Burkina Faso History

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History[edit | edit source]

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa. It covers an area of around 105,900 sq miles and is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north; Niger to the east; Benin to the southeast; Togo and Ghana to the south; and Ivory Coast to the southwest. In 2017, its population was estimated at just over 20 million. Burkina Faso is a francophone country, with French as the official language of government and business. Burkina Faso was formerly called the Republic of Upper Volta from 1958 to 1984, the country was renamed Burkina Faso on 4 August 1984.

In the 1890s, during the European Scramble for Africa, the territory of Burkina Faso was invaded by France, and colonial control was established following a war of conquest between 1896 and 1904. The territory was made part of French West Africa in 1904, and the colony of French Upper Volta was established on 1 March 1919. The colony was named for its location on the upper courses of the Volta River.

The Republic of Upper Volta was established on 11 December 1958 as a self-governing colony within the French Community, and on 5 August 1960 it gained full independence. The leader of the leftist faction of Ouédraogo's government, Thomas Sankara, became Prime Minister but was later imprisoned. Efforts to free him led to the popularly-supported 1983 coup d'état, in which he became President. Sankara renamed the country Burkina Faso and launched an ambitious socioeconomic programme. Sankara was overthrown and killed in 1987 – deteriorating relations with former coloniser France and its ally the Ivory Coast was the reason given for Sankara's overthrow.

In 1987, Blaise Compaoré became President and, after an alleged 1989 coup attempt, was later elected in 1991 and 1998, elections which were boycotted by the opposition and received a considerably low turnout, as well as in 2005. He remained head of state until he was ousted from power by the popular youth upheaval of 31 October 2014, after which he fled to the Ivory Coast. Michel Kafando subsequently became the transitional President of the country. On 16 September 2015, a military coup d'état against the Kafando government was carried out by the Regiment of Presidential Security, the former presidential guard of Compaoré. On 24 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 29 November 2015, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré won in the first round with 53.5% of the vote and was sworn in as President on 29 December 2015.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

1896 - Burkina Faso became a French protectorate
1898 - The Franco-British Convention created the country's modern borders. In the French territory, a war of conquest against local communities and political powers continued for about five years
1904 - The largely pacified territories of the Volta basin were integrated into the Upper Senegal and Niger colony of French West Africa as part of the reorganization of the French West African colonial empire
1915 - 1916 - The Volta-Bani War was one of the most important armed oppositions to colonial government
1919 - 1932 -French Upper Volta was dismantled, being split between the French colonies of Ivory Coast, French Sudan and Niger
1947 - France reversed this change during the period of intense anti-colonial agitation that followed the end of World War II and it revived the colony of Upper Volta, with its previous boundaries, as a part of the French Union
1958 - The Republic of Upper Volta was established as a self-governing colony within the French Community
1958 - French Upper Volta attained full independence from France
1984 - The country's name was changed from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso