Burkina Faso

Country Code: 226
ISO Code: BFA / BF

Burkina Faso is a state of West Africa that borders the northwest with Mali, the northeast with Niger, the south with Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo and Benin. Burkina Faso does not have access to the sea. Its capital of Ouagadougou.

It became independent from France on August 5, 1960. Government instability during the 1970s and 1980s was followed by multi-party elections in the early 1990s. Several hundred thousand rural workers migrate each year to Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana looking for work.

Formerly called the Republic of the Upper Volta, the country was renamed on August 4, 1984 by President Thomas Sankara, who considered the name of Upper Volta a legacy of French colonialism, alien to the history and national reality of the Voltaic / Burkinabe people.

Burkina Faso means ‘homeland of honest men’, from the Mossi Burkina term, ‘honest men’, and from the diula faso voice, ‘homeland’.

According to the Constitution of Burkina Faso, “Burkina Faso is the republican form of the State”, so there is no way “Republic of Burkina Faso” or “Republic of Burkina” to officially refer to this African country, but the official name is “Burkina Faso”. Similarly, the head of state is called as “president of the Faso” (abbreviated, “PF”), instead of president of the Republic.


Like the entire western region of Africa, Burkina Faso was populated in early times, hunter-gatherers settled in the northwest part of the territory about 12,000 to 5,000 years ago. C., tools (scrapers, punches and arrowheads) of these groups were discovered in 1973.

There are records of settlements of farmers produced between 3600 and 2600 a. C., the traces of the found structures give the impression of relative permanent buildings.

The study of remains of discovered tombs indicates that the use of iron, ceramics and polished stones was developed between 1500 and 1000 BC. C., as well as concern about spiritual issues.

Relics of the Dogon have been found in the central-north, north and northwest areas. But this town left the region around 1500 a. C., to settle in the cliffs of Bandiagara.

In the southwest of Burkina Faso (as well as in Ivory Coast), remains of high walls are found, but the town that built them has not yet been identified.

During the Songhai Empire between the 15th and 16th centuries, the region occupied by Burkina Faso achieved relevance as a center of commercial and economic development.
After a decade of intense competition and rivalry between the British and French, abounding in expeditions of military explorers and civilians seeking to sign treaties, in 1896, the Mossi kingdom of Ouagadougou was defeated by French colonial forces and became a French protectorate.

Bobo-Dioulasso train station, built during the colonial era.
In the western zone the fight against the forces of the powerful king Samori Ture complicated the situation, and the east zone could be occupied by the French in 1897 after several military campaigns. By 1898, most of the territory today corresponding to Burkina Faso had been conquered even in nominal form, and control of several regions was precarious.

The agreement signed between France and Great Britain on June 14, 1898 allowed the dispute between the two colonial powers to end and draw the borders between their territories.

The French continued for five years a war of conquest against local communities. In 1904 there was a major reorganization of the French colonial empire in West Africa, and the territories of the Volta basin in the colony of Upper Senegal and Niger (in French: Haut-Sénégal et Niger) of French West Africa. The capital of the colony was Bamako.

On December 11, 1958, achieved self-government, and becomes a republic and member of the Franco-African community (La Communauté Franco-Africaine). It achieved its total independence in 1960. In 1966 the first military coup took place; and the civil power retakes the government in 1978.

In 1980 there was a new military coup led by Saye Zerbo, who in turn was overthrown in 1982. This was followed by an uprising in 1983, which brought Thomas Sankara, a charismatic captain, to power. In 1984 the revolutionary government changed not only the name of the country to Burkina Faso, but also modified the national flag, shield and anthem.

Sankara, baptized as “Che Guevara of Africa”, led a revolutionary government that initiated major political and social transformations aimed at improving the quality of life of Burkinabe, ending corruption and superfluous spending in public administration and ending the dependence that still maintained the country with respect to its old metropolis. Under his government, Burkina Faso managed to improve agricultural performance to achieve food self-sufficiency and land was distributed to the poor peasants, intensive vaccination campaigns were carried out with the help of Cuban doctors, basic health facilities and schools were built in rural areas and the advance of the desert was fought with the planting of thousands of new trees in the area bordering the Sahel.

