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Driving Directions Burundi

BURUNDI is a small, densely populated republic in central east Africa bounded by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west. One of the world’s poorest nations, Burundi consists mainly of an upland plateau at an elevation of around 1,400-1,800 meters or 4,600-5,900 feet. In the west, the land falls away to the River Rusizi and Lake Tanganyika valley, lying with­in the African Rift Valley. The plateau also drops away eastwards and southeastwards towards the valleys of the Ruyuvu and Malagarasi rivers.

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The predominant natural vegetation is savannah grassland and open woodland, supporting a diversity of wildlife species. As in Rwanda, the tropical climate is tempered by altitude in most areas, and there are two rainy seasons.

The soils are not rich, but there is enough rain in most areas for subsistence farming. The main food crops are bananas, sweet potatoes, peas, lentils, and beans — cassava is grown near Lake Tanganyika’s shores. The main cash crop is coffee, which accounts for 90 percent of Burundi’s export earnings. Cotton and tea were also cultivated for export. There is a little commercial fishing on Lake Tanganyika. Otherwise, the industry is fundamental. Since 1994, Burundi has been afflicted by ethnic conflict between the majority Hutu and minority Tutsi. Between 1994 and 1995, it is estimated that 150,000 were killed due to ethnic violence, and the political situation remains highly volatile.

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Burundi has three major natural regions: 1) the Rift Valley area in the west, which consists of the narrow plains along the Rusizi River and the shores of Lake Tanganyika, together with the belt of foothills on the western face of the divide between the Congo and Nile Rivers; 2) the mountains that form the Congo-Nile divide; and 3) the central and eastern plateaus and the warmer, drier plains near the country’s eastern and southeastern borders. Burundi is landlocked.

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