Burundi, one of the world's poorest nations, is emerging from a 12-year, ethnic-based civil war. Since independence in 1961, it has been plagued by tension between the dominant Tutsi minority and the Hutu majority.
The ethnic violence sparked off in 1994 made Burundi the scene of one of Africa's most intractable conflicts. It is now beginning to reap the dividends of a peace process. But it faces the formidable tasks of reviving a shattered economy and of forging national unity.
Burundi Tourist Attractions
In 1993 Burundi seemed poised to enter a new era when, in their first democratic elections, Burundians chose their first Hutu head of state, Melchior Ndadaye, and a parliament dominated by the Hutu Front for Democracy in Burundi (Frodebu) party. Alaskan Seascapes
But within months Ndadaye had been assassinated, setting the scene for years of Hutu-Tutsi violence in which an estimated 300,000 people, most of them civilians, were killed.
In early 1994 parliament elected another Hutu, Cyprien Ntaryamira, as president. But he was killed in April alongside the Burundi travel president of neighbouring Rwanda when the plane they were travelling in was shot down over Kigali.
Another Hutu, Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, was appointed president in October 1994. But within months, the mainly Tutsi Union for National Progress (Uprona) party withdrew from the government and parliament, sparking a new wave of ethnic violence.
Following long-running talks, mediated by South Africa, a power-sharing government was set up in 2001 and most of the rebel groups agreed to a ceasefire.
Four years later Burundians voted in the first Burundi tourism parliamentary elections since the start of the civil war. The main Hutu former rebel group won the vote and nominated its leader Pierre Nkurunziza as president.
Meanwhile, the government and the United Nations have begun the lengthy process of disarming thousands of soldiers and former rebels, as well as forming a new national army.
Full name: Republic of Burundi
Population: 8.5 million (UN, 2007)
Area: 27,816 sq km (10,740 sq miles)
Major languages: Kirundi (official), French (official), Swahili
Major religions: Christianity, indigenous beliefs
Life expectancy: 48 years (men), 51 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Burundi franc = 100 centimes
Main exports: coffee, tea, sugar, cotton, hides
GNI per capita: US $100 (World Bank, 2006)
Internet domain: .bi
International dialling code: +257