Burkina Faso

Quick Facts

Region: Africa

Population:
15,746,232

Religion:

Traditional beliefs make up the majority of religious beliefs in Burkina Faso, based mainly on the worship of ancestors and spirits. Approximately 25% of the population follow Islam, and about 10% are Christian.

Language:

The official language is French. There are approximately 60 local languages spoken, the More language is spoken by over half the population. Dioula is the language of the market. Other local languages include Fula, Gourmantche and Gourounsi.

Area (sq. km):
274,200 square meters

Time:

Time in Burkina Faso is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT/UTC +0)

When To Travel

The main rains come between June and October, this is also when it is very humid in the south. The weather is slightly cooler in December to February. Daily maximums rarely exceed 35 degrees Celsius at this time of year. The very hot season is between March to early June, when temperatures can rise well above 40 degrees Celsius.

The cooler months of the year, November to February, are the most comfortable for travel in West Africa. Beware that the dusty harmattan winds occur between December and February.

Useful Travel Facts

Airports:

The main airport is located about eight kilometres outside of Ouagadougou, the l’Aeroport International d’Ouagadougou. There is mainly domestic flights out of the airport at Borgo, 16 kilometres from Bobo Dioulasso.

Telephone:

Country code +226

Electricity:

Electricity is 220 volts/50 hertz; electrical plugs are the French type, with two round prongs with ground pin.

Food:

Sauces are a main part of cooking in Burkina Faso, these include fish based sauces, beef and eggplant with mutton and tomatoes, yam based sauces, peanut based or okra based sauces. These are usually served with rice, millet or sorghum. Lunch is the main meal, with grilled dishes being popular at night.

Transport:

Traffic drives on the right hand side of the road. Roads are mostly impassable during the rainy season from July to October. It is not recommended to drive at night, as there a not many street lights and some vehicles don’t have headlights. Regular bus services operate during the dry season to all major towns and it is necessary to book at least 48 hours in advance. Note: In Burkina Faso buses and vans are called cars. In major centres shared taxi are readily available with fares being negotiable.

Shopping:

Bobo Dioulasso, Dori, Gorom-Gorom, Ouahigouya and Ouagadougou have some great markets. Bargaining in the traditional marketplace is recommended. Purchases include wooden statuettes, bronze models, masks, worked skins from the tannery in Ouagadougou, jewellery, fabrics, hand-woven blankets and leather goods and crafts ranging from chess sets to ashtrays. The Grande Marché in Bobo Dioulasso is a much smaller and less cramped market.

Visa: You are able to obtain a visa on arrival or at the border for Burkina Faso.
For Australian passport holders, the French Consulate in Sydney is authorized to issue short stay visas on behalf of Burkina Faso & Togo for tourism.

Applications can be made on-line via their website:
http://www.ambafrance-au.org/france_australie/spip.php?article1100

Useful Words & Phrases

French

Hello: Bonjour
Good Bye: Au revoir
Please: S’il-vous-plait
Thank You: Merci
You're Welcome: Je vous en prie
Yes: Oui
No: Non
Excuse me (request): Excusez-moi
Sorry: Pardon
How are you? (formal): Comment allez-vous
How are you? (informal): Ça va
Do you speak English?: Parlez-vous anglais
I don’t understand: Je ne comprends pas
What is your name?: Comment vous appelez vous?
My name is...: Je m’appelle...
Where is...: Où est...
I’d like...: Je voudrais...
How much is it?: Combien ça coûte?
Which way to...: Comment faire pour aller...
City centre: le centre-ville
Train station: la gare
Bank: la banque
Toilet: les toilettes
Exchange office: un bureau de change
1: un
2: deux
3: trois
4: quatre
5: cinq
6: six
7: sept
8: huit
9: neuf
10: dix
20: vingt
50: cinquante
100: cent

Further Reading

West Africa Lonely Planet

Land of the flying masks: Art & culture in Burkina Faso Thomas G.B. Wheellock collection

The Village of Waiting by George Packer

Hustling is not Stealing: Stories of an African Bar Girl by John M. Chernoff