Burkina Faso

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Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso flag
Burkina Faso's coat of arms
flag coat of arms
Motto : "Unité, Progrès, Justice"
( French , "Unity, Progress, Justice")
Official language French
Capital Ouagadougou
Form of government republic
Head of state President
Roch Marc Kaboré
Head of government Prime Minister
Christophe Dabiré
surface 267,950 km²
population 20,107,509 (2017)
Population density 75 inhabitants per km²
Population development + 3.01% (2016 estimate)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nominal)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
Human Development Index 0.423 ( 182. ) (2018)
currency CFA Franc BCEAO (XOF)
independence August 5, 1960
(from France )
National anthem Ditanyè
National holiday 11th December
Time zone UTC
License Plate BF
ISO 3166 BF , BFA, 854
Internet TLD .bf
Telephone code +226
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Burkina Faso (German pronunciation: [ bʊɐ̯ˌkʰiːnaˈfaːzo ]), translated country of the sincere people , is a West African state located south of the Niger Arc and borders on Mali , Niger , Benin , Togo , Ghana and the Ivory Coast . The country gained its independence on August 5, 1960. Until August 4, 1984, the name Upper Volta (French Haute-Volta ), which it received during its time as a French colony , was used. The renaming was carried out by the pan-African- socialist-oriented President Thomas Sankara , who came to power in a revolution in 1983 after a phase of political instability.

The administrative and cultural capital of the country, which has a population of around 20.1 million, is the centrally located city of over a million, Ouagadougou . The predominantly flat landlocked country with shares in the large landscape of Sudan and the Sahel zone is characterized by a tropical climate and diverse savannah landscapes. About half of the Burkinabe ( Burkinabe ) belong to the politically dominant ethnic group of the Mossi , who lived in several hierarchically organized empires until the colonization by France at the end of the 19th century. About 60 native languages ​​are spoken in Burkina Faso. The Islam is in addition to traditional beliefs, the meistpraktizierte religion. Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world , but today it is characterized by a certain stability and the cultural diversity of the peacefully living together ethnic groups. Regularly recurring periods of drought often cause great hardship for the population, who mainly live as farmers .

The president from 1987 to 2014 was Blaise Compaoré , who had ruled the country semi-authoritarian since the coup against Sankara and had created stable conditions in favor of foreign investments.

Country name

The name Burkina Faso, chosen in 1984 by then President Thomas Sankara, is bilingual; burkĩna is Mòoré and means something like "honorable person". The word faso comes from the Dioula language and means “fatherland” (from fa “father” and so “house, village”). Burkina Faso literally means “fatherland of honorable people”. The official denomination for residents in Burkina Faso is Burkinabè , although this word is not inflected . The plural suffix -bè is taken from the third main language of the country, the Fulfulde of the Fulbe . In official usage in Germany, the residents' names Burkiner and Burkinerin are prescribed, the adjective is Burkinabe . The Duden also gives the form Burkinabe as a masculine and feminine noun as equal.


Topography of Burkina Faso


Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in the interior of West Africa with an area of ​​267,950 km², of which 400 km² is water. It lies south of the Niger Arc and the Sahara and shares its 3,193 km long land border with six neighboring states; in the north-west and north with Mali (988 km in length), in the east with Niger (628 km) and in the south-east with Benin (306 km) and Togo (126 km). Burkina Faso is also bordered by Ghana (549 km) in the south and the Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire, 584 km) in the southwest. Most of the country lies in the greater Sudan landscape , and Burkina Faso also has a share of the Sahel in the north .


Inselberg in northern Burkina Faso, between Yalgo and Dori

About three quarters of the country is characterized by a hull area that belongs to the low central section of the Upper Guinea threshold . It is a flat undulating plateau, the average height of which is about 250-350 above sea level and which is part of a Precambrian base made of granite and gneiss that was formed about 2-3 billion years ago . About 32% (70,778 km²) of the country's area is accounted for by the central plateau (also called Mossiplateau after its inhabitants). The landscape of the plateau is mostly flat with isolated hills, depressions, knolls, island mountains and free-standing granite rocks that have withstood erosion. A sandstone plateau characterizes the southwest of Burkina Faso, which with the Tena Kourou , the highest mountain in the country, reaches a height of 749 m. This massif, which predominantly has the shape of a monotonous high plateau, has an average height of 450 to 500 m, drops steeply to the sediment- covered bases and forms the Chaîne de Banfora ridge there . This chain extends at an average height of 150 m in a northeast-southwest direction. In the southeast is the Chaîne de Gobnangou , a massif that protrudes about 100 m over the central plateau. Quaternary formations exist mainly in the form of old dunes in the north of the country, which reach up to 20 m in height and 10–20 km in length. 40% of the area north of Markoye is covered by dunes. The lowest point in the country is in the Oti river valley at 125 m.


Climate zones of Burkina Faso
In the rainy season, the otherwise barren soil is covered by green vegetation.

Burkina Faso is subject to a tropical climate , which is primarily influenced by the interaction of the West African monsoons and the trade wind Harmattan , which gives the regions of the country a different length, but a distinctive division into dry and rainy seasons .

From north to south, the country shares in the different vegetation zones of the Sahel and Sudan . The former covers about 25% of the country's area and is characterized by drought; The precipitation can fall to less than 300 mm per year, the rainy season sometimes lasts less than two months. Half of the country is subject to the Sudan-Sahel climate, which is characterized by a rainy season of four to five months. The rainy season in the southern Sudan zone is around six months; Precipitation of up to 1300 mm per year is not uncommon here. In total, the country receives an average of 165 km³ of precipitation annually, of which only 9 km³ are runoff.

The average temperatures are between 25 ° C and 30 ° C. The lowest temperature ever measured was 5 ° C, in 1971 at Bobo-Dioulasso and 1975 in Markoye . There, at 46 ° C, the highest temperature ever recorded in the country was recorded. March and April are the hottest months, and January and December are the coldest. In the rainy season, warm, humid winds blow from the southwest across the country, while in winter the dry, hot Harmattan sand and dust blows from the Sahara towards the southwest. In the past 35 years, some climatic changes have been noted, including a decrease in precipitation and an increase in temperatures. Extreme climatic phenomena such as severe droughts and floods have also increased in recent decades.


Flowing waters

Burkina Faso with its rivers

The watercourses in Burkina Faso can be assigned to three basins. The most important of these is the Volta Basin with an area of ​​around 180,000 km². It includes the basins of the Mouhoun (Black Volta), the Nakambé (White Volta) and the Pendjari (Oti), and takes up about 2/3 of the country's area. In the north of Ghana, the Mouhoun takes up the water of the tributaries mentioned as well as the Nazinon (Red Volta). With an area of ​​18,000 km², the Comoé basin , whose course is interrupted by rapids and waterfalls (for example the Cascades de Karfiguéla ), is significantly smaller. The 77,000 km² drainage system of the Niger Basin includes the small temporary watercourses that flow to it in northern Burkina Faso on the right (including Béli , Gorouol and Sirba ).

Catchment area distribution of the country in percent:

Rivers km² Percent of the country's area
Volta 178,000 63.0
Niger 77,314 28.0
Comoé 18,686 9.0
total 274,000 100

Still waters

Shore of the Kompienga reservoir in the southeast, near the border with Togo

Many of the numerous small lakes and ponds without outflow, including the Ramsar reserve Mare d'Oursi , are dry depending on the season. They represent important water reservoirs for humans and livestock. Burkina Faso's two largest natural lakes, the Bamsee and the Demsee , are located about 100 km north of Ouagadougou. Numerous rivers have been dammed into lakes, for example the Kompienga reservoir to the southeast and the Bagré reservoir to the south , both of which drive a storage power plant. The Sourou was dammed in the northwest , while the Ziga reservoir has been supplying the capital to the west with water since July 2004. In total there are 2100 reservoirs in Burkina Faso with a storage capacity of 4.6 km³.


Distribution of vegetation in Burkina Faso
Shea tree

In Burkina Faso, 2067 species of higher plants are known, the majority of which are made up of grasses and peoples . Numerous wild plants are used as raw materials, forage, food or medicine. Particularly important useful trees are, for example, the shea tree , the African baobab and Néré , as well as ana , neem , Ethiopian palmyra palm and tamarind tree . In the course of changes in use and climate change, the area of ​​many Sahelian species is shifting towards the south.

