Burkina Faso

Introduction Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta) achieved independence from France in 1960. Repeated military coups during the 1970s and 1980s were followed by multiparty elections in the early 1990s. Current President Blaise COMPAORE came to power in a 1987 military coup and has won every election since then. Burkina Faso's high population density and limited natural resources result in poor economic prospects for the majority of its citizens. Recent unrest in Cote d'Ivoire and northern Ghana has hindered the ability of several hundred thousand seasonal Burkinabe farm workers to find employment in neighboring countries.
History

Early history

Like all of the west of Africa, Burkina Faso was populated early, notably by hunter-gatherers in the northwestern part of the country (12,000 to 5000 BC), and whose tools (scrapers, chisels and arrowheads) were discovered in 1973. Settlements appeared between 3600 and 2600 BC with farmers, the traces of whose structures leave the impression of relatively permanent buildings. The use of iron, ceramics and polished stone developed between 1500 and 1000 BC, as well as a preoccupation with spiritual matters, as shown by the burial remains which have been discovered.

Relics of the Dogon are found in the centre-north, north and north west region. They left the area between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries BC to settle in the cliffs of Bandiagara. Elsewhere, the remains of high walls are localised in the southwest of Burkina Faso (as well as in the Côte d'Ivoire), but the people who built them have not yet been definitely identified.

Burkina Faso was a very important economic region for the Songhai Empire during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

From colony to independence

After a decade of intense rivalry and competition between the British and the French, waged through treaty making expeditions under military or civilian explorers, in 1896, the Mossi kingdom of Ouagadougou was defeated by French colonial forces and became a French protectorate. The western region, where a standoff against the forces of the powerful ruler Samori Ture complicated the situation, and the eastern region came under French occupation in 1897 following different campaigns. By 1898, the majority of the territory corresponding to Burkina Faso today was nominally conquered, although control of many parts remained precarious. The French and British convention of June 14, 1898 ended the scramble between the two colonial powers and basically traced the borders between them. On the French side a war of conquest against local communities and political powers continued for about five years. In the 1904 large-scale reorganization of the French West African colonial empire, the now largely pacified territories of the Volta basin were integrated into the Upper Senegal and Niger (Haut-Sénégal et Niger) colony of French West Africa (AOF). The colony had its capital in Bamako.

Draftees from the territory participated in the European fronts of First World War in the battalions of the Senegalese Infantry (Tirailleurs sénégalais). Between 1915 and 1916 the districts in the western part of what is now Burkina Faso and the bordering eastern fringe of Mali became the stage of one of the most important armed oppositions to colonial government (known as the Volta-Bani War). The French government finally suppressed the movement, but only after suffering defeats and being forced to gather the largest expeditionary force of its colonial history up to then. Armed opposition also wrecked the Sahelian north, as the Tuareg and allied groups of the Dori region ended their truce with the government. Once the First World War was over, on March 1, 1919, fear of recurrence of armed uprising and economic considerations led the colonial government to separate the present territory of Burkina Faso from Haut Sénégal et Niger so as to intensify its administration. The new colony was named Upper Volta (Haute Volta) and François Charles Alexis Édouard Hesling became its first governor. Hesling initiated an ambitious road making program and promoted cotton growing for export. The cotton policy, based on coercion, failed and revenue stagnated. The colony was dismantled on September 5, 1932, and its territory divided between Côte d’Ivoire, French Sudan and Niger, the largest share with most of the population and the cities of Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso passing to Côte d'Ivoire.

The decision was reversed during the intense anti-colonial agitation that followed the end of the Second World War and on September 4, 1947 Upper Volta was recreated in its 1932 boundaries under the French Union. On December 11, 1958, it achieved self-government, and became the Republic of Upper Volta and member of the Franco-African Community (La Communauté Franco-Africaine). Full independence was attained in 1960. The country's first military coup occurred in 1966; which returned civilian rule in 1978. There was another coup, led by Saye Zerbo in 1980, which in turn was overthrown in 1982. A counter-coup was launched in 1983, which brought the charismatic Captain Thomas Sankara to leadership. In 1984 the revolutionary government changed the name of the country to Burkina Faso, its flag, and its national anthem. The current president is Blaise Compaoré, who came to power in 1987 after a coup d'état that killed Thomas Sankara.

