Official name: Republic of Burundi
Area: 27,830 square kilometers (10,745 square miles)
Highest point on mainland: Mount Heha (2,670 meters/8,760 feet)
Lowest point on land: Lake Tanganyika (772 meters/2,533 feet)
Hemispheres: Southern and Eastern
Time zone: 2 P.M. = noon GMT
Longest distances: 263 kilometers (163 miles) from north-northeast to south-southwest; 194 kilometers (121 miles) from east-southeast to west-northwest
Land boundaries: 974 kilometers (605 miles) total boundary length; Rwanda, 290 kilometers (180 miles); Tanzania, 451 kilometers (280 miles); Democratic Republic of the Congo, 233 kilometers(145 miles)
Territorial sea limits: None
Burundi is a small, densely populated, land-locked country (does not have access to the sea) in east-central Africa, bounded by Rwanda, Tanzania, and Lake Tanganyika. It is slightly larger than the state of Maryland.
Burundi claims no territories or dependencies.
Although Burundi lies within fifty degrees of the equator, its high elevations keep temperatures at a comfortable level. Humidity, however, is high. The average annual temperature in the western plains (including the capital city of Bujumbura) is 23°C (73°F). Temperatures average 20°C (68°F) in the plateau region and 16°C (60°F) in the mountains.
Dry seasons occur from June to August and December to January, and rainy seasons from February to May and September to November.
|S EASON||M ONTHS|
|Long dry season (winter)||June to August|
|Short wet season (spring)||September to November|
|Short dry season (summer)||December to January|
|Long wet season (fall)||February to May|
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.
Burundi shares Lake Tanganyika with Tanzania, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its shores form Burundi's southeastern border, extending for over 161 kilometers (100 miles). Burundi also has a number of smaller lakes located entirely within its borders, of which Lake Rweru in the north is among the largest.
West of the mountains that form the Congo-Nile divide, runoff waters drain down Burundi's narrow western plains into the Rusizi River and Lake Tanganyika. This area is known as the western watershed (area where all the rainfall drains into a common river or lake system). The major rivers of the central plateaus include the Ruvironza (or Luvironza) and the Ruvubu; the latter is an extension of the White Nile River. In the east, the two principal rivers on the border with Tanzania are the Rumpungu and the Malagarasi, which forms most of Burundi's southern border.
There are no desert areas in Burundi.
Above the flat western plains that border the Rusizi River and Lake Tanganyika, a belt of foothills and steeper slopes forms the western face of the Congo-Nile divide. This region includes valleys and farmland. At the west-ernmost edge of the country, the narrow Imbo plain extends south along the Rusizi River from the Rwanda border through Bujumbura. It then continues southward for another 48 kilometers (30 miles) along the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. This plain, which belongs to the western branch of the Great Rift Valley, is entirely below 1,066 meters (3,500 feet) in elevation. On Burundi's southeastern border, the Mosso plains lie along the Malagarasi, Rumpungu, and Rugusi Rivers.
Most of Burundi's terrain (land surface) is a treeless plain, called savannah, covered with grasses. Burundi once had areas of forest, but most of the country's trees have been cut down.
Burundi's mountains, located in the western part of the country, form part of the divide between the basins of the Nile and Congo Rivers. They extend the entire length of the country from north to south, forming a series of long, narrow ridges that are generally less than 16 kilometers (10 miles) wide, with an average elevation of about 2,438 meters (8,000 feet).
There are no significant caves or canyons in Burundi.
East of the rugged Congo-Nile divide lies a large central plateau with an average elevation of 1,525 to 2,000 meters (5,000 to 6,500 feet). This pleasant highland, inhabited by farmers and cattle herders, is heavily farmed and grazed.
Burundi, with help from international experts, is developing factories and methods for converting its natural peat (partially decomposed water plants) into fuel, since there is a shortage of wood to burn for cooking and heating.
Forster, Peter G., Michael Hitchcock, and Francis F. Lyimo. Race and Ethnicity in East Africa. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000.
Nyankanzi, Edward L. Genocide: Rwanda and Burundi . Rochester, VT.: Schenkman Books, 1998.
Weinstein, Warren. Historical Dictionary of Burundi . Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1976.
University of Pennsylvania Web site. http://www.sas.upenn.edu/African_Studies/NEH/br-geog.html (accessed February 10, 2003).
World Atlas Website. http://www.worldatlas.com/atlas/africa/maps/burundi.htm (accessed June 13, 2003).