Currency: Burundian franc
Population: 8,575,172 (2011)
Official language: French, Kirundi
In 1993 Burundi seemed poised to enter a new era when, in their first democratic elections, it was a major surprise when Burundians chose their first Hutu head of state, Melchior Ndadaye, and in addition voted for a parliament dominated by the party called Hutu Front for Democracy in Burundi (Frodebu).
Ndadaye was assassinated within months of the election which set the scene for years of Hutu-Tutsi violence in which an estimated 300,000 were killed. In 1994 parliament elected another Hutu, Cyprien Ntaryamira, as President. He died in April alongside the president of neighbouring Rwanda when the plane they were travelling in was shot down over Kigali. Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, was appointed President in October 1994 and within months, the Union for National Progress (Uprona) party withdrew from the government and parliament, sparking a new wave of violence. Following South African mediated long-running talks, a power-sharing government was set up in 2001 and most of the rebel groups agreed to a ceasefire. Four years later Burundians voted in the first parliamentary elections since the start of the civil war. The main Hutu former rebel group won the vote and nominated its leader Pierre Nkurunziza as president. The government and the United Nations embarked on the lengthy process of disarming thousands of soldiers and former rebels, as well as forming a new national army, but the authoritarian behaviour of the government following disputed elections in 2010 has cast a shadow over the reconciliation process.
To date Burundi is making progress both internationally and economically and the current government is shaping the country to enter the world stage as a Commonwealth partner.