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Countries

Burundi

Burundi
Burundi
Burundi
(CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)
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Overview

A small, landlocked country in Africa, Burundi is bordered by Rwanda to the north, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west and Tanzania to the east and south. Since gaining independence from Belgium in 1962, Burundi has struggled with internal ethnic divides similar to those of Rwanda. These divides are Burundi's greatest challenge, and cycles of ethnic violence have often broken out between the majority Hutu and minority Tutsi ethnic groups. Relatedly, the country's turn toward authoritarian rule under President Pierre Nkurunziza in recent years has been, in part, an attempt to consolidate power in Hutu hands at the expense of Tutsis. Burundi's geographic proximity and ethnic ties to neighboring Rwanda have provided an additional challenge for its rulers, as they must manage relations with the country's wealthier and significantly more powerful neighbor. On top of that, the security issued in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo have heaped problems on Bujumbura, Burundi's capital, as militant groups have taken refuge in the vast territories beyond Burundi's borders. Because of its links to the Great Lakes region, Burundi has tried to hop on the bandwagon of regional integration with the East African Community. However, Burundi has largely failed to capitalize on the development happening in Rwanda, and its long-running political problems have made efforts to connect it to regional infrastructure less attractive. This lack of regional integration poses a significant problem for Burundi, which has high import and export costs because of its landlocked position.

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