Republic of Burkina Faso
Origins of name: Named in 1984 by President Thomas Sankara to mean “land of upright people” in the local Moore and Dioula languages
Formerly: the Republic of Upper Volta
President Michel Kafando (interim)
Former French colony
Attained full independence from France on August 5, 1960
Form of Government
Executive president elected for five-year term, renewable once
Prime Minister is Head of Government
Structure of Government
President, Prime Minister heads government, Bicameral Parliament
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 2,197,557 and females age 16-49: 2,191,978
Expenditures: 1.2% of GDP
Branches: Army (about 6,000 men), Air Force of Burkina Faso (Force Aerienne de Burkina Faso, FABF), National Gendarmerie
1960-1966 Maurice Yameogo
1966-1980 Sangoule Lamizana
1980-1982 Saye Zerbo
1982-1983 Jean-Baptiste Oedraogo
1983-1987 Thomas Sankara
1987-2014 Blaise Compaore
November 1, 2014-November 18, 2014 Lt. Col Isaac Zida (acting president)
Population: 1,086,000 people
Size: 15,730,977 (2010)
Gender make-up: Male-49.71%; Female-50.29%
Life expectancy – 52.9 years
GDP per capita
$ 1,500 (2011)
$ 1,400 (2010)
Border countries: Benin 306km, Cote d'Ivoire 584km, Ghana 549km, Mali 1,000km, Niger 628km, Togo 126km
French (official), Moore, Dioula (Bambara)
Muslim 50%, Indigenous beliefs 40%,Christian (mainly Roman Catholic) 10%
Mossi over 40%, other approximately 60% (includes Gurunsi, Senufo, Lobi, Bobo, Mande, and Fulani)
Manganese, Limestone, Marble, Small deposits of gold, phosphates and pumice, Salt
Cotton, Livestock, Gold
Arable land: 17.66%
Permanent crops: 0.22%
Main Port: Landlocked
Main airport: Ouagadougou International Airport located 3km from city centre
Recurrent Sahelian droughts are Burkina Faso’s main problem
President Compaore is generally regarded to be a steady political hand, but human rights activists and regime opponents complain of his frequent high-handedness
In response to widespread protests and mutiny which lasted approximately three months in 2011, Mr. Compaore promised soldiers a range of benefits and formed a new government in a bid to quell the unrest
One of the poorest countries in the world, landlocked Burkina Faso 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.
In 2011, demonstrations by trade unions and civil society groups against the escalating cost of living, was seen as the biggest challenge to Mr Compaore's rule since he took power in a coup 24 years ago. Tens of thousands of people across the landlocked African country marched in protest against his regime and disgruntled soldiers have been protested violently for higher wages.
Compared to its neighbours, Burkina Faso is fairly ethnically integrated, which contributes to ethnic and political stability
Burkina Faso has good relations with European aid donors, as well as Libya and Taiwan (it is one of the few remaining countries in the world to host a Taiwanese embassy). France and the European Union, in particular, provide significant aid.
President Compaore is active in sub-regional diplomacy. His latest venture was this year when Ecowas contracted him to mediate in the Guinea standoff between Capt oussa Camara's junta and opposition politicians. When the junta leader was shot in an assassination attempt, Compaore arranged to have him in Burkina Faso in what amounted to exile.
Burkina Faso has a huge and poor migrant population in neighbouring countries seeking work. In Cote d’Ivoire they are about 3 million. Successive expulsions from Ghana (1967) and Cote d’Ivoire (from 2003) have strained relations with these states
The Major Conflicts
The Thomas Sankara period
When: 1983 to 1987
Who: Jean-Baptiste Oedraogo vs Thomas Sankara.
Why: Factional infighting developed between moderates in the CSP and radicals led by Capt. Sankara, who was appointed Prime Minister in January 1983, but was subsequently arrested.
Outcome: Efforts to bring about Sankara’s release, directed by Capt. Blaise Compaore, resulted in yet another military coup d'etat, led by Sankara and Compaore on August 4, 1983. Sankara was assassinated in a coup, which brought Compaore to power in 1987. Compaore's role in his friend's assassination is murky.
Who: Burkina Faso and Benin
Why: Dispute over two villages on the common border
Outcome: Ecowas intervened to resolve the dispute that had lingered since 2005
What to see?
Village Artisanal de Ouaga, Ouagadougou region; The Village Artisanal is a place for local artists to showcase and sell their artwork
Famous sportsmen and sportswomen
Kassoum Ouegraogo (nicknamed Zico) – plays Club soccer in Europe
Moumouni Dagano – voted best African player in Belgium in 2001
For a country which was named “the land of upright people,” ancient magic rituals, shamans and witchcraft are prevalent in rural areas