Africa :: Burkina Faso
page last updated on August 3, 2010
Flag of Burkina Faso
Map of Burkina Faso
Introduction ::Burkina Faso
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.
Geography ::Burkina Faso
Western Africa, north of Ghana
Geographic coordinates:
13 00 N, 2 00 W
Map references:
total: 274,200 sq km
country comparison to the world: 74
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
0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims:
none (landlocked)
Current Weather
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)
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
People ::Burkina Faso
country comparison to the world: 61
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, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2010 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 46% (male 3,746,651/female 3,723,849)
15-64 years: 51.5% (male 4,171,244/female 4,192,256)
65 years and over: 2.5% (male 159,462/female 248,349) (2010 est.)
Median age:
total: 16.8 years
male: 16.6 years
female: 17 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate:
3.095% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 11
Birth rate:
43.98 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 4
Death rate:
13.02 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 24
Net migration rate:
urban population: 20% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 5% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 82.98 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 13
male: 90.53 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 75.21 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 53.32 years
country comparison to the world: 203
male: 51.39 years
female: 55.31 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate:
6.21 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 6
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
1.6% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 38
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
130,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
9,200 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria and yellow fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
animal contact disease: rabies
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 (2009)
noun: Burkinabe (singular and plural)
adjective: Burkinabe
Ethnic groups:
Mossi over 40%, other approximately 60% (includes Gurunsi, Senufo, Lobi, Bobo, Mande, and 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: 21.8%
male: 29.4%
female: 15.2% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 5 years
male: 5 years
female: 4 years (2006)
Education expenditures:
4.2% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 96
Government ::Burkina Faso
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
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
5 August 1960 (from France)
National holiday:
Republic Day, 11 December (1958)
approved by referendum 2 June 1991; formally adopted 11 June 1991; last amended January 2002
Legal system:
based on French civil law system and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; 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
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elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 13 November 2005 (next to be held on 21 November 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 on 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]; Democratic and Popular Rally or RDP [Nana THIBAUT]; Movement for Tolerance and Progress or MTP [Nayabtigungou Congo KABORE]; Party for African Independence or PAI [Soumane TOURE]; 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 [Jeanne TRAORE]; 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; 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]
other: watchdog/political action groups throughout the country in both organizations and communities
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Paramanga Ernest YONLI
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 (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Samuel C. LAEUCHLI
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
Flag description:
two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and green with a yellow five-pointed star in the center; red recalls the country's struggle for independence, green is for hope and abundance,and yellow represents the country's mineral wealth
note: uses the popular Pan-African colors of Ethiopia
Economy ::Burkina Faso
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. Burkina Faso received a Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) threshold grant to improve girls' education at the primary school level, and signed an MCC compact that focuses on the areas of infrastructure, agriculture, and land reform in July 2008.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$18.79 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 125
$18.19 billion (2008 est.)
$17.29 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$7.871 billion (2009 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3.3% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 54
5.2% (2008 est.)
3.6% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$1,200 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 205
$1,200 (2008 est.)
$1,200 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 30.1%
industry: 20.7%
services: 49.2% (2009 est.)
Labor force:
6.668 million
country comparison to the world: 63
note: a large part of the male labor force migrates annually to neighboring countries for seasonal employment (2007)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 90%
industry and services: 10% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate:
77% (2004)
country comparison to the world: 197
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)
country comparison to the world: 64
48.2 (1994)
Investment (gross fixed):
20.1% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
revenues: $1.323 billion
expenditures: $1.937 billion (2009 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.6% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89
10.7% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate:
4.75% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 113
4.25% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
Stock of money:
$1.068 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 112
$1.051 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money:
$751.3 million (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 127
$663 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit:
$NA (31 December 2008)
$905.1 million (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
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:
4.5% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28
Electricity - production:
611.6 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 155
Electricity - consumption:
568.8 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 159
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 202
Oil - consumption:
9,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 153
Oil - exports:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 207
Oil - imports:
8,283 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 145
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 198
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 192
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 199
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 75
Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 197
Current account balance:
-$692 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122
-$763 million (2008 est.)
$855 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 154
$687 million (2008 est.)
Exports - commodities:
cotton, livestock, gold
Exports - partners:
Singapore 16.76%, Belgium 12.78%, China 7.59%, Ghana 6.89%, India 6.36%, Denmark 5.76%, Niger 5.13%, Thailand 4.52% (2009)
$1.545 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 161
$1.431 billion (2008 est.)
Imports - commodities:
capital goods, foodstuffs, petroleum
Imports - partners:
Cote d'Ivoire 24.31%, France 19.48%, Togo 6.42% (2009)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$1.296 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123
$927.6 million (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt - external:
$1.84 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 136
$1.665 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Exchange rates:
Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar - 481.35 (2009), 447.81 (2008), 493.51 (2007), 522.59 (2006), 527.47 (2005)
note: since 1 January 1999, the West African CFA franc (XOF) has been pegged to the euro at a rate of 655.957 CFA francs per euro; West African CFA franc (XOF) coins and banknotes are not accepted in countries using Central African CFA francs (XAF), and vice versa, even though the two currencies trade at par
Communications ::Burkina Faso
Telephones - main lines in use:
144,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 133
Telephones - mobile cellular:
2.553 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 114
Telephone system:
general assessment: system includes microwave radio relay, open-wire, and radiotelephone communication stations; 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
domestic: 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
international: country code - 226; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2008)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 2, FM 26, shortwave 3 (2007)
Television broadcast stations:
3 (1 national, 2 private)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
1,951 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 150
Internet users:
140,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 143
Transportation ::Burkina Faso
26 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 126
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2009)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 24
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 7 (2009)
total: 622 km
country comparison to the world: 109
narrow gauge: 622 km 1.000-m gauge
note: another 660 km of this railway extends into Cote d'Ivoire (2008)
total: 92,495 km
country comparison to the world: 54
paved: 3,857 km
unpaved: 88,638 km (2004)
Military ::Burkina Faso
Military branches:
Army, Air Force of Burkina Faso (Force Aerienne de Burkina Faso, FABF), National Gendarmerie (2010)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary military service; women may serve in supporting roles (2009)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 3,608,963 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 2,280,776
females age 16-49: 2,278,474 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 188,394
female: 185,975 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
1.2% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 120
Transnational Issues ::Burkina Faso
Disputes - international:
in September 2007, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervened to attempt to resolve the dispute over two villages along the Benin-Burkina Faso border that remain from a 2005 ICJ decision; 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 more than 9,000 UN forces (UNOCI) in Cote d'Ivoire since 2004, ethnic conflict continues to spread into neighboring states that can no longer send their migrant workers to work in Ivorian cocoa plantations

Source: The World Factbook (CIA)