Burkina Faso is a country of Africa
with a surface area of 274,200 km² (density of 59.23 inhab./km²). The population of Burkina Faso is 16,241,811 inhabitants in the last census.The capital of Burkina Faso is the city of Ouagadougou which has 1,475,223 inhabitants. The President of the Republic is Blaise Compaoré.
"Unity - Progress - Justice"
Burkina Faso is an African country sharing borders with Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire. Landlocked in the western part of the continent, it has no opening on the sea.
Burkina Faso is a member of the African Union, the Community of West African States and the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa.
Burkina Faso at a glance
Administrative divisions: 13 regions, 45 provinces
Population: more than 19 million inhabitants
Main Languages: French, Mooré
Main religion: Islam
Current President: Roch Marc-Christian Kaboré
Current Prime Minister: Paul Kaba Thiéba
Currency: CFA Franc
Conversion into euro: 100 CFA francs = 0.15 euro
Tourism: The greater vigilance is recommended to the tourists due to acts of terrorism. The border areas with Mali and Niger and the W park are strongly discouraged. The health risks are also high.
A country of plains
The relief of Burkina Faso is relatively flat and predominantly formed by a pen plain, a vestige of a more rugged relief dating from Precambrian but eroded. Some hills punctuate the landscape dominated by the ocher and red tones of laterite rocks rich in oxidized iron and typical of the regions located near the Tropics.
A low mountain range covers the south-west of the country. The highest peak in Burkina-Faso is the Tenakourou, which culminates at 747 meters above sea level. This region is characterized by a low relief but rugged, alternating peaks, cliffs and caves.
Burkina Faso is crossed by three river basins:
• The Volta and its tributaries or sub-tributaries (the Mouhoun or Volta Noire, the Nakambé or Volta Blanche and the Nazinon or Volta Rouge and the Pendjari) form the most important basin of the country which covers the center and the west of Burkina Faso Before extending to Ghana.
• Comoé, located in the south-west of the country, to enter the Gulf of Guinea after crossing Côte d'Ivoire. It takes its source in Banfora, in the region of the Cascades.
• Niger, which originates in Sierra Leone and flows into the Atlantic Ocean in Nigeria. If Niger does not cross Burkina Faso, the country nevertheless benefits from its basin which covers the northeast and the east of the country. Indeed, several of its tributaries originate in Burkina Faso, notably the Goroubi and the Tapoa. During most of the year, these rivers are almost dry and turn into scattered ponds.
Due to the low gradients and the low rainfall, the rivers of Burkina Faso have low to moderate flows. Only the Mouhoun and the Comoé are permanent, the other rivers are more or less dry from November to June.
The uniformity of the landscapes of Burkina Faso also results in a unique landscape. Indeed, the entire country is part of the land eco-region of the western Sudan savanna, a vast buffer zone between tropical forests and deserts. This savannah is characterized by its large trees growing amid vast grassy meadows. The deforestation and the intensive hunting have put this ecosystem at risk, but in recent years different areas have been protected by national or cross-border parks.
The climate of Burkina Faso is of Sudano-Sahelian tropical type recording variations of temperatures of 16 to 45 ° and to two seasons:
• a dry season from October to June, characterized by a northeasterly wind from the Sahara, the harmattan, which gives hot and dry days and cold nights
• a rainy season from June to September, mainly active in the south of the country.
The settlement of Burkina Faso probably began around 10,000 BC and the first hominids, nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes, criss-cross the north-west of the country.
The first traces of a sedentarization were dated from 3,600 BC. The hunters have given way to the farmers who gradually master the techniques of polished stone, iron and pottery.
At the present time, the few relics recovered do not allow us to trace with precision the way of life of the first inhabitants of Burkina Faso.
The discovery of sites occupied by the Dogons originally from Mali in the center and north of the country as well as in the cliff of Bandiagara around the 14th century is the only indication verified and confirmed by the historians. On the other hand, the stone walls discovered in Loropéni in the south of the country keep all their mystery. Until they have revealed their secrets, they have been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
Shortly before the colonization, four ethnic groups shared Burkina Faso:
• The Gourmantché are located in the east of the country, in the province of Gourma
• The Mossi occupy the center of the country and found the kingdoms of Yatenga and Ouagadougou
• Bobo-Dioulas from Mali in Dioulassoba and Kofila in the west of the country
• Some Fulani, Hausa and Bella occupy the Liptako Gourma region straddling Niger and Burkina Faso.
