Country Profile

Country Profile - Burkina Faso

Country Profile Of Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso

President:  Michel Kafando

Prime Minister:  Lt. Col. Isaac Zida

Land area:  274 200 kilometers squared

Capital:  Ouagadougou

Land area:  CFA Franc

Population:  18 365 123; growth-rate: 3.05%; birth-rate: 42.42/1000; life expectancy: 54.78   

Monetary unit:  CFA Franc

Languages:  French (official), Native Africa (sudanic)

Ethnicity:  Mossi, Gurunsi, Senufo, Lobi, Bobo, Mande, Fulani.

Literacy rate:  28.7%

Economic summary:  GDP/PPP: $26.51 billion; real growth: 6.5%; Inflation: 2.1%; unemployment: 77%; exports: $ 2.844 billion; imports: $ 2.941 billion.

Agriculture:  Cotton, peanuts, shea nuts, sesame, sorghum, corn and rice.


Burkina Faso, formerly known as Upper Volta, is a landlocked country in West Africa. Its neighbors are Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, and Ghana. The country consists of extensive plains, low hills, high savannas, and a desert area in the north.




A former French colony, it gained independence as Upper Volta in 1960. Since independence, the military has on several occasions intervened during times of crisis. In 1983 Capt. Thomas Sankara seized power and adopted radical left-wing policies. He renamed the country Burkina Faso, which translates as "land of honest men".

Burkina Faso was originally inhabited by the Bobo, Lobi, and Gurunsi people, with the Mossi and Gurma peoples immigrating to the region in the 14th century. The lands of the Mossi Empire became a French protectorate in 1897, and by 1903 France had subjugated the other ethnic groups.

President Maurice Yameogo was deposed on Jan. 3, 1966, by a military coup led by Col. Sangoulé Lamizana, who dissolved the national assembly and suspended the constitution. Constitutional rule returned in 1978 with the election of an assembly and a presidential vote in June in which Gen. Lamizana won by a narrow margin over three other candidates.

On Nov. 25, 1980, Col. Sayé Zerbo led a bloodless coup that toppled Lamizana. In turn, Maj. Jean-Baptist Ouedraogo ousted Zerbo on Nov. 7, 1982. But the real revolutionary change occurred the following year when a 33-year-old flight commander, Thomas Sankara, took control. A Marxist-Leninist, he challenged the traditional Mossi chiefs, advocated women's liberation, and allied the country with North Korea, Libya, and Cuba. To sever ties to the colonial past, Sankara changed the name of the country in 1984 to Burkina Faso, which combines two of the nation's languages and means “the land of upright men.”

While Sankara's investments in schools, food production, and clinics brought some improvement in living standards, foreign investment declined, many businesses left the country, and unhappy labor unions began strikes. On Oct. 15, 1987, formerly loyal soldiers assassinated Sankara. His best friend and ally Blaise Compaoré became president. Compaoré immediately set about “rectifying” Sankara's revolution. In 1991, he agreed to economic reforms proposed by the World Bank. A new constitution paved the way for elections in 1991, which Compaoré won easily, although opposition parties boycotted. In 1998, he was reelected by a landslide. A coup against the president was foiled in 2003, and he was reelected a third time in 2005.

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest nations in the world, with few natural resources; the great majority of its workers engage in subsistence farming. Less than 10% of the country's land area is cultivable without irrigation, and droughts have further limited agricultural production; however, several dams intended for irrigation and hydroelectricity, including the Ziga dam on the Nakambe River, which supplies the capital, was constructed in the 1990s.

Tourism has increased rapidly in Burkina Faso and the government has focused attention on expanding transportation infrastructure to facilitate future growth.[1]According to the Government tourism 433,778 tourists visited the country in 2011.


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