Country Profiles:
Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in western Africa, bounded by Mali to the north and west, Niger to the northeast, Benin to the southeast, and Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Togo to the south. The name Burkina is a Moore (one of the ethnic groups in the country) word for “Honorary People, ” and Faso, is a Dioula word which means “Fatherland” and together means, “land of honest men.” The use of different ethnic languages to name places, landmarks, etc. indicates unification among ethnic groups in the country. The capital, Ouagadougou, is in the center of the country and lies about 500 miles (800 km) from the Atlantic Ocean. Ouagadougou, a Francophone spelling of the name; pronunciation: ​[waɡaduɡu], a name from the Ninsi tribe.

UNESCO Heritage sites in Burkina Faso include:

1. Pendjari National Park
Lies in north western Benin, adjoining the Arli National Park in Burkina Faso. Named for the Pendjari River, the national park is known for its wildlife and is home to some of the last populations of big game like elephants, West African lions, hippopotamuses, buffalo and various antelopes in West Africa. The park is also famous for its richness in birds.

2. Ruins of Loropéni
These ruins are the country’s first World Heritage site. The site, which spans 11,130 square metres (119,800 sq ft), includes an array of stone walls that comprised an ancient fortress, the best preserved of ten in the area.

Formerly, called "Upper Volta," (named for its location on the upper courses of the Volta River-the Black, Red and White Volta) under the French Empire, the country gained its independence on August 5th 1960. Soon after, Maurice Yameogo became president and he was overthrown in 1966 by Sangoule Lamizana.

n 1983 Thomas Sankara, also known as “Africa’s Che Guevara,” seized power  and attempted to introduce major reforms and acted on Marxist ideology. Sankara also renamed the country Burkina Faso on 4 August 1984, formerly called the Republic of Upper Volta (1958-1984). He was killed in a coup led by his successor Blaise Compaore. Marc Kabore won the November 2015 presidential election.

The country has significant reserves of gold,  mining of copper, iron, manganese, cassiterite (tin ore), and phosphates are present but  has yet to be tapped into. Since the country is affected by the Sahel drought and famine, there are domestic and external concerns over the state of its economy and human rights. However there is a potential for untapped natural resources. About 80% of the population lives on subsistence agriculture with Peanut, Millet, Sorghum, cotton and gold as exports.

There are four major ethnic groups, the Mossi, Mande (whose common language is Dioula), Fulani, Bobo and Lobi. The Voltaic Mossi makes up about one-half of the population. The Mossi claim descent from warriors who migrated from northern Ghana. Although French is the official language, three regional languages are spoken, Moore, Mandinka and Bambara.

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