In foreign policy, his support for the revolutionary governments of Cuba, Nicaragua, Mozambique or Grenada, his denunciation of neo-colonialism and the apartheid policy of the South African racist government and the need to open a pan-African common front against the debt brought him numerous support among the African youth, but at the same time very powerful enemies. His criticism of Gadaffi, former ally, because of the war between Libya and Chad made him stop being supported by him.

Likewise, the French president François Mitterrand and the Ivorian Félix Houphouët-Boigny also became enemies of Sankara, seeing in it a charismatic rival, at least ideological, and with special ascendant among the African popular masses, from the informal domain of France over its former colonies (the so-called “Françafrique”).

Although the revolution had given rise to many advances, praised even at the level of international organizations, the discontent in certain sectors of the bourgeoisie and professionals made in 1987 Thomas Sankara consider carrying out a policy of rectification aimed at combating excesses, especially the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (supervisory bodies).

However, he did not have time to implement his plans, as his friend and comrade-in-arms Blaise Compaoré took power after a coup in which Sankara was assassinated along with several of his collaborators and buried clandestinely in the cemetery of Dagnoen, on the outskirts of Ouagadougou.

Several hypotheses have been pointed out about the external implications of the coup that deposed Thomas Sankara. In some cases it is aimed at the French and Ivorian governments, who used Compaoré as the executing arm to make Burkina Faso return to the fold of the “Françafrique”. In others, as reflected in the novel “El caso Sankara” by the Spanish Antonio Lozano, the coup was motivated by the refusal of the Burkinabe president to cede the territory of his country as a base for the guerrilla of Charles Taylor in his operations against the government of Liberia. The coming to power of Compaoré facilitated, in exchange for large bribes, Taylor’s operations in Liberia, as well as those of the RUF in Sierra Leone’s civil war.

Compaoré remained in power for almost three decades, reversing many of the measures implemented by Sankara, accepting the adjustment plans of the international financial institutions that the previous one had refused to assume and unleashing a strong repression against the opposition movements. He was deposed because of a new coup on October 30, 2014, and was replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Yacouba Isaac Zida in a transitional military government.


Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a gross per capita income of $ 1200 per year. This figure places him as the twenty-seventh poorest nation in the world, along with other nations such as the Republic of the Congo and Tajikistan.

Their high rate of population growth together with the aridity of their soil are factors that significantly influence their poverty index.

Agriculture represents 32% of its gross domestic product and employs 92% of its working population. The care of the cattle stands out, and especially in the south and the southwest the cultivation of sorghum, millet, maize, peanut, rice and cotton.

The lack of work causes a very high rate of emigration: for example, there are three million people native to Burkina Faso who live in Côte d’Ivoire. According to information from the Central Bank of West African States, these migrants send several tens of billions of CFA francs per year to Burkina Faso.

Since the expulsion of immigrants from Ghana in 1967, this situation has caused tensions in the countries receiving immigrants. The most recent crisis occurred in 2003 in Côte d’Ivoire, and resulted in the return of 300,000 emigrants.

A large proportion of the country’s economic activity is financed by international aid. The European Union (EU) is the main trading partner of Burkina Faso.

  • Natural resources: Manganese, limestone, marble, gold, antimony, copper, nickel, bauxite, lead, phosphate, silver, zinc and fish.
  • Agricultural products: Millet, sorghum, sugar cane, corn, cotton, peanuts, potato, sesame, nuts, cattle, wool and poultry.
  • Main industries: Food, beer, light industry, flours, soaps, cotton, tires, motorcycles, soft drinks and footwear.
  • Main economic and production activities: The economic development of Burkina Faso has been impeded by several factors, among which is the inefficient development of mining, the climatic modalities that periodically affect its crops, the weak demand of its main products of export and falling international prices.
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