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Burkina Faso

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A landlocked country in West Africa surrounded by Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Côte d'Ivoire.


Burkina Faso lies on a plateau, rising highest in the west and cut in the centre by the north–south route of the Volta River. The soils are mostly coarse and sandy, based on hard rock; the climate is hot and arid, and the natural vegetation except in the river valleys is thornscrub and thin savannah.


Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world, heavily dependent on western aid. The economy is mainly agricultural and vulnerable to drought, with most of the population engaged in subsistence agriculture. The major exports are cotton and gold. There is some industry, mostly state-owned, with largely unexploited mineral deposits of gold, manganese, and zinc. Many Burkinabé seek employment abroad.


Before French colonization in the 19th century the region was ruled by a number of Mossi states. It was a French protectorate from 1898, originally as part of French Sudan (now Mali) and later as Haute Volta (Upper Volta). It became an autonomous republic within the French Community in 1958 and independent in 1960. Following a military coup in 1970, a new constitution was adopted in 1977. A series of military governments followed, including those of Captain Thomas Sankara, who was assassinated in 1987, and Blaise Compaore. The latter ended military rule in June 1991 and held multiparty elections. Compaore's Popular Front won these, and he became President. However, the opposition parties had withdrawn their candidates and there was a widespread boycott of the elections because of alleged corruption. Legislative elections, held in 1992, were won by Compaore's supporters. Compaore and his party (now called the Congress for Democracy and Progress Party) have held power since then, with the opposition continuing to boycott elections until 2002.

Source: MAPS IN MINUTES™ © RH Publications (1997)




274,200 sq km (105,869 sq miles)


13,492,000 (2005)


1 CFA franc = 100 centimes


Muslim 48.6%; traditional beliefs 34.1%; Roman Catholic 9.5%

Ethnic Groups:

Mossi 47.9%; Mande 8.8%; Fulani 8.3%; Lobi 6.9%; Bobo 6.8%; Senufo 6.0%; Grunshi 5.0%; Bunasi 5.0%; Gurma 4.5%


French (official); Mossi; Dyula; Fulani; Lobi; local languages

International Organizations:

UN; AU; Non-Aligned Movement; Franc Zone; ECOWAS; WTO

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