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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 world’s poorest countries. It comprises a plateau region in the north on the Sahara fringe, which gives way southwards to an area of plains. The northern part of the country is arid and is 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 their prevalence. 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 that have been further impoverished by overgrazing and over-cultivation.

Subsistence agriculture supports most 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, metal products, and 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 was gained in 1960, but drought severely affected the country during the 1970s and political instability during the 1980s. The situation has improved since 1992.

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Burkina Faso is situated on a single, vast plateau known as the Mossi Highlands. Three valleys are carved around the Black, White, Red Volta Rivers, and their main tributary, the Sourou. The rivers are either flooded or dry, making the terrain of this savannah arid and poor. This wild bush country has a mixture of grasslands and small trees. The northern provinces of Burkina Faso are part of the Sahel region, a long strip of savannah that marks the Sahara Desert’s southern edge. Though most of the country is flat, there is a hill region in the southwest. Burkina Faso is a landlocked country.

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