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The Burkina Faso Portal

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Burkina Faso (UK: /bɜːrˌknə ˈfæs/, US: /bərˌknə ˈfɑːs/ (About this soundlisten); French: [buʁkina faso]) is a landlocked country in West Africa. It covers an area of around 274,200 square kilometres (105,900 sq mi) and is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north; Niger to the east; Benin to the southeast; Togo and Ghana to the south; and Ivory Coast to the southwest. The July 2019 population estimate by the United Nations was 20,321,378. Burkina Faso is a francophone country, with French as the official language of government and business. Roughly 40% of the population speaks the Mossi language. Formerly called the Republic of Upper Volta (1958–1984), the country was renamed "Burkina Faso" on 4 August 1984 by then-President Thomas Sankara. Its citizens are known as Burkinabé (/bɜːrˈknəb/ bur-KEE-nə-bay). Its capital is Ouagadougou.

The Republic of Upper Volta was established on 11 December 1958 as a self-governing colony within the French Community, and on 5 August 1960 it gained full independence, with Maurice Yaméogo as president. After protests by students and labour union members, Yaméogo was deposed in the 1966 coup d'état, led by Sangoulé Lamizana, who became president. His rule coincided with the Sahel drought and famine, and facing problems from the country's traditionally powerful trade unions he was deposed in the 1980 coup d'état, led by Saye Zerbo. Encountering resistance from trade unions again, Zerbo's government was overthrown in the 1982 coup d'état, led by Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo. The leader of the leftist faction of Ouédraogo's government, Thomas Sankara, became prime minister but was later imprisoned. Efforts to free him led to the popularly-supported 1983 coup d'état, in which he became president. Sankara renamed the country Burkina Faso and launched an ambitious socioeconomic programme which included a nationwide literacy campaign, land redistribution to peasants, railway and road construction and the outlawing of female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy. Sankara was overthrown and killed in the 1987 coup d'état led by Blaise Compaoré – deteriorating relations with former coloniser France and its ally the Ivory Coast were the reason given for the coup.

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ConstructionGuinée1904.jpg

The Code de l'indigénat was a set of laws creating, in practice, an inferior legal status for natives of French Colonies from 1887 until 1944–1947. First put in place in Algeria, it was applied across the French Colonial Empire in 1887–1889. A similar strategy was also employed by other European colonial powers, under the concept of Indirect rule.

French colonial policy is often contrasted with the British concept of Indirect rule pioneered by Frederick Lugard of the British East Africa Company in Uganda and later the Royal Niger Company in what is today Nigeria. Lugard devised a method of colonial administration which relied upon maintenance of pre-colonial chiefs and other political structures, who were in turn subject to the authority of British representatives.

The French government, in contrast, wrote much about the assimilation of colonial subjects, with the final aim of creating in their colonies integral parts of France, filled with African, Arab, or Asian Frenchmen. This combined with a Jacobin tradition of centralizing government, has given weight to the argument that French colonial rule stood in stark contrast to other models. But only small areas of France's colonial possessions were ever afforded full rights as Overseas Departments of the French state.

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Oursi dunes
Credit: C. Hughes

Sand dunes on the outskirts or Oursi, Oursi Department, Burkina Faso. In the distance is Oursi town and Mare d'Oursi.

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Samori Ture

Samori Ture (also Samory Touré or Samori ibn Lafiya Ture, c. 1830 - 1900) was the founder of the Wassoulou Empire, an Islamic state that resisted French rule in West Africa from 1882 to his capture in 1898.

Born c. 1830 in Manyambaladugu (in what is now southeastern Guinea), the son of Dyula traders, Samori grew up in a West Africa being transformed by growing contacts with the Europeans. European trade made some African trading states rich, while growing access to firearms changed traditional West African patterns of warfare. Early in his life, Ture converted to Islam.

In 1848, Samori's mother was captured in the course of war by Séré-Burlay, of the Cissé clan. After arranging his mother's freedom, Samori engaged himself to the service of the Cissés where he learned the handling of arms. According to tradition, he remained "seven years, seven months, seven days" before fleeing with his mother. (Read more...)

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