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Burkina Faso

Driving Directions Burkina Faso

BURKINA FASO is a landlocked country in West Africa. The People’s Democratic Republic of Burkina Faso was formerly called Upper Volta and is one of the poorest countries in the world. It comprises a plateau region in the north on the fringe of the Sahara which gives way southwards to an area of plains. The northern part of the country is arid and is more or less an extension of the Sahara Desert. The south is less dry and has savan­nah-type vegetation and scattered trees, although desertification threat­ens part of this land.

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Three main rivers, the Black Volta (Mouhoun), Red Volta (Nazinon) and White Volta (Nakanbe), which are the headwaters of the great Volta river system to the south, descend from the plateau across the plains. Although the river valleys contain the most fertile land, people avoid these areas due to the prevalence of disease. Precipitation is generally low, the heaviest rain falling in the southwest, while the rest of the country is semi-desert. The dusty grey plains in the north and west have infertile soils which have been further impoverished by overgrazing and over-cultivation.

Subsistence agriculture supports the majority of the largely rural population, and food crops include sorghum, millet, pulses, corn, and rice. The country is known to possess some valuable mineral reserves, notably manganese and gold. Cotton is the main export along with animal products and minerals such as gold. Manufacturing industries include food processing, textiles, and metal products and the production of consumer items such as footwear and soap. There are great poverty and a shortage of work in the country, and many of the younger population go to Ghana and Cóte d'Ivoire for employment.

Full independence gained in 1960, but drought severely affected the country during the 1970s along with political instability during the 1980s. The situation has improved since 1992.

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