Geography Location: Western Africa, north of Ghana
Geographic coordinates: 13 00 N, 2 00 W
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 274,200 sq km
land: 273,800 sq km
water: 400 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly larger than Colorado
Land boundaries: total: 3,193 km
border countries: Benin 306 km, Cote d'Ivoire 584 km, Ghana 549 km, Mali 1,000 km, Niger 628 km, Togo 126 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (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, phosphates, pumice, salt
Land use: arable land: 17.66%
permanent crops: 0.22%
other: 82.12% (2005)
Irrigated land: 250 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 17.5 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.8 cu km/yr (13%/1%/86%)
per capita: 60 cu m/yr (2000)
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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: landlocked savanna cut by the three principal rivers of the Black, Red, and White Voltas
Politics

The constitution of June 2, 1991 established a semi-presidential government with a parliament (Assemblée) which can be dissolved by the President of the Republic, who is elected for a term of seven years. In 2000, however, there was a constitutional amendment reducing the presidential term from seven to five years, which was enforced during the 2005 elections. Another change according to the amendment would have prevented sitting president Blaise Compaoré from being re-elected. However, notwithstanding a challenge by other presidential candidates, in October 2005 the constitutional council ruled that because Compaoré was already a 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 November 13, Compaoré was reelected in a landslide due to a divided political opposition.

The parliament consists of two chambers: the lower house (l'Assemblée Nationale) and the upper house (la Chambre des Représentants). There is also a constitutional chamber, composed of ten members, and an economic and social council whose roles are purely consultative.

