Burkina Faso History

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 Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) to the south-west. Mossi KingdomWith a population today of some 16 million people known as Burkinabè, 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 (left) 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 François Hesling as its first governor in response to fears of armed uprising against French colonial rule. Maurice YaméogoHowever in September 1932 the colony was dismantled altogether and divided up between Côte 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 Yaméogo (right) as its first president.

This image of Blaise Compaore is is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil licenseSoon after, Yaméogo 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 (left), 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 . The video (right) explores the histtory of Burkina Faso in more details.

Today Burkina Faso is a poor country even by the standards of West Africa with poor life outcomes for its people. 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.

The situation in Burkina Faso is currently marked by a dramatic increase in violence, with almost 1,800 people reported to have been unlawfully. In addition, the military rule has been extended for another five years by the acting president, Captain Ibrahim Traoré, who seized power following a coup in 2022.


Burkina Faso History

Burkina Faso History

Burkina Faso History

Burkina Faso History


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Burkina Faso History

Burkina Faso History

A brief history and timeline of Burkina Faso from ancient to modern times together with images from Burkina Faso's past.


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