FASO GENERAL INFORMATION
274,200 sq km (105,870 sq miles).
12,624,000 (UN estimate 2002).
46 per sq km (2002).
Population: 709,736 (1996).
GEOGRAPHY: Burkina Faso is situated in West Africa and bordered
to the north and west by Mali, to the east by Niger,
to the southeast by Benin and to the south by Togo,
Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. The southern
part of the country, less arid than the north, is
wooded savannah, gradually drying out into sand and
desert in the north. The Sahara desert is relentlessly
moving south, however, stripping the savannah lands
of trees and slowly turning the thin layer of cultivatable
soil into sun-blackened rock-hard lakenite. Three
great rivers, the Mouhoun, Nazinon and Nakambé
(Black, Red and White Volta), water the great plains.
The population does not live in the valleys along
the river banks due to the diseases prevalent there.
Government: Republic. Gained independence from France in 1960.
Changed its name from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso
(Land of Dignity) in 1984. Head of State: President
Blaise Compaoré since 1987. Head of Government:
Prime Minister Paramanga Ernest Yonli since 2000.
Language: The official language is French. Several other languages
such as Mossi, Mooré, Dioula, Peul, Fulfuldé
and Gourmantché are also spoken.
than 50 per cent follow animist beliefs; 30 per cent
are Muslim and fewer than 12 per cent Christian (mostly
220 volts AC, 50Hz. Two-pin plugs are standard.
Communaute Financiere Africaine Franc - Currently
1 XOF = 0.0019 USD $
Climate: Burkina Faso has a tropical climate, with warm and
dry winters, and hot and wet summers. - Currently
73º, Mostly Cloudy. Back to top
IDD is available. Country code: 226. Outgoing international
GSM 900 networks operated by Celtel Burkina Faso (website:
www.msi-cellular.com), Onatel (website: www.onatel.bf)
and Telecel Faso SA (website: www.telecelfaso.bf).
Coverage available in the five main towns. Handsets
can be hired (against a large deposit); contact Onatel
for further information.
Available in some hotels and Internet cafes. There
are three Internet cafes in Ouagadougou and one in
Bobo Dioulassou. ISPs include Cenatrin (website: www.cenatrin.bf)
and FasoNet. Power cuts can hamper Internet usage.
There are limited facilities outside Ouagadougou.
Main hotels have facilities.
There are few post offices, but stamps can often be
bought at hotels. Poste Restante facilities are available
but a charge is made for letters collected. There
is no local delivery, and all other mail must be addressed
to a box number. Airmail to Europe takes up to two
weeks. Post office opening hours: Mon-Fri 0730-1230
and 1500-1730. The main post office in the capital
is open Mon-Sat 0830-1200 and 1500-1830.
Press: French-language only. The main daily newspapers are
L'Express du Faso, L’Observateur Paalga, Le
Pays and Sidwaya Quotidien.
BBC World Service (website: www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice)
and Voice of America (website: www.voa.gov) can be
received. From time to time the frequencies change
and the most up-to-date can be found online. Back
The capital of the country is home to some good sights
that capture the history and culture of the nation,
as well as nightclubs and internet cafes. The Moro-Naba
Palace is home to both the weekly Moro-Naba ritual as
well as other cultural events, and the Ethnography Museum
has relics on display that guide visitors through Burkina
Faso’s past. Ecotourists should head 75 miles
away to the south for the Resérve de Nazinga,
a Canadian-run reserve with one of the largest populations
of elephants in this region of Africa.
is a neighbor to a number of beautiful places to see,
and since it’s much smaller than Bobo Dioulasso
50 miles to the northeast, it is an easier way of getting
close to a more natural culture of the area. Among the
natural attractions are the Karfiguela waterfalls, falling
more fully during the rainy season, and the Dômes
de Febèdougou, tall pillar-like shapes cut by
ancient rivers, as well as smaller game reserves and
a terrain suited for impromptu safari day-trips.
The city features sights like the Centre Culturel Français
Henri Matisse, an arts center with a library and displays
keeping the French culture active, Musée Provincial
du Houët, one of the country’s best museums
with a wide range of sculpture and art, and the Kibidwé
district, the art district of the city with shops worth
traipsing through for an afternoon. Back
Customs: Photography is strictly controlled and can be considered
rude or illegal without the proper permit. Speak with
the Ministry of Tourism before taking out your camera,
and ask permission of anyone you’d like to capture
in a picture, and don’t bother trying to photograph
military or government facilities. Otherwise, dress
is considered mostly casual during the day, although
you should avoid wearing short skirts or shorts, and
more formal during the evening, where typically a
tie or dress is more than enough if you plan on going
to a nice restaurant for dinner.
Banking Hours: As credit cards and traveler’s checks have limited
acceptance, you are best off exchanging currencies
in the main banks in the major cities. Note that banks
are open every weekday but closed from just before
lunch to 3 or 4 in the afternoon.
Moro-Naba: The Moro-Naba ritual is a weekly event
in the capital where the ruler, the Moro-Naba, reenacts
the Mossi Emporer who began to mount his horse to
leave his country to face war, and then dismounted
and reentered his royal palace. The cérémonie
du Nabayius Gou, as it is also called, is a symbolic
Mossi Friday treat if you are in the capital.
When To Visit:
November is the best month to travel here, as you
miss both the heat of the summer and the dusty winds
called Harmattan of the later winter season. Two of
the best national festivals alternate years, with
the Pan-African Film Festival every odd year held
in Ouagadougou during late February, and the Semaine
Nationale de la Culture every even year in Bobo Dioulasso
during the last week of April.
Sauces are the mainstays of cooking in Burkina Faso,
and include local favorites like riz gras, a vegetable
and rice sauce, boeuf sauce aubergine, a sauce made
from beef and eggplant, and other variations based
on rice, fish, mutton or tomato. Outside of the urbanized
areas, locals will enjoy bush rat and consider it
your bill as a 10% service charge is often included
already, otherwise, add a 10% to 15% gratuity for
good service in restaurants and for taxi fares, and
porters generally are ok with change.
Burkina Faso is pretty much safe, and requires only
common sense and a general awareness of your surroundings
to get by, although you should keep an eye on your
wallet or purse in more crowded areas. Back