Burkina Faso is situated in West Africa and bordered to the north and west by Mali, to the east by Niger, to the southeast by Benin and to the south by Togo, Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire. The southern part of the country, less arid than the north, is wooded savannah, gradually drying out into sand and desert in the north. The capital, Ouagadougou, has an interesting Ethnography Museum containing a substantial collection of Mossi artefacts, the town being the centre of one of the many ancient Mossi kingdoms. The Moro-Naba ceremony, with traditional costumes and drums, takes place outside the Moro-Naba Palace early every morning. Bobo Dioulasso is the largest town inhabited by the Bobo people in Burkina Faso, with attractive streets and a bustling market, the Grand Marché. There are a few restaurants in Ouagadougou and in Bobo. Specialities include brochettes (meat cooked on a skewer) and chicken dishes. Beer is reasonably priced. There are several nightclubs in Ouagadougou and open-air cinemas. Bobo Dioulasso has a lively street-café scene.

Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta) achieved independence from France in 1960. Repeated military coups during the 1970s and 1980s were followed by multiparty elections in the early 1990s. Burkina Faso's high population density and limited natural resources result in poor economic prospects for the majority of its citizens. Recent unrest in Cote d'Ivoire and northern Ghana has hindered the ability of several hundred thousand seasonal Burkinabe farm workers to find employment in neighboring countries.

One of the poorest countries in the world, landlocked Burkina Faso has few natural resources and a weak industrial base. About 90% of the population is engaged in subsistence agriculture, which is vulnerable to harsh climatic conditions. Cotton is the key crop and the government has joined with other cotton producing countries in the region to lobby for improved access to Western markets. GDP growth has largely been driven by increases in world cotton prices. Industry remains dominated by unprofitable government-controlled corporations. Following the African franc currency devaluation in January 1994 the government updated its development program in conjunction with international agencies; exports and economic growth have increased. The government devolved macroeconomic policy and inflation targeting to the West African regional central bank (BCEAO), but maintains control over microeconomic policies, including reducing the trade deficit and implementing reforms to encourage private investment. The bitter internal crisis in neighboring Cote d'Ivoire continues to hurt trade and industrial prospects and deepens the need for international assistance.

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