge of French is more limited than in many other countries in this region. The country is an anomaly in Sub-Saharan Africa in the sense that almost the entire population speaks the same indigenous language.


Burundi is a developing country with a largely informal economy, focused on agriculture, especially for its own food supply. There is hardly any industry and limited mining in Burundi. Almost the entire population works in agriculture. The main export products are coffee, tea and gold.


Burundi was originally an independent kingdom until Germany colonized the area in the 1880s and renamed it the Urundi Colony, as part of the Deutsch-Ostafrika colony. The Belgians conquered the area during the First World War in 1916, after which it was under Belgian military administration until 1922. Under the Treaty of Versailles, Germany had to cede the western part of its colony to Belgium, which was then under Belgian administration between 1922 and 1962 as the colony of Ruanda-Urundi.

Under Belgian administration, the road network of the region was developed from the late 1920s, mainly to support agriculture. The road network of this region was much denser than in the Belgian colony of Congo. However, education was only implemented to a limited extent by the Belgians, in particular higher education was hardly developed. The Belgian colony became independent in 1962, after which two new countries emerged, Burundi and Rwanda.

After independence, there was a continuous state of conflict between the two largest population groups, the Hutus and the Tutsis. This led to genocides in 1972 and 1993. Burundi was also involved in the Second Congolese Civil War in the late 1990s and early 2000s and supported the rebels, as well as Rwanda and Uganda. The situation started to improve from the mid-2000s, a new constitution was adopted in 2005, followed by a period of reconstruction. In 2015, however, unrest broke out again. In 2019, the capital was moved from Bujumbura to Gitega.


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