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Burundi: Facts about poorest nation to win Olympic title

For starters, Burundi is a landlocked country in the Great Rift Valley where the African Great Lakes region and East Africa converge.

The interesting bit about the country is that the Twa, Hutu and Tutsi peoples have lived in Burundi for at least 500 years.

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Also, it is important to note that forr more than 200 years, Burundi was an independent kingdom, until the beginning of the 20th century, when Germany colonised the regio.

After the First World War, Germany ceded the territory to Belgium.

With that said and done, here are more interesting facts about the East African country.

Olympic title

In 1996, Burundi became the poorest nation to win an Olympic title.

Venuste Niyongabo won the 5,000 meters gold medal during the XXVI Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, to become the first Burundi national ever to win a gold medal at the Olympics.

He had only competed twice before in that event prior to winning the gold medal.

Man-eating crocodile

The East African country is home to an enormous crocodile known as Gustave which ia believed to be the biggest crocodile in the world.

The crocodile was named by Patrice Faye, a herpetologist who had been studying and investigating him since the late 1990s.

It is thought to have killed more than three hundred people from the banks of the Ruzizi River and the northern shores of Lake Tanganyika.


Burundians love cows not only for meat and milk but also because they quate to wealth traditionally.

The more cows you have, the better your social status.

Internet access

Most Burundians have no access to the internet with internet cafes limited to towns and cities only.

In January 2020, internet penetration in Burundi stood at 9.9% with the number of users increasing by 202,000 between 2019 and 2020.

On the other hand, social media penetration in the country stood at 4.5% in January 2020 an increase of 96,000 between April 2019 and January 2020.


Protein and fat intake in Burundi is very limited, making kwashiorkor a common disease.

The population rely largely on starchy cereals and tubers for their daily meal with their main staple food being maize.

Traditionally, the Hutu, comprising 80% of the population are not adept at keeping livestock and thus are more dependent on plant-based sources of food.


Beer is important especially in social interactions in most traditional African setups.

In Burundi, the traditional beer is drunk from one central pot by almost a dozen people using long straws.

Burundians love using straws for both traditional and modern beer.

Traditional beer is drunk from one central pot by almost a dozen people using long straws Photo: Courtesy

Death of a cow

When a cow dies in Burundi, its meat is eaten and horns planted in the soil near the house believing that it brings them good luck.

Its horns are considered sacred element.

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In some ways, the act acts as thanksgiving for the delicious meat provided by the departed cow, but more so as blessings for more cows to come.

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