People Population: 14,326,203
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 46.7% (male 3,356,737/female 3,327,058)
15-64 years: 50.9% (male 3,635,152/female 3,650,303)
65 years and over: 2.5% (male 141,554/female 215,399) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 16.5 years
male: 16.3 years
female: 16.7 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.997% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 45.28 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 15.31 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.009 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.996 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.657 male(s)/female
total population: 0.992 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 89.79 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 97.55 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 81.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 49.21 years
male: 47.68 years
female: 50.8 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 6.41 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 4.2% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 300,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 29,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2008)
Nationality: noun: Burkinabe (singular and plural)
adjective: Burkinabe
Ethnic groups: Mossi over 40%, other approximately 60% (includes Gurunsi, Senufo, Lobi, Bobo, Mande, and Fulani)
Religions: Muslim 50%, indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian (mainly Roman Catholic) 10%
Languages: French (official), native African languages belonging to Sudanic family spoken by 90% of the population
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 21.8%
male: 29.4%
female: 15.2% (2003 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Burkina Faso
local long form: none
local short form: Burkina Faso
former: Upper Volta, Republic of Upper Volta
Government type: parliamentary republic
Capital: name: Ouagadougou
geographic coordinates: 12 22 N, 1 31 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 45 provinces; Bale, Bam, Banwa, Bazega, Bougouriba, Boulgou, Boulkiemde, Comoe, Ganzourgou, Gnagna, Gourma, Houet, Ioba, Kadiogo, Kenedougou, Komondjari, Kompienga, Kossi, Koulpelogo, Kouritenga, Kourweogo, Leraba, Loroum, Mouhoun, Nahouri, Namentenga, Nayala, Noumbiel, Oubritenga, Oudalan, Passore, Poni, Sanguie, Sanmatenga, Seno, Sissili, Soum, Sourou, Tapoa, Tuy, Yagha, Yatenga, Ziro, Zondoma, Zoundweogo
Independence: 5 August 1960 (from France)
National holiday: Republic Day, 11 December (1958)
Constitution: 2 June 1991 approved by referendum, 11 June 1991 formally adopted; last amended January 2002
Legal system: based on French civil law system and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Blaise COMPAORE (since 15 October 1987)
head of government: Prime Minister Tertius ZONGO (since 4 June 2007)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 13 November 2005 (next to be held in 2010); in April 2000, the constitution was amended reducing the presidential term from seven to five years, enforceable as of 2005; prime minister appointed by the president with the consent of the legislature
election results: Blaise COMPAORE reelected president; percent of popular vote - Blaise COMPAORE 80.3%, Benewende Stanislas SANKARA 4.9%
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (111 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: National Assembly election last held 6 May 2007 (next to be held in May 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CDP 73, ADF-RDA 14, UPR 5, UNIR-MS 4, CFD-B 3, UPS 2, PDP-PS 2, RDB 2, PDS 2, PAREN 1, PAI 1, RPC 1, UDPS 1
Judicial branch: Supreme Court; Appeals Court
Political parties and leaders: African Democratic Rally-Alliance for Democracy and Federation or ADF-RDA [Gilbert OUEDRAOGO]; Citizen's Popular Rally or RPC [Antoine QUARE]; Coalition of Democratic Forces of Burkina or CFD-B [Amadou Diemdioda DICKO]; Congress for Democracy and Progress or CDP [Roch Marc-Christian KABORE]; Movement for Tolerance and Progress or MTP [Nayabtigungou Congo KABORE]; Party for African Independence or PAI [Philippe OUEDRAOGO]; Party for Democracy and Progress/Socialist Party or PDP/PS [Ali LANKOANDE]; Party for Democracy and Socialism or PDS [Felix SOUBEIGA]; Party for National Rebirth or PAREN [Oumar DJIGUIMDE]; Rally for the Development of Burkina or RDB [Antoine KARGOUGOU]; Rally of Ecologists of Burkina Faso or RDEB [Ram OUEDRAGO]; Republican Party for Integration and Solidarity or PARIS [Cyril GOUNGOUNGA]; Union for Democracy and Social Progress or UDPS [Fidele HIEN]; Union for Rebirth - Sankarist Movement or UNIR-MS [Benewende STANISLAS]; Union for the Republic or UPR [Toussaint Abel COULIBALY]; Union of Sankarist Parties or UPS [Ernest Nongma OUEDRAOGO]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Burkinabe General Confederation of Labor or CGTB [Tole SAGNON]; Burkinabe Movement for Human Rights or MBDHP [Chrysigone ZOUGMORE]; Group of 14 February [Benewende STANISLAS]; National Confederation of Burkinabe Workers or CNTB [Laurent OUEDRAOGO]; National Organization of Free Unions or ONSL [Paul KABORE]; watchdog/political action groups throughout the country in both organizations and communities
International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, AU, ECOWAS, Entente, FAO, FZ, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OIF, OPCW, PCA, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WADB (regional), WAEMU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Paramanga Ernest YONLI (since 14 January 2008)
chancery: 2340 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 332-5577
FAX: [1] (202) 667-1882
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Jeanine E. JACKSON
embassy: 602 Avenue Raoul Follereau, Koulouba, Secteur 4
mailing address: 01 B. P. 35, Ouagadougou 01; pouch mail - US Department of State, 2440 Ouagadougou Place, Washington, DC 20521-2440
telephone: [226] 50-30-67-23
FAX: [226] 50-30-38-90, 50-31-23-68
Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and green with a yellow five-pointed star in the center
note: uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia
Culture

Two key elements of the culture of Burkina Faso are masks and dancing. The masks used in this region are made for rites of sacrifice to gods and animal spirits in the villages, to demonstrate the villagers' desire for blessing by the spirits.

Art and cinema

The Popular Theatre in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, is a center of social and cultural events for the country. Ouagadougou, is a major hub of activity for those involved in African cinema, and hosts a Pan-African film festival every year called FESPACO, the Pan-African film and television Festival of Ouagadougou, which is a world-renowned affair. Culture and art are further displayed at Laongo, an area of exposed granites where artists from the entire world are invited to sculpt on the rock. [1] Idrissa Ouedraogo, probably the most commercially successful African director, is from Burkina Faso.