Acacia savannah in eastern Burkina Faso
In the protected area Réserve partial de Pama , near the border with Benin

Burkina Faso comprises three phytogeographic zones belonging to the Sudanese Sambesian savannah belt ; Sahel in the north, Sudan in the center and Sudan-Guinea in the south. The distinction is based, among other things, on the lower precipitation (less than 600 mm of precipitation per year) and the longer dry season in the north. In the Sahel zone, thorny savannahs are predominant - partly with tiger bush vegetation , which represents a form of adaptation to the drought. Trees usually grow singly, sometimes grouped into groves. The predominant species include Verek acacia , fragrant acacia , desert date , Indian jujube and the African baobab, which is characteristic of the Sahel.

Dry savannah landscape west of Ouagadougou

The Sudan zone, characterized by precipitation in the range between 600 mm and 1000 mm per year, is shaped like the Sahel by acacia vegetation and thorny plants, but differs among other things by the appearance of other species such as Néré, shea tree and, above all, winged plants as the dominant element of the Sudanese Savannahs. The density of trees increases towards the south and forms occasional groves, forests and gallery forests along the rivers . In the densely populated areas of the central plateau, savannah landscapes that have been degraded by human influence dominate. According to species and abundance, the herbaceous layer largely consists of grasses, with the proportion of tall and perennial species increasing towards the south.

In the Sudan-Guinea zone, rainfall over 1000 mm per year is common. The species that are also native to the northern zones are joined by the guinea plum . In the gallery forests you can find species such as broad-leaved fig , West African butter tree , oil palm and prickly bean . Plants that prefer a warm and humid climate thrive in the gallery forests.


"Holy Crocodile" in Bazoulé ( Tanghin-Dassouri )

Most of the large mammals that inhabit the savannah can also be found in Burkina Faso, where their habitats are threatened by the enormous population pressure. Some animal species, such as giraffes and cheetahs , are no longer to be found in the country. The protected areas are home to hippos , elephants , antelopes , monkeys , gazelles and leopards , which have been decimated by hunting. There are African bush rats and snakes . 495 bird species have been recorded in the country, including the African ostrich , several stork species , around 50 different birds of prey , hornbills , kingfishers and bee-eaters . Crocodiles live in the lakes and mares and are particularly venerated by the population as “sacred crocodiles”. Hunting is prohibited for certain animal species.


The nature reserves in Burkina Faso include four national parks. The Arly National Park is like the Burkinabe part of the W National Park in the southeast, the Kaboré-Tambi National Park in the south and the Deux Balés National Park in the west of the country. There continues to be a UNESCO - Biosphere Reserve Mare aux Hippopotames and a Ramsar -Schutzgebiet Mare d'Oursi and numerous, réserves and forêts classés -called protected areas.

Rain retention basin in the south-east of the country destroyed in the 2007 storms

The climate change that has been observed in Burkina Faso for around 35 years, which is expressed in falling precipitation values ​​and higher temperatures, as well as the bushfires, deforestation and soil depletion caused by farmers to develop arable land are reasons for increasing desertification , starting from the Sahelian north of the Country. In 1984 the Plan national de lutte contre la désertification (PNLD) was drawn up with the aim of protecting the still intact natural areas, combating the practice of bushfires, improving the quality of the soil and organizing reforestation programs. Between 1996 and 2000 alone, around 23 million trees were planted for this purpose. It was refrained from creating pure eucalyptus plantations, as happened in the 1960s, when trees were to be obtained relatively quickly for firewood production.

The severe thunderstorms that caused flooding in numerous West African countries in the 2007 rainy season also caused damage in Burkina Faso. Around 9,000 houses were destroyed and 28,000 people left homeless and 51 people died. Numerous roads and bridges were damaged and the crops destroyed; the crop failure is put at 13,268 tons.


Population pyramid Burkina Faso 2016
Demographic development of Burkina Faso (numbers in thousands)
Burkinabe (Burkinabè)

In terms of numbers, the Mossi (40%) are the ethnic groups whose ancestors immigrated from the south in the 15th century and have assimilated over time with the long -established inhabitants, including the Yonyoose . As a result, this mixture of autochthonous groups (called tẽng-biisi ) and conquerors (nakombse) developed an ethnic identity with the Moogo naaba as spiritual leader through a common language, founding myths, rituals and hierarchically organized power structures and today has a politically dominant role in Burkina Faso inside. Closely related to them are the Gulmancema (8% of the population) living in the east . According to the founding myth of both peoples, the respective ancestors - Ouédraogo among the Mossi and Diaba Lompo among the Gulmancema - come from the same family. Another group of the population are the Fulbe (5%), who mainly settle in the north, but can be found throughout the country as cattle-breeding nomads. They originally come from the Fouta Toro in what is now Senegal. The Tuareg (7%) also live nomadically in the far north, in the Sahel . Linguistically closely related are the Bissa , who live in the south, and the Sanan, who live in the northwest . The south-west of the country is ethnically less homogeneous; In addition to the Bobo (14%), Senufo (9%), Lobi (6%) and Bwaba , numerous smaller ethnic groups live there. The ethnic groups previously grouped under the term Gurunsi include the Kassena , Nuna , and Lyéla . The traditional joke relationships (parenté à plaisanterie) between the different groups make an important contribution to peaceful coexistence: Certain ethnic groups are allowed to mock each other according to set rules, for example Mossi and Sanan or Fulbe and Bobo.

Around 3,200 French live permanently in Burkina Faso, plus around 20,000 who are temporarily staying in the country as part of development cooperation projects. The economically important Lebanese community has around 600 members.

Population growth is around three percent per year. Due to the low life expectancy of around 58.7 years and high birth rates, there is a high proportion of young people in the total population. According to the UN's mean population forecast, a population of over 43 million is expected for the year 2050.


Regional languages ​​of Burkina Faso

A total of 68 different languages ​​and idioms are spoken in Burkina Faso. With independence, the language of the former colonial rulers, French , became the only official language. Although its importance continues to grow, it is only dominated by a minority. That is why there are literacy courses for those who have never attended primary school, including in the national languages Mòoré (language of the Mossi), Dioula , and Fulfulde (language of the Fulbe). Dioula is of great importance as a lingua franca and trade language in the linguistically heterogeneous west of the country. Even Arabic has a function as a trade language and is taught, among other things madrassas. Other languages ​​are the Tuareg and the numerous Niger-Congo languages , which make up the majority of the languages ​​spoken in the country: including the Mande languages Bissa , San and Boboda , the Gur languages Gulmancema , Lobiri , Koromfe and Bwamu as well as the numerous Gurunsi -Languages .


Great Mosque of Bobo Dioulasso

The importance of the traditional religions of the individual ethnic groups has been able to hold up to this day more strongly than in other countries. Approximately 15.3% of Burkinabe followers of an African religion . This is mainly due to the fact that the Mossi have long resisted Islamization from the north. In the traditional belief of the Mossi there is a God Walls who created the universe and then withdrew from humans. As a result, different spirits have settled in different places, in objects and animals as mediators. Ancestor worship is very important to the Mossi. Only at the end of the 18th century did Moogo naaba Doulgou convert to Islam .

At 60.5%, more than half of Burkinabe today are Muslims. To this day, an undogmatic, pragmatic variant of Islam is lived in the country , which incorporates elements of traditional religions, including a dodo , originally a ritual mask dance in the Muslim month of Ramadan , which is now performed by boys for entertainment and in front of spectators. As a result of an intensive mission, Islam is growing steadily. The collective association of Burkinabe Muslims is the Communauté musulmane du Burkina Faso (CMBF), founded in 1962.

The number of Christians is given as 23.2%, the majority being Catholics (19%) and members of various Protestant faiths (4.2%). The small Lebanese community is 90% Christian. There are 13 Catholic dioceses , including three archbishoprics, which are organized in the Bishops' Conference of Burkina Faso and Niger. Archbishop of Ouagadougou is Philippe Ouédraogo .

The ethnic groups are religiously heterogeneous, with the exception of the Fulbe, which is predominantly in the north. The capital Ouagadougou in particular is religiously mixed, while the economic metropolis Bobo-Dioulasso is predominantly Muslim.


