Exploring Burkina Faso: A Glimpse into the Heart of West Africa

Geography and Climate

Positioned in Western Africa, north of Ghana, Burkina Faso is a landlocked country with a complex geography and climate that shapes its way of life. The nation covers an area of 274,200 square kilometers, with land accounting for 273,800 square kilometers and water bodies making up the remaining 400 square kilometers. It shares its 3,611 km of land boundaries with six countries: Benin (386 km), Côte d’Ivoire (545 km), Ghana (602 km), Mali (1325 km), Niger (622 km), and Togo (131 km). Despite its diverse landscapes, the country does not have a coastline, setting it apart from some of its neighbors.

The climate of Burkina Faso is divided into three distinct zones. In the southern half lies a hot tropical savanna climate with a brief rainy season, transitioning to a tropical hot semi-arid steppe typical of the Sahel region in the northern half, and a small hot desert area in the very north, bordering the Sahara Desert. This diversity in climate zones contributes to the wide range of agricultural and living conditions in the country.

The terrain of Burkina Faso is mostly characterized by flat to dissected, undulating plains, with hills found in the west and southeast. The nation is situated on an extensive plateau, featuring savannas that are grassy in the north and gradually transition into sparse forests in the south. The lowest point in Burkina Faso is the Mouhoun (Black Volta) River at 200 meters above sea level, while the highest point is Tena Kourou, reaching 749 meters.

Natural Resources and Land Use

Burkina Faso is endowed with a variety of natural resources, including gold, manganese, zinc, limestone, marble, phosphates, pumice, and salt. These resources play a significant role in the country’s economy, particularly gold, which is a major export product. The land is predominantly utilized for agriculture, with 44.20% being agricultural land and 19.30% covered by forests. As of 2016, around 550 square kilometers of land were under irrigation, supporting the cultivation of crops such as cotton, peanuts, shea nuts, sesame, sorghum, millet, corn, and rice. Livestock rearing is also an essential part of the country’s agriculture sector.

Population and Urbanization

With an estimated total population of 20,835,401 as of July 2020, Burkina Faso has a modestly urbanized society. Approximately 30.60% of the population lives in urban areas, including the capital city of Ouagadougou, which houses around 2.780 million people, and Bobo-Dioulasso, the country’s second-largest city, with about 972,000 inhabitants. The population is mainly concentrated in the center and south of the country, where the climate and terrain are more favorable for habitation and agriculture.

Economy and Development

The economy of Burkina Faso is diverse, with agriculture playing a pivotal role alongside industries such as cotton lint production, beverages, agricultural processing, soap, cigarettes, textiles, and gold mining. The nation exports primarily gold, cotton, and livestock, with Switzerland, India, and South Africa being significant export partners. Imports include capital goods, foodstuffs, and petroleum, with China, Côte d’Ivoire, and the US among the key import partners.

Despite its natural and human resources, Burkina Faso faces developmental challenges, reflected in the electrification rate of only 19.2% as of 2016 and a GDP per capita of $1,900 in 2017. These figures highlight the need for continued development efforts to improve the living standards and economic opportunities for the Burkinabe people.


Burkina Faso, with its diverse geography, climate, and rich cultural heritage, stands as a testament to the resilience and adaptability of its people. Despite challenges, the nation continues to harness its substantial agricultural and mineral resources towards sustainable development and growth. With ongoing efforts towards electrification, education, and economic diversification, Burkina Faso aims to secure a prosperous future for all its citizens.

Country data

Country Code UV
Region Africa
Surface 274200 sq km
Land Surface 273800 sq km
Water Surface 400 sq km
Agricultural Surface 44.20%
Forest Surface 19.30%
Lowest Elevation Point Mouhoun (Black Volta) River 200 m
Highest Elevation Point Tena Kourou 749 m
GDP / capita $1,900 (2017 est.)