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Burkina Faso

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Burkina Faso

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Population: 13,228,000 (est.)

Language(s): French, Mòoré, Mandinka, Bambara

Capital: Ouagadougou

Interesting Facts:

  • The West African CFA franc is the official currency of Burkina Faso.
  • Statistics on religion in Burkina Faso are inexact because Islam and Christianity are often practiced in tandem with indigenous religious beliefs. It’s estimated around 60.5% of the population practice Islam, 23.2% practice Christianity and 0.4% have no religion (atheism is virtually nonexistent).
  • Life expectancy is around 55 years for men and  57 years for women.
  • The country’s main exports are cotton, animal products and gold.
  • The Mossi is the largest ethnic group in Burkina Faso.
  • Burkina Faso was formerly known as Upper Volta.
  • Burkina Faso is prone to severe droughts.
  • The country has consistently ranked low in GDP per capita.

Burkina Faso, also known by its short-form name Burkina, is a landlocked country in west Africa around 274,200 square kilometres (105,900 sq mi) in size. It is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north; Niger to the east; Benin to the southeast; Togo and Ghana to the south; and Côte d’Ivoire to the southwest. Its capital is Ouagadougou. In 2010, its population was estimated at just under 15.75 million.

Formerly called the Republic of Upper Volta, the country was renamed “Burkina Faso” on 4 August 1984 by then-President Thomas Sankara, using a word from each of the country’s two major native languages, Mòoré and Dioula. Figuratively, “Burkina”, from Mòoré, may be translated as “men of integrity”, while “Faso” means “fatherland” in Dioula. “Burkino Faso” is thus meant to be understood as “Land of upright people” or “Land of honest people”. Inhabitants of Burkina Faso are known as Burkinabè.

Between 14,000 and 5000 BCE, Burkina Faso was populated by hunter-gatherers in the country’s northwestern region. Farm settlements appeared between 3600 and 2600 BCE. What is now central Burkina Faso was principally composed of Mossi kingdoms. These Mossi Kingdoms became a French protectorate in 1896. After gaining independence from France in 1960, the country underwent many governmental changes until arriving at its current form, a semi-presidential republic. The president is Blaise Compaoré.

Burkina Faso is a member of the African Union, Community of Sahel-Saharan States, La Francophonie, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and Economic Community of West African States.

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