District in the southwest of Ouagadougou
the Place des Nations-Unies in the center of Ouagadougou

According to the 2006 census, Burkina Faso has 13,730,258 people, of whom 20.3% are in urban settlements. From 1975 onwards there was a rapidly increasing urbanization of the population; if only 6.4% of the Burkinabe city dwellers were at that time, this number doubled to 12.7% within ten years. Despite this increase, the degree of urbanization is lower than in countries like Senegal or Ivory Coast (47% and 50% respectively). The primary destination of the largely young rural population, who see no prospects in their villages, is the capital Ouagadougou, whose population has more than doubled in recent years and which, with a share of 50% under-20s of the total population, is one young city is. The second largest agglomeration is the economic metropolis of Bobo-Dioulasso in the west of the country . In order to reduce the influx to these two cities, attempts have been made since the late 1980s to upgrade the infrastructure of less large cities.

The ten largest cities in the country, on the left according to the number of inhabitants in the core city, on the right according to the number of inhabitants in the municipality:

rank Surname Residents rank Surname Residents
1. Ouagadougou 1,181,702 1. Ouagadougou 1,273,355
2. Bobo Dioulasso 435,543 2. Bobo Dioulasso 497,462
3. Koudougou 82,720 3. Koudougou 131,825
4th Banfora 72,144 4th Tenkodogo 124.053
5. Ouahigouya 70,957 5. Fada N'Gourma 123,594
6th Kaya 51,778 6th Ouahigouya 122,677
7th Tenkodogo 40,839 7th Solenzo 118.424
8th. Fada N'Gourma 40,815 8th. Kaya 114,807
9. Dédougou 37,793 9. Banfora 106,815
10. Houndé 34,669 10. Gorom-Gorom 104,587


The largest group of Burkins abroad is that in Ivory Coast, in 1998 their number was about 2.2 million people. Some of them have lived there for several generations, since from 1932 to 1947 part of what is now Burkina Faso was added to the Ivory Coast colony by the French in order to make it easier for workers to work on the plantations there. In the course of the civil war in Ivory Coast from 2002, in which the Burkinabe diaspora, among others, was the target of persecution, several hundred thousand Burkinabe fled back to their homeland or that of their ancestors.

Around 35,000 Burkinans live in Italy, around 4,000–5,000 in France, some of them in the third generation. The diaspora is organized in the Conseil supérieur des Burkinabè de l'étranger (CSBE).

As of December 31, 2007, 1173 citizens were registered in Germany, 60 in Austria on January 1, 2007 and 393 in Switzerland.


The fertility rate in 2014 was 5.9 and the child mortality rate was estimated at 73.8 out of 1,000 births in 2016 (cf. for Germany: 4 out of 1,000). The female life expectancy at birth was 61.0 years in 2016 and the male 59.6. The population growth is about 3%. In 2011, the government of Burkina Faso spent 6.5% of its gross domestic product on health care . For 2010, the number of doctors was estimated at 5 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Burkina Faso (along with Malawi ) is one of the focus countries for OneDollarGlasses activities: people with ametropia can get glasses for the equivalent of 5 euros.


Prehistory and early history

Chopping tools, around 400,000 years old , were found in the north of the country near Markoye. It has been proven that about 14,000 years ago hunters and gatherers lived in the northwest of what is now Burkina Faso. Between 3600 and 2600 BC Chr. Was of Neolithic operated cultures agriculture. For the time about 3000–3500 years ago, grave goods suggest an awakening spiritual awareness of the people. The use of iron objects and ceramics could be proven.

Pre-colonial era

Mossi cavalry around 1890

Some of the ethnic groups that exist today in Burkina Faso were already resident in what is now the territory of the country today at the end of the first millennium AD and organized in autonomous village communities, such as the Dogon , who moved to their current settlement area in the 15th century on the border between Mali and Burkina Faso moved on, as well as the Bobo and Senufo. The Yonyoose, who assimilated with the Mossi, who penetrated from the south from the 15th century, belong to the longest resident groups. These had moved north from the north of Ghana - according to legend, under the leadership of Princess Yennenga . Her son Ouédraogo is said to have founded the Tenkodogo kingdom . This was the oldest of a total of 20 empires, including Ouagadougou and Yatenga . This Moogo designated area was a cultural and linguistic area, the administrative elements of which, however, formed independent units, but the Moogo naaba regarded the spiritual and spiritual head. In the east was Gulmu , the realm of the Gulmancema, which also has its origins in northern Ghana. To the north of it, Fulbe from Massina founded the emirate Liptako in 1809/1810 . It was a religious and warlike state, which emerged in the course of the " Jihad of the Fulbe " inspired by Usman dan Fodio . In 1827 part of the emirate was conquered by the Tuareg, who established the kingdom of Oudalan there. The ethnic groups that settled to the west of these formations were organized, among other things, in segmental societies , i.e. without central institutions in autonomous village communities. In detail, the forms of organization differed among the various ethnic groups. Further to the west, the groups living there came under the influence of the ruling dynasties of Kong in what is now the Ivory Coast in the 18th century . In the historiography of the early colonial times, empires named Gwiriko and Kénédougou probably never existed, rather the ruling groups exercised their influence on the economic production of the region, partly in alliance, partly in armed conflict with the village communities of numerous ethnic groups. This happened without any effort to exercise political power.

French colonial times

Map of French West Africa (1909)

The first European to visit what is now Burkina Faso was Heinrich Barth . He reached Liptako from the north and visited the city of Dori on the way to Timbuktu . After the Congo Conference in Berlin in 1884/1885, the “ race for Africa ” in Western Sudan was expressed in the attempt by the British, French and Germans to bring the hinterland of the coast under control through protectorate agreements with the Mossi rulers. After all, it was the French who were able to take Ouagadougou by military force in 1896 and forced the Moogo naaba to flee. As a result, numerous protectorate treaties brought the entire area of ​​today's Burkina Faso under control and placed it under military administration. 1904 it became part of the colony Upper Senegal and Niger , and in 1919 a new colony of Upper Volta (French La Haute Volta , after the river Rio Volta ) justified to French West Africa was one. The attempt at economic development under Governor Édouard Hesling was unsuccessful, and due to lack of profitability, the territory was divided into the neighboring colonies of French Sudan (now Mali), Niger and Ivory Coast in 1932 . Among other things, this was intended to facilitate the use of forced labor on the plantations on the coast; Because of its relatively high population, Upper Volta served as a reservoir for workers. As in the First , Upper Voltaers also took part in the Second World War as soldiers in the units of the so-called Senegal Rifles (tirailleurs sénégalais) for France.

Aerial photograph of Ouagadougou (1930/31)

After the war, the French colonial order under Charles de Gaulle was redesigned with the establishment of the Union française . Above all, the Mossi under the leadership of Moogo naaba Koom II pushed for the restoration of Upper Volta within the borders of 1932, and so Upper Volta became an overseas territory (territoire d'outre-mer, TOM) in 1947 . Political life developed in the following years, and Upper Voltaians were represented in the motherland parliament in Paris ( Nazi Boni , Joseph Conombo , Henri Guissou , Gérard Kango Ouédraogo and Mamadou Ouédraogo ). Parties, however, offered hardly any programmatic differences and were mainly oriented towards the personalities of the party leaders. The Upper Voltaic section of the intercolonial party alliance Rassemblement démocratique africain (RDA) under Daniel Ouezzin Coulibaly and, after his death, Maurice Yaméogo, developed into the most important party in a conflict-ridden landscape of parties and divisions and mergers . During these years the course was set for independence. With the loi-cadre Defferre of 1956, the colonial administration gave power to newly elected territorial assemblies and governments. The 1958 referendum resulted in an association with France as an autonomous republic as part of the Communauté française . But finally Upper Volta also declared its independence in the " African year 1960 ".

