2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Peoples

Total population 5-9.5 million
Regions with significant populations Rwanda, Burundi, Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo
Language Kirundi, Kinyarwanda
Religion Catholicism, Protestantism, Sunni Islam, indigenous beliefs.
Related ethnic groups Tutsi, Twa

The Hutu are the largest of the three ethnic groups in Burundi and Rwanda; according to the United States Central Intelligence Agency, 84% of Rwandans and 85% of Burundians are Hutu, although other sources have found different statistics . The division between the Hutu and the Tutsi, the larger of the other two groups, is based more upon social class than ethnicity, as there are no significant lingual, physical, or cultural differences between them. (The Twa pygmies, the smallest of the three groups, also share language and culture with the Hutu and Tutsi, but are much shorter and have unquestionable genetic differences.)

The Hutu arrived in Africa's Great Lakes region during the 1000s, displacing the Twa pygmies, and ruled the area with a series of small kingdoms until the arrival of the Tutsi. Two theories exist to explain the Tutsi. One is that the Tutsi were a Hamitic people who migrated south from what is now Ethiopia, conquering the Hutu kingdoms and establishing dominance over the Hutu and Twa between the 1400's and the 1700's. However, an alternate theory, that the Hutu and Tutsi were originally one people, but were artificially divided by German and then Belgian colonists so the Tutsi minority could serve as local overseers for Berlin and Brussels, has received support, especially among those supporting Rwandan unity.

The Belgian-sponsored Tutsi monarchy survived until 1959, when Kigeli V was exiled from the colony (then called Ruanda-Urundi.) Radical Hutus, many belonging to the Rwandan political party Parmehutu (Party of the Hutu Emancipation Movement), gained power, and in 1962, when the area was divided into Rwanda and Burundi and both countries received their independence from Belgium, Hutus seized full control of Rwanda. Once in control, these Hutus then began to kill thousands of Tutsis. However, Tutsis remained in control of Burundi.

During the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, United Nations peacekeepers stepped back as Hutu extremists killed hundreds of thousands of Tutsis , as well as moderate Hutu politicians. Many Twa also died in the fighting.

As of 2006, violence between the Hutu and Tutsi has subsided, but the situation in both Rwanda and Burundi is still tense, and tens of thousands of Rwandans are still living outside the country.

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