The different other tribes have also immigrated to the country which will gradually become islamized to their contacts.
Arrival of French
By the end of the 19th century, the first Europeans reached Burkina Faso.
French led by Captain Louis-Gustave Binder explore West Africa following the course of the Niger from Bamako. They crossed Mali before leaving for Ouagadougou governed by the Moro Naba (king Mossi) Boukary Koutou and the Ivory Coast. All the part of West Africa between the Gulf of Guinea and the Upper Niger is then placed under the control of France, which can thus profit from new trade routes.
The climate of trust established in 1888 between Captain Binder and Moro Naba deteriorated very quickly and the King refused to meet with Captain Parfait-Louis Monteil, who was in charge of linking Senegal to Libya in 1891. Three years later, the troops Besieged Ouagadougou and the king sees himself obliged to accept French protectorate. He was soon imitated by the other chiefs of tribes, marking the birth of French West Africa in 1896.
In 1919, the region comprising the territories belonging to the Mossi, Upper Senegal and Niger and Cote d'Ivoire kingdoms joined together to form a new French colony, Upper Volta with Ouagadougou as chief town.
This colony was divided in 1932 between the colonies of Niger, French Sudan (Mali) and Côte d'Ivoire before being reunited at the end of the Second World War in 1947.
The Upper Volta
In 1956, the Defferre framework law fundamentally altered the organization of the overseas territories of France in order to give them greater autonomy vis-à-vis the metropolis.
In 1958, the former colony of Upper Volta became an autonomous republic within the French Community.
The Republic of Upper Volta got its complete independence two years later and Maurice Yaméogo became the first president of the country on August 5th, 1960. The newly elected president will establish a one-party political system in order to crush the opposition, until his opponents were incarcerated. He regularly changes his ministers and does not hesitate to imprison or disavow his closest collaborators while his family and he lead a sumptuous lifestyle.
The private life of Yaméogo is just as delirious, he will lock his wife in order to marry his mistress, Miss Cote d'Ivoire, which will trigger tensions with the Church.
The illusory and the reprehensible life of the president, the absence of a health system as a measles epidemic decimated the population, a virtually non-existent economy combined with a large budget deficit and an austerity plan affecting social and pensions make the president more and more unpopular.
On January 3rd 1966, Yaméogo was forced to resign following a general uprising. It leaves room for Lt. Col. Sangoule Lamizana, who will immediately establish an authoritarian military regime until 1980 when a military coup led by Colonel Saye Zerbo overthrows the president.
Birth of Burkina Faso
With a new putsch in 1983, the country passed into the hands of Captain Thomas Sankara for four years. It is under his presidency that the country changes its name and becomes Burkina Faso meaning the Land of the Integral Men, a way to cut the bridges with the colonial past of the country.
Once again, the country is experiencing dark hours under a repressive dictatorship which leads to an umpteenth putsch and the assassination of Sankara probably plotted by his collaborator Blaise Compaoré who in turn becomes the president from 1991 to 2014.
Despite the return of the multi-party system and the privatization of many companies, the people are victims of police violence and a serious social crisis. A first large-scale revolt broke out in 2011, triggered by the death of a young student arrested by the police. This situation prompts the president to concede different measures, but in 2014, he faces a second revolution. The people are opposed to the introduction of an amendment to the Constitution authorizing the president to run for a fifth term.
This time, Compaore had to resign and was replaced by Lieutenant-Colonel Yacouba Isaac Zida for 20 days.
His successor, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, representing the People's Movement for Progress, has to face the terrorist acts claimed by Al Qaeda. He is working with Mali and Niger to bring Burkina Faso's forces together to fight the insecurity in the border areas of Liptako-Gourma. Kaboré will also reform many sectors, including health and education, fight the corruption and promote renewable energies.
Burkina Faso is a presidential republic. The president (currently Roch Marc Christian Kaboré), elected for five years, holds the office of head of state and the head of government and has to choose his Prime Minister (now Paul Kaba Thiéba).
The executive power is provided by the President and the Prime Minister.
The legislative power is assured by the National Assembly. Since 2012, the constitution provides for the establishment of a second chamber, the Senate, but it never came into being.
Poverty and illiteracy
Burkina Faso is an extremely poor country, mainly oriented to the agriculture. 30% of the population lives in a state of extreme poverty, aggravated by illiteracy affecting more than half of Burkinabé, especially the women.
