Key Country Facts
Burkina Faso used to be known as Upper Volta until it gained independence from France in 1960, after which the name was changed. Burkina Faso translates roughly to [the] “land of honest people” or the “land of incorruptible people.”
Country Information: The capital of Burkina Faso is Ouagadougou. About 18 million people live here and the official language is French. Burkina Faso is religiously diverse and exercises freedom of religion; that being said, Islam is the most popular religion followed by Roman Catholicism. The top exports are gold, raw cotton, oily seeds, brazil nuts, coconuts, cashews, and raw zinc. The time zone is 4 hours ahead of EST.
As a tourist there’s not much to do in Burkina Faso. So, heed this advice: The best part of my journey, and perhaps one of the BEST things I did while visiting every country in Africa, was visiting the sacred crocodiles in Bazoule, small farming village about 90 minutes outside the capital.
In Ouagadougou, check out the busy markets, where it’s easy to find just about anything imaginable. The area can be very crowded and is not as touristy as what travelers may be used to in marketplaces in other countries, so it is important to be aware that vendors will approach foreigners often and to explore the area with a confident attitude.
Note about the marketplace: Of all of the 100s of markets that I’ve been to around the world … Burkina Faso’s has to rate as the most aggressive on the planet! The vendors are relentlessly pesky and don’t take no as an answer, nor do they accept “no thanks I’m not interested in your X-Small cleaning bucket” as an adequate response. And careful, if you dare to look at a shirt they’ll hand you 20! Wow!
The textiles in particular are beautiful, so take a look at one of these shops or stalls if passing by.
Learned an important lesson while traveling: make sure you travel with multiple visa/ master card credit cards. Got a message from Lifelock that my identity was likely compromised when a clerk at a hotel used the credit card I provided at check-in to open a new account. If your identity gets stolen while traveling and your credit account has to be closed its critical to have a back up card or two. Note: Few hotels or merchants accept Amex in Africa or Pacific region countries.
Another great place to visit is the Mosque of Bobo-Dioulasso, a peculiar looking architectural feat with a fascinating history. Pay the extra fee to get a guided tour, as there’s a lot of information that can be learned about this site, and tour guides will often take visitors up onto the rooftop for a view of the surrounding area.