Independence of Upper Volta 1960

Flag of the independent Upper Volta

The first president of the independent Upper Volta was Maurice Yaméogo, who subsequently set up a one-party dictatorship of the RDA. His lavish style of government, corruption and poor economic development ultimately led to a popular uprising. Yaméogo abdicated after street protests under pressure from trade unions and the underground opposition in January 1966. He was succeeded by Sangoulé Lamizana , the army commander in chief. Under the military rule of the more pragmatic and humble Lamizana, a new constitution was drafted, which after a referendum in 1970 in January 1971 created the Second Republic. After the parliamentary elections that followed, the first free multi-party elections in West Africa, Gérard Kango Ouédraogo (RDA) became Prime Minister. Internal disputes between the party led to the fact that the military took power again in 1974 and created the Gouvernement du renouveau national (GRN: "Government of National Renewal"). Faced with popular dissatisfaction with economic and social problems in the mid-1970s, Lamizana appointed a government of national unity to draft a new constitution. After their acceptance by referendum, Lamizana became President of the Third Republic in the 1978 elections and appointed Joseph Conombo Prime Minister. This government was also unable to act due to internal quarrels, and after a strike by teachers on September 25, 1980, a group of military officials led a coup around Saye Zerbo , who then became president. In retrospect, Lamizana is credited with his compensatory skills and the fact that there were no political prisoners under him. Having come to power by chance, the Lamizana military had grown to like it.

With the 1980 coup, Upper Volta plunged into chaos for three years, caused by the power struggle of the old guard of the military and a group of young officers who wanted to break the country's deadlock. Zerbo ruled the country with a Comité militaire de redressement pour le progrès national (CMRPN), but quickly lost his popularity due to unpopular measures - including the ban on strikes. It was at this time that the charismatic leftist Thomas Sankara began to rise . Finally, on November 7, 1982, there was another military coup. Since Sankara, who was seen as a mastermind, did not seek power, the military doctor Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo became president. While a return to a constitutional order was sought in a transition phase, Sankara - appointed Prime Minister - intensified contacts with the anti-Western regime of Muammar al-Gaddafi in Libya . He did this to the displeasure of Ouédraogos, who tried to prevent his power from being undermined and wanted to maintain ties with France and the moderate states of Africa. Sankara was eventually arrested, causing civil unrest and popular protests. After the officer Blaise Compaoré had moved to Ouagadougou with the parachutist unit under him to free his friend Sankara, a coup took place on August 4, 1983, which was later referred to as the revolution and brought Sankara to power.

Revolution 1983

"Pioneers of the Revolution" (1987)
The coat of arms of the state renamed Burkina Faso, introduced in 1984

Sankara established a left-wing military dictatorship with the Conseil national de la révolution (CNR: "National Revolutionary Council") as the executive body, pursued an energetic social and development policy that was intended to promote rural areas to the detriment of the urban population and the state class, and promoted equality for women . The goal was a radical transformation of society and the end of dependence on foreign countries. In an attempted counter-coup, two of those involved were killed on the night of August 9-10. This was the first time bloodshed had occurred in an attempted coup in Upper Volta.

As a result, Sankara created Comités de defense de la révolution (CDR: "Committees for the Defense of the Revolution"), which were supposed to guarantee and monitor the progress and continued existence of the revolution in all parts of the country. The CDR contributed to the successful course of numerous development campaigns, such as a large-scale program to vaccinate children supported by WHO and UNICEF or the expansion of the railway line, known as the bataille du rail , with the participation of the population. In the early stages of the revolution there were arrests and denunciation of people suspected of the counter-revolution, including Joseph Ki-Zerbo . At the head of the state was a group that, in addition to Sankara, consisted of Blaise Compaoré, Henri Zongo and Jean-Baptiste Lingani .

On October 2, 1983, Sankara presented the political goals of the revolution to the population in a speech called discours d'orientation politique (DPO). The aim is to neutralize the bourgeoisie associated with imperialism in favor of the working classes and to enable agricultural self-sufficiency. For this purpose, land was nationalized, the use of which was previously organized by traditional authorities in the villages. Sankara also focused on literacy and gender equality . In front of the tribunaux populaires de la révolution (TPR: “People's Tribunals of the Revolution”), former politicians and officials had to answer for offenses such as corruption and embezzlement of public funds. Ex-President Zerbo received the highest sentence with 15 years imprisonment, seven of them on probation. In 1985 the pronounced judgments were reversed. In order to break with the colonial past, Sankara renamed the state Burkina Faso ("Land of the Honorable People") in 1984 , created a new flag in the pan-African colors and introduced a new national anthem ( Ditanyè ) that he wrote himself . Sankara "takes the non-alignment seriously, forbids any interference". He called for the debts of African states to be viewed and ignored as the result of colonial European exploitation. French President Mitterrand publicly referred to him as "someone who robs you of sleep".

In May 1984 seven people were convicted and executed of an attempted coup. This previously unexperienced use of violence shocked the population, as did the arson in the rooms of the independent newspaper L'Observateur (today L'Observateur paalga ), which had to cease publication as a result. Sankara "massively cuts the privileges of the urban upper class ... The dissatisfied at home and abroad are gathering behind Blaise Compaoré, of all places".

The border war that broke out in 1985 with Mali over a narrow border strip in the Sahel ended with a military defeat for the clearly inferior Burkinabe and a judgment by the International Court of Justice . The conflict was preceded by Sankara's accusations of Malian subversion and his encouragement for a revolution in Mali, which under dictator Moussa Traoré was "acting in the service of American imperialism". Against Mali, Sankara sought to unite Burkina Faso with Ghana in a West African union .

In a climate of suspicion, abuse of power by the CDR and political imprisonment - up to torture and death - the discontent of the population grew. The repressive character of the regime alienated the population from the project of revolution. There were disagreements within the CNR about the pace of further reforms and how to implement them. Thomas Sankara was accused of sliding into a dogmatism bordering on blindness and betrayal of the revolution. In the course of a coup on October 15, 1987, he was shot with about 30 other people, "evidently by [perpetrators] from Compaoré's camp". Blaise Compaoré became the new President of Burkina Faso, the union project with Ghana was rejected.

To date (2015) the circumstances of Sankara's death have not been finally clarified. Compaoré had always opposed an exhumation and an examination of the circumstances of death. 28 years after Sankara's death, his remains were excavated in May 2015. The exhumation, initiated by his widow Mariam Sankara, should shed light on the unexplained circumstances surrounding the death of the former head of state. A DNA analysis is now to be used to determine whether the bones in the grave are actually those sankaras. On the very day the first results were due to be presented, another violent coup took place under the leadership of General Gilbert Diendéré .

Under President Blaise Compaoré from 1987 to 2014

President from 1987 to 2014: Blaise Compaoré

Compaoré ruled the country initially at the head of a front populaire (FP: "Popular Front") on the side of Zongo and Lingani. In a development known as rectification , "he reversed most of what his former friend had initiated. He turned back to France, liberalized the economy and established a kind of facade democracy."

There were three failed coup attempts - and a climate of repression; numerous deaths were reported, including Zongo and Lingani, who were shot in 1989. The parties and organizations that supported Compaoré's change came together in the Organization pour la démocratie populaire-Mouvement du travail (ODP-MT), the predecessor of today's ruling party, Congrès pour la démocratie et le progrès (CDP). Under the influence of the global political events of 1990/91, a process of formal democratization also took place in Burkina Faso; Compaoré had a constitution drawn up that was approved by the population in a 1991 referendum. The following presidential elections were boycotted by the opposition and were a failure for Compaoré, who could not legitimize his power with a turnout of only 27%. In the following years the social and economic stabilization succeeded, despite the devaluation of the CFA franc in 1994. After Compaoré was confirmed in his office in the 1998 elections, a major crisis broke out after the murder of the critical journalist Norbert Zongo with sometimes violent protests. In the parliamentary elections in 2002, the ruling CDP party lost numerous seats to the fragmented opposition. Thanks to a controversial constitutional amendment, Compaoré was re-elected president in 2005.

Serious allegations of having been involved in the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone and of having profited from the trade in arms and so-called " blood diamonds " have not yet been proven. Former Liberian President Charles Taylor , considered a friend of Compaoré, organized his attack from Burkina Faso, which had granted him asylum. Some neighboring countries accused Compaoré of exerting destabilizing influence by supporting and hosting opposition and rebels. At the same time, Burkina Faso sought a role as mediator and peacemaker in numerous crises in Africa, for example after the death of the President of Togo, Gnassingbé Eyadéma .

The civil war in Ivory Coast created what is arguably the country's worst foreign policy crisis. Burkina Faso was accused by the Ivory Coast of aiding the rebels and, for its part, did not want to rule out military intervention to help the approximately two million Burkinabe or Burkinabe people who were the target of violence during the unrest. The normalization of the relationship and the mediation of the Ouagadougou Treaty to end the civil war are considered a success of the diplomacy of Burkina Faso and Compaoré.

