Republic of S central Africa, on the NE shore of Lake Tanganyika, with its capital at Bujumbura. By the 17th century the area was inhabited by the Hima people, who pursued policies of expansion into neighboring regions throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1890 Burundi became part of German East Africa but was awarded to Belgium as Ruand a-Urundi after World War I. Burundi became independent in 1962 and became a republic in 1966. Melchior Ndadaye, a Hutu, won the nation’s first democratic presidential election in 1991. Ndadaye was assassinated in an attempted coup in 1993, sparking “la crise” or “crisis.” La crise is an ethnic civil war between Hutu and Tutsi that has claimed nearly 200,000 lives in fighting between Hutu militias and the Tutsi-dominated military. At least 500,000 Burundians, mainly Hutus, who fled the fighting are still living in refugee camps in neighboring Tanzania and the Congo.