While the direct distance from Burundi’s and Rwanda’s tripoints with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania is 171 km, the Burundi–Rwanda boundary follows sinuous rivers for much of its course and has a total length of 360 km. The boundary is based on the precolonial separation of the African kingdoms of Ruanda and Urundi and was first delimited in 1949 when Ruanda–Urundi was a Belgian mandate. A revised delimitation by the Belgian authorities in 1958 provides the basis for the modern boundary. Burundi and Rwanda have both suffered from multiple periods of ethnic violence and civil war since independence, and joint efforts to clarify the alignment of the boundary on the ground have been sporadic. There is at least one official dispute between the two States over Sabanerwa Hill along the Akanyaru River, which dramatically changed course during the 1960s. Many of the boundary rivers have seen similar avulsion events, which has increased the difficulty for the governments of Burundi and Rwanda to develop a mutually-acceptable redefinition of the boundary on the ground today.

Map showing the land boundary between Burundi and Rwanda


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