Development since 2014

A planned constitutional amendment that should allow Compaoré a fifth term was heavily criticized by the opposition and led to the largest demonstration in a long time at the beginning of 2014 . In the last week of October, the protests broadened and led to riots. The day before the vote in parliament on the constitutional amendment, the unions and the opposition called for a strike. On October 30, 2014, the day of the planned vote, the military claimed to be deposed of the government and dissolved parliament. The following day Compaoré resigned as president; Army chief Nabéré Honoré Traoré had previously stated that a transitional government would take over power until a constitutional order is restored "within twelve months". He had taken over the office of head of state “according to the constitution”; Compaoré announced new elections within 90 days. The Vice-Chief of the Presidential Guard , Colonel Isaac Yacouba Zida , also claimed the post of interim president and described the Traoré declaration as "ineffective". On November 1, the military leadership unanimously supported Zida, and competitor Traoré also signed a declaration to this effect. Compaoré had meanwhile left the country and fled to the neighboring state of Ivory Coast . On November 16, Michel Kafando was appointed as civil transitional president for 1 year, Zida took over the office of prime minister. Free parliamentary and presidential elections were scheduled for October 11, 2015.

On September 16, 2015 there was a military coup by the Presidential Guard against the incumbent interim government and the interim president. The Presidential Guard, which had been built up as Compaoré's personal instrument of power, saw its existence endangered by the upcoming free democratic elections after his departure. After the coup leaders announced the overthrow of the government on television on September 17, 2015, protests broke out in Ouagadougou. The United States, France and the African Union condemned the coup. On September 18, the leader of the putschists, General Gilbert Diendéré , dismissed Kafando and almost the entire cabinet. Diendéré denied contacts with Compaoré. In the further course of the coup it became clear that the army and police, as well as the vast majority of the population, were unwilling to recognize the coup plotters as the new government. Army spokesmen said they wanted to avoid bloodshed, called on the coup plotters to give up and called on protesters in Ouagadougou to calm down. The West African Economic Community (ECOWAS) tried to mediate. The putschists demanded a full amnesty for those involved in the coup and the possibility that followers of ex-President Compaoré could run for the upcoming presidential election. On the night of September 22nd to 23rd, the putschists and the army signed a five-point plan. It stipulated that the RSP would withdraw from Ouagadougou to their base in Naaba Koom II. The elite troops have to give up their post in the capital. The regular army promised the putschists security for them and their families. It was unclear whether the putschists would be granted impunity. After the first cabinet meeting of the reinstated interim government, a decree on dissolution and disarmament was passed. The disarmament went without major incidents. A commission should investigate the background to the coup. It was also agreed that a new timetable for the parliamentary and presidential elections should be drawn up.

In the presidential elections on November 29, 2015 , the opposition politician and former Prime Minister Roch Marc Kaboré won 53.49 percent of the vote. In the parliamentary election held at the same time, Kaboré's new party Mouvement du peuple pour le progrès (MPP) won 55 of the 127 seats, but missed an absolute majority. The second strongest force with 33 seats was the party of Kaboré's main rival Zéphirin Diabré . The party Congrès pour la démocratie et le progrès (CDP) of longtime head of state Blaise Compaoré received 18 seats.

In 2019, the UN found that the government had largely lost control of the north and east of the country to jihadists. Some of these were ousted from Mali by French troops, and others were recruited by Ansaroul Islam from the Muslim Fulbe ethnic group. There are half a million internally displaced persons and 300,000 children cannot go to school. In February 2020, the UNHCR reported around 865,000 internally displaced persons and almost 2,000 deaths from Islamist groups.


The seat of the National Assembly in Ouagadougou

Political system

In the country report Freedom in the World 2017 by the US non-governmental organization Freedom House , the country's political system is rated as “partially free”. In the “political rights” category, the country receives a grade of 3, for the protection of civil rights the country receives a grade of 4 (1 is the best grade and 7 is the worst). In the 2019 democracy index of the British magazine The Economist, Burkina Faso ranks 112th out of 167 countries and is considered a "hybrid regime".

With the adoption of the constitution in 1991, the Fourth Republic was established, which has a presidential character based on the French model . Blaise Compaoré was able to win 80.4% of the vote in the presidential elections in November 2005, which were not boycotted by the opposition for the first time, and thus take up his third term. On November 21, 2010 Compaoré again won the presidential election and took up his fourth term. Due to the constitutional amendments of 2000, he could be elected president twice more after his two terms in office. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President and was named Luc-Adolphe Tiao from April 18, 2011 to October 30, 2014 . He took over the office of Tertius Zongo . Parliament is elected every five years . As interim prime minister , Isaac Zida ruled until the elections. The old parliament was dissolved after Compaoré relinquished power. This counted 127 MPs, 70 of whom belonged to the old ruling CDP party. The transitional parliament had 90 representatives.


Head of state is the President du Faso , who after the constitutional amendment of 2000 is elected every five years (previously every seven years) and can be re-elected once.

Previous presidents:

Surname Term of office
Maurice Yaméogo August 5, 1960 to January 3, 1966
Sangoulé Lamizana January 3, 1966 to November 25, 1980
Saye Zerbo November 25, 1980 to November 7, 1982
Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo November 7, 1982 to August 4, 1983
Thomas Sankara August 4, 1983 to October 15, 1987
Blaise Compaoré October 15, 1987 to October 31, 2014
Michel Kafando November 18, 2014 to September 17, 2015 and September 24, 2015 to December 29, 2015
Roch Marc Kaboré since December 29, 2015

Domestic politics

The country's opposition is fragmented into numerous small parties. Mention should be made of the Alliance pour la Démocratie et la Fédération - Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (ADF-RDA) led by Gilbert Ouédraogo , the Union nationale pour la démocratie et le développement (UNDD) by Hermann Yaméogo , which was split off in 2003, and that of the historian Joseph Ki -Zerbo founded Parti pour la démocratie et le progrès / Parti socialiste (PDP / PS). Several Sankarist movements are represented in parliament; the ideological fragmentation of Sankara's heirs could not be overcome in recent years.

The country has active unions that can mobilize several thousand people for strikes and demonstrations.

Human rights

States in which Burkina Faso has set up an embassy (blue) or a consulate (light blue)

According to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the human rights situation has improved. The government of Burkina Faso has taken various measures to protect human rights in recent years. Among other things, a human rights ministry has been set up, a fund for victims of political violence has been set up, and judicial reforms have been initiated. However, fundamental rights - and especially women's rights - are still little respected in rural areas; Women are hardly involved in political decision-making processes. Female genital mutilation is still practiced in many rural areas, despite severe government penalties . According to UNICEF , however, the spread of this rite is slowly declining as a result of a broad educational movement.

A women's suffrage , there were in 1946: According to the Loi Lamine Guèye from 1946 had all citizens to vote in the French Parliament and in local elections, a right to vote. The right to stand as a candidate was not specifically mentioned in the law, but it was not excluded either. In the elections to the Paris parliament, there was no two-tier suffrage in French West Africa , to which the Upper Volta belonged at that time, as in other French colonies, but there was for all local elections. Before independence, under French administration, women were given universal active and passive suffrage on June 23, 1956 with the introduction of the loi-cadre Defferre . This right was confirmed in the Constitution of September 28, 1958.

Children's rights are sufficiently enshrined in law, but due to the enormous poverty in the country they are hardly respected and implemented in everyday life. Many children are drawn to hard work and are therefore not allowed to go to school. There is also still child trafficking, which can lead to living conditions similar to slaves.

As far as the German government is aware, consensual homosexual acts among adults are also prohibited in Burkina Faso. Homosexuality is not explicitly mentioned as a criminal offense in the Criminal Code, but it can be prosecuted as a “disturbance of public order” or “violation of morality” and punished with up to three years in prison. In Burkina Faso, same-sex partnerships are met with strong social rejection.

Over 300 people were arrested during protests against the rising cost of living in 2009, according to Amnesty International . More than 80 of those arrested were sentenced to prison terms without the assistance of a lawyer.

