About Burundi

Landlocked in the middle of Central-East Africa, the Republic of Burundi lies between Tanzania, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and shares a long border with Lake Tanganyika. One of the last-standing African monarchies, whose kingship fell in 1966, Burundi has a population of 12.2 million. While small, Burundi is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa, with 470 inhabitants per square kilometer. The nation is 75 percent Christian and is unique for its linguistic homogeneity; nearly the entire population speaks Kirundi.

Formerly a colony of Germany and Belgium, Burundi achieved independence in 1962, followed by decades of ethnic tension. The country has experienced both a civil war and a string of contentious elections. Ethnic friction between the usually-dominant Tutsi minority and the Hutu majority has further damaged the country’s political stability and ability to control corruption. The majority of the population continues to live in poverty, with economic instability disproportionately affecting rural areas, where only 2 percent of households have access to electricity. In addition, food insecurity in Burundi is nearly double the average for sub-Saharan countries.

While life expectancy has increased and under-five mortality has decreased over time, communicable and non-communicable diseases continue to contribute to poor health indicators and a large burden of disease in the population. Illnesses causing the most deaths include diarrheal diseases, neonatal disorders, tuberculosis, malaria, lower respiratory infections, stroke, ischemic heart disease, congenital defects, HIV/AIDS, and protein-energy malnutrition, with significant increases in stroke and ischemic heart disease in recent years. Road injuries have also increased significantly in recent years and are a main contributor to disability.

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