Burkina Faso Travel Information

Photo Independence from France came to Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta) in 1960. Repeated military coups during the 1970s and 1980s were followed by multiparty elections in the early 1990s. Burkina Faso's high population density and limited natural resources result in poor economic prospects for the majority of its citizens. Every year, several hundred thousand seasonal farm workers seek employment in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana and are adversely affected by instability in those regions.

Burkina Faso's 12 million people belong to two major West African cultural groups--the Voltaic and the Mande (whose common language is Dioula). The Voltaic Mossi make up about one-half of the population. The Mossi claim descent from warriors who migrated to present-day Burkina Faso from Ghana and established an empire that lasted more than 800 years.

Until the end of the 19th century, the history of Burkina Faso was dominated by the empire-building Mossi. The French arrived and claimed the area in 1896, but Mossi resistance ended only with the capture of their capital Ouagadougou in 1901. The colony of Upper Volta was established in 1919, but it was dismembered and reconstituted several times until the present borders were recognized in 1947.

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world with per capita GNP of $239. More than 80% of the population relies on subsistence agriculture, with only a small fraction directly involved in industry and services. Drought, poor soil, lack of adequate communications and other infrastructure, a low literacy rate, and an economy vulnerable to external shocks are all longstanding problems. The export economy also remains subject to fluctuations in world prices.

Important: Travel to Burkina Faso may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Burkina Faso visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: none
Capital city: Ouagadougou
Area: 274,200 sq km
Population: 17,275,115
Ethnic groups: Mossi over 40%, other approximately 60%
Languages: French
Religions: Muslim 60.5%, Catholic 19%, animist 15.3%, Protestant 4.2%, other 0.6%, none 0.4%
Government: parliamentary republic
Chief of State: President Blaise COMPAORE
Head of Government: Prime Minister Luc-Adolphe TIAO
GDP: 22.1 billion
GDP per captia: 1,300
Annual growth rate: 4.2%
Inflation: 2.8%
Agriculture: cotton, peanuts, shea nuts, sesame, sorghum, millet, corn, rice
Major industries: cotton lint, beverages, agricultural processing, soap, cigarettes, textiles, gold
Natural resources: manganese, limestone, marble
Location: Western Africa, north of Ghana
Trade Partners - exports: China 21%, Turkey 16.9%, Singapore 8.4%, Indonesia 6.6%, Thailand 4.9%, Malaysia 4.3%
Trade Partners - imports: Cote d'Ivoire 16.7%, France 15.2%, Ghana 5%, Togo 4.7%, Belgium 4.2%