Burundi is located in east-central Africa, south of the Equator. It is bounded by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, Lake Tanganyika to the southwest, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. The capital and largest urban center, Bujumbura lies at the northeastern end of Lake Tanganyika. It is the second largest lake of eastern Africa and the longest freshwater lake in the world (410 miles [660 km]) and the second deepest (4,710 feet [1,436 metres]) after Lake Baikal in Russia.
Burundi is considered to be one of the world’s poorest countries in the world due to a 12-year, ethnic-based civil war between the Tutsi and the Hutu. For more than 200 years, Burundi was an independent kingdom, until the beginning of the 20th century, when Germany colonized the region. After the First World War and Germany’s defeat, it ceded the territory to Belgium. Both Germans and Belgians ruled Burundi and Rwanda as a European colony known as Ruanda-Urundi. Despite common misconceptions, Burundi and Rwanda had never been under common rule until the time of European colonization. Since gaining independence from Belgium in July 1st. 1962, the country legally changed its name from Ruanda-Urundi to Burundi.
Despite the conflict, Burundi is a country with few resources and with an underdeveloped manufacturing industry.
The country’s economy mostly depends on its agricultural sector, with tea and coffee being its chief exports. Coffee, is the principal export crop and source of foreign exchange. Cash crops of lesser importance include cotton and tea. Unexploited mineral resources include considerable nickel deposits, as well as significant reserves of vanadium, uranium, and phosphates. Geologic assessments also indicated a possible major petroleum reserves beneath Lake Tanganyika and in the Rusizi valley. Burundi has other mineral resources such as copper, cobalt, feldspar, rock, and quartzite. The country is also a producer of limestone, peat, sand and gravel for domestic consumption and as building materials. Mineral production, however, is generally limited and includes niobium, tantalum, gold, tin, and wolframite (a source of tungsten). Burundi has been experiencing a growth in its economic status since the end of the civil war and stability in the country’s political system.
Burundi is inhabited by three population groups: the Tutsi, the Hutu and the Twa. Since claiming independence, it has been plagued by tension between the dominant Tutsi minority and the Hutu majority. The ethnic violence sparked off in 1994 made Burundi the scene of one of continent’s most intractable conflicts. Official languages are Rundi (Kirundi), a Bantu language that is the standard medium of communication throughout the country, and French – since Belgium is a French and Dutch speaking country. Swahili, the language of trade, is widely spoken in Bujumbura, the nation’s capital as is French. It is notable that Rundi is spoken by both the Hutu and Tutsi. Every Murundi is a musician at heart, according to Ntahokaja in his article entitled La musique des Barundi (The music of the Barundi). His soul is a taut string which vibrates at the slightest breeze. He sings for all events of life, joyful or sad. The Barundi possess a broad repertoire of songs adapted to all states of mind and all circumstances of life.
Burundi cuisine is very representative of the African culinary culture.
Bananas with beans – a special recipe that is made with dried red kidney beans, green bananas (plantains are also a good option), palm oil, Onion and pepper. Culinary influences range from European to South Asian, and inevitably, East African. South Asian contributions include curried dishes, a side of beans and traditional rice. Many restaurants also offer French-inspired, European fare. Popular dishes include: Ndagaa (recognize it as most delicious food in Burundi made from Fish). Fish in Tomatoes and Onion. Red Kidney Beans with Plantains. Hot Sauce (Pili Pili). Chicken with Bulgur Wheat (Boko Boko Harees). Lentil and Bean Soup (Soupe aux Lentilles et Legumes).
The cultural aspects associated with the music in Burundi are numerous, rich and varied. Every Murundi is a musician at heart, according to Ntahokaja in his article entitled La musique des Barundi (The music of the Barundi). His soul is a taut string which vibrates at the slightest breeze. He sings for all events of life, joyful or sad. The Barundi possess a broad repertoire of songs adapted to all states of mind and all circumstances of life. Joyful songs and sad songs – the latter fewer in number – enhance family and official gatherings, accompany certain rituals and ceremonies and are associated with certain trades.