Economy Economy - overview: 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. Cotton is the main cash crop and the government has joined with three other cotton producing countries in the region - Mali, Niger, and Chad - to lobby in the World Trade Organization for fewer subsidies to producers in other competing countries. Since 1998, Burkina Faso has embarked upon a gradual but successful privatization of state-owned enterprises. Having revised its investment code in 2004, Burkina Faso hopes to attract foreign investors. Thanks to this new code and other legislation favoring the mining sector, the country has seen an upswing in gold exploration and production. While the bitter internal crisis in neighboring Cote d'Ivoire is beginning to be resolved, it is still having a negative effect on Burkina Faso's trade and employment. In 2007 higher costs for energy and imported foodstuffs, as well as low cotton prices, dampened a GDP growth rate that had averaged 6% in the last 10 years. Burkina Faso received a Millennium Challenge Account threshold grant to improve girls' education at the primary school level, and appears likely to receive a grant in the areas of infrastructure, agriculture, and land reform.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $17.5 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $6.858 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 4.2% (2007)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $1,200 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 29.4%
industry: 19%
services: 51.7% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 5 million
note: a large part of the male labor force migrates annually to neighboring countries for seasonal employment (2003)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 90%
industry and services: 10% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate: 77%
Population below poverty line: 46.4% (2004)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 32.2% (2004)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 39.5 (2007)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 0.7% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 20.6% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $1.311 billion
expenditures: $1.764 billion (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: cotton, peanuts, shea nuts, sesame, sorghum, millet, corn, rice; livestock
Industries: cotton lint, beverages, agricultural processing, soap, cigarettes, textiles, gold
Industrial production growth rate: 5.2% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 516.2 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 69.9%
hydro: 30.1%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 480.1 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2005)
Oil - consumption: 8,300 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 0 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 8,158 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: -$752 million (2007)
Exports: $676 million f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: cotton, livestock, gold
Exports - partners: China 41.9%, Singapore 14.4%, Ghana 5.9%, Thailand 4.9%, Niger 4.4% (2006)
Imports: $1.39 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: capital goods, foodstuffs, petroleum
Imports - partners: Cote d'Ivoire 25.9%, France 22.8%, Togo 7.2% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: $659.6 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $897 million (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external: $1.33 billion (2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $NA
Currency (code): Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF); note - responsible authority is the Central Bank of the West African States
Currency code: XOF
Exchange rates: Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar - 493.51 (2007), 522.59 (2006), 527.47 (2005), 528.29 (2004), 581.2 (2003)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 94,800 (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 1.017 million (2006)
Telephone system: general assessment: services only fair; in 2006 the government sold a 51 percent stake in the national telephone company and ultimately plans to retain only a 23 percent stake in the company; fixed-line connections stand at less than 1 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular usage, fostered by multiple providers, is increasing rapidly from a low base
domestic: microwave radio relay, open-wire, and radiotelephone communication stations
international: country code - 226; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2007)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 26, shortwave 3
Radios: 394,020 (2000)
Television broadcast stations: 3 (1 national, 2 private)
Televisions: 131,340 (2002)
Internet country code: .bf
Internet hosts: 193 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2002)
Internet users: 80,000 (2006)
Transportation Airports: 33 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 31
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 17 (2007)
Railways: total: 622 km
narrow gauge: 622 km 1.000-m gauge
note:: another 660 km of this railway extends into Cote D'Ivoire (2006)
Roadways: total: 15,272 km
paved: 4,766 km
unpaved: 10,506 km (2004)
Military Military branches: Army, Air Force of Burkina Faso (Force Aerienne de Burkina Faso, FABF), National Gendarmerie (2008)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for compulsory military service; 20 years of age for voluntary military service (2001)
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 2,651,687 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 1,530,324 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.2% (2006)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: two villages remain in dispute along the border with Benin; Benin accuses Burkina Faso of moving boundary pillars; in recent years citizens and rogue security forces rob and harass local populations on both sides of the poorly-defined Burkina Faso-Niger border; despite the presence of over 9,000 UN forces (UNOCI) in Cote d'Ivoire since 2004, ethnic conflict continues to spread into neighboring states who can no longer send their migrant workers to work in Ivorian cocoa plantations