General Information

Capital: Bujumbura
Population: 6350000 (1995)
Area: 27834 square km
Currency: 1 Burundi franc (FB) = 100 centimes
Languages: French, Rundi


Burundi is a landlocked independent state which lies to the south of Rwanda and forms part of the Central African Region. The capital city is Bujumbura. Other major cities are Makamba and Rumonge.

The official languages of Burundi are Ki-Rundi and French but Ki-Swahili is widely spoken as a commercial language. Reliable economic indicators are difficult to obtain owing to the continued political instability in the region which has severely disrupted the economy. The local currency is the Burundi franc. (US$ / Bur Fr – current exchange rate).

It is estimated that the economy of Burundi contracted by about one quarter in the second half of the 1990s, largely due to political turmoil in the country. The economy is largely subsistence, with coffee being the country’s chief export. Production of coffee increased in the late 1990s due to a slight decrease in the insecurity in the country, however, prices continue to be low. Cotton and tea are also traded. Burundi’s mainly subsistence economy is estimated to have contracted by 25 percent over the last five years. Social welfare has dramatically declined due to the conflict, and access to services has been significantly decreased.

The Burundi oil industry is one of the key elements in the economy of the country accounting for around 15% of its imports. It has a fledgling mining industry whose development has been severely hampered by the political strife. Electricity is provided by the parastatal utility Regideso.

The international time zone for Burundi is Greenwich +3 and the international dialling code is +257. The principal airlines which fly to the international airport at Bujumbura are Air France, Kenya Airways and Sabena. As at January 1996 all visitors to Burundi require visas.

Malaria, tuberculosis, cholera, hepatitis A, meningitis, typhoid fever, yellow fever(regional), and schistosomiasis may be contracted while travelling in Burundi. Travellers should be aware that advance payment for medical services may be required. Prescription medicines should be carried in their original containers together with the prescription. Vaccinations should be obtained before entering Burundi and cholera vaccination certificates are required by al visitors. Also, visitors travelling from countries where yellow fever is endemic are required to carry meningitis and yellow fever vaccination certficates. Travellers are advised to drink only bottled water.

MBendi clients in this country

International banking transactions can be carried out through the Banque de la Republique du Burundi, the Banque Commerciale du Burundi and the Banque Burundaise pour le Commerce et l’Investissement. Consulting and accounting services can be provided by Ernst & Young (through their Nairobi, Kenya office) and other international accounting firms; they should also be able to advise on appropriate local legal and other service providers.

The African Resource Network, comprising some of Africa’s leading consultancies in their fields, provides a unique one-stop African information / intelligence / research / advisory service via the Internet to companies and business-people around the world with an interest in doing business in Africa.

A superior insurance service is provided by the local representative of AfriNet, risk managers and insurance brokers of Africa.


  • Belgium occupied Ruanda-Urundi (as the League of Nations mandated territory encompassing both Rwanda and Burundi was named) in 1916.
  • An ethnic minority, the Tutsi, had long been dominant over the majority Hutu and a pygmoid group, the Twa.
  • The Belgium administration proved a somewhat disuptive influence in Burundi’s social and political system.
  • Two main parties came to the fore: namely the Union pour le progress, led by Louis Rwagasore (UPRONA) and the Parti démocrate chrétien (PDC).
  • UPRONA won the 1961 elections and Rwagasore became prime minister, only to be assassinated two weeks later by agents of the PDC.
  • The absence of Rwagasore’s unifying influence led to the division of UPRONA and the emergence of open conflict between Hutu and Tutsi.
  • Four governments held office during 1963-65.
  • Tensions reached a climax after the assassination of the Hutu prime minister, Pierre Ngendandumwe, in early 1965.
  • Despite a decisive Hutu victory at parliamentary elections held in May 1965, Mwambutsa ( the king) appointed a Tutsi prince as the new prime minister.
  • Incensed by this, a faction of the Hutu-dominated gendarmerie attempted to seize power in October 1965. The repression of this coup was extremely violent.
  • In July 1966 Mwambutsa was deposed by his son, Ntare. In November of the same year, Ntare was deposed by Micombero, who declared Burundi a republic.
  • Following an abortive coup attempt in April 1972, brutal massacres occurred.
  • In November 1976, Col. Jean-Baptiste Bagaza seized power in a bloodless coup. Efforts were made to encourage national reconciliation and integration.
  • A new constitution, adopted by a national referendum in November 1981, provided for a national assembly. The first elections were held in October 1982.
  • The period 1984-87 was notable for a deterioration in the government’s observance of human rights, particularly in relation to religious freedom. This led to intense conflict with several Christian denominations.
  • In September 1987, Bagaza was deposed by an army-led coup and the 1981 constitution was suspended.
  • In August 1988 groups of Hutu slaughtered hundreds of Tutsi in the towns of Ntega and Marangara.
  • Despite Buyoya’s plans to combat all forms of discrimination against the Hutu, the conflict intensified.
  • Buyoya’s referendum in 1991 presented the report of the constitutional commission on ‘national democratisation’. It received the support of more than 90% of the voters.
  • In February 1993 a presidential poll was won by Milker Ndadaye who became Burundi’s first Hutu head of state.
  • In a coup by more than 100 army paratroopers in October 1993, several Hutu politicians and officials, including President Ndadaye, were killed by the insurgents.
  • International condemnation of the coup, together with the scale and ferocity of renewed tribal violence, undermined support for the insurgents.
  • In January 1994, Cyprian Ntaryamira was elected president.
  • During February 1994 ethnic tension mounted as extremist factions of both Hutu and Tutsi groups attempted to establish territorial strongholds within the country.
  • On 6 April 1994 President Ntaryamira was killed when the aircraft of Rwandan President Habyarimana, in which he was travelling, was the target of a rocket attack.
  • In October 1994 a coalition government was announced.
  • Ethnic tension persisted throughout 1994.
  • An escalation of incidents of politically- and ethnically-motivated violence during 1995 prompted renewed concern that the security crisis would precipitate a larger-scale campaign of ethnic massacres similar to that witnessed in Rwanda during 1994.

Information kindly provided by Eskom.

Shaun Bakamoso

Greetings. I'm Shaun Bakamoso, and I'm thrilled to be your guide through the dynamic world of business news in South Africa here at With a passion for staying informed and a keen interest in the ever-evolving landscape of business, I've dedicated myself to providing you with timely, insightful, and comprehensive coverage of the latest developments impacting the South African economy. / Instagram