About Burkina Faso [ Country ]

Here we've distilled information and facts from various sources about the location, size, population, geography, transport, climate, economy, history, government, law, and so on, of Burkina Faso; into a view that makes sense for a traveller to, or within, this country.


Western Africa, north of Ghana


Tropical; warm, dry winters; hot, wet summers


Mostly flat to dissected, undulating plains; hills in west and southeast


lowest point: Mouhoun (Black Volta) River 200 m
highest point: Tena Kourou 749 m

Geo Notes

Landlocked savanna cut by the three principal rivers of the Black, Red, and White Voltas

Approved Official Names

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Burkina Faso
local long form: none
local short form: Burkina Faso
former: Upper Volta, Republic of Upper Volta

Capital City

name: Ouagadougou
geographic coordinates: 12 22 N, 1 31 W
time difference: UTC 0

Administrative Divisions

45 provinces; Bale, Bam, Banwa, Bazega, Bougouriba, Boulgou, Boulkiemde, Comoe, Ganzourgou, Gnagna, Gourma, Houet, Ioba, Kadiogo, Kenedougou, Komondjari, Kompienga, Kossi, Koulpelogo, Kouritenga, Kourweogo, Leraba, Loroum, Mouhoun, Nahouri, Namentenga, Nayala, Noumbiel, Oubritenga, Oudalan, Passore, Poni, Sanguie, Sanmatenga, Seno, Sissili, Soum, Sourou, Tapoa, Tuy, Yagha, Yatenga, Ziro, Zondoma, Zoundweogo

Natuaral Hazards

Recurring droughts

Environmental Issues

Recent droughts and desertification severely affecting agricultural activities, population distribution, and the economy; overgrazing; soil degradation; deforestation

Infectious Diseases

degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria and yellow fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
animal contact disease: rabies
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country

Life Expectancy

total population: 53.32 years
male: 51.39 years
female: 55.31 years (2010 est.)

Sex Ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Languages Spoken

French (official), native African languages belonging to Sudanic family spoken by 90% of the population

Religions Practiced

Muslim 50%, indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian (mainly Roman Catholic) 10%

Legal System

Based on French civil law system and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National Holiday

Republic Day, 11 December (1958); note - commemorates the day that Upper Volta became an autonomous republic in the French Community

Telephone System

general assessment: system includes microwave radio relay, open-wire, and radiotelephone communication stations; in 2006 the government sold a 51 percent stake in the national telephone company and ultimately plans to retain only a 23 percent stake in the company
domestic: fixed-line connections stand at less than 1 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular usage, fostered by multiple providers, is increasing rapidly from a low base
international: country code - 226; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2009)

Broadcast Media

2 TV stations - 1 state-owned and 1 privately-owned; state-owned radio runs a national and regional network; substantial number of privately-owned radio broadcast stations; transmissions of several international broadcasters available in Ouagadougou (2007)


Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta) achieved independence from France in 1960. Repeated military coups during the 1970s and 1980s were followed by multiparty elections in the early 1990s. Current President Blaise COMPAORE came to power in a 1987 military coup and has won every election since then. Burkina Faso's high population density and limited natural resources result in poor economic prospects for the majority of its citizens. Recent unrest in Cote d'Ivoire and northern Ghana has hindered the ability of several hundred thousand seasonal Burkinabe farm workers to find employment in neighboring countries.

Economy Overview

One of the poorest countries in the world, landlocked Burkina Faso has few natural resources and a weak industrial base. About 90% of the population is engaged in subsistence agriculture, which is vulnerable to periodic drought. Cotton is the main cash crop and the government has joined with three other cotton producing countries in the region - Mali, Niger, and Chad - to lobby in the World Trade Organization for fewer subsidies to producers in other competing countries. Since 1998, Burkina Faso has embarked upon a gradual but successful privatization of state-owned enterprises. Having revised its investment code in 2004, Burkina Faso hopes to attract foreign investors. Thanks to this new code and other legislation favoring the mining sector, the country has seen an upswing in gold exploration and production. While the bitter internal crisis in neighboring Cote d'Ivoire is beginning to be resolved, it is still having a negative effect on Burkina Faso's trade and employment. Burkina Faso received a Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) threshold grant to improve girls' education at the primary school level, and signed an MCC compact that focuses on the areas of infrastructure, agriculture, and land reform in July 2008.

National Anthem

name: "Le Ditanye" (Anthem of Victory)
lyrics/music: Thomas SANKARA
note: adopted 1974; also known as "Une Seule Nuit" (One Single Night), Burkina Faso"s anthem was written by the country"s president, an avid guitar player

Burkina Faso location map

total: 274,200 sq km
land: 273,800 sq km
water: 400 sq km

Burkina Faso flag

16,241,811 (July 2010 est.)


noun: Burkinabe (singular and plural)
adjective: Burkinabe

Ethnic Groups

Mossi over 40%, other approximately 60% (includes Gurunsi, Senufo, Lobi, Bobo, Mande, and Fulani)


1.6% (2007 est.)

Independence Date

5 August 1960 (from France)

Government Type

Parliamentary republic

Voting Rights

18 years of age; universal

Internet Users

140,000 (2008)

Internet Hosts

1,877 (2010)

Internet Country Code


Number Airports

24 (2010)

Number Paved Airports

total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2010)


total: 622 km
narrow gauge: 622 km 1.000-m gauge
note: another 660 km of this railway extends into Cote d'Ivoire (2008)


total: 92,495 km
paved: 3,857 km
unpaved: 88,638 km (2004)

National Budget

revenues: $1.839 billion
expenditures: $2.283 billion (2009 est.)

Account Balance

-$330 million (2009 est.)
-$963.1 million (2008 est.)

Exchange Rates

Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar - 481.35 (2009), 447.81 (2008), 493.51 (2007), 522.59 (2006), 527.47 (2005)
note: since 1 January 1999, the West African CFA franc (XOF) has been pegged to the euro at a rate of 655.957 CFA francs per euro; West African CFA franc (XOF) coins and banknotes are not accepted in countries using Central African CFA francs (XAF), and vice versa, even though the two currencies trade at par

Inflation Rate

2.6% (2009 est.)
10.7% (2008 est.)

Main Industries

Cotton lint, beverages, agricultural processing, soap, cigarettes, textiles, gold

Agricultural Products

Cotton, peanuts, shea nuts, sesame, sorghum, millet, corn, rice; livestock

Labor Force

6.668 million
note: a large part of the male labor force migrates annually to neighboring countries for seasonal employment (2007)

Main Occupations

agriculture: 90%
industry and services: 10% (2000 est.)

Unemployment Rate

77% (2004)

GDP (USD Parity)

$18.79 billion (2009 est.)
$18.21 billion (2008 est.)
$17.31 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP Per Capita

$1,200 (2009 est.)
$1,200 (2008 est.)
$1,200 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

Family Income Percent

lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 32.2% (2004)

Family Income Gini

39.5 (2007)
48.2 (1994)

Below Poverty

46.4% (2004)