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Burundi (/bəˈrʊndi/ (About this soundlisten), /-ˈrʌn-/), officially the Republic of Burundi (Kirundi: Republika y'Uburundi, [buˈɾundi]; French: République du Burundi, [buʁundi] or [byʁyndi]), is a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes region of East Africa, bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. It is also considered part of Central Africa. Burundi's capital is Bujumbura. The southwestern border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika.

The Twa, Hutu and Tutsi peoples have lived in Burundi for at least 500 years. For more than 200 of those years, Burundi was an independent kingdom, until the beginning of the 20th century, when Germany colonised 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 colonisation.

Burundi gained independence in 1962 and initially had a monarchy, but a series of assassinations, coups and a general climate of regional instability culminated in the establishment of a republic and one-party state in 1966. Bouts of ethnic cleansing and ultimately two civil wars and genocides during the 1970s and again in the 1990s left the country undeveloped and its population as one of the world's poorest. 2015 witnessed large-scale political strife as President Pierre Nkurunziza opted to run for a third term in office, a coup attempt failed and the country's parliamentary and presidential elections were broadly criticised by members of the international community.

The sovereign state of Burundi political system is that of a presidential representative democratic republic based upon a multi-party state. The President of Burundi is the head of state and head of government. There are currently 21 registered parties in Burundi. On 13 March 1992, Tutsi coup leader Pierre Buyoya established a constitution, which provided for a multi-party political process and reflected multi-party competition. Six years later, on 6 June 1998, the constitution was changed, broadening National Assembly's seats and making provisions for two vice-presidents. Because of the Arusha Accord, Burundi enacted a transitional government in 2000. In October 2016, Burundi informed the UN of its intention to withdraw from the International Criminal Court.

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The Burundi Civil War was an armed conflict lasting from 1993 to 2005. The civil war was the result of long standing ethnic divisions between the Hutu and the Tutsi tribes in Burundi. The conflict began following the first multiparty elections in the country since gaining independence from Belgium in 1962 and is seen as formally ending with the swearing in of Pierre Nkurunziza in August 2005. The estimated death toll stands at 300,000 killed. (Read more...)

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Burundi - Lake Tanganyika fisheries.jpg
Credit: Francesca Ansaloni

Fishermen on Lake Tanganyika, Burundi.

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Cyprien Ntaryamira (6 March 1955 - 6 April 1994), was President of Burundi from 5 February 1994 until his death when his plane was shot down on 6 April 1994.

Ntaryamira was born in the Mageyo zone's commune of Mubimbi, Bujumbura Rural Province, in what was then the Belgian-dominated United Nations Trust Territory of Burundi. He entered school in Bujumbura, but after an abortive Hutu rebellion in 1972, he and thousands of other ethnic Hutus fled the country.

Ntaryamira eventually received a degree in agriculture from the National University of Rwanda in Butare in 1982. During this time, he became politically active in socialist movements. He returned to his native country in 1983 to work as an agricultural official. He was a political prisoner of the regime of Colonel Jean-Baptiste Bagaza briefly in 1985.

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