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Burundi History Timeline

1300 - 1500

  • (1300s) Hutu people settled in the region
  • (1400s) Tutsi settlers arrived, established themselves as feudal rulers
  • (1500s) Burundian Kingdom emerged
1600 - 1800
  • (1680 - 1709) Cambarantama was first king of Burundi
  • (1796 - 1840) Ntare IV Rutaganzwa Rugamba was king, doubled the size of the territory
  • (1858) British explorers, Richard Burton and John Speke, were first Europeans to visit Burundi
  • (1890) Kingdoms of Urundi (Burundi) and Ruanda (Rwanda) became part of German East Africa
  • (1901) Britain and Germany agreed on boundary between German East Africa, Rwanda and Burundi
  • (1905) Urundi suffered from severe famine
  • (1916) Belgian troops occupied the area during World War I
  • (1923) League of Nations mandated the territory of Ruanda-Urundi to Belgium
  • (1959) Tutsi refugees from Rwanda began arriving in Burundi following ethnic violence
  • (1959 - 1961) Prince Louis Rwagasore led drive for independence
  • (1961) UPRONA party won elections, Prince Louis became prime minister
  • (1961) Prince (Prime Minister) Louis was assassinated
  • (1962) Urundi and Ruanda were separated, Burundi became independent kingdom under King Mwambutsa IV
  • (1963) Thousands of Hutus fled to Rwanda following ethnic violence
  • (1963) Pierre Ngendandumwe became first Hutu prime minister
  • (1963) Prime Minister Ngendandumwe assassinated by Rwandan Tutsi refugee
  • (1965) Hutus won majority in parliamentary elections, King Mwambutsa refused to appoint Hutu prime minister
  • (1965) King appointed Tutsi friend as prime minister
  • (1965) Hutus attempted coup, king fled the country, army chief Michel Micombero suppressed coup
  • (1966) King Mwambutsa ousted by son, Ntare V
  • (1966) Army chief Michel Micombero staged coup, ousted king, declared himself president
  • (1972) Tutsi-controlled government killed over 100,000 Hutus in Burundi genocide; several hundred thousand fled to Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Rwanda, Tanzania
  • (1976) President Micombero deposed in bloodless coup d'etat, Jean-Baptiste Bagaza became president
  • (1976 - 1980) President Bagaza encouraged land reform, electoral reform, national reconciliation
  • (1981) New constitution promulgated, Burundi became one-party country
  • (1984) Bagaza elected head of state
  • (1987) President Bagaza deposed in coup led by Pierre Buyoya
  • (1987) Pierre Buyoya sworn in as president
  • (1987) President Buyoya dissolved opposition parties, suspended 1981 constitution, instituted his ruling Military Committee for National Salvation (CSMN)
  • (1988) Tensions between the ruling Tutsis and majority Hutus resulted in violent confrontations between the army, Hutu opposition, and Tutsi hardliners; over 150,000 people were killed, tens of thousands of refugees escaped to neighboring countries
  • (1992) New constitution approved which provided for a president, non-ethnic government, and parliament
  • (1993) Melchior Ndadaye became Burundi's first Hutu president after defeating Pierre Buyoya in country's first presidential election
  • (1993) President Ndadaye assassinated by Tutsi army extremists
  • (1993) Ethnic conflicts claimed over 300,000 lives
  • (1994) Cyprien Ntaryamira appointed president by Parliament
  • (1994) President Ntaryamira and Rwandan president killed in mysterious plane crash on return trip from Tanzania
  • (1994) Sylvestre Ntibantunganya appointed president
  • (1994) Seven Rwandan refugee camps created in Burundi, held over 250,000 people
  • (1995) Antoine Nduwayo became prime minister
  • (1996) Tutsi militants closed down Burundi capital in general strike, accused the president of backing massacres by Hutus
  • (1996) Military seized power, deposed Ntibantunganya, suspended constitution, named former president Pierre Buyoya as president
  • (1998) Buyoya and Parliament agreed on transitional constitution
  • (1998) Buyoya formally sworn in as president
  • (2000) Ceasefire accord signed by government and three Tutsi groups; two main Hutu groups refused
  • (2001) President Buyoya agreed to open ceasefire talks with leader of the main ethnic Hutu rebel, Forces for the Defense of Democracy, in attempt to end seven years of civil war
  • (2001) Burundian army regained control of capital city, Bujumbura, after two weeks of heavy fighting between army troops and Hutu rebels
  • (2001) President Buyoya survived coup attempt by Tutsi soldiers
  • (2001) Power-sharing accord agreed to by Hutu politicians and President Buyoya; terms called for President Buyoya to lead for 18 months, Hutu president for 18 months, elections to follow
  • (2002) Fighting between Tutsi army and Hutu rebels forced over 16,000 people to flee from their homes
  • (2002) President Buyoya and Pierre Nkurunziza, Hutu leader of Forces for the Defense of Democracy, agreed to cease-fire
  • (2002) Jean Minani, leader of main Hutu party Frodebu, elected president of transitional national assembly

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This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.