Capital : Ouagadougou
Size: 106 000 sq m Popn: 9 490 000
The Mossi invaded the area in the C11th-13th and established a powerful warrior kingdom. Now a small land-locked state, the Upper Volta region was huge when it was claimed as a French colony in the 1890s but large areas were partitioned off to other French possessions (Mali, Ivory Coast, Niger) in 1932.
Upper Volta became a self-governing republic in 1958 and full independence was granted in 1960. The first President, Maurice Yameogo, imposed a dictactorial regime and was deposed by Col. Sangoule Lamizana in 1966. He banned political activity, suspending the constituion and dissolving the national assembly to set up a supreme council of the armed forces as the government. The political ban was removed in 1969 and a civilian based constitution was approved in the referendum of 1970 but disagreements between civilians and the military led to army rule being reinstated in 1974.
Famine and drought meant that Lamizana could not satisfy public aspirations but he held power and helped to produce a new constitution in 1977 although he was removed without bloodshed by Col. Saye Zerbo in 1980. He appointed a mainly civilian cabinet but late in 1982 he was overthrown by army rebels who appopinted Maj. Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo as leader of the council which appointed Thomas Sankara as Prime Minister in 1983. Power struggles ended with a brief but violent coup in which Sankara overthrew Ouedraogo and removed the rest of the opposition. In 1984, he renamed the country Burkina Faso ('land of upright men') to emphasise the break with the colonial past. He was killed in a 1987 coup by his former friend and Justice Minister, Capt. Blaise Compaore, whose crime was greatly resented by the Burkinabes. There was an attempted coup in 1989 which was discovered and prevented.
50% of the population comes from the Mossi ethnic group but the Fulani is the most important. There are also the Gourmantché, Bobo, Lobi, Senoufou and Bissa peoples. The Mossi speak More, French is the official language and Dioula and Gourmantché are spoken. More than 60% follow traditional beliefs, 30% are Muslim and the rest Christian.
This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.
Copies may be made for personal use only.
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