Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa. It covers an area of around 274200 km2 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. The July 2018 population estimate by the United Nations was 19,751,651. Burkina Faso is a francophone country, with French as the official language of government and business. Roughly 40% of the population speaks the Mossi language. Formerly called the Republic of Upper Volta (1958–1984), the country was renamed "Burkina Faso" on 4 August 1984 by then-President Thomas Sankara. Its citizens are known as Burkinabé. Its capital is Ouagadougou.
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, with Maurice Yaméogo as President. After protests by students and labour unions, Yaméogo was deposed in the 1966 coup d'état, led by Sangoulé Lamizana, who became President. His rule coincided with the Sahel drought and famine, and facing problems from the country's traditionally powerful trade unions he was deposed in the 1980 coup d'état, led by Saye Zerbo. Encountering resistance from trade unions again, Zerbo's government was overthrown in the 1982 coup d'état, led by Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo. 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 which included a nationwide literacy campaign, land redistribution to peasants, railway and road construction and the outlawing of female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy. Sankara was overthrown and killed in the 1987 coup d'état led by Blaise Compaoré – deteriorating relations with former coloniser France and its ally the Ivory Coast were the reason given for the coup.
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 was exiled 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.
The 2018 CIA World Factbook provides this summary of the issues facing Burkina Faso. "The country experienced terrorist attacks in its capital in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and continues to mobilize resources to counter terrorist threats". In 2018, several governments were warning their citizens not to travel into the northern part of the country and into several provinces in the East Region. The CIA report also states that "Burkina Faso's high population growth, recurring drought, pervasive and perennial food insecurity, and limited natural resources result in poor economic prospects for the majority of its citizens". The report is optimistic in some aspects, particularly concerning activities being done with assistance by the International Monetary Fund. "A new three-year IMF program (2018–2020), approved in 2018, will allow the government to reduce the budget deficit and preserve critical spending on social services and priority public investments".
Formerly called the Republic of Upper Volta, the country was renamed "Burkina Faso" on 4 August 1984 by then-President Thomas Sankara. The words "Burkina" and "Faso" both stem from different languages spoken in the country: "Burkina" comes from Mossi and means "upright", showing how the people are proud of their integrity, while "Faso" comes from the Dyula language and means "fatherland" (lit. "father's house"). The "bè" suffix added onto "Burkina" to form the demonym "Burkinabè" comes from the Fula language and means "men or women". The CIA summarizes the etymology as "name translates as "Land of the Honest (Incorruptible) Men".
The French colony of Upper Volta was named for its location on the upper courses of the Volta River (the Black, Red and White Volta).