Burundi Travel Information

Photo Burundi is a landlocked, resource-poor country with an underdeveloped manufacturing sector. The economy is predominantly agricultural with roughly 90% of the population dependent on subsistence agriculture. Its economic health depends on the coffee crop, which accounts for 80% of foreign exchange earnings. The ability to pay for imports therefore rests largely on the vagaries of the climate and the international coffee market. Since October 1993 the nation has suffered from massive ethnic-based violence which has resulted in the death of perhaps 250,000 persons and the displacement of about 800,000 others. Foods, medicines, and electricity remain in short supply. 1999 began with feelings of optimism for Burundi. On 23 January, the political leaders of the Great Lakes region unanimously suspended the economic sanctions imposed on Burundi in July 1996, and the foreign affairs ministers of Burundi and Tanzania took the initiative to revive the tripartite mechanism (UNHCR-Burundi-Tanzania) on the issue of repatriation. Meanwhile, the external peace process in Arusha witnessed a number of positive developments when the 18 parties involved regrouped into 3 factions and different proposals for future transition were tabled. However, this positive climate was dampened when the tripartite meeting, announced for March 1999, was unilaterally postponed sine die by the Tanzanian Government.

Street crime in Burundi's capital poses a high risk for visitors. Crime includes muggings, purse-snatching, pickpocketing, burglary, and auto break-ins. Criminals operate individually or in small groups. There have been reports of muggings of persons jogging or walking alone in all sections of Bujumbura and especially on public roads bordering Lake Tanganyika. In late 2000, expatriate employees of several international non-governmental organizations were the victims of armed robberies in their offices, homes, and on the road. Moreover, there has been a spate of motorcycle-jackings by armed assailants. There is a high risk of kidnapping near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, and westerners appear to be targeted. Landmines have exploded in neighborhoods frequented by travelers.

In light of continuing ethnic and political tensions, all areas of Burundi are potentially unstable. Fighting between rebel forces and the Burundian military continues to be a problem in the interior and in the outskirts of the capital. The outlying suburbs of Bujumbura and vehicles on the roadways are regularly attacked by Burundian rebels. In late 2000, government forces and rebels clashed repeatedly just outside of the capital. Rebels continue to operate in the province surrounding the capital, and local authorities cannot guarantee safety. Remain vigilant and respect any curfews in effect. There is a curfew throughout the country from midnight to 5 a.m. The economy operates on a cash basis. Travelers checks and credit cards are not widely accepted.

Important: Travel to Burundi may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Burundi visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: Republic of Burundi
Capital city: Bujumbura
Area: 27,830 sq km
Population: 10,557,259
Ethnic groups: Hutu
Languages: Kirundi
Religions: Christian 67%
Government: republic
Chief of State: President Pierre NKURUNZIZA - Hutu
Head of Government: President Pierre NKURUNZIZA - Hutu
GDP: 5.184 billion
GDP per captia: 600
Annual growth rate: 4.2%
Inflation: 9.7%
Agriculture: coffee, cotton, tea, corn, sorghum, sweet potatoes, bananas, cassava
Major industries: light consumer goods such as blankets, shoes, soap
Natural resources: nickel, uranium, rare earth oxides, peat, cobalt, copper, platinum, vanadium, arable land, hydropower, niobium, tantalum, gold, tin, tungsten, kaolin, limestone
Location: Central Africa, east of Democratic Republic of the Congo
Trade Partners - exports: Germany 15.6%, China 10.5%, Sweden 9.5%, Belgium 9%, Pakistan 7.4%, US 7.4%, France 4.3%
Trade Partners - imports: Saudi Arabia 17.1%, Belgium 8.3%, China 7.6%, Uganda 7.5%, Kenya 6.6%, Zambia 6.5%, US 6.3%, France 5.1%, India 4.1%