Burkina Faso Information

General Information for Burkina Faso

Country: Burkina Faso
Location: West Africa
Independence: August 5,1960
Nationality: Burkinabè
Capital City: Ouagadougou
Population: 10,422,828
Important Cities: Bobo-Dioulasso, Ouahigouya, Koudougou, Banfora
Head of State: Blaise Compaore
Area: 274,500 sq.km.
Type of Government: Republic
Currency: 500 FCFA=1 USD
Major peoples: Mossi,Gurunsi,Senufo,Lobi,Bobo,Fulani
Religion: Muslim 50%, African religion 40%, Christian 5%
Climate: Tropical
Literacy: 18%
Official Language: French
Principal Languages: More, Dioula, Fulfulde
Major Exports: Cotton, Gold, Animal Products
Pre-Colonial History The history of the region before the arrival of the French in 1897 is dominated by the Mossi people, who established the Mossi Empire in the basin of the Volta Rivers in 1500 and dominated the region through the use of the horse as a weapon of war. Because of their military strength, the Mossi played an important role in the western Sudan area of west Africa in the period up to the end of the 19th century. They were able to maintain an area free of conflict in which crafts people were able to create trade goods for distribution throughout the area, and they were ably to maintain free and open lines of trade between major trade centers. Like other powerful peoples they participated in the slave trade, raiding weaker neighboring peoples and shipping their captives south to the Atlantic coast, whence many were shipped to Brazil. Throughout the period the Mossi maintained close ties to the Asante to the south in Ghana and maintained mutual non-aggression treaties with their neighbors to the south.
Post-Colonial History The legacy of French colonialism from 1897 to 1960 was one of conscious underdevelopment. Burkina Faso is the second most densely populated country in Black Africa and was used as a source of human labor by the French for their rich plantations and factories in the Cote_d'Ivoire. The French consciously chose not to develop industry in Burkina Faso to force labor to seek work in Côte d'Ivoire, and they refused to develop an infrastructure, especially roads, that would compete with the railroad they had constructed to supply labor to the coast. In the years since independence a number of foreign governments as well as the United Nations and the European Economic Union have attempted with considerable success to reverse this underdevelopment with the paving of roads and the construction of factories, especially the large textile mill in Koudougou. The history of political change has been one of struggle between forces for democratization, with occasional free elections, and the military, which has used the excuse of corruption to seize power from the civilian government. There has been a constant struggle by representatives of the less numerous ethnic minorities to maintain some measure of power in balance of the size and power of the Mossi majority.

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