Burkina Faso -- Geography --
Official Name: Burkina Faso
Capital City: Ouagadougou
Languages: French, Moore, Dioula
Religions: Islam, Catholic, Protestant
Burkina Faso's 15.7 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.
Land Area: 274,000 sq km
Landforms: Burkina Faso is made up of two major types of countryside. The larger part of the country is covered by a peneplain, which forms a gently undulating landscape with, in some areas, a few isolated hills, the last vestiges of a Precambrian massif. The southwest of the country, on the other hand, forms a sandstone massif, where the highest peak, Tenakourou, is found at an elevation of 749 meters (2,450 feet). The massif is bordered by sheer cliffs up to 150 meters (490 ft) high. The average altitude of Burkina Faso is 400 meters (1,300 ft) and the difference between the highest and lowest terrain is no greater than 600 meters (2,000 ft). Burkina Faso is therefore a relatively flat country. The country owes its former name of Upper Volta to three rivers which cross it: the Black Volta (or Mouhoun), the White Volta (Nakambe) and the Red Volta (Nazinon). The Black Volta, along with the Komoe, which flows to the southwest, is one of the country's only two rivers which flow year-round. The basin of the Niger River also drains 27% of the country's surface.
Land Divisions:Burkina Faso is divided into thirteen regions, forty-five provinces, and 301 departments. The regions are:
Boucle du Mouhoun
Burkina Faso -- History --
Burkina Faso was populated early, between 14000 and 5000 BC, by hunter-gatherers in the northwestern part of the country, Settlements appeared between 3600 and 2800 BC with farmers.The central part of Burkina Faso included a number of Mossi kingdoms, the most powerful of which were that of Wagadogo (Ouagadougou) and Yatenga. These kingdoms emerged in the early sixteenth century.
Òhe Mossi kingdom of Ouagadougou was defeated by French colonial forces and became a French protectorate in 1896. The eastern region and the western region, where a standoff against the forces of the powerful ruler Samori Ture complicated the situation, came under French occupation in 1897. By 1898, the majority of the territory corresponding to Burkina Faso today was nominally conquered; however, control of many parts remained uncertain.
In 1904, the largely pacified territories of the Volta basin were integrated into the Upper Senegal and Niger colony of French West Africa under the name Upper Volta.
Upper Volta became an autonomous republic in the French community in 1958. Full independence from France was attained on August 5,1960.
In 1966 when after much unrest—mass demonstrations and strikes by students, labor unions, and civil servants—the military intervened and in 1978 civil government was reelected.
Capt. Thomas Sankara made another coup d'etat on August 4, 1983.After the coup, Sankara formed the National Council for the Revolution (CNR), with himself as president. Sankara, Compaore, Capt. Henri Zongo, and Maj. Jean-Baptiste Lingani—all leftist military officers—dominated the regime.
On August 4, 1984, as a final result of President Sankara's zealous activities, the country's name was eventually changed from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, which translates to "land of honest people".
Burkina Faso -- Economy --
Burkina Faso has one of the lowest GDP per capita incomes in the world: $1,200. Agriculture represents huge part of its gross domestic product and occupies 80% of the working population. It consists mostly of livestock but also, especially in the south and southwest, of growing sorghum, pearl millet, maize (corn), peanuts, rice and cotton.Unemployment causes a high rate of emigration. For example, three million citizens of Burkina Faso live in Cote d'Ivoire. According to the Central Bank of West African States, these migrants send substantial amounts of money back to Burkina Faso each year. Since the 1967 expulsions from Ghana, this situation has provoked tensions in the recipient countries. The most recent crisis occurred owing to the events of 2003 in Cote d'Ivoire, which led to the return of 300,000 migrants. A large part of the economic activity of the country is funded by international aid. The currency of Burkina Faso is the CFA franc. There is mineral exploitation of copper, iron, manganese and, above all, gold. Burkina Faso also hosts the International Art and Craft Fair, Ouagadougou, better known by its French name as SIAO Le Salon International de l' Artisanat de Ouagadougou, one of the most important African handicraft fairs. Burkina Faso is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa.
Burkina Faso -- Culture --
Literature in Burkina Faso is based on the oral tradition, which remains important. In 1934, during French occupation, Dim-Dolobsom Ouedraogo published his Maximes, pensees et devinettes mossi (Maximes, Thoughts and Riddles of the Mossi), a record of the oral history of the Mossi people. The oral tradition continued to have an influence on Burkinabe writers in the post-independence Burkina Faso of the 1960s, such as Nazi Boni and Roger Nikiema. The 1960s saw a growth in the number of playwrights being published. Since the 1970s, literature has developed in Burkina Faso with many more writers being published.The theatre of Burkina Faso combines traditional Burkinabe performance with the colonial influences and post-colonial efforts to educate rural people to produce a distinctive national theatre. Traditional ritual ceremonies of the many ethnic groups in Burkina Faso have long involved dancing with masks. Western-style theatre became common during colonial times, heavily influenced by French theatre. With independence came a new style of theatre inspired by forum theatre aimed at educating and entertaining Burkina Faso's rural people.The cuisine of Burkina Faso, typically of west African cuisine, is based around staple foods of sorghum, millet, rice, maize, peanuts, potatoes, beans, yams and okra. The most common sources of protein are chicken, chicken eggs and fresh water fish. A typical Burkinabe beverage is Banji or Palm Wine, which is fermented palm sap, and Zoom-kom. Especially the town of Banfora is known for its good quality Banji, though you should be wary of the Banji sold by hawkers as it is often not very fresh and may contain added water.
Burkina Faso -- Political system, law and government --
The constitution of 2 June 1991 established a semi-presidential government with a parliament which can be dissolved by the President of the Republic, who is elected for a term of seven years. In 2000, however, the constitution was amended to reduce the presidential term to five years. The amendment took effect during the 2005 elections. The amendment also would have prevented the sitting president, Blaise Compaore, from being reelected; however, notwithstanding a challenge by other presidential candidates, the constitutional council ruled in October 2005 that because Compaore was the sitting president in 2000, the amendment would not apply to him until the end of his second term in office. This cleared the way for his candidacy in the 2005 election. On 13 November, Compaore was reelected in a landslide due to a divided political opposition.
The parliament consists of two chambers: the lower house, known as the National Assembly, and the upper house, the House of Representatives. There is also a constitutional chamber, composed of ten members, and an economic and social council whose roles are purely consultative.