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Burkina Faso

Description of Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is also called Burkina. The country is surrounded by 6 other countries as it is completely landlocked. Burkina Faso was previously called Republic of Upper Volta. It was renamed by Thomas Sankara, who was the president at the time, in 1984. He used a word from each of the major languages of the country. The name Burkina Faso is translated to mean the land of honest people. The official language of the country is French.

History 

From 14,000 to 5000 BC, the northwestern part of the country was populated by hunters and gatherers. In 1973, the tools from this group of people were found by an archeological excavation. Findings include chisels, arrowheads, and scrapers. This excavation was used as the basis for knowledge about the ancient people who were indigenous to this area. Between 3600 to 2600 BC agricultural settlements were created. From 1500 through 1000 BC the people started to use ceramics, polished stone, and iron. It was during this time that religion was developed as ritual burial remains have been found. 

The north and northwest regions were occupied by the Dogon. They lived here until the 15th or 16th century. They left the area and moved to the Bandiagara cliffs. In the southwestern part of the country there are ruins of high walls that were built by an unknown culture. There is a pre-European stone ruin called Lorpeni that has been linked to the gold trade in the area. Through more excavations and studies there has been a lot learned about this area. In 2009, UNESCO declared this area as a World Heritage site. This is the first one in the country. 

During the late part of the 19th century, Europeans attempted to colonize the area. At this time most of the people in the Mossi Kingdoms were residing in villages that were developed based on the clans and the extended relations among bands of tribes. The groups cultivated several types of food in order to support themselves and relied on hunting and fishing. They also used goats as domesticated animals. Similar to many of the west African countries, after 100s of years trading with the Europeans, that included imported products from the Americas, there were certain new foods introduced in the cuisine.  The groups used tools, cloth, and other items from the Europeans as well. 

During the end of the19th century, after nearly 10 years of rivalry from France and Great Britain, the Mossi kingdom was defeated by colonial forces from the French. The area became a French protectorate in 1896. There were standoffs against Samori Ture that occurred in the east and the west, which complicated the country’s situation. These areas were occupied by the French in 1897. The majority of the area was mostly conquered by 1898. 

In 1898, the British and French convention ended the scramble between the two powers and the borders for each of the colonies was drawn. 

In 1958, the Republic of Upper Volta was created as a self-governing colony located within the French colony. The name came from the location of the nation along the Volta river. Before becoming autonomous it was a part of the French Union. In 1960, full independence from France was gained.

A constitution was created in 1960 and Maurice Yameogo was elected as the first president. The constitution provided the president and the members of the national assembly with 5 year terms. This government lasted until 1966. 

Burkina Faso is currently ruled by Compaore. Blaise Compaore led a team that assassinated the previous leader of the country. He claimed that Sankara was responsible for the degrading foreign relations with France as the reason for  his assassination. 

Currently, Compaore has been in charge for 23 years as of 2010. He overturned almost all of the policies that were made by Sankara and has put the country back under control by the IMF. In the elections of 2010, only 1.6 million people in the country voted and he won the presidency again. The population of the country is much higher. The administration has worked hard to decentralize power by providing some of the powers to the municipal authorities in the regions. However, there is an extreme amount of distrust for politicians combined with a lack of political involvement from most residents. This has complicated the process. 

During his time in power, Compaore has become extremely wealthy, while the country has remained one of the least developed in the entire world. 

About Burkina Faso 

Burkina Faso is one of the friendliest and one of the safest places to visit in Africa. There are not many people who visit the country each year, but offers a great destination for anyone that is interested in touring a great west African country and learning more about the music and culture of the area. As of the spring of 2014, incoming tourism is blocked because of epidemics that have occurred in the area as well as an increased amount of crime that has been happening in the northern part of the country. 

There are roughly 17 million people who call Burkina Faso home. These citizens are made up of 2 major cultural groups from West Africa, the Mande and the Voltaic. The Voltaic Mossi are about a half of the entire population. This group claims they descended from warriors that migrated into the country from Ghana and created an empire that lasted in the area for over 800 years. Most of the Voltaic are farmers. 

