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Burundi(pronounced [buˈɾundi]), officially the Republic of Burundi, is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Its size is just under 28,000 km² with an estimated population of almost 8,700,000. Its capital is Bujumbura. Although the country is landlocked, much of the southwestern border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika.
The Twa, Tutsi, and Hutu peoples have occupied Burundi since the country's formation five centuries ago. Burundi was ruled as a kingdom by the Tutsi for over two hundred years. However, at the beginning of the twentieth century, Germany and Belgium occupied the region, and Burundi and Rwanda became a European colony known as Ruanda-Urundi.
Political unrest occurred throughout the region because of social differences between the Tutsi and Hutu, provoking civil war in Burundi throughout the middle twentieth century. Presently, Burundi is governed as a presidential representative democratic republic. Sixty-two percent of Burundians are Roman Catholic, eight to ten percent are Muslims and the rest follow indigenous beliefs and other Christian denominations.
Burundi is one of the ten poorest countries in the world. It has the lowest per capita GDP of any nation in the world. Burundi has a low gross domestic product largely due to civil wars, corruption, poor access to education, and the effects of HIV/AIDS. Burundi is densely populated, with substantial emigration. Cobalt and copper are among Burundi's natural resources. Some of Burundi's main exports include coffee and sugar.
One of the smallest countries in Africa, Burundi is landlockedand has an equatorial climate. Burundi is a part of the Albertine Rift, the western extension of the Great Rift Valley. The country lies on a rolling plateau in the center of Africa. The average elevation of the central plateau is 5,600 feet (1,707 m), with lower elevations at the borders. The highest peak, Mount Hehaat 8,810 feet (2,685 m), lies to the southeast of the capital, Bujumbura. The Nileis a major river in Burundi. Lake Victoriais also an important water source, which serves as a fork to the Kagera River. Another major lake is Lake Tanganyika, located in much of Burundi's southwestern corner.
Burundi's lands are mostly agriculturalor pasture. Settlement by rural populations has led to deforestation, soil erosionand habitat loss. Deforestation of the entire country is almost completely due to overpopulation, with a mere 230 square miles (600 km2) remaining and an ongoing loss of about 9% per annum.[There are two national parks, Kibira National Park to the northwest (a small region of rain forest, adjacent to Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda), Ruvubu National Parkto the northeast (along the Rurubu River, also known as Ruvubu or Ruvuvu). Both were established in 1982 to conserve wildlife populations.
Provinces, communes and collines
Burundi is divided into 17 provinces. 117 communes, and 2,638 collines (hills). Provincial governments are structured upon these boundaries. In 2000, the province encompassing Bujumbura was separated into two provinces, Bujumbura Rural and Bunjumbura Mairie.
The provinces are:
Burundi is one of the world's poorest countries, owing in part to its landlocked geography, poor legal system, lack of access to education, and the proliferation of HIV/AIDS. Approximately 80% of Burundi's population lives in poverty. Faminesand food shortages have occurred throughout Burundi, most notably in the 20th century, and according to the World Food Programme, 56.8% of children under age five suffer from chronic malnutrition. One scientific study of 178 nations rated Burundi's population as having the lowest satisfaction with lifein the world. As a result of poverty, Burundi is dependent on foreign aid.
Burundi's largest industry is agriculture, which accounted for 58% of the GDP in 1997. Subsistence agricultureaccounts for 90% of agriculture. The nation's largest source of revenue is coffee, which makes up 93% of Burundi's exports. Other agriculture products include cotton, tea, maize, sorghum, sweet potatoes, bananas, manioc (tapioca); beef, milk, and hides. Some of Burundi's natural resources include uranium, nickel, cobalt, copper, and platinum. Besides agriculture, other industries include: assembly of imported components; public works construction; food processing, and light consumer goods such as blankets, shoes, and soap. Burundi's currency is the Burundian franc (BIF); as of late September 2010, 1,243.70 Burundian franc were equivalent to one United States dollar.
Burundi is part of the East African Community and a potential member of the planned East African Federation.
As of 2008, Burundi was projected to have an estimated population of 8,691,005 people. This estimate explicitly takes into account the effects of AIDS, which has a significant effect on the demographics of the country. Over 500,000 have been displaced due to the disease. Many Burundians have migrated to other countries as a result of the civil war. In 2006, the United States accepted approximately 10,000 Burundian refugees. Most Burundians live in rural areas, and about six percent of the population live in urban areas. The population density of around 315 people per square kilometer (753 per sq mi) is the second highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Roughly 85% of the populationare of Hutu ethnic origin, 15% are Tutsi, and fewer than one percent are Twa.
Sources estimate the Christian population to be 67 percent, with Roman Catholics representing the largest group at 62 percent. Protestant and Anglican practitioners constitute the remaining 5 percent. An estimated 23 percent of the population adheres to traditional indigenous religious beliefs. The Muslim population is estimated to be at 10 percent, the majority of whom live in urban areas. Sunnis make up the majority of the Muslim population, and the remainder is Shi.