About 93% of Burundians live in rural areas and the remainder in the two main urban centres of Bujumbura and Gitega. Hundreds of thousands of people still live in displaced persons camps, because their original homes were destroyed during the civil war.

 Tutsis and Hutus, regardless of their political conflicts, share similar values and lifestyles. The Twa have a more distinct culture within Burundi. Non-Africans in the Burundi population include Europeans, who are descendents of people who came to Burundi as missionaries or colonists, and Arabs and South Asians of Indian and Pakistani origin, descended from people who came to Burundi as traders.

The hilly nature of the country has impeded the formation of villages and reinforced close ties among members of a clan. Each clan inhabits a hill (people do not live or farm in valleys because of the tsetse flies). In general, each clan lives as an extended family in an enclosed compound called a rugo. Most houses do not have electricity or running water. The compound may contain pens for cattle and other animals. The clan's farmland is separate from the rugo and usually consists of several plots of land at different altitudes. This arrangement minimizes the likelihood of losses due to crop failure in one place.

 As head of the household, a man is expected to provide for his family and to make all major decisions. A wife is expected to respect and obey her husband. The mother of the family is responsible for caring for the children, the elderly and sick family members. Elders are treated with respect and deference.

  Did you know?
Hospitality was once very important in Burundi. In the past, when people went on a journey, they would stop when they were tired or when night fell at any home. They could be sure of a welcome and a night's lodging. Today, because of the civil war, people are afraid to trust strangers and even their neighbours.
Children are very important to Burundian families. A common Kirundi saying is Nta ndagukunda nka kwankira umwana ("You cannot say you like me, if you do not like my children.") Young boys are trained to follow their fathers as head of the family. Girls are taught household duties. Children are also security for their parents' old age and are taught that it is their duty to take care of elderly relatives.

 Young people are usually expected to obtain their parents' approval when choosing marriage partners. Sometimes parents arrange the marriage. When a young couple is to be married, custom demands that the groom's family pay an inkwano (bride-price), in the form of cattle, other property or money to the bride's family. The groom's family may also pay for the wedding. The marriage ceremony is usually held in church, followed by festivities at the bride's home. The newlywed couple usually moves into the rugo where the groom's parents live.