Burkina Faso is located in West Africa, in between the Sahara Desert and the coastal rainforests. Most of central Burkina Faso lies on a savanna plateau, 200 meters-300 meters (650 ft.-1,000 ft.) above sea level, with fields, brush, and scattered trees. The largest river is the Mouhoun (Black Volta) River, which is partially navigable by small craft. Burkina Faso has West Africa's largest elephant population. Game preserves also are home to lions, hippopotomus, monkeys, warthogs, and antelope. Infrastructure and tourism are, however, not well developed. Annual average rainfall varies from about 100 centimeters (40 in.) in the south to less than 25 centimeters (10 in.) in the north and northeast, where hot desert winds accentuate the dryness of the region. The cooler season, November to February, is pleasantly warm and dry (but dusty), with cool evenings. March-June can be very hot. In July-September, the rains bring a 3-month cooler and greener humid season.
Burkina Faso has a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of $424. 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.
Burkina is attempting to improve the economy by developing its mineral resources, improving its infrastructure, making its agricultural and livestock sectors more productive and competitive, and stabilizing the supplies and prices of food grains. Staple crops are millet, sorghum, maize, and rice. The cash crops are cotton, groundnuts, karite (shea nuts), and sesame. Livestock, once a major export, has declined.
Geologically, much of the country's rocks belong to Birimian greenstone belts which host a number of major gold deposits in Burkina Faso and to the south in neighbouring Ghana. Numerous mining companies are actively exploring Burkina Faso. The government is encouraging investment in its mining industry and the diagram below summarises the major mineral projects currently being developed.
Burkina Faso gained its independence from France on 5 August 1960 and changed its name from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso (“Land of Honest Men”) in 1984. President Blaise Compaore was re-elected for the third time in November 2005 for a five year term. Next election will be in 2010.
Capital: Ouagadougou; 821,000
Area: 274,200 sqm km (105,869 sq miles)
Language: French, native African languages
Religion: Muslim, indigenous beliefs, Christian
Currency: CFA franc
Monetary unit: 1 CFA franc - 100 centimes
Main exports: Cotton, animal products, gold
Mining Code: 031-2003/AN was introduced in 2003
GDP: US$8.116bn, growing at 4.2%
GNP per capita: US$578 (IMF 2009)
The Mining Journal's special publication on Burkina Faso provides a very good summary of mineral exploration and mining in Burkina Faso. The following websites provide further information on Burkina Faso: