Burkina Faso

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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. 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.


Western Africa, north of Ghana

Geographic coordinates:

13 00 N, 2 00 W


total: 274,200 sq km
land: 273,800 sq km
water: 400 sq km

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


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims:

none (landlocked)


tropical; warm, dry winters; hot, wet summers


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)

Natural hazards:

recurring droughts

Environment - current issues:

recent droughts and desertification severely affecting agricultural activities, population distribution, and the economy; overgrazing; soil degradation; deforestation

Geography - note:

landlocked savanna cut by the three principal rivers of the Black, Red, and White Voltas


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 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 46.8% (male 3,267,202/female 3,235,190)
15-64 years: 50.7% (male 3,513,559/female 3,538,623)
65 years and over: 2.5% (male 140,083/female 208,315) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 16.5 years
male: 16.3 years
female: 16.7 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

3% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

45.62 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

15.6 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.67 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 91.35 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 99.17 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 83.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 48.85 years
male: 47.33 years
female: 50.42 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

6.47 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

4.2% (2003 est.)

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 is a high risk in some locations
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis (2005)


noun: Burkinabe (singular and plural)
adjective: Burkinabe

Ethnic groups:

Mossi over 40%, Gurunsi, Senufo, Lobi, Bobo, Mande, Fulani


Muslim 50%, indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian (mainly Roman Catholic) 10%


French (official), native African languages belonging to Sudanic family spoken by 90% of the population


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 26.6%
male: 36.9%
female: 16.6% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Burkina Faso
former: Upper Volta, Republic of Upper Volta

Government type:

parliamentary republic



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


5 August 1960 (from France)

National holiday:

Republic Day, 11 December (1958)


2 June 1991 approved by referendum, 11 June 1991 formally adopted; amended April 2000

Legal system:

based on French civil law system and customary law



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 5 May 2002 (next to be held May 2007)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CDP 57, RDA-ADF 17, PDP/PS 10, CFD 5, PAI 5, other 17

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court; Appeals Court

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 harsh climatic conditions. Cotton is the key crop and the government has joined with other cotton producing countries in the region to lobby for improved access to Western markets. GDP growth has largely been driven by increases in world cotton prices. Industry remains dominated by unprofitable government-controlled corporations. Following the CFA franc currency devaluation in January 1994, the government updated its development program in conjunction with international agencies; exports and economic growth have increased. The government devolved macroeconomic policy and inflation targeting to the West African regional central bank (BCEAO), but maintains control over fiscal and microeconomic policies, including implementing reforms to encourage private investment. The bitter internal crisis in neighboring Cote d'Ivoire continues to hurt trade and industrial prospects and deepens the need for international assistance.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$16.83 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$5.394 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

4.5% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$1,200 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 39.5%
industry: 19.3%
services: 41.3% (2004 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.)

Population below poverty line:

45% (2003 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 46.8% (1994)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

48.2 (1998)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

3% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

20.3% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $1.033 billion
expenditures: $1.382 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

cotton, peanuts, shea nuts, sesame, sorghum, millet, corn, rice; livestock


cotton lint, beverages, agricultural processing, soap, cigarettes, textiles, gold

Industrial production growth rate:

14% (2001 est.)

Electricity - production:

375.6 million kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

349.3 million kWh (2003)

Oil - consumption:

8,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Current account balance:

-$562 million (2005 est.)


$395 million f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

cotton, livestock, gold

Exports - partners:

China 32%, Singapore 11.5%, Ghana 4.7%, Bangladesh 4.3% (2004)


$992 million f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

capital goods, foodstuffs, petroleum

Imports - partners:

France 27.9%, Cote d'Ivoire 19.7%, Togo 9.4% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$791 million (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$1.85 billion (2003)

Economic aid - recipient:

$468.4 million (2003)

Currency (code):

Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF); note - responsible authority is the Central Bank of the West African States

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

81,400 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

398,000 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: all services only fair
domestic: microwave radio relay, open-wire, and radiotelephone communication stations
international: country code - 226; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 3, FM 17, shortwave 3 (2002)

Television broadcast stations:

1 (2002)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

373 (2005)

Internet users:

53,200 (2005)


33 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 31
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 17 (2005)


total: 622 km
narrow gauge: 622 km 1.000-m gauge
note:: another 660 km of this railway extends into Cote D'Ivoire (2004)


total: 12,506 km
paved: 2,001 km
unpaved: 10,505 km (1999)

Military branches:

Army, Air Force, National Gendarmerie (2005)

Disputes - international:

two villages are in dispute along the border with Benin; Benin accuses Burkina Faso of moving boundary pillars; Burkina Faso border regions remain a staging area for Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire rebels and an asylum for refugees caught in local fighting; the Ivoirian Government accuses Burkina Faso of sheltering Ivoirian rebels