- Christopher D. Roy
[République Démocratique Populaire de Burkina Faso; formerly Upper Volta, Haute-Volta]
Country of c. 274,200 sq. km in West Africa, bordered by Mali to the west and north, Niger to the east and Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin to the south. The capital is Ouagadougou. Conquered by the French in 1896, it remained under their control until 1960, when it became independent. Until 1984 it was called Haute-Volta or Upper Volta. Its population (c. 8,509,000; UN estimate, 1988) is made up of c. 30 distinct ethnic groups. Although the official language is French, large numbers of people use Moore, the language of the Mossi people (the most numerous group in the country); Jula, the language of traders from the north-west; or Fulfulde, the language of the Fulani herders, as common languages. The peoples of Burkina Faso can be divided into two major language groups: the peoples in the centre and east, including the Bwa, Gurunsi and Mossi, speak ...