There are more than 60 ethnic groups as well as that many languages found in the country. There are several primary ethnic regions: 

  • Senoufo: located in the southwest along the borders of Cote d’lvoire and Mali
  • Bobo/Diouli: in the west, with its center around the Bobo-Dioulasso area
  • Lobi: in the southwestern area of the country along the Cote d’lvoire and Ghana borders.
  • Gourounsi: southern part of the country
  • Mossi: in the central plateau area
  • Gourmantche: in the east
  • Peul/Fulani: in the far north, south of Toureg
  • Touareg: in the extreme north 

The country is a secular state that is ethnically integrated. Most of the people live in the center and the southern part of the country. There are several hundred thousand farmers that will migrate south each year into Ghana and Cote d’lvoire. External events affect these workers. The civil war taking place in Cote d’lvoire has meant that hundreds of thousands of farmers have returned to the country Burkina Faso. Many of the people of the country are Muslim, but there are also many that still adhere to the more traditional African religions. Mossi rulers first resisted the introduction of Islam in the area. Around 25% of the population are Christian. 

There are very few Burkinabe that have a formal education. School is technically free until the age of 16, but just over half of the population actually are enrolled in school because of the cost of school fees and supplies. In addition, it is hard for families to send a child to school when they could be earning money. 

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries of the world. It is completely landlocked and has a high population density. There are very few natural resources in the area and the soil is quite fragile. Almost 90% of the population is engaged in agriculture, mainly for subsistence. Industries are dominated by government controlled corporations that are mostly unprofitable. Political troubles have caused the economy further suffering. The country is so poor that many people have to go abroad to find work. Most of the resources that are consumed in the country are imported.

Visiting Burkina Faso 

Visiting Burkina Faso has been somewhat limited as of the spring of 2014. However, if you do plan to travel to the country there are several great places to see. Laongo is the home of many great sculptures made by both international and local artists. The scattered pieces of granite found throughout the park have been made into wonderful works of art. Another great place to see is the Sindou Peaks, which are located in Banfora. The area consists of a small chain of soft rock that has been eroded into unusual formations over the past years. 

One of the main reasons that people want to visit the country is because of the music. There are many festivals held here throughout the year. These include: 

  • National Culture Week: takes place in March and April in Bobo. The festival consists of masquerades, theater, music, and dance.
  • Pan African Film Festival: takes place in February/March of odd numbered years. This festival is the largest film festival in all of Africa and every other year brings filmmakers and stars from around the continent.
  • Arts and Mask Festival: is held in even numbered years in the month of March. There are hundreds of groups of mask dancers from all across west Africa that perform during this festival.
  • Jazz Festival: located in Bobo and Ouaga, the jazz festival is held in April and May. It features some of the larger names in Jazz from all over Africa.
  • International Festival of Hip Hop Culture: this festival takes place over 2 weeks in the month of October an there are hip hop performances held throughout these 2 weeks. It is held in Bobo-Dioulasso and Ouagadougou. 

The music scene of the country is remarkably rich. There is salsa, reggae, traditional orchestras, soukous, and bands that play across many venues, some that are well known and others that are hidden. A local will guide you to events where you can drink, eat, and dance the night away in a safe environment. 

Beginning in Gorom Gorom, you will find camel rides to take you out to the desert. If you want you can even sleep in the sand. A guide from the town will be able to arrange this for you. However, if you do not carefully pick out your guide you may end up paying a lot for this tour. If you plan on sleeping in the desert you will want to make sure that you have lots of blankets and warm clothes. It is best to wear pants if you are planning on riding a camel. 

Just outside of Banfora you will find a gorgeous hike along waterfalls. The price for the hike is around 1000 or 2000 francs. Make sure that you do not spend a lot of time in the water as many tourists have caught bilharzia from swimming in this area. The locals will say that swimming there will not make you sick, but there is a chance that it will. 

