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Nestled in the heart of Africa, tiny Burundi is a land of rolling green hills and endless smiles. Surrounded by Tanzania to the East, Congo Kinshasa to the West, and Rwanda to the North, Burundi has suffered through years of civil strife but its people remain devoutly optimistic. The recent peace treaty signed by government and rebel forces will hopefully justify this optimism.
Once a proud independent Kingdom, Burundi was first colonized by Germany in 1903. Following World War I , Burundi , then Urundi, was annexed by Belgium who held the country as an independent state until full independence was achieved in 1962. Decades of violence followed the country’s independence. Like its neighbor to the North, Rwanda , Burundi was flung into the chaos of ethnic strife with the assassination of its newly elected President in 1993. Calm returned somewhat in 1996 but sporadic violence has been the norm. The nearly four decades of near-constant violence has destroyed the country’s infrastructure, lead to large-scale deforestation and given the country the unenviable title as the poorest country in the world with a per capita GDP of $106.
Despite these hardships the people of Burundi are amongst the most welcoming and sociable you’ll ever meet. The capital Bujumbura , nestled along the shores of Lake Tangyanika , is a great place (really the only place) to get your feet wet and enjoy what Burundi has to offer. Home to thousands of U.N. soldiers and countless more NGO and AID workers, Buja is a fantastic place to grab a Primus, enjoy the nightlife and engulf yourself in African hospitality. Outside of the capital, Burundi offers no more than the most basic necessities of life making tourism a dicey, if not outright dangerous proposition.
Due to its sandwiched location at the heart of Central Africa , most Burundians speak Kirundi, French, English and Swahili. Travel infrastructure is largely non-existent with only a few hotels in Bujambura. Transport leaves regularly from the capital to neighboring Rwanda and the Tanzanian border.