Burundi is a small country in East Africa bordered by Tanzania, Rwanda, and Lake Tanganyika. Burundi gained its independence from Belgium in 1962. Much of its history has been turbulent, and Burundi's first democratically elected president was assassinated in October 1993 after only 100 days in office. The internationally brokered Arusha Agreement ended the 1993-2005 civil war, paving the way for a new constitution and 2005 elections. Pierre NKURUNZIZA was elected president in 2005 and 2010 and again in a controversial election in 2015. Burundi continues to face many political and economic challenges.
Burundi is a landlocked, resource-poor country with an underdeveloped manufacturing sector. Agriculture accounts for over 40% of GDP and employs more than 90% of the population. Burundi's primary exports are coffee and tea, which account for more than 60% of foreign exchange earnings. Thus, Burundi's export earnings - and its ability to pay for imports - rest primarily on favorable weather conditions and international coffee and tea prices, although exports are a relatively small share of GDP. Burundi is heavily dependent on aid from bilateral and multilateral donors. Foreign aid represented 48% of Burundi's national income in 2015, one of the highest percentages in Sub-Saharan Africa, but decreased to 33.5% in 2016. Burundi joined the East African Community (EAC) in 2009.The 1993-2005 civil war resulted in more than 200,000 deaths, forced more than 48,000 refugees into Tanzania, and displaced 140,000 others internally. Political stability, aid flows, and economic activity improved following the war’s end, but underlying weaknesses – low governmental capacity, a high poverty rate, poor educational levels, a weak legal system, a poor transportation network, and overburdened utilities – have prevented the implementation of planned economic reforms. Government corruption has also hindered the development of a private sector. The purchasing power of most Burundians has decreased as wage increases have not kept pace with inflation.In 2015, Burundi’s economy suffered from political turmoil, including street protests and an attempted coup, following President NKURUNZIZA’s controversial announcement that he would run for a third term. Insecurity and refugee flows to neighboring countries slowed down economic activity and donors withdrew aid, increasing Burundi’s budget deficit and decreasing hard currency reserves. Real GDP growth dropped precipitously and has yet to recover to pre-conflict levels.