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Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso, also known by its short-form name Burkina, is a landlocked nation in West Africa. It is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north, Niger to the east, Benin to the south east, Togo and Ghana to the south, and Cote d'Ivoire to the south west.

Background History

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.


Country Name:

  • conventional form: Burkina Faso
  • former: Upper Volta, Republic of Upper Volta


  • name: Ouagadougou
  • population: 1,777,000
  • geographic coordinates: 12 22 N, 1 31 W
  • time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • 5 August 1960 (from France)

Government Type:

  • parliamentary republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Blaise Compaore (since 15 October 1987)
  • head of government: Prime Minister Luc-Adolphe Tiao (since 18 April 2011)
  • cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister
  • elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 21 November 2010 (next to be held in 2015)

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: unicameral National Assembly

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Court of Appeals; Council of State; Court of Accounts; Constitutional Council

People & Society


  • 17,275,115 (global rank: 61)
  • growth rate: 3.073% (global rank: 9)


  • noun: Burkinabe (singular and plural)
  • adjective: Burkinabe

Major Cities:

  • Ouagadougou (capital): 1.777 million

Ethnic Groups:

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


  • Muslim 60.5%, Catholic 19%, animist 15.3%, Protestant 4.2%, other 0.6%, none 0.4%


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

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 54.07 years (global rank: 202)
  • male: 52.09 years
  • female: 56.1 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 79.84 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 9)
  • male: 87.26 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 72.19 deaths/1,000 live births


  • adult prevalence rate: 1.2% (2009 est.) (global rank: 42)
  • people living with AIDS: 110,000 (2009 est.) (global rank: 40)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 21.8%
  • male: 29.4%
  • female: 15.2%


Overview: Burkina Faso is a poor, landlocked country that relies heavily on cotton and gold exports for revenue. The country 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. Since 1998, Burkina Faso has embarked upon a gradual privatization of state-owned enterprises and in 2004 revised its investment code to attract foreign investment. As a result of this new code and other legislation favoring the mining sector, the country has seen an upswing in gold exploration and production. By 2010, gold had become the main source of export revenue. Gold mining production doubled between 2009 and 2010 and two new mining projects were launched the third quarter of 2011. Local community conflict persists in the mining and cotton sectors, but the Prime Minister has made efforts to defuse some of the economic cause of public discontent, including announcing income tax reductions, reparations for looting victims, and subsidies for basic food items and fertilizer. An IMF mission to Burkina Faso in October 2011 expressed general satisfaction with the measures. The risk of a mass exodus of the 3 to 4 million Burinabe who live and work in Cote D'Ivoire has dissipated and trade, power, and transport links are being restored.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $21.83 billion (global rank: 123)
  • GDP per capita (PPP):$1,500 (global rank: 196)
  • real growth rate: 4.9% (global rank: 78)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 34.1%, industry: 23.2%, services: 42.8%


  • currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine Francs (XOF)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 473.7


  • population below poverty line: 46.4%
  • unemployment rate: 77%

Agricultural Products:

  • cotton, peanuts, shea nuts, sesame, sorghum, millet, corn, rice; livestock


  • cotton lint, beverages, agricultural processing, soap, cigarettes, textiles, gold

Exports Commodities:

  • cotton, livestock, gold

Imports Commodities:

  • capital goods, foodstuffs, petroleum



  • Western Africa, north of Ghana


  • total: 274,200 sq km (global rank: 75)
  • land: 273,800 sq km
  • water: 400 sq km
  • comparative:slightly larger than Colorado


  • tropical; warm, dry winters; hot, wet summers

Land Use:

  • arable land: 17.66%
  • permanent crops: 0.22%
  • other: 82.12%

Natural Resources:

  • manganese, limestone, marble; small deposits of gold, phosphates, pumice, salt

Current Environmental Issues:

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

Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: adding to illicit cross-border activities, 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

Updated: March 2012

Source: CIA World Factbook

Published: Thursday, September 04, 2008