Burundi: Background & Geography

Introduction Burundi
Burundi's first democratically elected president was assassinated in October 1993 after only four months in office. Since then, some 200,000 Burundians have perished in widespread, often intense ethnic violence between Hutu and Tutsi factions. Hundreds of thousands have been internally displaced or have become refugees in neighboring countries. Burundi troops, seeking to secure their borders, intervened in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1998. More recently, many of these troops have been redeployed back to Burundi to deal with periodic upsurges in rebel activity. A new transitional government, inaugurated on 1 November 2001, was to be the first step toward holding national elections in three years. While the Government of Burundi signed a cease-fire agreement in December 2002 with three of Burundi's four Hutu rebel groups, implementation of the agreement has been problematic and one rebel group refuses to sign on, clouding prospects for a sustainable peace.
Geography Burundi
Central Africa, east of Democratic Republic of the Congo
Geographic coordinates:
3 30 S, 30 00 E
Map references:
total: 27,830 sq km
water: 2,180 sq km
land: 25,650 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Maryland
Land boundaries:
total: 974 km
border countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo 233 km, Rwanda 290 km, Tanzania 451 km
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
none (landlocked)
equatorial; high plateau with considerable altitude variation (772 m to 2,670 m above sea level); 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
hilly and mountainous, dropping to a plateau in east, some plains
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Lake Tanganyika 772 m
highest point: Mount Heha 2,670 m
Natural resources:
nickel, uranium, rare earth oxides, peat, cobalt, copper, platinum (not yet exploited), vanadium, arable land, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 29.98%
permanent crops: 12.85%
other: 57.17% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
740 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
flooding, landslides, drought
Environment - current issues:
soil erosion as a result of overgrazing and the expansion of agriculture into marginal lands; deforestation (little forested land remains because of uncontrolled cutting of trees for fuel); habitat loss threatens wildlife populations
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography - note:
landlocked; straddles crest of the Nile-Congo watershed; the Kagera, which drains into Lake Victoria, is the most remote headstream of the White Nile

See Also: