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Burundi

hutu africa tutsi east

Burundi, one of Africa's smallest states, bordered on the east by Tanzania, on the west by Zaïre, on the north by Rwanda, and on the southwest by Lake Tanganyika. The capital, situated alongside the lake, is Bujumbura. The climate is tropical, with a rainy season from Oct. to April and a dry season in June, July, and Aug.

The Hutu and Tutsi are the country's main ethnic groups. There is a small minority of Twa, a pygmy people. The official language is French; the chief African language is Kurundi; Swahili is also widely spoken. About 30% of the people adhere to traditional beliefs, the rest being Christian, principally Roman Catholic. The economy is mainly agricultural. Principal exports are arabica coffee and cotton.

The earliest inhabitants seem to have been the Twa, who were succeeded by the Hutu, who came from the Congo Basin. The Hutu were later subjugated by the Tutsi, who may have originated in northeast Africa. In 1899 Germany claimed Burundi as part of German East Africa. After World War I, Belgium was granted control of the area. In 1962, following a referendum, Burundi became an independent monarchy. The monarchy was overthrown and replaced by a republic in 1966. Since independence Burundi has been the scene of recurrent fighting between the Tutsi minority (who dominated the government for a long time) and the Hutu majority (e.g. in 1972, 1987 and 1993). In 1996 the army seized power.

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