Currently viewing country profile for Burundi
Burundi, one of the world's poorest nations, is emerging from a 12-year, ethnic-based civil war.
Since independence in 1961, 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 Africa's most intractable conflicts.
It is now beginning to reap the dividends of a peace process. But it faces the formidable tasks of reviving a shattered economy and of forging national unity.
In 1993 Burundi seemed poised to enter a new era when, in their first democratic elections, Burundians chose their first Hutu head of state, Melchior Ndadaye, and a parliament dominated by the Hutu Front for Democracy in Burundi (Frodebu) party.
But within months Ndadaye had been assassinated, setting the scene for years of Hutu-Tutsi violence in which an estimated 300,000 people, most of them civilians, were killed.
In early 1994 parliament elected another Hutu, Cyprien Ntaryamira, as president. But he was killed in April alongside the president of neighbouring Rwanda when the plane they were travelling in was shot down over Kigali.
Another Hutu, Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, was appointed president in October 1994. But within months, the mainly Tutsi Union for National Progress (Uprona) party withdrew from the government and parliament, sparking a new wave of ethnic violence.
Following long-running talks, mediated by South Africa, a power-sharing government was set up in 2001 and most of the rebel groups agreed to a ceasefire. Four years later Burundians voted in the first parliamentary elections since the start of the civil war.
The main Hutu former rebel group won the vote and nominated its leader Pierre Nkurunziza as president.
The government and the United Nations embarked on the lengthy process of disarming thousands of soldiers and former rebels, as well as forming a new national army.
- Full name: Republic of Burundi
- Population: 8.5 million (UN, 2010)
- Capital: Bujumbura
- Area: 27,816 sq km (10,740 sq miles)
- Major languages: Kirundi (official), French (official), Swahili
- Major religions: Christianity, indigenous beliefs
- Life expectancy: 51 years (men), 54 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: 1 Burundi franc = 100 centimes
- Main exports: coffee, tea, sugar, cotton, hides
- GNI per capita: US $150 (World Bank, 2009)
- Internet domain: .bi
- International dialling code: +257
President: Pierre Nkurunziza
Pierre Nkurunziza, a former Hutu rebel leader, became the first president to be chosen in democratic elections since the start of Burundi's civil war.
He was selected as president by parliamentarians in August 2005 after his Force for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) won parliamentary elections a few weeks earlier.
He was re-elected in the June 2010 presidential polls, which however, were boycotted by the opposition which complained of fraud in the earlier district elections.
The European Union praised Burundi for holding a peaceful presidential election but criticised the government for limits on political expression.
The 2005 vote was one of the final steps in a peace process intended to end years of fighting between Hutu rebels and the Tutsi-controlled army.
Mr Nkurunziza, who pledged to strive for unity, faced the challenges of reassuring the Tutsi minority.
A peace agreement between the government and the remaining Hutu rebels was signed in 2006, but broke down after the government rejected rebel demands for power-sharing.
A ceasefire between the government and the last active rebel group, the National Liberation Forces (FNL), was signed in May 2008.
Born in 1964 in Ngozi province, Pierre Nkurunziza trained as a sports teacher. His father, a former MP, was killed in ethnic violence in 1972.
He joined the Hutu rebellion in 1995 and rose through the ranks to become head of the FDD in 2001. He sustained a serious mortar injury during the conflict.
The married father of two is a born-again Christian.
Operating in a turbulent political climate, Burundi's media are subject to self-censorship and occasional government censorship. However, diverse political views are aired and the opposition press does function, albeit sporadically.
Newspaper readership is limited by low literacy levels. Radio is the main source of information for many Burundians. The government runs the sole TV station, the only radio station with national coverage, as well as the only newspaper that publishes regularly.
BBC World Service broadcasts on 90.2 FM in Bujumbura; Radio France Internationale and the Voice of America are also available in the capital.
