Burkina Faso Travel Information

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Facts About Burkina Faso

Background: Independence from France came to Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta) in 1960. Governmental instability during the 1970s and 1980s was followed by multiparty elections in the early 1990s. Several hundred thousand farm workers migrate south every year to Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana.
Government type: parliamentary
Capital: Ouagadougou
Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

Geography of Burkina Faso

Location: Western Africa, north of Ghana
Geographic coordinates: 13 00 N, 2 00 W
Map references: Africa
total: 274,200 sq km
land: 273,800 sq km
water: 400 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 3,192 km
border countries: Benin 306 km, Cote d'Ivoire 584 km, Ghana 548 km, Mali 1,000 km, Niger 628 km, Togo 126 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Climate: tropical; warm, dry winters; hot, wet summers
Terrain: mostly flat to dissected, undulating plains; hills in west and southeast
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Mouhoun (Black Volta) River 200 m
highest point: Tena Kourou 749 m
Natural resources: manganese, limestone, marble; small deposits of gold, antimony, copper, nickel, bauxite, lead, phosphates, zinc, silver
Land use:
arable land: 13%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 22%
forests and woodland: 50%
other: 15% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 200 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: recurring droughts
Environment - current issues: recent droughts and desertification severely affecting agricultural activities, population distribution, and the economy; overgrazing; soil degradation; deforestation
Environment - international agreements:
party to:  Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban
Geography - note: landlocked savanna cut by the three principal rivers of the Black, Red, and White Voltas

People of Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso's 12 million people belong to two major West African cultural groups--the Voltaic and the Mande (whose common language is Dioula). The Voltaic Mossi make up about one-half of the population. The Mossi claim descent from warriors who migrated to present-day Burkina Faso from Ghana and established an empire that lasted more than 800 years. Predominantly farmers, the Mossi kingdom is still led by the Mogho Naba, whose court is in Ouagadougou.

Burkina Faso is an ethnically integrated, secular state. Most of Burkina's people are concentrated in the south and center of the country, sometimes exceeding 48 per square kilometer (125/sq. mi.). This population density, high for Africa, causes migrations of hundreds of thousands of Burkinabe to Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, many for seasonal agricultural work. A plurality of Burkinabe are Moslem, but most also adhere to traditional African religions. The introduction of Islam to Burkina Faso was initially resisted by the Mossi rulers. Christians, both Roman Catholics and Protestants comprise about 25% of the population, with their largest concentration in urban areas.

Female genital mutilation, child labor, child trafficking, and social exclusion of accused sorcerers remain serious problems, although the government has taken steps in recent years to combat these phenomena. Workers and civil servants generally have the right to organize unions, engage in collective bargaining, and strike for better pay and working conditions. Few Burkinabe have had formal education. Schooling is free but not compulsory, and only about 29% of Burkina's primary school-age children receive a basic education. The University of Ouagadougou, founded in 1974, was the country's first institution of higher education. The Polytechnical University in Bobo-Dioulasso was opened in 1995

Population: 13,925,313 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  47.5% 
15-64 years:  49.59% 
65 years and over:  2.91%
Population growth rate: 2.68%
Birth rate: 44.79 births/1,000 population
Death rate: 17.05 deaths/1,000 population
Net migration rate: -0.97 migrant(s)/1,000 population
Infant mortality rate: 106.92 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  46.41 years
male:  45.86 years
female:  46.98 years
Total fertility rate: 6.35 children born/woman
noun: Burkinabe (singular and plural)
adjective: Burkinabe
Ethnic groups: Mossi over 40%, Gurunsi, Senufo, Lobi, Bobo, Mande, Fulani
Religions: indigenous beliefs 40%, Muslim 50%, Christian (mainly Roman Catholic) 10%
Languages: French (official), native African languages belonging to Sudanic family spoken by 90% of the population
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 19.2%
male: 29.5%
female: 9.2% (1995 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook,U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Burkina Faso Map Economy History