Geography of Burkina Faso

Geography of Burkina Faso
Map Of Burkina Faso
Satellite image of Burkina Faso
Topography of Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta) is a landlocked Sahel country that shares borders with six nations. It lies between the Sahara Desert and the Gulf of Guinea, south of the loop of the Niger River. The land is green in the south, with forests and fruit trees, and desert in the north. Most of central Burkina Faso lies on a savanna plateau, 198–305 metres (650–1,001 ft) above sea level, with fields, brush, and scattered trees. Burkina Faso's game preserves—the most important of which are Arly, Nazinga, and W National Park--contain lions, elephants, hippopotamus, monkeys, warthogs, and antelopes. Previously the endangered Painted Hunting Dog, Lycaon pictus occurred in Burkina Faso, but, although last sightings were made in Arli National Park,[1] the species is considered extirpated in Burkina Faso. Tourism is not well developed.



Geography and climate 

Satellite image of Burkina Faso, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map LibraryMain articles: Geography of Burkina Faso and Climate of Burkina Faso Burkina Faso lies mostly between latitudes 9° and 15°N (a small area is north of 15°), and longitudes 6°W and 3°E.

It is made up of two major types of countryside. The larger part of the country is covered by a peneplain, which forms a gently undulating landscape with, in some areas, a few isolated hills, the last vestiges of a Precambrian massif. The southwest of the country, on the other hand, forms a sandstone massif, where the highest peak, Ténakourou, is found at an elevation of 749 meters (2,457 ft). The massif is bordered by sheer cliffs up to 150 meters (492 ft) high. The average altitude of Burkina Faso is 400 meters (1,312 ft) and the difference between the highest and lowest terrain is no greater than 600 meters (1,969 ft). Burkina Faso is therefore a relatively flat country.

The country owes its former name of Upper Volta to three rivers which cross it: the Black Volta (or Mouhoun), the White Volta (Nakambé) and the Red Volta (Nazinon). The Black Volta is one of the country's only two rivers which flow year-round, the other being the Komoé, which flows to the southwest. The basin of the Niger River also drains 27% of the country's surface.

The Niger's tributaries – the Béli, the Gorouol, the Goudébo and the Dargol – are seasonal streams and flow for only four to six months a year. They still, however, can cause large floods. The country also contains numerous lakes – the principal ones are Tingrela, Bam and Dem. The country contains large ponds, as well, such as Oursi, Béli, Yomboli and Markoye. Water shortages are often a problem, especially in the north of the country.

Burkina Faso has a primarily tropical climate with two very distinct seasons. In the rainy season, the country receives between 600 and 900 millimeters (23.6 and 35.4 in) of rainfall; in the dry season, the harmattan – a hot dry wind from the Sahara – blows. The rainy season lasts approximately four months, May/June to September, and is shorter in the north of the country. Three climatic zones can be defined: the Sahel, the Sudan-Sahel, and the Sudan-Guinea. The Sahel in the north typically receives less than 600 millimeters (23.6 in) [13] of rainfall per year and has high temperatures, 5–47 degrees Celsius (41–116.6 °F).

A relatively dry tropical savanna, the Sahel extends beyond the borders of Burkina Faso, from the Horn of Africa to the Atlantic Ocean, and borders the Sahara to its north and the fertile region of the Sudan to the South. Situated between 11°3' and 13°5' north latitude, the Sudan-Sahel region is a transitional zone with regards to rainfall and temperature. Further to the south, the Sudan-Guinea zone receives more than 900 millimeters (35.4 in)[13] of rain each year and has cooler average temperatures.

Burkina Faso's natural resources include manganese, limestone, marble, phosphates, pumice, salt and small deposits of gold.

Burkina Faso's fauna and flora are protected in two national parks and several reserves: see List of national parks in Africa, Nature reserves of Burkina Faso.

General Facts

Location: Western Africa, north of Ghana

Geographic coordinates: 13°N 2°W / 13°N 2°W / 13; -2Coordinates: 13°N 2°W / 13°N 2°W / 13; -2

Map references: Africa


  • total: 274,200 km²
  • land: 273,800 km²
  • water: 400 km²

Area - comparative: slightly larger than Colorado

Land boundaries:

total: 3,193 km

border countries:

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims: none (landlocked)

Terrain: mostly flat to dissected, undulating plains; hills in west and southeast

Elevation extremes:

  • lowest point: Mouhoun (Black Volta) River 200 m
  • highest point: Tena Kourou 749 m

Natural resources: manganese, limestone, marble; small deposits of gold, phosphates, pumice, salt

Land use:

  • arable land: 17.66%
  • permanent crops: 0.22%
  • other: 82.12% (2005)

Irrigated land: 250 km² (2003 est.)

Total renewable water resources: 17.5 m³ (2001)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):

  • total: 0.8 km³/yr (13%/1%/86%)
  • per capita: 60 m³/yr (2000)

Natural hazards: Recurring droughts and floods[2]

Environment - current issues: recent droughts and desertification severely affecting agricultural activities, population distribution, and the economy; overgrazing; soil degradation; deforestation

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban

Geography - note: landlocked savanna cut by the three principal rivers of the Black, Red and White Voltas

Extreme points

This is a list of the extreme points of Burkina Faso, the points that are farther north, south, east or west than any other location.

  • Northernmost point – unnamed location on the border with Benin immediately south of the Burkina Faso-Benin-Niger tripoint, Sahel Region
  • Easternmost point – unnamed location on the border with Niger, Est Region
  • Southernmost point – unnamed location on the border with Cote d'Ivoire immediately south of the village of Kpuere, Sud-Ouest Region
  • Westernmost point - the tripoint with Mali and Cote d'Ivoire, Cascades Region

See also

Line note references

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the CIA World Factbook.

  1. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2009. Painted Hunting Dog: Lycaon pictus,, ed. N. Stromberg
  2. ^ Heavy floods caused loss of life and widespread damage in 2007 and 2009. See also 2007 African floods and 2009 West Africa floods.

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