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Hutu is the name given to one of the three ethnic groups occupying Burundi and Rwanda. The Hutu are the largest group by far. 90% of Rwandans and 85% of Burundians are Hutu. Culturally, it is something of a artificial division, based more on 'class' than ethnicity, since there are no significant language or cultural differences between the Hutu and the other ethnic groups in the area, notably the Tutsi. Historically, however, there were physical differences, principally in average height.

The Hutu arrived in the Great Lakes region around the 1st Century CE, displacing the Twa. The Hutu dominated the area with a series of small kingdoms until the 15th Century CE. At that time, it is believed that the Tutsi came into the area from Ethiopia and conquered the Hutu. The Tutsi monarchy survived until the end of the colonial era in the 1950s, the Belgian rulers using and codifying the ethnic division to support their rule. The Tutsi monarchy soon fell and the area was divided into Rwanda and Burundi in 1962. The Tutsi nonetheless remained dominant in Burundi, while the Hutu gained a degree of dominance in Rwanda.