Location: Central Africa, east of Democratic Republic of the Congo
Geographic coordinates: 3 30 S, 30 00 E
Climate: equatorial; high plateau with considerable altitude variation (772 m to 2,670 m); average annual temperature varies with altitude from 23 to 17 degrees centigrade but is generally moderate as the average altitude is about 1,700 m; average annual rainfall is about 150 cm; wet seasons from February to May and September to November, and dry seasons from June to August and December to January
Independence: 1 July 1962 (from UN trusteeship under Belgian administration)
Capital City: Bujumbura
Head of State: President Pierre BUYOYA (interim president since 27 September 1996, officially sworn in 11 June 1998)
Area: 27,830 sq km
Type of Government: republic
Currency: 1 Burundi franc (FBu) = 100 centimes
Major peoples: Hutu (Bantu) 85%, Tutsi
(Hamitic) 14%, Twa (Pygmy) 1%, Europeans 3,000, South Asians 2,000
Religion: Christian 67% (Roman Catholic 62%, Protestant 5%), indigenous beliefs 23%, Muslim 10%
Official Language: Kirundi, French
Principal Languages: Kirundi, French, Swahili (along Lake Tanganyika and in the Bujumbura area)
Major Exports: coffee, tea, sugar, cotton, hides
History: Burundi history traditionally dates back to the 14th century, when the Tutsi invaded the region and made serfs of the local Hutu population. Tutsi domination continued, under successive mwamis, or kings, until recent times.
In 1895 the region was designated a German sphere of interest by the Conference of Berlin. European colonization was established in 1897 when Burundi was incorporated in German East Africa. In 1916, during World War I, Burundi was occupied by Belgian troops and was subsequently administered by Belgium as part of the Ruanda-Urundi mandate of the League of Nations (after World War I) and part of the United Nations Trust Territory of Ruanda-Urundi (after World War II).
Burundi became an independent constitutional monarchy on July 1, 1962, with Mwambutsa IV as king. Mwambutsa was overthrown in a military coup in July 1966 by his son Charles who subsequently reigned for a few months as King Ntare V, with the military leader Michel Micombero as prime minister.
King Ntare was deposed by Micombero on Nov. 29, 1966, and Burundi was declared a republic with Micombero as president. In 1972 an attempt to restore the monarchy was unsuccessful, and in the fighting that followed King Ntare was killed, and as many as 150,000 Hutu, who were blamed by the government for the uprising, were slaughtered by the Tutsi and the Tutsi-dominated army.
Micombero was ousted on Nov. 1, 1976, in a military coup led by Lt.-Col. Jean Baptiste Bagaza, who remained president when civilian rule was formally restored in 1979 and was re-elected in 1984. Baganza was overthrown in a 1987 coup led by Maj. Pierre Buyoya.
In 1988 another eruption of tribal hostility led to the apparent massacre by the Tutsi of thousands of Hutu, many more of whom fled into Rwanda. Buyoya lifted restrictions on the Roman Catholic church imposed by the Baganza regime, released many Hutu political prisoners, appointed a Hutu prime minister, and ended a pro-Tutsi education policy.
Burundi was a one-party state from 1966 until 1992, when voters overwhelmingly approved a multiparty constitution under which new elections were to be held in 1993. It called for a president and national assembly directly elected to five-year terms, with the president limited to two terms. New parties were not permitted to identify with any single ethnic or other exclusive group.