At 17.3 thousand square miles, Burundi is one of Africa’s smallest countries. Eighty-five percent of the population is Hutu, a people that speak a Bantu language called Kirundi. Kirundi shares its status as Burundi’s official language with English and French, though only a small portion of the population speak the latter tongues.
The Tutsi people are a minority group and only comprise about 15 percent of the population. Historically, the Tutsi held political and military dominance over the Hutu despite their smaller numbers. In 1993, Burundi successfully attempted a democratic election after years of civil war. The resulting president, Melchior Ndadaye, was an ally of the Hutu group, being one himself, and sought to equalize political and social power between the groups. Much expression and development of culture in Burundi has been stifled by violence and civic unrest, but through oral storytelling, the vibrancy of Burundi’s culture—tales of music, myth and craft—endures for future revival.
- Even though they were underdogs, the Burundian under-20 soccer (football) team won their way into the FIFA U-20 World Up in Doha, Qatar in the 1990s.
- Burundi was the second African republic, after the Central African Republic, to have a female prime minister. Sylvie Kinigi was Prime Minister of Burundi from July 1993 to February 1994, at which time she also served as President of Burundi.
- Coffee and tea is Burundi’s greatest economic contributor, and largest exports. Since their economy hinges almost solely on international coffee demand, their economic wellbeing fluctuates with global need for these goods.
- Burundi’s highest peak is Mount Heha which stretches 8,806 feet (2,684 meters) into the air. It attracts tourists to come trek and bike on the mountain routes.
- A massive 20-foot crocodile that resides in Burundi has killed almost 300 people. Named Gustave, the crocodile is known to hunt for fun, leaving most of his victims mauled and uneaten.
- The Royal Drummers of Burundi is an instrumental ensemble that has performed across the globe. Drums are considered holy in Burundi and are reserved for significant ceremonies such as birthdays and funerals.
- In 2014, it was illegal to jog in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, unless registered with the government, because the incumbent president thought it suspicious. Though jogging is now legal, it is restricted to designated, monitored areas.
- Burundian culinary staples include an assortment of beans, bananas and sweet potatoes. Meat is limited in the Burundian diet due to its high price.