Foreign policy

A visa from the Republic of Burkina Faso

In foreign policy , relations with the former colonial power France have intensified again, especially since the conflict in Ivory Coast, but Libya under Muammar al-Gaddafi was also an important partner of Burkinabe diplomacy . The country also has good relations with the Republic of China in Taiwan . Germany is traditionally very involved in development cooperation. There are many contacts and partnerships at the level of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) between German associations or municipalities and locations in Burkina Faso. The German-Burkinabe Friendship Society has been the network of these partnerships in Germany since 1990. In recent years, Burkina Faso has made great efforts to gain recognition on an international level and is increasingly offering itself to host major events such as the 2004 Francophonie Summit and the African Union meeting . The capital Ouagadougou has been considered the safe and stable international center of West Africa for years.

At the 62nd Ordinary General Assembly of the United Nations , Burkina Faso was elected on October 16, 2007 as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the period 2008–2009 .


The Army (Forces armées nationales) (FAN) was founded in 1960 and consists of 10,800 men. In 1961 the authority was transferred from the French to the Upper Voltaic authorities. As a result, the military took power several times through coups . In the 1980s there was a war with Mali over control of the Agacher Strip .

Relations with the neighboring country of Ivory Coast, where several million Burkinabe or Burkinabe people live, are very tense as a result of the raging civil war there. Abidjan accuses Burkina Faso of supporting the rebels in the north of the country. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled the violence against immigrants from the Sahel countries back to Burkina Faso in recent years. The possibility of intervention by the Burkinabe army was not ruled out.

Defense Minister Kouamé Lougé was dismissed in 2004 as a result of an attempted coup by the military.

At the turn of the year 2006/2007 there were shootings between dissatisfied soldiers and police in Ouagadougou, which resulted in several deaths and injured civilians on both sides. Hundreds of soldiers marched through the city at night, shooting, allowing around 600 inmates to escape from the main prison. The soldiers' displeasure was based, among other things, on the feeling of being at a disadvantage compared to the increasingly better equipped police due to poorer equipment and lower pay.

Burkina Faso participates in various UN peacekeeping operations.


The land forces have the following heavy equipment:

Soldier from Burkina Faso on maneuvers in Senegal

air force

The following table shows the equipment of the Burkina Faso Air Force in the 2000s

plane origin use version active
Close support aircraft
Great tucano BrazilBrazil Brazil Ground attack aircraft 3
Transport aircraft
CASA CN-235 SpainSpain Spain Tactical transport aircraft CN-235 1
Hawker-Siddeley HS 748 United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom Transport plane HS.748 2
Beechcraft King Air United StatesUnited States United States Transport plane King Air 200 3
Aérospatiale N 262 FranceFrance France Transport plane 262 2
Mil Wed-17 Soviet UnionSoviet Union Soviet Union , RussiaRussiaRussia  Multipurpose helicopter Wed-17 3
Aérospatiale SA-316 FranceFrance France Light multipurpose helicopter SA316 1
Reconnaissance aircraft
Diamond DA42 MPP AustriaAustria Austria Multipurpose aircraft DA42MPP 1

Administrative division

Burkina Faso is divided into 13 regions (régions) , each of which is administered by a governor. These regions are divided into 45 provinces , which are headed by high commissioners. These are followed by 351 departments / communes administered by prefects , which are congruent with the communes urbaines and communes rurales created as part of the decentralization measures . After the local elections in 2006, there are now administrative units with local councils and mayors all over the country.


region Capital
1 Boucle du Mouhoun Dédougou
2 Cascades Banfora
3 Center Ouagadougou
4th Center-Est Tenkodogo
5 Center north Kaya
6th Center-Ouest Koudougou
7th Center-Sud Manga
8th Est Fada N'Gourma
9 Hauts-Basins Bobo Dioulasso
10 North Ouahigouya
11 Central Plateau Ziniaré
12 Sahel Dori
13 Sud-Ouest Gaoua



Burkinabe license plate
Railway station in Koudougou

The road network connects Burkina Faso with all neighboring countries via asphalt stretches, the expansion of which is partly financed by the European Union . Most of the network consists of laterite roads ; Asphalting work has been completed on the west-east axis, but construction is still underway on the various northern routes.

Burkina Faso has a railway line ( Abidjan-Niger Railway ) that leads to the Ivorian economic metropolis of Abidjan and was one of the most important lifelines of the landlocked country until the unrest there. Freight and passenger trains run daily to Abidjan. The line was expanded to Kaya (bataille du rail) during the rule of Sankara in order to be able to transport the mineral resources from the Sahel more easily. After his fall, the expansion was stopped, the route is only passable as far as Ouagadougou.

The country can be reached via two international airports; European airlines that serve the capital are Air France , Brussels Airlines and the charter company Point-Afrique Voyages. The national airline is Air Burkina .


The SONABEL power plant Ouaga I, in the background a new water tower

The supply of electricity and water is very low across the country. With the construction of the new reservoir in Ziga near Ouagadougou , the situation has eased somewhat, at least for the capital. The state electricity company is SONABEL , and ONEA is responsible for the water . Most of the electricity is obtained from the combustion of imported fossil fuels (crude oil, natural gas). Another part of the electricity demand is covered by imports from Ghana and the Ivory Coast; a hydroelectric power station on the Kompienga reservoir also supplies electricity. Solar energy is used for the selective power supply of hospitals or schools, especially in rural areas.


The laying of telephone lines was previously hardly affordable. Accordingly, the business of private "telecenters" is flourishing, in which private individuals provide a small number of telephones for public use. Mobile telephony offers new possibilities ; three providers ensure the necessary network coverage even in smaller cities. Internet connections exist for private individuals and small organizations as either a dial-up line ( "dial-in") over the telephone lines of ONATEL or the booming in major cities Internet cafes. ADSL has been available throughout the country since 2006 . Larger organizations also have dedicated lines to the Internet providers. The number of regular internet users is estimated at 30,000. According to studies, the Burkinabe use the Internet less to research information than to communicate via e-mail or instant messaging .


The Banfora market has a wide range of products

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world and belongs to the group of heavily indebted developing countries ( Heavily Indebted Poor Countries , HIPC for short). In 2005, the World Bank and IMF agreed to cancel its foreign debt as part of the HIPC debt relief initiative. In the Human Development Index of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Burkina Faso was in 2013 at No. 181 in 187 countries studied.

The gross domestic product (GDP) according to purchasing power parity was around 32.8 billion US dollars in 2011, which corresponds to a value of 1800 dollars per capita. The increase in GDP in 2016 was 5.9%, the inflation rate in 2016 was −0.2%. Economic growth, however, only benefits a small, Mossi-dominated class in the urban centers. About 61% of the population lives on less than one US dollar a day.

Change in gross domestic product (GDP), real
in percent compared to the previous year
year 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
% 1.8 6.6 4.7 8.0 4.6 8.7 6.8 3.6 5.8 3.0 7.9 4.2 6.5 5.8 4.3 3.9 5.9 6.3
Source: World Bank

Burkina Faso participates in the West African Economic and Monetary Union UEMOA; The currency is the CFA franc BCEAO .

The feared economic slump as a result of the conflicts in Ivory Coast has largely failed to materialize; Burkina Faso strengthened ties to other neighboring countries in good time, especially to Ghana.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

Burkinabe farmers
Bottling the corn harvest on a farm in Sapouy

About 90% of the population practice subsistence farming , i.e. the cultivation of fruit, vegetables and grain for their own use. The cultivation of millet , maize , sorghum , fonio and rice , which takes up about 85% of the 110,000 km² of arable land in the country, covers the basic need for food supply . Yam , cassava and sugar cane are also grown in the south of the country . Peanuts and especially cotton , the country's main export good, are important for export . The unfavorable climatic conditions make farming difficult; annual fluctuations in precipitation can cause droughts and thus local famines (especially in the north of the country).

Despite the good quality of Burkinabe cotton, the country has great problems selling its harvest on the world market due to high agricultural subsidies in western industrialized countries. In part, the United States subsidizes its cotton economy with three to four billion US dollars a year; the remaining part is made up of subsidy payments from the EU of around 700 million euros. President Blaise Compaoré , together with other affected African states, campaigned for these subsidies to be lifted and for African cotton to have free access to the world market. Burkina Faso's economy, which is largely dependent on cotton exports (50% of exports), suffers from fluctuating world market prices. The semi-public company Sofitex is the third largest textile company in Africa. Since the closure of the Faso Fani factory in 2000, it is no longer possible to process cotton on a large scale in Burkina Faso.

