Bujumbura, Burundi. Where?

I thought I should get a few short posts up to give some details on what exactly is going on with our family and this talk of moving to Bujumbura, Burundi to teach at Hope Africa University.  I’ll try to cover the why, what, and how later – but for now…

 the where

 DISCLAIMER: I don’t claim to know much at all this.  I am basically looking most of this stuff up (or making it up…you’ll have to decide) for myself as I go along. I don’t presume to have much understanding at all about what Burundi is really like, but thought that some basic info would be helpful.

East Africa —the part closer to the ear on the dog’s-head-turned-on-its-side, which we all know Africa looks like.


Yes, it has some neighbours who tend to make the news for the wrong reasons: directly to the north – Rwanda, to the west across Lake Tanganyika is the Democratic Republic of Congo, leaving Tanzania wrapping around the eastern and southern sides.

Sometimes referred to as ‘the heart of Africa’ – due to either/both the fact that it is in the middle of the continent, and is mildly shaped like a heart.

Burundi has an ethnic make up, and unfortunately a recent history, that is not unlike Rwanda. The civil war in Burundi lasted until about 2005, but lingered on with certain militia groups not laying down arms until about 4 years later.



The capital (and essentially only) city in Burundi sits on what looks like an ancient flood plain, nestled between Lake Tanganyika to the west and rolling lush-green hills to the east.  The stats I can find seem to say the city has a population of about or just under 1million people. According to the CIA and the UN population was 605,000 in 2011- but the population growth rate for the nation is high – estimated at 7th highest rate in the world at 3% – and the rate of urbanisation is also high at 4.5% – so it’s likely quite a bit higher than that already.



Bujumbura is less than 4° south of the equator, and about 770m above sea level.  It should be noted that our house here in the Alps, and our house in Edmonton on the Canadian prairies are both within about 70 m of Bujumbura.  So apparently we have some kind of elevational-sweet-spot for 3/4 of a km above sea level.


Due to the proximity to the equator the weather is what one would imagine. The average daily high ranges throughout the year from 28° to 31°, and the coldest temperature ever recorded is 11°. But, yeah – rain. Like the torrential rain that came just last week and caused all this damage and cost at least 60 lives.  November through April can have 100mm of rain and up per month.(all weather data taken from BBC)

Looking East over Lake Tanganyika Photo: NASA

Bujumbura has lush, green hills rising behind it to the east, as it sits on the eastern bank at the northern tip of Lake Tanganyika. Across the lake you can see the mountains of DR Congo, as the lake is only about 20km across. Lake Tanganyika is about one-third of the surface area of Lake Superior, but due to its depth has a greater total volume.  In fact, it’s second largest lake in the world by volume, and second deepest (Lake Bakail in Russia, if you were wondering).  However Tanganyika is the longest lake in the world at 676km end-to-end.

So there is some basic info on the where of Bujumbura, Burundi.


2 responses to “Bujumbura, Burundi. Where?”

  1. […] we put up a post with a bit about the where of Bujumbura, Burundi, and our plans to move there. Next we’ll talk about the why and the how..but for now, this […]

  2. […] where and the what posts that you may have already seen about our plans to move to Burundi were fairly […]

Feel free to comment….