Republic of Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso Jamahiriya



Burkina Faso is a landlocked West African state. With a total border length of 3,192 kilometers (1,984 miles), Burkina Faso is bordered by Mali to the north and west; Niger to the east; and Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Cote d'Ivoire to the south. It has a land area of 274,122 square kilometers (105,839 square miles), making it slightly larger than the U.S. state of Colorado. The country spans 400 kilometers (250 miles) from east to west and 200 kilometers (125 miles) from north to south. The capital, Ouagadougou, is located in the center of the nation.


The population was estimated at 12.3 million in 2001, with a growth rate of 2.7 percent per year. The country's population density stands at 42 people per square kilometer (109 people per square mile), but the population is unevenly distributed, with the north and east regions being sparsely populated. About 17 percent of the total population live in urban areas, but the urban population is growing at a rate of 11.3 percent per year.

The country is ethnically diverse. In pre-colonial times it was part of the Mossi Empire, and the Mossi population is still the largest ethnic group in Burkina Faso, accounting for nearly half of the total population. There are many other groups, but the most significant are the Gurmanche, who are related to the Mossi group and are located in various parts of the country; the Gurunsi in the South; the Bwa, Bobo, Lobi, Senufo, Marka, and the Samo in the West; and the Fulfulde (otherwise known as the Fulani) in the North. Ethnic relations are generally relaxed, with few, if any, overt ethnic hostilities.

A large number of Burkinabe work in neighboring countries, though Cote d'Ivoire (originally the most popular with migrant workers) has become less welcoming recently.


Primary components of Burkina Faso's industrial sector are manufacturing, mining, and construction. Construction has enjoyed a boom as a result of international and government based infrastructure development schemes. Road building and the provision of water supplies are major government priorities and provide a further stimulus to construction.


Manufacturing focuses predominantly on food processing, textiles, and substitutes for consumer goods imports. It is mainly concentrated in the Ouagadougou, Bobo-Dioulasso, Koudougou, and Banfora regions. There are about 100 companies in Burkina Faso, and most are publicly owned. Manufacturing accounts for 20 percent of the GDP but only employs around 1 percent of the workforce. Growth has been limited by the lack of materials, the need to import fuel, and the small domestic market. The sector was in trouble from 1985 to 1995, with an average contraction of 5.8 percent per year but has shown some signs of recovery in food processing and metalworking since 1995. However, companies in Burkina Faso are worried they will not be able to compete as regional trade is liberalized.

The agro-industry accounts for 55 percent of value-added manufacturing in Burkina Faso. Sosuco (the former sugar parastatal), now owned by the Aga Khan, is the single biggest employer with 1,800 workers. The company has suffered recently from the competition of cheap imports and, due to its inability to pay wages, endured repeated union strikes in 1999. The government agreed to place a ceiling of 1,000 metric tons on any sugar or rice imports, tripled the import tax on sugar, and imposed a new levy on sugar imports, thereby making foreign costs equal local costs in order to help the industry.

The second largest component of the manufacturing sector is textiles (including leather goods), which contributed 21 percent of value-added manufacturing in 1998. The largest textile company in Burkina Faso, Sofitex, employs 700 people and produces mostly for the domestic market. The company also exports 25 percent of its production regionally.


Burkina Faso has large unexploited mineral deposits, as one-quarter of its land is comprised of sedimentary formations from volcanoes. In 1993 the mining code was revised to encourage private investment, and the mining institutions have been restructured. Between 1992 and 1998 the government issued 180 prospecting licenses to 30 foreign and local companies. However, interest slackened in 1999 following the dip in world oil prices.

The third largest export, gold is by far the most important commodity mined in Burkina Faso. Yet Burkina Faso's gold output has remained stagnant in recent years. Underground exploitation of the Poura gold mine, which has a 26,000-kilogram (57,300-pound) reserve, stopped in 1999. The government plans to restructure the mine before reopening and privatizing it.


Since the early 1990s banking has undergone restructuring, and the government has been limited to 25 percent participation. Of the 3 commercial banks, Banque Internationale du Burkina Faso has completed its reforms; the Banque Nationale de Development du Burkina is being liquidated; and Banque pour le Financement du Commerce et des Investissements du Burkina (BFCIB) has been privatized. Banking regulation is also being tightened by the Banque Centrale des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (BCEAO), the regional central bank.


Problems of communication and poor facilities mean mass tourism is not yet an option in Burkina Faso. However, the country does have some attractions to offer visitors; it is host of the Biennial National Culture Week, the Pan African Film Festival, and the International Handicrafts Fair. National parks are also of interest. Given its central West African position, the country has also become a common location for regional conferences. In 1997, tourism receipts reached US$22 million and accounted for 9 percent of the GDP.


Burkina Faso has no territories or colonies.


A la découverte du Burkina Faso. <http://www.primature.gov.bf> .Accessed October 2001.

"Burkina Faso: Economy." NewAfrica. <http://www.newafrica.com/profiles/economy.asp?countryid=8> . Accessed September 2001.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Burkina Faso. London, England: EIU, 2000.

Embassy of Burkina Faso. <http://www.burkinaembassy-usa.org> .Accessed October 2001.

Hodd, M. "Burkina Faso." The Economies of Africa. Aldershot, England: Dartmouth Publishing, 1991.

Kelly, R. C., et al., editors. "Burkina Faso Country Review1999/2000." CountryWatch.com . <http://www.CountryWatch.com> . Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/uv.html> . Accessed October 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Burkina Faso, March 1998. <http://www.state.gov/www/background_notes/burkina_0398_bgn.html> . Accessed October 2001.

—Jack Hodd




Communauté Financiére Africaine Franc (CFA Fr). One CFA franc equals 100 centimes. There are banknotes of 500, 1,000, 2,500, 5,000 and 10,000 CFA francs and coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 250, and 500 CFA francs.


Cotton, animal products, and gold.


Machinery, food products, and petroleum.


US$12 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).


Exports: US$220 million (2000 est.). Imports: US$610 million (2000 est.).

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