The Tutsi now make up closer to 20 percent of the population.There is a small population of three thousand Europeans and two thousand South Asians; most of these immigrants live in the capital, Bujumbura, and are involved in church-related activities. Both the Hutu and the Tutsi speak Kirundi, a Bantu language.The European conflict of the World War I spread to the African continent, and in 1916 Belgium sent 1,400 troops to Burundi.They wrested control of the land from the Germans with little opposition.Swahili, a mixture of Arabic and Bantu languages that is the language of trade and business in much of East Africa, also is spoken, mostly in the region of Lake Tanganyika and in the capital city. This is reflected in the language: a typical Kirundi greeting, Amashyo, translates as "May you have herds of cattle." The language is full of references in which cattle stand for health, happiness, and prosperity. The original inhabitants of present-day Burundi are thought to be the Twa people, descendants of the pygmies.The Hutu arrived from the west in a gradual migration between the seventh and the eleventh centuries.In 1923, Burundi and Rwanda were officially declared a Belgian mandate by the League of Nations. After the World War II, the mandate was superseded by a United Nations trusteeship.Throughout colonial times, internal strife continued to build.
In 1986, the government seized control of the seminaries, banned Catholic prayer meetings, and arrested and jailed several priests.
Through much of the country's history, the majority (around 85 percent) of the people have been Hutu.
The Tutsi, the largest minority, traditionally have accounted for about 14 percent of the population. The ethnic balance has begun to shift as Hutu from Burundi have fled to neighboring Rwanda to escape ethnic persecution and Tutsi have escaped violence in Rwanda and settled in Burundi.
The Tutsi began to appear in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, migrating from the Nile region in present-day Sudan and Ethiopia south and west in search of new cattle pastures.
The Tutsi are tall, martial people, and while they never accounted for more than their current 15 percent of the population, they established economic and political control of the region, effectively subduing the Twa and the Hutu majority.