The Flag of Burundi: History, Meaning, and Symbolism

Burundi's flag
© Wasan Ritthawon/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kellianne Matthews

Published: December 13, 2022

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The flag of Burundi is a vibrant and symbolic representation of the East African nation’s history, culture, and values. Burundi’s flag is steeped in patriotism and pride, with a trio of colors that represent the country’s past, present, and future. This article explains the history, meaning, and symbolism behind this iconic flag. Keep reading to learn all about the flag of Burundi!

Where is Burundi?

Burundi

Burundi is a small country in Africa home to sprawling national parks and wetlands.

©Tudoran Andrei/Shutterstock.com

Burundi is a small landlocked country in east-central Africa. Rwanda borders the country to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. This lush tropical paradise is home to sprawling national parks and wetlands, with Lake Tanganyika its largest body of water. Although Burundi is small, it is surprisingly diverse with stunning natural scenery. From rolling hills to wild rainforests and savannas, Burundi offers an array of breathtaking landscapes for visitors and locals alike.

Burundi’s culture is a colorful tapestry influenced by tradition, local customs, and other East African societies. Art forms such as masks, statues, baskets, and pottery are common, with drumming being particularly popular. The Royal Drummers of Burundi are one of the nation’s most famed cultural groups. With its vibrant culture and rich heritage, this African nation truly has something special to offer.

History and Origin of Burundi’s Flag

The flag of Burundi has undergone numerous changes throughout the years. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the country was occupied by German colonists, who flew the East African Company flag as a symbol of power. After the Great War (World War I), Belgium took control of Burundi and replaced their nation’s previous flag with one featuring their own colors. However, this oppression soon came to an end when in 1961 Burundi finally achieved independence and adopted a new banner for themselves.

This new flag rose on July 1, 1962, when Burundi’s independence became official. It was used until 1966 when the monarchy was abolished. The flag featured a karyenda drum propped up majestically on top of a sorghum plant. The art of drumming is an important aspect of Burundi’s culture and history. The ancient karyenda drum is an iconic symbol representing royalty in Burundi. Only the mwami or ruler could translate the drum’s beatings into rules to govern the kingdom.

The Meaning and Symbolism of the Flag of Burundi

Burundi flag

Burundi’s flag is both beautiful and symbolic, with a stark white diagonal cross dividing two bright green triangles from two vivid red ones.

©Tatohra/Shutterstock.com

The current flag of Burundi, adopted in 1967 after the country’s independence from Belgium, stands as a visual representation of the nation’s strength and history. Its bold design is both beautiful and symbolic, with a stark white diagonal cross dividing two bright green triangles from two vivid red ones. While its visual appeal may be the first thing you notice, the colors of the flag are particularly meaningful for the country.

The three-colored flag of Burundi is a reminder of the nation’s tumultuous yet inspiring history. The red triangles represent the struggle and bloodshed during Burundi’s struggle for independence. The green triangles represent hope for the future and progress. The white diagonal cross and the white central circle on the flag symbolize peace.

At the center of the Burundi flag is a white circle and three prominent six-sided red stars with green outlines. These stars symbolize the country’s national motto of “Unity, Work, Progress”, an allusion to the importance and beauty of coming together despite differences. Moreover, these stars also pay tribute to their three main ethnic groups — the Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa peoples — who have called Burundi home for at least 500 years. Last but not least, the three stars also represent Burundi’s historic loyalty to God, king, and country.

The National Coat of Arms of the Republic of Burundi

The Republic of Burundi’s national coat of arms is another powerful representation of the country’s rich history and culture. This emblem features three African spears crossed behind a red and yellow shield. The shield features a large lion’s head in the middle (the Transvaal lion (Panthera leo melanochaita) is one of Burundi’s national animals). Beneath the shield is Burundi’s national motto, written in French on a white banner: “Unité, Travail, Progrès” (“Unity, Work, Progress”).

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About the Author

Kellianne Matthews is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on anthrozoology, conservation, human-animal relationships, and animal behavior. Kellianne has been writing and researching animals for over ten years and has decades of hands-on experience working with a variety of different animals. She holds a Master’s Degree from Brigham Young University, which she earned in 2017. A resident of Utah, Kellianne enjoys creating, exploring and learning new things, analyzing movies, caring for animals, and playing with her cats.

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