Burundi

Climate

Burundi in general has a tropical highland climate. Temperature varies considerably from one region to another as a result of differences in altitude. The central plateau enjoys pleasantly cool weather, with an average temperature of 20°C. The area around Lake Tanganyika is warmer, averaging 23°C; the highest mountain areas are cooler, averaging 16°C. Bujumbura’s average annual temperature is 23°C. Rain is irregular, falling most heavily in the north-west. Dry seasons vary in length, and there are sometimes long periods of drought. However, four seasons can be distinguished: the long dry season June–August, the short wet season September–November, the short dry season December–January, and the long wet season February–May. Most of Burundi receives between 1,300 and 1,600mm of rainfall a year. The Ruzizi Plain and the north-east receive between 750 and 1,000mm.

Understand

Burundi covers 27,834km² with an estimated population of almost 8.7 million. Although the country is landlocked, much of the south-western border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika, one of the deepest lakes in the world.

Burundi is one of the ten least developed countries in the world and it has the lowest per capita GDP of any nation in the world. Burundi's low GDP rate is due primarily to civil wars, corruption, poor access to education, political instability and the consequences of HIV/AIDS. Cobalt and copper are among the nation's natural resources. Other resources include coffee, sugar and tea.

Burundi possesses all the elements of a young nation with ancient traditions that constitute its very rich culture: art, dance, music, and handicrafts. Its aim is to ensure the transmission of the cultural inheritance from the forefathers and ancestors evidenced by belongings and objects they revered and favoured, the dances and rhythmic music they composed.

Burundi is an off the beaten path destination for most visitors to East Africa, and one should consider the cost/benefit calculation before travelling to this friendly, if limited in options destination. Travelling outside the capital of Bujumbura at all, or even within the city after nightfall, comes with considerable risk. A jovial time can be had here, for a price, and with an understanding of French you will have a better chance of enjoying your time here. Plan ahead to avoid risks of malaria, and drink plenty of water. As of March 2014, the nation is still recovering from catastrophic flooding and is embroiled in a conflict over if and when the next elections will be held.

Comforts found in Rwanda will be much harder to come by here.

History

The earliest known people to live in Burundi were the Twa, pygmy people who remain as a minority group there. The people currently known as Hutu and Tutsi moved into the region several hundred years ago, and dominated it. Like much of Africa, Burundi then went through a period of European colonial rule. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Germany and Belgium occupied the region, and Burundi and Rwanda together became a European colony known as Ruanda-Urundi.

This ended with its independence from Belgium in 1962. In the decades since then, Burundi has known civil wars between the Hutu and Tutsi populations much like the better-known genocide in Rwanda to the north, and a series of political assassinations. Peace and the reestablishment of civil democracy took place in 2005 with a cease-fire and the election of former Hutu rebel Pierre Nkurunziza as president who intends to stand for a controversial third term.