Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso covers an area of 274,000 km(approximately 105,800 sq. mi). It is a landlocked country located in the heart of West Africa that borders the Sahel desert. It is bordered to the northwest by Mali, to the east by Niger, to the south by Ghana, to the southeast by Togo and Benin and to the southwest by the Ivory Coast. It gained independence from France the 5th of August ,1960.


Its administrative capital is Ouagadougou, located in the centre of the country, itself divided into 13 regions, 45 provinces and 301 departments.

Burkina Faso is a tropical country with climates that oscillates between the Sudanese in the South and Sahelian in the North, characterised by the alternation between a dry season and a rainy season. The arrival in January/February of the "Harmattan" wind from the Sahara brings huge sandstorms along which announce the arrival of the dry season.

In July and August, the winds from the Atlantic Ocean bring heavy rains; this is the beginning of the rainy season. Over the past 30 years, the rainfall has decreased by around 10-20% due to climate change. The average annual temperature is between 20 and 30°C (68 and 86°F), although it can reach close to 50°C (122°F) in March.

There is a severe water shortage due to the desertification that suffers the area. Water is sourced from wells. On a national scale, in 2007, only 61% of the population had access to improved water sources. There is a sewerage network in the cities, with, sometimes, uncovered sections. Some areas have septic tanks. In some villages, there are latrines with soak pits, but in general, there is no sanitation in the rural areas. In 2007, national sanitation coverage was only 13%.

The territory is relatively flat, and the average altitude of the entire territory is 400 meters.

There are few tarmac roads in good condition: from Bobo Dioulasso to Ouagadougou in the northeast, from Bobo Dioulasso to Ivory Coast in the south, and a few more (see image to the right). The communication between the is made via tracks and unpaved roads, in varying conditions depending on maintenance and the time of the year.

Some neighbourhoods in the two large towns (Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso) are supplied by the State grid and have street lighting. There is no power supply in rural areas, and the little electricity produced is always generated with a generator  set. The climatic conditions do not allow for wind energy. the Harmattan wind isn't strong enough, it is only active for three month each year.  Due to the orography of the country, there are few rivers and no dams. Solar energy is beginning to be used as an alternative solution.

Burkina Faso has a population of 13,002,000 inhabitants for a surface area of 274,000 km2 (approximately 105,800 sq. mi). The ratio is 99.7 men for every 100 women, and the proportion of children below the age of 15 in 2020 was 44.4%. Life expectancy was of 61.17 years old (2018 data), and only 2.4% of the population was over 65 years old in 2020.

Burkina Faso population is made up of more than sixty different ethnic groups. The Mossi are the majority ethnic group (approximately 53%) and live in the centre of the country. The other important ethnic groups are: the Gurma in the east (7% of the population),  the Fula or Fulani (7.8%), the Bissa in the south (3%) and the Gurunsi (6%), in the southeast the Samos (2%), the Dafing or Markas (1.7%), the Bobo (1.6%), the Senufo (2.2%) and Lobi (2.5%). All these peoples speak their own languages.

The average population density is around 47.5 inhabitants per km2, but this average hides huge disparities, as densities variate a lot from one province to another. The area with the densest urban concentration is the Central Zone. On the contrary, the southwest, Sahel and eastern areas are very sparsely populated.

More than 80% of the population lives in the countryside. This is one of the highest rural population rates in the world which explains that 90% of the people live on agricultural resources and why the number of salaried jobs is very low. The Burkinabe population is characterised by high mobility. There are particularly high internal migrations to the Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso areas. The country's urbanisation rate is around 17%. As a result, the cities are found to be expanding.

Ouagadougou is the administrative capital and has more than a million inhabitants. Bobo-Dioulasso, located at 360 kilometres of the capital, is the second most important city and the economic capital of the country. It has a population of over 500,000. The other major cities like Koudougou, Banfora and Ouahigouya have around 50,000 inhabitants.

The official language of Burkina Faso is French, but there are 68 languages or dialects throughout the entire country. In the central area, especially in Ouagadougou, More is spoken as a second language. In the Bobo-Dioulasso region, especially in the city, the population speaks Dioula.

The predominent religion is the one that refers to animist cults and is practised by 65% of the population approximately. On the other hand, the Islamic religion is followed by about 50% of the population, and Christianity by about 20% of the population.

90% of the country's population lives on agriculture or livestock (40% of real GDP), but the incomes they return are very low. It amounts to less than 100,000 CFA franc (around 150 euros) per month, on which an average of 8 persons per family have to live. To this, we must add the insecurity that implies the fact of living on an income that is totally dependent on extremely adverse climatic conditions.

90% of exports comes from agricultural products (cotton represents more than 50% of exportations). Cereals are often exported to neighbouring countries when weather conditions in those countries have been adverse. However, cereals often have been imported, and, as this is the basis of the population's diet, food self-sufficiency is not assured.

The sanitary situation of the country could be described as "very difficult". Burkina Faso has an unfavourable epidemiological profile. The main causes of this situation are high mortality and morbidity rates, the resurgence of diseases (e.g. tuberculosis), poor hygiene and sanitation conditions, low household budgets for health, insufficient health personnel, the remoteness of the population from health centres, and the fact that health services are not free of charge.

Burkina Faso is sixth from the bottom in the world according to the HDI (Human Development Index), making it one of the poorest countries in the world.

Of its almost 14 million inhabitants, only 22% are literate, and life expectancy is below 62 years old.

Although Burkina Faso has come a long way towards achieving the second of the Millennium Development Goals (i.e. achieving Universal Primary Education), only 46% of children are enrolled in school so far. Primary education in Burkina Faso is free, but children do not go to school because their families still believe that they are more useful in the fields, but the future of the country depends on the education of its citizens.


You can find a multitude of economic indicators of Burkina Faso through this link.