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now the nations of Rwanda and Burundi

map of Ruanda-Urundi

Batwa pygmies were the earliest inhabitants of what became Ruanda-Urundi, but they were forced into the forests by the Bahutu, a Bantu people from the Congo Basin. The Bahutu were in turn conquered by Watusi from Ethiopia.

British explorers Richard F. Burton and John H. Speke searched in the area for the source of the Nile River in 1858, and Henry M. Stanley and David Livingstone explored the Lake Tanganyika region in 1871.

Germany made Ruanda-Urundi part of German East Africa in 1899. The League of Nations gave Belgium a mandate over the territory in 1923, and the United Nations made it a Belgian trusteeship in 1946. At that time, Ruanda-Urundi covered 20,916 square miles (54,172 square kilometers) and had a population of about 4,900,000. Its capital was at Usumbura, on Lake Tanganyika.

In UN-supervised elections in 1961, Ruanda declared itself a republic and Urundi established a monarchy. On July 1, 1962, the election results took effect and Ruanda became independent as Rwanda, and Urundi as Burundi.

Women listen to pre-election speeches in Ruanda-Urundi before exercising their newly won right to vote.
pre-election speeches in Ruanda-Urundi

See Also

John H. Speke
David Livingstone
Lake Tanganyika

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The Robinson Library >> Central Sub-Saharan Africa

This page was last updated on 09/20/2018.