- Le Renouveau - government newspaper
- Ndongozi (Pacesetter) - founded by Catholic Church
- Arc-en-ciel (Rainbow) - private, French-language weekly
- Ubumwe (Unity) - government-owned weekly
- La Radiodiffusion et Television Nationale de Burundi (RTNB) - government controlled, broadcasts in Kirundi, Swahili, French and English
- Radio Burundi (RTNB) - government controlled, broadcasts in Kirundi, Swahili, French and English; also operates an educational network
- Bonesha FM - funded by international organisations; set up in 1996 as Radio Umwizero (Hope), an EU-funded station to promote reconciliation
- Radio Publique Africaine - private, operates with some UN and overseas funding
- Radio CCIB+ - operated by Burundi Chamber of Commerce
- Radio Culture - partly funded by health ministry
- Radio Isanganiro - private
- Agence Burundaise de Presse (ABP) - government controlled
- Azania - privately owned
- Net Press - privately owned
A chronology of key events:
1300s - Hutu people settle in the region.
1400s - Tutsi settlers establish themselves as feudal rulers.
1858 - British explorers Richard Burton and John Speke visit Burundi.
1890 - The Tutsi kingdom of Urundi and neighbouring Ruanda (Rwanda) incorporated into German East Africa.
1916 - Belgians occupy the area.
1923 Belgium granted League of Nations mandate to administer Ruanda-Urundi.
1959 - Influx of Tutsi refugees from Rwanda following ethnic violence there.
1962 - Urundi is separated from Ruanda-Urundi, becomes Burundi and is given independence as a monarchy under King Mwambutsa IV.
1963 - Thousands of Hutus flee to Rwanda following ethnic violence.
1965 - King Mwambutsa refuses to appoint a Hutu prime minister even though Hutus win a majority in parliamentary elections; attempted coup by Hutu police led by Michel Micombero brutally suppressed.
1966 July - Mwambutsa deposed by his son, Ntare V.
1966 November - Micombero stages a second coup, this time successfully, and declares himself president.
Overthrow of monarchy
1972 - Some 150,000 Hutus are massacred after Ntare V is killed, supposedly by Hutus.
1976 - Micombero is deposed in a military coup and is replaced by Jean-Baptiste Bagaza as president.
1981 - A new constitution makes Burundi a one-party state.
1987 - President Bagaza is deposed in a coup led by Pierre Buyoya.
1988 - Thousands of Hutus are massacred by Tutsis and thousands more flee to Rwanda.
1992 - New constitution providing for a multiparty system is adopted in a referendum.
1993 June - Melchior Ndadaye's Frodebu wins multi-party polls, ending military rule and leading to the installation of a pro-Hutu government.
1993 October - Tutsi soldiers assassinate Ndadaye. In revenge, some Frodebu members massacre Tutsis and the army begins reprisals. Burundi is plunged into an ethnic conflict which claims some 300,000 lives.
1994 January - Parliament appoints Cyprien Ntaryamira - a Hutu - as president.
1994 April - Plane carrying Ntaryamira and his Rwandan counterpart is shot down over the Rwandan capital Kigali, killing both and triggering genocide in Rwanda in which 800,000 are killed.
1994 October - Parliament speaker Sylvestre Ntibantunganya appointed president.
1995 - Massacre of Hutu refugees leads to renewed ethnic violence in the capital, Bujumbura.
1996 - Pierre Buyoya, a Hutu, seizes power in a coup.
Buyoya sworn in
1998 - Buyoya and parliament agree on a transitional constitution under which Buyoya is formally sworn in as president.
2000 - Government and three Tutsi groups sign a ceasefire accord, but two main Hutu groups refuse to join in.
2001 January - President Buyoya agrees to ceasefire talks with leader of main ethnic Hutu rebel group, Forces for Defence of Democracy (FDD).
2001 April - Coup attempt fails.
2001 July - Defence minister says authorities have put down an attempted coup.
2001 October - Talks brokered by Nelson Mandela lead to installation of transitional government under which Hutu and Tutsi leaders will share power. Main Hutu rebel groups refuse to sign ceasefire and fighting intensifies.
2001 25 December - Army says it killed more than 500 rebels in operation against opposition stronghold near Bujumbura.
2002 January - Jean Minani, leader of main Hutu party Frodebu, elected president of transitional national assembly set up to bridge ethnic divide.
2002 July - Upsurge in fighting delays planned peace talks; army says more than Hutu 200 rebels have been killed in clashes.