With a project to grow wheat , the country should become independent of imports; the first harvest was brought in in 2006.

Burkina Faso is an exporter of cattle (especially cattle) to neighboring countries. Traditionally, livestock farming is practiced by the nomadic Fulbe people. Because of the low productivity and the lack of further processing options, the share of the agricultural sector in the gross domestic product (GDP) is only 35% (2012; for comparison services: 38%).

Few of the numerous natural resources are exploitable; Gold has been mined for centuries and is one of the country's most important sources of income. The Canadian company Orezone sees great potential in the gold deposits of Burkina Faso. The manganese reduction is to be expanded in the future. Transport is particularly problematic; the deposits are mainly located in the north, which is poorly developed in terms of traffic. The planned expansion of Burkina Faso's only railway line to the Tambao mines was never completed.

Since 2009 gold has been the most important export item; In 2013, 72% of export income was gained through gold exports, with the majority of the proceeds flowing abroad (especially to Canada). Its mining became the driving force behind economic growth, which however collapsed in 2014/15 as a result of the fall in the price of gold and cotton.

Industry and Services

With the connection to the railway line to Abidjan in 1933, industrial development could begin in Bobo-Dioulasso; a brewery , an oil mill and a factory for motorized bicycles were established. The proximity to the cotton-growing areas in the north-west of the country played a major role in the city's economic boom. The railway to Ouagadougou was not completed until 30 years later, the prerequisite for the establishment of industrial operations. Today 64% of them are in the capital, especially in the food industry. After independence, a cotton mill opened in Koudougou, but it soon had to stop working. An attempt to revive Faso Fani failed in 2000. In Banfora there is a large sugar factory (SOSUCO) and the Grands Moulins du Burkina , which mainly produce flour. Since 2004, Mégamonde has been assembling Chinese- made cars under the brand name Tenga in Ouagadougou .

State companies have been privatized in recent years, according to telecommunications company ONATEL ; Moroccan Maroc Telecom has held 51% of the shares since 2006 .

The Lebanese community, which has been in the country since around 1900, has a strong presence in the trade, construction and service sectors .

Many people are employed in the informal sector; they make a living from street trading or small services. As a result, the state misses out on tax revenue; Unemployment figures are significantly distorted by this phenomenon. Around 45% of the population live below the poverty line.

State budget

The state budget in 2016 comprised expenditures equivalent to US $ 2.77 billion , which was offset by revenues equivalent to US $ 2.44 billion. This results in a budget deficit of 2.8% of GDP .

The national debt reached a new record level in 2014 at 28.3% of the gross domestic product (compared to 2007: 20.9%).


The literacy rate in Burkina Faso is around 36%, which is one of the lowest in the world. The proportion of men over 15 who can read and write is much higher than the proportion of women. Primary education is characterized by complex problems. The language of instruction is French; There are approaches to a bilingual education (satellite schools of UNESCO). Many children of primary school age do not go to school, but school is not the only training option alongside traditional education, Koran schools and institutions of non-governmental organizations. The country's universities include the University of Ouagadougou and the Université Catholique de l'Afrique de l'Ouest, which is represented in several West African countries .

primary school

Lessons in a primary school

Primary school lasts six years. The fact that the language of instruction is French prevents many children from attending school who only speak their indigenous mother tongue. There are state, private, and Catholic schools, and they are usually free, but have enrollment and administration fees. For many, this is another reason not to go to school because few parents can afford it. Exercise books and pens have to be paid for yourself, and in some parts of the country the local population has to help with the construction of the school buildings. There are up to 120 children in a school class. In many schools there is a lack of electricity and water.



Traditional huts in the southeast of the country
Sculpture from the Léo area

The approximately 60 ethnic groups in Burkina Faso ensure a great variety of cultural traditions; Dance, music and the use of masks are characteristic of the Sudanese savanna peoples. On many occasions of community life there are festivals and ceremonies at which the cultural repertoire is presented. The griots , which are responsible for the preservation and transmission of history and traditions, are important. This is done through oral transmission from one generation to the next.

The handicrafts are significant, employing around 960,000 people and to which the SIAO trade fair , which takes place every two years, is dedicated. In addition to leather and wood, basketry and pottery , cast bronze sculptures made using the lost form process are characteristic of Burkina Faso's handicrafts.

Jean-Luc Bambara is a sculptor who also exhibits in Europe. The Sculptures de Laongo are a sculpture park created in 1989 in which, among other things, granite stones are worked on by national and international artists.

Two cultural events that take place regularly are the Semaine Nationale de la Culture (SNC) in Bobo-Dioulasso and the Nuits Atypiques de Koudougou (NAK) in Koudougou. In the east there has been the Dilembu au Gulmu (FESDIG) festival every year since 2004 .


The Farafina group

Traditional African music accompanies people's everyday life in Burkina Faso and is closely integrated into it. The traditional music of the ethnic groups of Burkina Faso is characterized by different types of drums and the balafon . The Farafina balafon group from Bobo-Dioulasso, which has been in changing line-up since 1978, has worked with the Rolling Stones , among others , and, like Gabin Dabiré, was more successful in Europe. Extremely popular was Black So Man , who was known for his critical texts and who died in a car accident in 1997 in 2002. Victor Démé , who released his first solo album in 2008 after numerous guest appearances, has also received a lot of attention at home and abroad .

The Kundé d'Or has been awarded as a major music prize since 2001 . So far, Bil Aka Kora has won the award twice for his music based on the traditional rhythms of the cash desk. Other winners were Solo Dja Kabaco , Georges Ouédraogo , who was active from 1973 until his death in 2012, the singer Amity Méria and Yoni , who, like Ouédraogo, brings together modern and traditional melodies and rhythms to musique tradi-modern . The winner in 2009 was Hamed Smani . Producer, rapper and political activist Smockey , Faso Kombat and the group Yeleen were honored as representatives of Burkinabe hip-hop . Excellent artists in recent years are Eugène Kounker , Dez Altino , Floby and Alif Naaba . The Waga Hip Hop festival takes place annually with artists from Africa and Europe.

Well-known reggae artists are Zêdess and Sams'K Le Jah , who, like Smockey, is an activist in the Le Balai Citoyen movement . Jazz à Ouaga is a regular jazz festival.

In October 2011, the Africa Opera Village was opened in Laongo near Ouagadougou based on the plans of the architect Diébédo Francis Kéré . After the death of the initiator Christoph Schlingensief , his widow Aino Laberenz continued the work.


Filmmaker Dani Kouyaté
Ciné Sanyon cinema in Bobo-Dioulasso

Burkina Faso is an important center of African cinema and has hosted the pan-African film festival FESPACO since 1972 , which has taken place every two years since 1979 and attracts film buffs from all over the world. The Burkinabe film is supported by the government but is dependent on foreign funding.

For the first time, films by Catholic missionaries were shown in Upper Volta in the 1920s. In 1947 the first film was shot in Upper Volta; Paysan noir ou Famoro le tyran by Georges Régnier , which was produced in the service of colonial propaganda. After independence, the French made numerous ethnographic films , while Upper Voltaic in-house productions were mostly dedicated to an educational mission for the population. From 1980 the production of feature films began. Wend Kuuni , Gaston Kaboré's first feature film , brought a new aesthetic and quality to African cinema and gained international recognition. In 1990 Tilaï was awarded the Grand Jury Prize of Idrissa Ouédraogo at the Cannes International Film Festival , and his film Kini and Adams was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 1997 Festival . Filmmakers like Pierre Yaméogo , Dani Kouyaté and Fanta Régina Nacro have gained international recognition since the 1990s .

The most famous actor is Sotigui Kouyaté - father of Dani Kouyaté - who played in films by Peter Brook, among others .