More than 80% of Burkinabé work in this sector, which accounts for 35% of GDP. The main crops are the cotton, the sesame, the cereals (sorghum, millet, rice and maize) and the cowpea (beans also called cornilles). Burkina Faso also produces fruits (mangoes, papayas, bananas, citrus fruits ...) and vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage,). A large part of these products is exported.
Finally, cattle, goats, sheep, poultry and pigs are being farmed to export meat to neighboring countries.
However, the traditional agriculture is dependent on drought and the soil depletion, but above all on a lack of a real structure (farms are essentially small and family-run), modernization and a good road network.
Burkina Faso also operates the mines of gold, the copper, the iron and the manganese. The government is trying to regulate this sector which has long enriched traffickers to the detriment of workers or the state (mining companies were not taxable before 2015).
A worrying situation
The total population of Burkina Faso reaches almost 20,000,000 inhabitants and the fertility rate is close to 6 children per woman.
The infant mortality rate is very high (7.3%) and the life expectancy does not exceed 55 years. These alarming figures are due to the total lack of a social security system and the proliferation of diseases such as the AIDS, the meningitis, the malaria, the tetanus or the measles.
The local health network is rudimentary and the humanitarian aid associations intervene on the spot to treat the sick.
A large proportion of the Burkinabe live below the poverty line and do not attend school. The place of women in society is worrying. They have been subjected to genital mutilation, which has been banned since 1996, as well as forced illegal early marriages, and are entirely subject to their often polygamous husbands.
There are some 60 different ethnic groups in Burkina Faso. Each has its own culture, traditions and language. The Mosse (Mosi) majority correspond to the ancient kingdoms of Ouagadougou, Yatenga, Tenkodogo and Oubritenga.
The other main ethnic groups are the Bobos settled in the Bobo Dioulasso region, the Gourmantches in the east, the Senoufo on the Ivory Coast border, the Lobi in the south-west and the Gourounsi along the borders Malian and Ghanaian. Finally, the Peuhls, a nomadic ethnic group, are settled in the semi-desert and Sahelian regions.
French (official language), mooré, dioula and fuludé (peuhl) are the four national languages of Burkina Faso.
60% of Burkinabés are Muslims, compared with 23% of Christians, mostly Catholics and 15% of animists (belief in mystical spirits that can act in the real world).
Burkinabé cuisine is typical of West Africa, based on cereals, potatoes, beans and yams. The meat and the fish are usually grilled and often accompanied by mafé, a peanut sauce. The saghbo (a paste of millet or sorghum consumed with okra sauce) is the most common dish in Burkina Faso. The nomads accompany the dishes of taguella sheep meat, unleavened bread cooked under the ashes.
The tamarind juice and millet beer called dolo are the most popular drinks in Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso is the target of numerous acts of terrorism particularly frequent in the north of the country, along the borders of Mali and Niger. It is therefore recommended to avoid all this area classified red.
The tourists are recommended to report their presence and their movements on the Burkinabé territory to the Consulate of France as soon as they arrive and to choose hotels offering the maximum security. During trips, one should be vigilant because of many acts of delinquency. In the town, do not walk or go alone in the evening or at night, carry a rucksack, wear external signs of wealth or manipulate money in the public places.
The numerous acts of brigandage committed by the "road cutters" make the road network unsafe.
Prior to departure, the vaccination is required: yellow fever (mandatory), tuberculosis, typhoid fever, viral hepatitis A and B, bacterial meningitis A, C, Y and W, rabies (recommended).
Because of the risks of malaria, dengue fever, meningitis and avian flu, the travel is not recommended for children or people with fragile health. The sexually transmitted infections and the AIDS are real scourges and it is important to avoid the risky behaviors.
The strict hygiene measures must also be taken to control the origin of food, avoid the raw or the reheated foods, the unpeeled fruits, the shellfish and the water that does not come from encapsulated bottles (including the ice cubes).
Similarly, do not bathe in the stagnant water, walk barefoot, approach wandering animals or buy the drugs on the streets.
Burkina Faso offers many natural and historical sights to its visitors.
Not to be missed: the Sindou Peaks, Lake Tengrela, the Bobo-Dioulasso mosque, the country of the waterfalls and the surprising monuments dedicated to filmmakers, the national heroes or the martyrs, the typical architecture of Tiébélé, the Sculptures by Laongo or the sacred crocodiles of Bazoule.
In the Sahel, the tourists can be seduced by the colorful markets, the city of Gorom-Gorom and its labyrinth of lanes lined with brick houses.