Burkina Faso Country Overview

Burkina Faso Country Overview

The former French colony was renamed in 1984 in Burkina Faso, ie “Land of the incorruptible”. The revolutionary awakening ended tragically at first, but is blossoming again today – after overcoming 27 years of dictatorial rule – into a hope that is unusual for Africa. The humor with which the Burkinabe cope with their lives remains incorruptible.

Country overview

Neither sea, desert nor rainforest, Burkina Faso passes – from south to north – from the tropical, humid Sudan zone into the dry, hot Sahel zone. Monsoons and Harmattan determine rainy and dry seasons.


Around 60 ethnic groups in Burkina Faso live together peacefully with tolerance and humor. Several eras separate urban from rural life. The pan-African film festival FESPACO is the biggest international cultural highlight in Ouagadougou.

Everyday life & practical information

Everyday life in Burkina Faso means the coexistence of two different worlds. The city adapts to more or less western standards. In the country, traditions shape life. Time ticks differently. For the European, his impatience can become the greatest enemy.

Official name: Burkina Faso

Area: 274,200 km²

Residents: 20.83 million (2020, estimated)

Growth of population: 2.66% (2020, estimated)

Seat of government: Ouagadougou

Official language: French

Regional languages: Mooré, Peul, Dioula et al

Socio-geographical conditions


Burkina Faso has over 20 million residents. According to estimates by a Canadian School of Applied Politics, the population density is 70 residents / km². Of these, 70% live outside of cities and the majority operate subsistence agriculture. Migration and rural exodus have continued for decades. The highest population densities are found on the central plateau. The population comprises around 60 ethnic groups. The dominant one is the Mossi group with a share of at least 40%. In addition to the official language French, Mooré, Dioula and Fulfuldé are the most important lingua franca. About 43% of the population is under 15 years old, the number of illiterates is very high at almost 60%.

Over 60% of the population professes Islam, around 30% of Christian denominations. Even if only about 10% would describe themselves to the outside world as followers of traditional “animism”, the vast majority of the population practices spirit and ancestral spirituality in some form across confessional boundaries. In 2017, almost 1.5 million Burkinabe lived abroad, including over 1.3 million in Côte d’Ivoire and more than 120,000 in other countries in the region.

Burkina Faso People

Independence Day: 08/05/1960

Head of state: Roch Marc Christian Kaboré

Head of government: Christophe Dabiré (since January 2019)

Political system: Parliamentary democracy

Democracy Status Index (BTI): Rank 56 of 137 (2020)

Corruption Index (CPI): Rank 85 of 180 (2019)

Ibrahim Index of African Governance: Rank 17 of 54 (2020)

Alphabetized adults: 41.2% (HDR, 2020)

Major religions: Islam 61%, Christianity 30%

Urban population: 30.0% (HDR, 2020)

Life expectancy (f / m): 62.3 / 60.7 years (HDR, 2020)

Gender Inequality Index: 147 of 162 (2019, HDR 2020)

Number of births: 5.19 / woman (World Bank, 2018)

Infant mortality: 49 / 1,000 live births (HDR, 2020)


Malaria in Burkina Faso continues to be the greatest health risk for Europeans due to incorrect assessment of its occurrence and the course of the disease as well as ignorance of its correct treatment. It has been found often enough that general practitioners in Germany also have wrong ideas about the dangers of malaria. If you do not live permanently in malaria areas, you should definitely protect yourself with medicinal malaria prophylaxis when traveling to Burkina Faso all year round. Treatment with medication becomes dangerous if you stop it too early (after the first attack of fever you feel good and happily do without further treatment).

In 2016, dengue fever, which can be fatal in young children, spread like an epidemic. Doctors and hospitals are overwhelmed, especially since there are no common treatment methods. The viral disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, even during the day. Symptoms (fever and severe headache) exceed those of malaria and the disease lasts for at least 3 weeks. There is no prophylaxis against dengue fever other than protection against mosquito bites. In October 2017, the Ministry of Health took mosquito control measures.

Further dangers arise from diarrheal diseases and the associated dehydration. To prevent diarrhea, the good rule is: “cook it, peel it or forget it”.

In Burkina Faso, respiratory diseases such as sinusitis or bronchitis are also common. Infectious diseases are common due to poor hygiene. At the end of the dry season (March, April), Burkina Faso often experiences a meningitis epidemic. In 2009 there was an increased incidence of measles (51,000 diseases, 300 deaths). If you bathe in open water for a long time, there is a risk of schistosomiasis. AIDS is common.

In April 2017, a Geneva commission designated 17 tropical diseases, some of which are also widespread in Burkina Faso, as “neglected diseases”. Research and the pharmaceutical industry saw no economic interest in combating them, said the Burkinabe Health Minister Nicolas Méda. In his opinion, these diseases can be eradicated with minimal resources.

A yellow fever vaccination is compulsory. Vaccinations against meningococcal meningitis, hepatitis A + B, polio, tetanus are recommended. The travel medical information service Fit for Travel offers constantly updated travel advice for Burkina Faso with information on vaccination recommendations and regulations, malaria areas, special health risks and a climate table.die-reisemedizin.de or from the Federal Foreign Office.

Apart from a few urban centers, health care is very poor.

Due to the poor road conditions, unsafe and obsolete vehicles and researching driving style, traffic seems to be at least as dangerous to life and health as disease.

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