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The A-Z that is Africa: Burkina Faso

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.

Ethnicities: Mossi (over 40%), Gurunsi, Senufo, Lobi, Bobo, Mande, Fulani

Languages: French,  Mossi, Dyula and Fulfulde 

Religions: Traditional beliefs 20%, Muslim 55%, Christian 25%.

Monetary unit: CFA Franc

Government: Parliamentary.

President: Roch Marc Christian Kaboré (2015)

Prime Minister: Paul Kaba Thieba (2016)

Background and Emergence of state

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. Former President Blaise Compaore(1987-2014) resigned in late October 2014 following popular protests against his efforts to amend the Constitution’s two-term presidential limit. By mid-November, a framework for an interim government was adopted under the terms of the National Transition Charter. An interim administration, led by President Michel Kafando and Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida, began organizing presidential and legislative elections planned for October 2015, but these were postponed during a weeklong failed coup in September. The rescheduled elections were held on 29 November, and Roch Marc Christian Kabore was elected president in the first round. Burkina Faso’s high population growth and limited natural resources result in poor economic prospects for the majority of its citizens. Burkina Faso has issues concerning unresolved boundary alignments with its neighbors; demarcation is currently underway with Mali, the dispute with Niger was referred to the ICJ in 2010, and a dispute over several villages with Benin persists; Benin retains a border dispute with Burkina Faso around the town of Koualou.

People and culture:

‘Burkina Faso’ means ‘Land of Honourable/Incorruptible Men’. ‘Burkina’ is a Moore word meaning ‘honour’. ‘Faso’ is the Dioula word for ‘fatherland’. The Fulfulde language is reflected in the term ‘Burkinabe’, because ‘be’ is its plural for people(in French,it is spelt with an è or sometimes with an é). . This use of all three main languages symbolises the unity of the country. Burkina Faso is what we would call a melting pot of people as more than 60 ethnic groups live in Burkina Faso, speaking a variety of different languages and dialects. The Mossi are the largest group and make up half the population. The Fulani are the second largest, forming around 8% of the population and French is the official language and widely spoken in the towns and cities. Ouagadougou is thought of as the African capital of cinema and Burkinabes love their films. Music is also a central part of the country’s culture and many people learn to play an instrument, such as the kora (a kind of guitar), djembe (drums), baorgo (horn) or balafon(xylophone). Instruments are made locally from native trees and plants.

Burkinabé cuisine:

Boussan Touba




Burkinabe’ traditional dressing:

Places of interest:

Domes de Fabedougou                                                                                          Lake Tengrela


The grand Mosque


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