The modern day country of Burkina Faso, meaning 'the country of honourable people' is a neighbour to Mali to the north, Niger to the east, Benin to the south-east, Togo and Ghana to the south and Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) to the south-west. With a population today of some 20.32 million (2019) people known as Burkinabe, its history can be traced back to around 14,000BCE when it was populated by hunter gatherers. As with so many nations without natural boundaries, Burkina Faso was home to numerous peoples, however its centre was inhabited by Mossi kingdoms that were to become a French protectorate in 1896 as part of the Scramble for Africa after French colonial forces defeated the Mossi kingdom of Ouagadougouin that year. Over the next two years further military action saw most of what it now Burkina Faso come under French control, albeit with ongoing pockets of resistance. In 1919 the territory become a separate constituent territory of French West Africa with the name Haute Volta with Franoois Hesling as its first governor in response to fears of armed uprising against French colonial rule. However in September 1932 the colony was dismantled altogether and divided up between Cote d'Ivoire, French Sudan and Niger with the former receiving the largest share including the country's present day capital of Ouagadougou.
As elsewhere in Africa, World War II showed to native Africans that 'white man' should no longer to be considered invincible, and, against a backdrop of nationalistic fervour sweeping across the continent, the French took heed of anti-colonial agitation and restored the colony to its former state and boundaries on 4th September 1947. In 1958 the colony became an autonomous republic within the French Community and two years later achieved independence as the Republic of Upper Volta with Maurice Yameogo as its first president. Soon after, Yameogo banned all political parties apart from his own and he clung to power until a military coup in 1966 when he was deposed following a series of widespread demonstrations from students, unions and civil servants against the state of the country and living conditions.
This coup was to define the history of Burkina Faso (so renamed in 1984) for the next few decades with repeated military coups throughout the 1970s and 1980s until the country's former president, Blaise Compaore, come to power in a further such a coup in 1987. Whilst there are now multi party elections, Compaore won each and every one since then until his forced resignation in 2014. Michel Kafando subsequently became the transitional president of the country however on 16th September 2015 a military coup d'etat was carried out by the Regiment of Presidential Security, the former presidential guard of Compaore. On 24th 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 29th November 2015, Roch Marc Christian Kabore (previously the Prime Minister of Burkina Faso between 1994 and 1996 and President of the National Assembly of Burkina Faso from 2002 to 2012) won in the first round with 53.5% of the vote and was subsequently sworn in as president. He is Burkina Faso's first president without any past ties to the military.
Today Burkina Faso is a poor country even by the standards of West Africa with poor life outcomes for its people down at 182nd place out of 189 countries and territories in 2019 when ranked in terms of life expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and the living standards of a country with a life expectancy of 61.17 years. Badly affected by droughts, the country's economy has also suffered from regional instability with migrant workers unable to find employment in the Ivory Coast following recent events there.
Burkina Faso History: Volunteer in Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso History: Life in Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso History: Child Sponsor Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso History: Burkina Faso Country Profile
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