Some facts about Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso (US: bər-KEE-nə FAH-soh; French: [buʁkina faso]) is a landlocked country in West Africa. It covers an area of around 274,200 square kilometres (105,900 sq mi) and is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north; Niger to the east; Benin to the southeast; Togo and Ghana to the south; and Ivory Coast to the southwest. Its capital is Ouagadougou. In 2014 its population was estimated at just over 17.3 million. Burkina Faso is a francophone country and French is an official language of government and business. Formerly called the Republic of Upper Volta, the country was renamed "Burkina Faso" on 4 August 1984 by then-President Thomas Sankara. The citizens of Burkina Faso are known as Burkinabé ( bər-KEE-nə-bay).
The northwestern part of present-day Burkina Faso was populated by hunter-gatherers from 14000 BC to 5000 BC. From the 3rd to the 13th centuries AD, the Iron Age Bura culture existed in the territory of present-day southeastern Burkina Faso and southwestern Niger. Various ethnic groups of present-day Burkina Faso, such as the Mossi, Fula and Dyula, arrived in successive waves between the 8th and 15th centuries. From the 11th century the Mossi people established several separate kingdoms. In the 1890s, during the European Scramble for Africa, the territory of Burkina Faso was invaded by France, and colonial control was established following a war of conquest between 1896 and 1904. The territory was made part of French West Africa in 1904, and the colony of French Upper Volta was established on 1 March 1919. The colony was named for its location on the upper courses of the Volta River (the Black, Red and White Volta).
The Republic of Upper Volta was established on 11 December 1958 as a self-governing colony within the French Community, and on 5 August 1960 it gained full independence, with Maurice Yaméogo as President. After protests by students and labour unions, Yaméogo was deposed in the 1966 coup d'état led by Sangoulé Lamizana, who became President. His rule coincided with the Sahel drought and famine, and facing problems from the country's traditionally powerful trade unions, he was deposed in the 1980 coup d'état led by Saye Zerbo. Encountering resistance from trade unions again, Zerbo's government was overthrown in the 1982 coup d'état led by Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo. The leader of the leftist faction of Ouédraogo's government, Thomas Sankara, became Prime Minister but was later imprisoned. Efforts to free him led to the popularly-supported 1983 coup d'état, in which he became President. Sankara renamed the country Burkina Faso and launched an ambitious socioeconomic program which included a nationwide literacy campaign, land redistribution to peasants, railway and road construction and the outlawing of female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy. Sankara was overthrown and killed in the 1987 coup d'état led by Blaise Compaoré – deteriorating relations with former coloniser France and its ally the Ivory Coast was the reason given for the coup.
In 1987 Blaise Compaoré became President and, after an alleged 1989 coup attempt, was later elected in 1991 and 1998, elections which were boycotted by the opposition and received a considerably low turnout, as well as in 2005. He remained head of state until he was ousted from power by the popular youth upheaval of 31 October 2014, after which he fled to the Ivory Coast. Michel Kafando subsequently became the transitional President of the country. On 16 September 2015 a military coup d'état against the Kafando government was carried out by the Regiment of Presidential Security, the former presidential guard of Compaoré. On 24 September 2015, after pressure from the African Union, ECOWAS and the armed forces, the military junta agreed to step down, and Michel Kafando was reinstated as Acting President. In the general election held on 29 November 2015, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré won in the first round with 53.5% of the vote and was sworn in as President on 29 December 2015.
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