About Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is a country located in West Africa, landlocked by Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Ivory Coast. Most of the population is unevenly distributed, with most people living in the center and southern portions of the country. About 32 percent of the population lives in urban areas, including Ouagadougou, the capital, which is home to nearly 3 million people and geographically located in the center of the country. The country’s population of 21.3 million is ethnically diverse, including groups such as Mossi, Fulani, Gurma, Bobo, Gurunsi, Senufo, Bissa, Lobi, and Dagara. French is the official and most commonly spoken language, while about 90 percent of the population also speaks one of many recognized local African dialects. About 64 percent of the population identifies as Muslim, and 25 percent identifies as Roman Catholic. Burkina Faso has one of the highest fertility rates in the world, with 5.1 children being born per woman. This has resulted in a rapidly growing, and proportionally young, population, with 65 percent of people under the age of 25.

Burkina Faso was a French colony and achieved independence in 1960. For several decades after, governmental instability prevailed, with several military coups taking place. The country overall faces many challenges in security and deteriorating stability, with terrorist activity and attacks contributing to what has become a humanitarian crisis and large numbers of internally displaced persons. This ongoing conflict and insecurity has contributed to significant development challenges in the areas of health and education. Unemployment is widespread, one-third of the population is literate, and more than 40 percent of people live below the national poverty line. The largest portion of the economy is based in agriculture, with 80 percent of the population involved in subsistence farming. The economy is also supplemented by revenues in gold exports, albeit minimally.

Burkina Faso faces several health challenges. The population has a life expectancy of 62 years, one of the lowest in the world. Residents and visitors face a high risk of infectious diseases, such as hepatitis A, typhoid fever, dengue fever, malaria, schistosomiasis, and more. Leading causes of death include several communicable and non-communicable diseases, including malaria, lower respiratory infections, neonatal disorders, diarrheal diseases, ischemic heart disease, congenital defects, tuberculosis, stroke, hemoglobinopathies, road injuries, HIV/AIDS, and meningitis. The risk factors that contribute most to deaths and disabilities include malnutrition, air pollution, insufficient clean water and sanitation, high blood pressure, high fasting plasma glucose, dietary risks, high body-mass index, alcohol and tobacco use, unsafe sex, and non-optimal temperature.

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