2002 December - Government and main Hutu rebel group FDD sign a ceasefire at talks in Tanzania, but fighting breaks out a month later.
2003 30 April - Domitien Ndayizeye - a Hutu - succeeds Pierre Buyoya as president, under terms of three-year, power-sharing transitional government inaugurated in 2001.
2003 July - Major rebel assault on Bujumbura. Some 300 rebels and 15 government soldiers are killed. Thousands flee their homes.
2003 November - President Ndayizeye and FDD leader Pierre Nkurunziza sign agreement to end civil war at summit of African leaders in Tanzania.
Nkurunziza and other FDD members given ministerial posts. Smaller Hutu rebel group, Forces for National Liberation (FNL), remains active.
2004 June - UN force takes over peacekeeping duties from African Union troops.
Hutu rebels kill 160 Congolese Tutsi refugees at a camp near the DR Congo border. Burundian Hutu rebel group, the FNL, claims responsibility.
2004 December - UN and government begin to disarm and demobilise thousands of soldiers and former rebels.
2005 January - President signs law to set up new national army, incorporating government forces and all but one Hutu rebel group, the FNL.
2005 March - Voters back power-sharing constitution.
Nkurunziza becomes president
2005 August - Pierre Nkurunziza, from the Hutu FDD group, is elected as president by the two houses of parliament. The FDD won parliamentary elections in June.
2005 September - Remaining active rebel group, the FNL, rejects government offer of peace talks.
2006 April - A curfew, imposed during ethnic violence in the early 1970s, is lifted.
2006 August - Former President Domitien Ndayizeye is accused of involvement in an alleged coup plot. Along with four of his co-accused, he is acquitted by the Supreme Court in January 2007.
2006 September - The last active rebel group, the Forces for National Liberation (FNL), and the government sign a ceasefire at talks in Tanzania.
2006 December - The increasingly authoritarian government risks triggering unrest and eroding the gains of peace, warns the International Crisis Group think tank.
2007 February - UN shuts down its peacekeeping mission and refocuses its operations on helping with reconstruction.
2007 April - DRCongo, Rwanda and Burundi relaunch the regional economic bloc - Great Lakes Countries Economic Community - known under its French acronym CEPGL.
Peace process stalls
2007 July - Senior FNL figures quit the truce monitoring team for the second time in a few months, sparking fears of renewed bloodshed.
2007 September - Rival FNL factions clash in Bujumbura, killing 20 fighters and sending residents fleeing. Rebel raids are also reported in the north-west of the country.
2007 December - Burundian soldiers join African Union peacekeepers in Somalia.
2008 April - Former head of governing party, Hussein Radjabu, is sentenced to 13 years in prison for undermining state security. Radjabu was accused of plotting armed rebellion and insulting President Nkurunziza.
2008 April-May - Renewed fighting between government forces and FNL rebels leaves at least 100 people dead.
2008 May - Government and FNL rebels sign ceasefire. FNL leader Agathon Rwasa returns home from exile in Tanzania.
2009 March - The Paris club of creditor nations cancels all of the $134.3m debt Burundi owed to its members.
2009 April - Ex-rebel Godefroid Niyombare becomes first ever Hutu chief of general staff of the army.
2009 April - Burundi's last rebel group, the Forces for National Liberation (FNL), lays down arms and officially transforms into a political party in a ceremony supervised by the African Union.
2009 September - Several Burundian troops are killed in a suicide blast while on a peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
2009 November - Agathon Rwasa to stand as ex-rebel FNL candidate in the June 2010 presidential election.
2010 January - Thirteen soldiers are arrested for allegedly plotting a coup to overthrow President Nkurunziza.
2010 June - Presidential election - Nkurunziza re-elected. Violence before and after polling day. Opposition dismisses vote as masquerade, EU regrets absence of multi-party competition.
FNL president Agathon Rwasa goes into hiding.
2010 September - Post-election tension raises fears of renewed civil war.
2010 October - Police deny executing 22 members of former rebel group, National Liberation Forces.
2010 November - Government repression stepped up since elections, Human Rights Watch alleges.
2010 December - Government fury as anti-graft watchdog alleges corruption in purchase of military equipment from Ukraine.
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