Burundian drummers
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Burundian drummers

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Burundi Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

27,816 sq km (10,740 sq miles).

Population

8.7 million (2012).

Population density

312.8 per sq km.

Capital

Bujumbura.

Government

Republic. Gained independence from Belgium in 1962.

Head of state

President Pierre Nkurunziza since 2005.

Head of government

President Pierre Nkurunziza since 2005.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style plugs with two rounded pins are usually used.

Burundi is a country of wonderful landscapes, from mountaintops to forests, huge lakes to tropical plateau. Yet this topographical patchwork mirrors Burundi's cultural patchwork, one which has interwoven both Hutu and Tutsi tribal strands, often with violent consequences.

Burundi's situation is improving. President Nkurunziza, democratically elected in 2005, is engaged in peace talks and has announced applauded measures, such as that of introducing free education. However, there is still a danger of indiscriminate attacks from rebel groups in Burundi. Until these incidents are fully quashed, many will miss out on seeing the beauty of Burundi for themselves.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 26 March 2015

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.


Crime

There’s a high risk of crime. Muggings at gun and knife point, bag snatching, pick-pocketing, burglary, car break-ins, and armed car hijackings have all been reported. Avoid walking in the streets or using public transport after dark, even in Bujumbura city centre, and don’t carry large amounts of money. Take care when withdrawing or exchanging cash, and avoid doing so at night.

Arrange guards for homes and stay at hotels that have good security. Safeguard valuables and cash. Use hotel safes, where possible. Keep copies of important documents, including your passport and visa, separately. Be wary of who you plan to meet and where, and inform colleagues or family members of your plans.

Local travel

The security situation across Burundi stabilised when the last remaining rebel group was officially disarmed in 2009. However, Burundi is still volatile, particularly in the run-up to the 2015 elections.

There have been incursions and clashes between armed groups, including an armed attack on civilian vehicles. The threat of ambush by bandits remains high. If you’re travelling in rural areas check the latest security situation with the UN office in Burundi (tel: + 257 22205598) and make contact with your destination before you leave.

Road travel

You can drive in Burundi on a full UK driving licence for the first 6 months after you arrive. You’ll then need to get a Burundi driving licence. There are only a small number of asphalt roads and these are sometimes in poor condition. Driving standards are poor and there are frequent serious accidents. Main roads can become blocked by landslides, particularly after heavy rain. Keep car doors locked and windows closed when driving.
Access in to and out of Bujumbura city is controlled by police at night.

Road blocks and document checks are common, and not always official. Carry a copy of your passport and visa, but you may be required to produce the originals.

Avoid travelling on collective and public transport (buses and motorbike taxis), due to poor vehicle maintenance and low driving standards.

Air travel

A number of carriers fly in and out of Burundi including: Rwandair, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenyan Airways, South African Airways, Fly Dubai and Brussels Airlines.

The EU has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the EU.

Political situation

A series of elections (local, parliamentary and presidential) is scheduled to take place between April and September 2015. The campaigning periods, polling days and the days on which the results are announced are likely to be marked by increased political tension. Please see the National Electoral Commission website for precise dates. Political demonstrations and protests may become more frequent and violent. The police have used live ammunition and tear gas against demonstrators in the past. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings.

Consular assistance

There is no British Embassy in Bujumbura. Burundi is covered by the British High Commission in Kigali, Rwanda. However, the British Embassy Liaison Office (telephone: +257 22 24 64 78 or + 257 22 25 03 66; address: Building Old East, Place de L’Independence, Bujumbura), can provide limited advice and assistance. The Belgian Embassy in Burundi is able to provide consular assistance to British nationals. All visitors or long term residents should register with the Belgian Embassy: Boulevard de la Liberté, 9, Bujumbura; telephone: + 257 22 22 32 66 or + 257 22 22 61 76; email: Bujumbura@diplobel.org.

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