Burundi Country Overview

Burundi is a small Central African country with a population of 11.47 million and two capital cities, Gitega and Bujumbura. Kirundi, French, and Swahili are the official languages and Christianity is the predominant religion.

Burundi General Information

Capital: Gitega (political capital), Bujumbura (economic capital)

Language: Kirundi (official), French (official), Swahili (along Lake Tanganyika and in Bujumbura area)

Religion: Christian 67% (Roman Catholic 62%, Protestant 5%), indigenous beliefs 23%, Muslim 10%

Currency: Burundian franc

Cryptocurrency: No official cryptocurrency

Time Zone: GMT+2 (2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time)


About Burundi

The Republic of Burundi is a Central African nation bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania. Burundi has a population of 11.47 million and is densely populated, with the population concentrated on areas of fertile soil, particularly in the North and along the shore of Lake Tanganyika.

The capital, Bujumbura, has a population of 751,000. Kirundi, French and English are all official languages, although the former is the most widely spoken. Burundi has a history of severe ethnic divides; 85% of the population are Hutu, 14% are Tutsi and roughly 1% are Twa. Furthermore, the population is largely Christian, with 62.1% following the Roman Church and 23.9% adhering to Protestantism.

Burundi’s political and business climate are both high risk. This is owing to its unstable political environment, currently entrenched in crisis, and numerous economic deficiencies, both of which are frustrated by deep ethnic schisms. 

Corruption is a major problem in Burundi and hampers commercial activity. Bribery, nepotism and embezzlement pervade through society, politics, the economy and judiciary and little anti-corruption progress has been made. As such, Burundi is ranked 157 of 180 in Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Index.

Burundi is one of the world’s smallest economies. Burundi’s GDP currently stands at just US$3.39 billion and following three years of negative or zero percent growth, real GDP is expected to expand by up to 0.5% annually through 2022. 

Burundi is a presidential republic, in which the president is both chief of state and head of government. The incumbent is President Pierre Nkurunziza, who has held power since 2005. The president is directly elected by absolute majority vote for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term.

However, a controversial constitutional referendum is currently being promoted which would extend the presidential term to seven years whilst still allowing two terms. As such, given the Hutu majority, the referendum is widely viewed as a means for Nkurunziza to stay in power and establish Hutu dominance until 2034. 

The legislative branch is formed by the bicameral parliament. Of the Senate’s 43 members, 36 are indirectly elected by electoral college of provincial councils. The National Assembly forms the lower house and consists of 121 members, 100 of which are directly elected in multi-constituency proportional representation vote and the remaining 21 are co-opted. The next elections for the Senate and National Assembly are to be held in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

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