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Burundi Introduction - 2024


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Established in the 1600s, the Burundi Kingdom has had borders similar to those of modern Burundi since the 1800s. Burundi’s two major ethnic groups, the majority Hutu and minority Tutsi, share a common language and culture and largely lived in peaceful cohabitation under Tutsi monarchs in pre-colonial Burundi. Regional, class, and clan distinctions contributed to social status in the Burundi Kingdom, yielding a complex class structure. German colonial rule in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and Belgian rule after World War I preserved Burundi’s monarchy. Seeking to simplify administration, Belgian colonial officials reduced the number of chiefdoms and eliminated most Hutu chiefs from positions of power. In 1961, the Burundian Tutsi king’s oldest son, Louis RWAGASORE was murdered by a competing political faction shortly before he was set to become prime minister, triggering increased political competition that contributed to later instability. Burundi gained its independence from Belgium in 1962 as the Kingdom of Burundi.

Revolution in neighboring Rwanda stoked ethnic polarization as the Tutsi increasingly feared violence and loss of political power. A failed Hutu-led coup in 1965 triggered a purge of Hutu officials and set the stage for Tutsi officers to overthrow the monarchy in 1966 and establish a Tutsi-dominated republic. A Hutu rebellion in 1972 that resulted in the death of several thousand Tutsi civilians sparked a brutal crackdown on Hutu civilians by the Tutsi-led military, which ultimately killed 100,000-200,000 people. International pressure led to a new constitution in 1992 and democratic elections in June 1993. Burundi's first democratically elected president, Hutu Melchior NDADAYE, was assassinated in October 1993 after only 100 days in office by Tutsi military officers fearing Hutu domination, sparking a civil war. His successor, Cyprien NTARYAMIRA, died when the Rwandan president’s plane he was traveling on was shot down in April 1994, which triggered the Rwandan genocide and further entrenched ethnic conflict in Burundi. The internationally brokered Arusha Agreement, signed in 2000, and subsequent cease-fire agreements with armed movements ended the 1993-2005 civil war. Burundi’s second democratic elections were held in 2005, resulting in the election of Pierre NKURUNZIZA as president. He was reelected in 2010 and again in 2015 after a controversial court decision allowed him to circumvent a term limit. President Evariste NDAYISHIMIYE - from NKURUNZIZA’s ruling party - was elected in 2020.

NOTE: The information regarding Burundi on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Burundi 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Burundi 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.