Banyamulenge, sometimes called "Tutsi Congolese", is a term historically referring to the ethnic Tutsi concentrated on the High Plateau of South Kivu, in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, close to the Burundi-Congo-Rwanda border.
The Banyamulenge form a minority of the South Kivu population. Rival ethnic groups in the late 1990s claimed the Banyamulenge numbered no more than 35,000, while the Banyamulenge sympathizers claim up to ten times that number. The population of Banyamulenge in the early 21st century is estimated at between 50,000 and 70,000 by René Lemarchand or by Gérard Prunier at around 60,000–80,000, a figure about 3–4 percent of the total provincial population.
Lemarchand notes that the group represents "a rather unique case of ethnogenesis." The Banyamulenge of South Kivu are culturally and socially distinct from the Tutsis of North Kivu and the Tutsis who fled to South Kivu in the 1959–1962 Rwandan revolution. Most Banyamulenge speak Kinyarwanda, and those that do speak it with a dialect different from other Tutsi groups. The ambiguous political and social position of the Banyamulenge has been a point of contention in the province, leading to the Banyamulenge playing a key role in the run-up to the First Congo War in 1996–7 and Second Congo War of 1998–2003.