The writer Monique Ilboudo

Due to the lack of writing in the Sudanese cultures and thus the tradition of oral tradition as well as the high proportion of illiterate people in the population, literature is only of secondary importance in today's Burkina Faso. At the time of literary development in other parts of West Africa, the country's intellectuals were engaged in political engagement - particularly the struggle to restore Upper Volta after World War II - and so literary history only began after independence. While Antoine Dim Delobsom published a work on the myths and legends of the Mossi as early as 1934, the Crépuscule des temps anciens by Nazi Boni , published in 1962, counts as the beginning of Burkinabe literature. In this novel, which is in the tradition of Négritude , Boni describes the threat to the traditional structures and values ​​of his ethnic group, the Bwaba, from colonization. In the following years only a few works appeared, including by Pierre Dabiré , Roger Nikiéma and Titinga Frédéric Pacéré .

It was only with the revolution that the state began to promote literature. In addition to an appreciation of the literature and the motivation of the authors, this also had an influence on the processed topics of the literature, which is largely subject to the official state educational mandate and the conveyance of traditional values ​​and unfolds little critical potential, as it depends on the goodwill of the state sponsors . Criticism is at best, as with Norbert Zongo or Pierre Claver Ilboudo , encrypted or raised to an abstract level, for example by relocating the plot to fictional countries. Due to a lack of publishing and a market for literature, most of the works are produced in-house in small editions. Contemporary literature is shaped by women, including Monique Ilboudo , Bernadette Sanou and Sophie Kam .

One of the great intellectuals of Africa is Joseph Ki-Zerbo , who was the first African to publish a work on the history of the continent and who was politically active until his death.

Two important theater groups are the Théâtre de la Fraternité of the scientist, author and director Jean-Pierre Guingané and the Atelier-Théâtre Burkinabè (ATB) by Prosper Kompaoré .


First division game in the Stade municipal of Ouagadougou

The National Olympic Committee Comité National Olympique et des Sports Burkinabè (CNOSB), which was recognized by the IOC in 1972 , sent five athletes to the 2012 Olympic Games in London ; two athletes, two swimmers and a judoka.

A popular sport in Burkina Faso is football , the national association is the Fédération Burkinabè de Football (FBF), which was founded with independence in 1960 and became a member of the world association FIFA in 1964 . The national team's greatest successes were second place in the 2013 African Cup of Nations and fourth place in the 1998 African Cup of Nations in their own country. Every year 16 clubs compete for the Burkinabe championship, most of them from Ouagadougou. Well-known foreign professionals are Charles Kaboré , Moumouni Dagano and Bertrand Traoré . The U-17 national team came third at the 2001 U-17 World Cup .

Cycling is a national sport in Burkina Faso . The Tour du Faso and Boucle du Coton cycle races take place every year. The former is part of the UCI Africa Tour . Successful cyclists in recent years include Jérémie Ouédraogo and Abdoul Wahab Sawadogo .

The martial art traditionally known as lutte is a type of wrestling and is practiced especially by the Sanan. There is an annual competition in Toma .


The weekly newspaper L'Indépendant was founded by Norbert Zongo

In the 2017 press freedom ranking published by Reporters Without Borders , Burkina Faso was ranked 42nd out of 180 countries. According to the non-governmental organization, there are “recognizable problems” with the situation of press freedom in the country, but it was one of the better in Africa.

Since the beginning of formal democratization in 1990/91, a diverse press market has developed. However, the freedom of the press guaranteed by the constitution is restricted on certain topics; In 1999, for example, the journalist Norbert Zongo was murdered under as yet unexplained circumstances while he was researching a murder case in the Presidential Guard. The problems of the loss-making press include low sales and advertising revenues, inadequate technical equipment and training of journalists. The three daily newspapers that appear in Ouagadougou are Sidwaya , under the Ministry of Information , L'Observateur paalga , founded in 1973 , which had to cease publication during Sankara's revolution, and Le Pays . L'Express du Faso has been published in Bobo-Dioulasso since 1998 , with a focus on reporting from the west of Burkina Faso. Newspapers critical of the government that appear weekly or biweekly include L'Événement , L'Indépendant , Bendré , San Finna and the satirical weekly Journal du Jeudi . Other weekly newspapers are L'Opinion and L'Hebdomadaire du Burkina .

The state television of the RTB has been broadcasting since 1963 and so far represents the only full program. With CANAL 3 of the Groupe Fadoul and BF1 there are private television stations. Satellite television, including programs from the French channels TV5MONDE and Canal + Horizons, can be received, but only a few can afford it.

The radio is the most important information medium in Burkina Faso. Since 1959 the state radio broadcasts the RTB, which also maintains the channel Canal arc-en-ciel . Numerous private radio stations have sprung up in recent years, Horizon FM was one of the first private broadcasters in West Africa when it was founded, followed by Ouaga FM , Radio Pulsar and Savane FM , among others . Numerous denominational stations such as Radio Évangile Développement or Radio Ave Maria offer religious topics as well as information for the rural population.

Burkinabe Internet offers include LeFaso.net , which offers a compilation of newspaper articles, Burkina 24 and Fasozine.com , which is considered to be the first daily Internet newspaper in West Africa. The number of regular internet users is estimated at 30,000 (2006). According to studies, the Burkinabe use the Internet less to research information than to communicate via e-mail or instant messaging .


Soumbala is a typical spice
Bissap is a popular drink made from the sepals of Hibiscus sabdariffa
Dried caterpillars in the
Orodara market

The main staple foods are rice and , a porridge made from corn, millet or sorghum. For this purpose, sauces based on tomatoes, vegetables, hibiscus leaves, okra , baobab leaves or peanut butter are eaten, with or without added meat. As riz gras / riz au gras , rice is cooked with tomatoes and onions. Basis for dishes are couscous made from rice, fonio or cassava ( attiéké called) and a native of the coastal countries Foufou (maize porridge), often with a sauce made from the fruit of the oil palm ( sauce graines is eaten). Meat mostly comes from beef, mutton, goat, chicken or guinea fowl, game meat from savannah animals and fish are also eaten. Roast chickens are very popular and are known as poulets télévisions ("TV chickens "). They are so named because they are fried in rectangular glass boxes on the roadside. Fried plantains are ALOCO called, and there are deep-fried sweet potatoes and yams , which can each be served with a spicy sauce. Caterpillars are also eaten in Burkina Faso. Soumbala is a spice that is used, for example, in the Lyela for riz au soumbala .

Soft drinks are ginger juice , tamarind juice , millet flour water ZOM koom or bissap , a drink made from dried Rosellenblättern . In the southwest, especially in Bobo-Dioulasso, there is also horchata , a drink made from tiger nuts . Local alcoholic drinks are the millet beer Dolo , palm wine and palm schnapps, which, however, was banned because of its dangerousness.

Local beer brands are Brakina and So.B.Bra. , Mineral water brands including Lafi and Jirma .

public holidays

Women demonstrate on the occasion of International Women's Day

The 14 public holidays in Burkina Faso are mostly religious festivals of Christianity or Islam, in addition to those commemorating national events. In 2000, the holidays commemorating Thomas Sankara's revolution (August 4th) and fall (October 15th) were removed from the calendar by Parliament. December 11th, which, like August 5th, pays tribute to the independence of what was then Upper Volta, was introduced so that the festivities could take place in the dry season after the harvest season. The central celebrations with a large parade on this occasion take place alternately in a different regional capital every year. Some time ago, Whit Monday was canceled as a public holiday. If a public holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday becomes non-working.

date Surname Remarks
January 1st Jour de l'an New Year
January 3rd Commémoration du 3 janvier 1966 Maurice Yaméogo's fall in 1966
8th of March Journée internationale de la femme International Women's Day
1st of May Fete du Travail First of May
5th of August Proclamation de l'indépendance Declaration of Independence 1960
15th of August Assomption Assumption of the Virgin Mary
November 1st Toussaint All Saints Day
11th December National Festival National holiday
25 December Noël Christmas
Varying Pâques Easter
Varying Ascension Ascension of Christ
Varying Mouloud ( Arabic maulid an-nabī) Birthday of the prophet
Varying Tabaski (Arabic ʿīdu l-aḍḥā) Islamic Festival of Sacrifice
Varying Ramadan (Arabic 'īd al-fiṭr) Feast of Breaking the Fast

See also

Portal: Burkina Faso  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of Burkina Faso


Used literature

further reading

Web links

Commons : Burkina Faso  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Burkina Faso  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikimedia Atlas: Burkina Faso  - geographical and historical maps
Wikivoyage: Burkina Faso  travel guide

Individual evidence

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Coordinates: 12 °  N , 2 °  W