Burundi National Parks
The Republic of Burundi is one of the smallest countries in Africa and has a population of over 10 million people. Burundi is located in central Africa, bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the northwest and Lake Tanganyika to the southwest. Burundi is also connected to Lake Victoria by way of the Ruvyironza (or Luvironza) River which runs into the Kagera River in Tanzania and then on to Lake Victoria.
The Burundi has an equatorial climate moderated somewhat by its high attitude. As part of the Albertine Rift, the western extension of the East African Rift, most of Burundi lies on a rolling plateau with an average elevation of over 5,000 feet. Mount Heha, Burundi’s highest peak is nearly 9,000 feet tall and lies to the southeast of Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura.
The official languages of Burundi are Kirundi and French. Swahili is also used extensively in trade as it is the official language of several neighboring countries and generally spoken in the African Great Lakes region.
Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world. Its per capita GDPs is one of the lowest of any country in the world. Since its independence in 1962, Burundi has suffered from extreme political instability and warfare, corruption, poor infrastructure, high inflation, poor access to education and health care and the high rates of HIV/AIDS. Only 3% of the population have electricity in its homes. Hydroelectric power stations account for most of the country’s electricity production as Burundi has minimal resources of coal, natural gas, or petroleum. Firewood and coal are still used extensively for heating and cooking, adversely affecting native forests and individual’s health (increased risk of pulmonary ailments, especially for women and girls who do the cooking). As might be expected, Burundi is also severely lagging behind in its telecommunications services and internet access. Burundi healthcare ranks 44th among the 53 African countries. Nearly four percent of the Burundi population have HIV/AIDS. Burundi ranks 48th in education among African countries with only one in two children going to school.
As a result of poverty, Burundi is heavily dependent on foreign aid which represents over 40 percent of Burundi’s national income. This is the second highest rate in Sub-Saharan Africa. To maintain its economic stability, Burundi will have to continue to rely on foreign aid. The economic crisis affecting many of the countries providing this foreign aid may result in a reduction in Burundi foreign aid and have a negative impact on its economy.
As in the neighboring country of Rwanda, social differences between the Tutsi and Hutu have led to almost continual political unrest in the region since Burundi declared its independence from Belgium. Like both its neighbors, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi has experienced civil war and ethnic genocide, which has resulted in the deaths of over 500,000 Burundi since its independence.
While Burundi is currently enjoying one of the longest periods of political stability (nearly 10 years) and has seen some improvement in private investment, poor infrastructure, particularly the lack of an adequate road network and access to power, continue to hinder the development of a healthy private sector. Burundi ranks 46th in infrastructure among the 53 African countries.
Within Burundi, the private sector is still at the embryonic stage with only about 3,000 registered companies employing less than 40,000 people. This situation is also compounded by the threat of further political instability, government corruption, the absence of a legal framework for implementing public and private partnerships (PPPs), the lack of qualified human resources, and limited access to finance. Burundi ranks 169th out of 183 countries in the 2012 Doing Business Report and 140th out of 142 countries in the Global Competitiveness Report.
Agriculture accounts for roughly 30 percent of Burundi’s GDP and over 90 percent of the country’s employment. Coffee and tea are Burundi’s primary exports providing over 90 percent of Burundi’s foreign exchange earnings, although only a small portion of the total GDP. Subsistence farming accounts for 90 percent of Burundi’s agricultural activity with women making up nearly 90 percent of the rural work force. The absence of sufficient infrastructure also impedes the year-round movement of goods and persons, and the transfer of products from local farms to national and regional markets. It is estimated that 50 to 60 percent of farm produce simply rots in many rural areas, because of the inability to ship it to these national and regional markets.
Burundi is a country with limited mineral resources and with an underdeveloped manufacturing industry. While Burundi has the second largest Columbite-tantalite reserves in the region and approximately six percent of world nickel reserves, Burundi’s mining, energy and manufacturing sectors accounted for only a small portion of the country’s GDP. Burundi’s key natural resources include gold, copper, uranium, tungsten, nickel, tin, peat, platinum, limestone, vanadium, tantalum, niobium, kaolin and cobalt. Gold mining accounts for the majority of the value of Burundi’s total mineral production, mostly from gold reserves concentrated in the northeastern part of the country. Columbite-tantalite, tungsten and tin production accounted for most of the remaining value of Burundi’s mineral production. Columbite-tantalite mining in Burundi contributes almost 2% of the total world’s production of tantalum, an element used is in the production of electronic components, mainly capacitors and high-power resistors. Peat mining has increased in recent years. In 2011, the government reformed the country’s mining code with hopes of attracting more foreign investment and increasing exploration activities in the country’s underdeveloped mining sector.
Burundi’s lands are mostly agricultural or pasture. Settlement by rural populations has led to deforestation, soil erosion and habitat loss. Ten percent of Burundi’s forest was lost between 1992 and 2010 because much of the population had taken refuge in the forests during the warfare and political instability. Deforestation of the entire country is almost completely due to overpopulation, with a mere 230 square miles (600 km2) remaining and an ongoing loss of the existing forest at nearly 10 percent per year. This makes Burundi’s national parks very important in preserving the natural flora and fauna of the country.
There are three national parks in Burundi, Kibira National Park lies to the northwest (a small region of rain forest, adjacent to Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda), Rurubu National Park is located in the northeast (along the Rurubu River, also known as Ruvubu or Ruvuvu River). Both were established in 1982 to conserve wildlife populations. Rusizi National Park is located in northwestern Burundi, just north of Lake Tanganyika along the Rusizi River and near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is the smallest of Burundi’s three national parks. Burundi’s national parks could make this country a desirable tourist destination. However, infrastructure in Burundi is still being developed, and transportation and good accommodations for tourists are still scarce. Through both private and public investment improvements to the infrastructure are beginning. The result is that travel and tourism in Burundi are slowly improving.
Crafts are an important art form in Burundi and are attractive gifts to many tourists. Basket weaving is a popular craft for Burundian artisans. Other crafts such as masks, shields, statues and pottery are made in Burundi.
Burundi National Parks
Rusizi National Park
The Giant Crocodile of Burundi (Gustave)
Gustave Giant African Crocodile Caught
Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum)
Gaboon Viper Bujumbura Burundi
Leopard Tortoise(Stigmochelys pardalis) – Bujumbura Burundi