Translation and Localization for Africa: Republic of Burundi

December 12, 2016

The landlocked Republic of Burundi is a small country located on the eastern side of Africa. The country struggled with violent unrest between Hutu and Tutsi factions in the 1990s and early 2000s however, the country elected a Hutu president and has been relatively politically stable over the past 11 years.


The website, If It Were My Home, provides an interesting perspective comparing basic living standards of a person in the United States to a person living in Burundi (similar country comparisons are also provided on the site).


gpi-burundi-mapAccording to the site, if Burundi was your home instead of the United States you would:


Each item may be clicked to see more detailed information.

Burundian Demographics


  • Burundi has a population of approximately 11 million people.
  • The median age is a shocking 17 years old. Much of the 'older' population is lost to diseases, such as AIDS.
  • 65% of the population are under the age of 24. Less than 7% are older than 55.
  • Interestingly, the country has a literacy rate of 85%. This is an impressive rate for a country with the health and employment issues they face.
  • 80-90% of the population are Christians (Roman Catholics 60-65%, Protestants and Anglican practitioners 15-25%), 5% practice traditional indigenous religious beliefs and 2-5% are Muslim (Sunnis living in urban areas).


Burundian Languages


  • Kirundi, otherwise known as 'Rundi', is the primary language in the country, spoken by over 10 million people.
  • French and Swahili are also used, but by a much smaller percentage of the population. French has around 200,000 speakers and Swahili has even less, but is prevalent among the Muslim population in the cities.

Burundian Culture


  • The Hutu population represents about 84% of the population and the Tutsi represent about 14%.
  • It is common in rural areas to find women and elderly men wearing a pagne. This is a wraparound cloth and is traditional Burundi clothing. Today it is often worn over other modern clothing.
  • It is customary that if you are invited by someone for drinks, such as a beer, you will not pay for any of the drinks. Likewise, if you ask someone to join you for drinks you are to pay for all rounds.
  • It is appropriate when meeting someone to use your right hand for a handshake. Friends of the same gender may also hold hands and/or touch each other's faces three times.


Burundian Consumers


  • In 2015, Burundi had an inflation rate of 5.6%. But three years earlier in 2012, the rate was 18%. Over the last few decades it has been above 20%, but currently it is in the single digits.
  • The country is resource poor. Agriculture accounts for 54% of the country's GNP. 70% of the workforce is in this industry. As such, the average consumer has very little income.
  • Burundi has 450,000 Facebook subscribers and 526,000 internet users, as of June 2016. Approximately 4% of the population have internet access.
  • Currently, the country has virtually no ecommerce business to report.

Burundi's Future


The Republic of Burundi will need to fix social issues, such as the exploitation of its children and women, to move forward as a nation, attract foreign investment, improve job prospects and raise the overall economy. If they do this, advanced technology and modern healthcare will be more accessible to their citizens. The government has much to address, but it is not clear they are yet on a path to do so.

Translation and Localization Resources

You may gain further insight into global e-business, global SEO and website translation and country specific cultural facts and related topics by reviewing some previous blogs written by GPI:



Please feel free to contact GPI at with any questions about our translation services. Also let us know if you have any interesting blog topics you would like us to cover in future blogs. You may also request a complimentary Translation Quote for your projects as well.



Culture Curation
Africa, Burundi, African languages, African countries, doing business in Africa, doing business in Burundi

Word vs. Publisher: Which is better for DTP?Translation: Time, Scope and Cost


Currently, there are no comments. Be the first to post one!

Contact Us FREE Globalization eBooks Request Demo Request Quote

Peter has over 20 years’ experience in business development within the localization industry supporting clients for documentation, software and website globalization services. He started his career in the translation industry in 1995 and over the years has worked for several leading localization service providers including LMI, Berlitz, Welocalize, GPI and Beyondsoft. Throughout his career Peter has led by example and always put his clients’ needs first to ensure client expectations are understood and successfully met. Over the years Peter has trained extensively in Solution Selling, Action Selling and Localization Sales, Testing and Project Management. Peter handles many of GPI’s global accounts helping educate clients on GPI’s comprehensive suite of globalization services and industry best practices.