Another option near Banfora is to take a trip out on a lake to see hippos. However, most of the time all you will see is the ears of the hippos sticking out of the water. It is important to be careful when out on the lake as the hippos can be dangerous if they are bumped by you pirogue. The cost of this trip is around 2000 or 3000 CFA for each person. 

Sindou is located just a couple of hours west of Banfora. The Sindou peaks are similar to the North American hoodoos. These needle like peaks have been shaped from wind erosion. This is a great spot for a picnic or a short hike. While it is not necessary to hire a guide to get around this area, you may want to hire someone as they will be able to share a wealth of information about the area. There was a time when the village was located on the plateau, but it is now located near the base of the peaks. 

There are crocodile lakes located just outside of Ouaga that you may want to visit. The mud mosque in Bobo-Dioulasso is also a great place to see. You will want to hire a guide for the mosque. Take off your shoes before you enter and make sure that you dress modestly. Women will need to cover their head.

Some facts about Burkina Faso

Population of country 16,241,811 people
Area of Burkina Faso 274,200 sq. kilometers
Located on the continent Africa (AF)
Capital of Burkina Faso Ouagadougou
Currency at Burkina Faso Franc (XOF)
Domain Zone .bf
Phone country code 226
FIPS code of Burkina Faso UV

Gallery of Burkina Faso

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Burkina Faso video guide

More information about Burkina Faso

Climate of Burkina Faso:
  • tropical
  • warm, dry winters
  • hot, wet summers
Terrain of Burkina Faso:
  • mostly flat to dissected, undulating plains
  • hills in west and southeast
Burkina Faso also has such useful resources as: manganese, limestone, marble; small deposits of gold, phosphates, pumice, salt.

Top cities of Burkina Faso


City Name Population State Coordinates
1 Ouagadougou 1,086,505 people Centre 12.36423 x -1.53834
2 Bobo-Dioulasso 360,106 people Hauts-Bassins 11.17715 x -4.2979
3 Koudougou 87,347 people Centre-Ouest 12.25 x -2.36667
4 Ouahigouya 61,096 people Nord 13.58278 x -2.42158
5 Banfora 60,288 people Cascades 10.63333 x -4.76667
6 Dedougou 45,341 people Boucle du Mouhoun 12.46667 x -3.46667
7 Kaya 39,229 people Centre-Nord 13.09167 x -1.08444
8 Dori 37,806 people Sahel 14.0354 x -0.0345
9 Tenkodogo 37,658 people Centre-Est 11.78 x -0.36972
10 Reo 37,535 people Centre-Ouest 12.31667 x -2.46667
11 Hounde 36,593 people Hauts-Bassins 11.5 x -3.51667
12 Fada N'Gourma 33,910 people Est 12.06222 x 0.35778
13 Koupela 32,052 people Centre-Est 12.17944 x -0.35167
14 Kombissiri 30,137 people Centre-Sud 12.06556 x -1.3375
15 Garango 29,076 people Centre-Est 11.8 x -0.55056
16 Nouna 29,048 people Boucle du Mouhoun 12.73333 x -3.86667
17 Leo 26,884 people Centre-Ouest 11.1 x -2.1
18 Kongoussi 26,338 people Centre-Nord 13.32583 x -1.53472
19 Diapaga 26,013 people Est 12.07083 x 1.78889
20 Kokologo 25,958 people Centre-Ouest 12.18972 x -1.88556
21 Gaoua 25,104 people Sud-Ouest 10.29917 x -3.25083
22 Zorgho 23,892 people Plateau-Central 12.24889 x -0.61583
23 Yako 22,904 people Nord 12.96667 x -2.26667
24 Djibo 22,223 people Sahel 14.10222 x -1.63056
25 Titao 19,131 people Nord 13.76667 x -2.06667
26 Orodara 18,632 people Hauts-Bassins 10.94917 x -4.93417
27 Po 17,924 people Centre-Sud 11.16972 x -1.145
28 Tougan 17,590 people Boucle du Mouhoun 13.06667 x -3.06667
29 Boulsa 17,489 people Centre-Nord 12.6675 x -0.57583
30 Gourcy 16,765 people Nord 13.21667 x -2.35

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