What is the terrain and geography like in Burundi?
Located in east-central Africa and surrounded by Zaire, Rwanda, and Tanzania, the landlocked Republic of Burundi is a heart-shaped country of 10,747 square miles, about the size of the State of Maryland.
The Ruzizi River and Plain and Lake Tanganyika, part of the Western Great Rift Valley, form the border between Burundi and Zaire. Lake Tanganyika, 390 miles long, ranks second in the world in depth and volume and seventh in surface area.
East of the lake, sharply sculpted and intensely cultivated hills rise to the 9,000-foot Zaire-Nile watershed divide. East of the divide, the land slopes more gently between 6,000 and 3,500 feet down to the plateau and savannah lands of the Tanzania border.
Burundi is picturesque: traditional African mud and thatch houses are scattered among the steep hills, every square foot of which is cultivated with beans, peas, maize, bananas, rice, and cassava; men stand watch over lyre-horned cattle, and colorfully draped women dig in the fields or visit relatives carrying banana beer in handcrafted pottery set into baskets.
With the exception of Bujumbura, the capital, there is a notable lack of towns and villages. Farmsteads called "rugos" are scattered evenly throughout the countryside, where 90% of the population lives, engaged primarily in subsistence agriculture. The country is densely and homogeneously populated, though a few areas in southeastern Burundi and the river plain north of Bujumbura are less so due to malaria and poor soil.
Geography - note
Landlocked; straddles the crest of the Nile-Congo watershed; the Kagera, which drains into Lake Victoria, is the most remote headstream of the White Nile
Though less than 5°F south of the Equator, the entire country has a pleasant climate. equatorial; high plateau with considerable altitude variation (772 m to 2,670 m above sea level); the average annual temperature varies with altitude from 23 to 17 degrees centigrade but is generally moderate as the average altitude is about 1,700 m; average
Bujumbura, on the northeastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, averages 73°F. Daytime temperatures are in the mid to upper 80s: In the highlands, temperatures are cooler, in the 60s and 70s, arid at night, and occasional frost occurs.
The short rains occur from October to December, and the long rains from February to May. During the dry seasons, a haze obscures, otherwise spectacular views of the Mitumba mountains of Eastern Zaire, and the air becomes dusty. During the rainy season, the temperatures cool slightly. Rainfall is only occasionally torrential and comes in brief, intense showers, rather than steady downpours. More violent weather, including hailstorms, occurs chiefly in the highlands. Rainfall averages 30 inches in Bujumbura and 47 inches in the uplands.