The Republic of Burundi (République du Burundi in French, or Republika y’Uburundi in Kirundi) is a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes region of East Africa, bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. It had been part of the colony of Ruanda-Urundi, two African kingdoms which had been ruled by German East Africa until it was captured by Belgium in 1916. In 1962, they became separately independent as Rwanda and Burundi. Burundi’s capital is Bujumbura. The southwestern border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika.
The Twa, Hutu and Tutsi peoples have lived in Burundi for at least 500 years. For more than 200 of those years, Burundi was an independent kingdom. Germany established armed forces in Ruanda and Burundi at the end of the nineteenth century, colonizing the area and establishing German East Africa. The location of the present-day city of Gitega was chosen as the site of the capital. After being defeated in World War I, Germany was forced to cede “control” of a section of the former German East Africa to Belgium.
On October 20, 1924, this land, which consisted of modern-day Rwanda and Burundi, became a Belgian League of Nations mandate territory. In practical terms it was considered part of the Belgian colonial empire, and was known as Ruanda-Urundi. Ruanda-Urundi continued its kingship dynasty despite the invasion of Europeans. The European intervention exacerbated social differences between the Tutsi and Hutu, and contributed to political unrest in the region.
Following World War II, Ruanda-Urundi was classified as a United Nations Trust Territory under Belgian administrative authority. During the 1940s, a series of policies caused divisions throughout the country. On October 4, 1943, powers were split in the legislative division of Burundi’s government between chiefdoms and lower chiefdoms. Chiefdoms were in charge of land, and lower sub-chiefdoms were established. Native authorities also had powers. In 1948, Belgium allowed the region to form political parties. These factions contributed to gaining Burundi’s independence from Belgium.
When Burundi gained independence on July 1, 1962, it initially had a monarchy but a series of assassinations, coups, and a general climate of regional instability culminated in the establishment of a republic and one-party state in 1966. Bouts of ethnic cleansing and ultimately two civil wars and genocides during the 1970s and again in the 1990s left the country undeveloped and its population as one of the world’s poorest. During 2015, there was large-scale political strife as President Pierre Nkurunziza opted to run for a third term in office, a coup attempt failed and the country’s parliamentary and presidential elections were broadly criticized by members of the international community.
In addition to poverty, Burundians often have to deal with corruption, weak infrastructure, poor access to health and education services, and hunger. Burundi is densely populated and has had substantial emigration as young people seek opportunities elsewhere. The World Happiness Report 2016 Update ranked Burundi as the world’s least happy nation.
For the first stamp issue after independence, Burundi overprinted stamps of Ruanda-Urundi with ROYAUME DU BURUNDI. Subsequent stamps were inscribed Royaume du Burundi until 1966, following political turmoil, Burundi became a republic and the stamps were then marked République du Burundi. From 1964, on Burundi has issued stamps almost exclusively for the thematic collector market.
Scott #360c was issued on March 19, 1971, as part of a large set of 24 stamps (six common denominations each in strips of four), depicting various African animals. A matching number of airmail stamps were released at the same time. The 11 franc stamp features a pair of ostriches (Struthio camelus), printed by photogravure and perforated 13. This large, flightless bird is native to Africa and shares the order Struthioniformes with the kiwis, emus, rheas, and cassowaries. It is distinctive in its appearance, with a long neck and legs, and can run at up to about 43 miles per hour (70 km/h), the fastest land speed of any bird. The ostrich is the largest living species of bird and lays the largest eggs of any living bird (extinct elephant birds of Madagascar and the giant moa of New Zealand laid larger eggs).
The ostrich’s diet consists mainly of plant matter, though it also eats invertebrates. It lives in nomadic groups of 5 to 50 birds. When threatened, the ostrich will either hide itself by lying flat against the ground, or run away. If cornered, it can attack with a kick of its powerful legs. Mating patterns differ by geographical region, but territorial males fight for a harem of two to seven females. The ostrich is farmed around the world, particularly for its feathers, which are decorative and are also used as feather dusters. Its skin is used for leather products and its meat is marketed commercially, with its leanness a common marketing point.