Burkina Faso Country Facts

By | February 21, 2024
Burkina Faso
Capital city Ouagadougou
Surface 273.800 km²
Population 21.490.000
Road network length 2.001 km
Length of highway network 4 km
First highway ~2009
Motorway name Highway
Traffic drives To the right
License plate code BF

Burkina Faso is a country in western Africa. The country is approximately 7 times the size of the Netherlands and has approximately 21.5 million inhabitants. The capital is Ouagadougou.


Burkina Faso is an inland country of West Africa, it is an inner state and borders clockwise on Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. The country measures a maximum of 800 kilometers from west to east and 450 kilometers from north to south. The capital Ouagadougou is centrally located in the country.

It is a relatively flat country, much of the country is around 400 meters above sea level, with few major differences in height. The 747 meter high Tenakourou in the far west is the highest point of Burkina Faso. The landscape is largely savanna, with Sahel influences in the drier north. Much of the country drains through three rivers called Volta, the most important of which is the White Volta. The east of the country drains into the Niger River, but this river does not flow through Burkina Faso itself.

Burkina Faso has a tropical climate with a wet and dry season. The average maximum temperature in the capital Ouagadougou varies between 33 and 39 °C. Precipitation mainly falls in the period from May to October, with a strong peak in August. As a result, there is still about 750 mm per year, but from November to March there is almost no precipitation.


In 1950 Burkina Faso had only 4 million inhabitants, this grew to 11.6 million in 2000 and 20 million in 2018. The birth rate is one of the highest in the world, which translates into strong population growth.

The country has two major cities, the capital Ouagadougou, which has approximately 1.5 million inhabitants, and the city of Bobo-Dioulasso, which has approximately 0.5 million inhabitants. All other cities have less than 100,000 inhabitants, the population still largely lives in rural areas.

In Burkina Faso, French is spoken as the official language and lingua franca. Other African languages ​​are spoken by the population, who are mostly multilingual.


Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world, 80% of the population works in agriculture, mostly for their own food supply. Much of the Burkinabe economy relies on international aid. The main industrial sector is mining. The main export products by value are gold and cotton. Much of the economy is cashless and informal. Only a small part of the population has received education, which is a major barrier to further developing the country.


In the Middle Ages, several kingdoms existed in this region. Part of the area was under the rule of the Songhai Empire. It was not until the late 19th century that the area was colonized, initially by the British, French and Germans, but eventually a French protectorate was established in 1896. The current boundaries of the French and British territories in this part of Africa were established in 1898. It was thereafter administered as part of the French West Africa colony, which had its capital in Bamako (modern day Mali). After the First World War, the colony was called Haute Volta, during that period the first roads were developed, mainly to stimulate cotton cultivation, which ultimately failed. The colony was split up in 1932, with most of it including the two largest cities becoming part of the Côte d’Ivoire colony. However, after World War II, the colony was re-established as Haute Volta. It became an autonomous republic in 1958 and it gained full independence in 1960.

The country was known from then on as Haute Volta, Upper Volta in English or Upper Volta in Dutch. This was named after the three different rivers that bear the name Volta and meet in Ghana. The 1960s, 1970s and 1980s were marked by coups, as was often the case in Africa. After a coup d’état in 1983, the country was renamed Burkina Faso, which means ‘land of the upright people’ the following year. In 1987, Blaise Compaoré came to power after a coup d’état and ruled the country until 2014. He was forced to resign after an uprising, after which elections followed.


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