192-Part Guide To The World: Burkina Faso

OFFICIAL NAME

OFFICIAL NAME

Burkina Faso - previously known as Haute (Upper) Volta.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE

French. The main local languages are Moré and Dioula (which is spoken by almost everybody as a second language).

POPULATION

10.4 million

SIZE

274,122 square kilometres (about nine times bigger than Belgium).

BEST MONUMENT

Burkina Faso is not full of architectural gems but the troglodyte dwellings that have been hewn out of the hillsides at the small village of Koro near the town of Bobo are worth a trip.

NATIONAL DISH

There is not a huge, varied cuisine to speak of. Main dishes include riz sauce (gooey rice with sauce) and riz gras (gooey rice with fat).

CLIMATE

There are three seasons. From December to February the weather is described as dry and "cool", which means that the temperature does not generally exceed 35 degrees. From March to June the weather is dry and hot. And from July to November it rains.

MOST FAMOUS CITIZEN

Captain Thomas Sankara, a left-wing military hero who loved dramatic gestures, seized power in 1983 and for four years charged around the country endearing himself to the people for his charisma and honesty. Among other things, he renamed the country Burkina Faso, which is translated as "The Land of the Incorruptible".

BEST MOMENT IN HISTORY

Few real high points, though independence in 1960 was a marginal improvement on what had gone before. That involved 60 years of French colonisation, during which time the region of Haute Volta was largely ignored in favour of Cÿte d'Ivoire.

WORST MOMENT IN HISTORY

Until 1932 the colony Haute Volta had covered a far larger area than it does today, which better reflected the ethnic unity of the so-called Mossi states. In that year, however, for commercial reasons, the colony was carved up by the French and most of the land given over to Cÿte d'Ivoire, Niger and Mali.

ESSENTIAL ACCESSORY

Cool, loose, white, enveloping clothes which will protect you from the brutal combination of sun and dust.

WHAT NOT TO DO

Don't forget to bring your (valid) yellow fever vaccination certificate, otherwise you will not be allowed into the country.

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