|General background: Independence from France
came to Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta) in 1960.
Governmental instability during the 1970s and 1980s
was followed by multiparty elections in the early 1990s.
Several hundred thousand farm workers migrate south
every year to Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana.
comparative: Slightly larger than Colorado
Climate: Tropical; warm, dry winters; hot, wet
Terrain: Mostly flat to dissected,
undulating plains; hills in west and southeast
Ethnic groups: Mossi over 40%, Gurunsi, Senufo,
Lobi, Bobo, Mande, Fulani
Religions: Indigenous beliefs 40%, Muslim
50%, Christian (mainly Roman Catholic) 10%
Language: French (official), native African
languages belonging to Sudanic family spoken by 90%
of the population
Government type: Parliamentary republic
Legal system: Based on French civil law system
and customary law
Economic overview: One of the poorest countries
in the world, landlocked Burkina Faso has a high population
density, few natural resources, and a fragile soil.
About 90% of the population is engaged in (mainly
subsistence) agriculture, which is highly vulnerable
to variations in rainfall. Industry remains dominated
by unprofitable government-controlled corporations.
Following the African franc currency devaluation in
January 1994 the government updated its development
program in conjunction with international agencies,
and exports and economic growth have increased. Maintenance
of macroeconomic progress depends on continued low
inflation, reduction in the trade deficit, and reforms
designed to encourage private investment.
Communication/Telephone system: All services
only fair, microwave radio relay, open wire, and radiotelephone
communication stations. Satellite earth station -
1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean).
Places of interest: Burkina Faso has become
the Utah of West Africa, hosting a biennial film festival
that rivals the Sundance Film Festival for cultural
clout. When it's not hosting film festivals, it's
busy organizing its other biennial cultural festival.
Travel tips: Known for their don't-worry-be-happy
philosophy and reputation for hospitality; they have
very few natural resources, but have managed to fashion
a beautiful and culturally sophisticated country out
of the little that they do have.