The World Factbook (1982)/Upper Volta

The World Factbook (1982)
by the Central Intelligence Agency
Upper Volta


World Factbook (1982) Upper Volta.jpg
(See reference map VII)


274,540 km2; 50% pastureland, 21% fallow, 10% cultivated, 9% forest and scrub, 10% waste and other uses

Land boundaries: 3,307 km


Population: 6,208,000 (July 1982), average annual growth rate 2.4%

Nationality: noun—Upper Voltan(s); adjective—Upper-Voltan

Ethnic divisions: more than 50 tribes; principal tribe is Mossi (about 2.5 million); other important groups are Gurunsi, Senufo, Lobi, Bobo, Mande, and Fulani

Religion: majority of population animist, about 20% Muslim, 5% Christian (mainly Catholic)

Language: French official; tribal languages belong to Sudanic family, spoken by 50% of the population

Literacy: 5%-10%

Labor force: about 95% of the economically active population engaged in animal husbandry, subsistence farming, and related agricultural pursuits; about 30,000 are wage earners; about 20% of male labor force migrates annually to neighboring countries for seasonal employment

Organized labor: 4 principal trade union groups, represent less than 1% of population


Official name: Republic of Upper Volta

Type: military; on 25 November 1980 a bloodless military coup ended three years of civilian rule and suspended political activity

Capital: Ouagadougou

Political subdivisions: 10 departments, composed of 44 cercles, headed by civilian administrators

Legal system: based on French civil law system and customary law

National holiday: Proclamation of the Republic, 11 December

Branches: President is an army officer; 17-man military and civilian Cabinet was appointed 7 December 1980; Supreme Court

Government leaders: Col. Sayé ZERBO, President, Military Committee of Reform for National Progress (CMRPN); Lt. Col. Félix TIENTARABOUM, Foreign Minister

Suffrage: universal for adults

Elections: political process suspended pending gradual return to civilian rule

Political parties and leaders: all political parties banned following November 1980 coup

Communists: no Communist party; some sympathizers

Other political or pressure groups: labor organizations are badly splintered, students and teachers occasionally strike; recent strike helped precipitate military coup

Member of: AFDB, CEAO, EAMA, ECA, EIB (associate), Entente, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, IPU, ISCON, ITU, NAM, Niger River Commission, OAU, OCAM, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WCL, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO


GNP: $1,100 million (1980), $177 per capita; real growth, 2.5% (1980)

Agriculture: cash crops—peanuts, shea nuts, sesame, cotton; food crops–sorghum, millet, corn, rice; livestock; largely self-sufficient

Fishing: catch 7,000 metric tons (1979 est.)

Major industries: agricultural processing plants, brewery, bottling, and brick plants; a few other light industries

Electric power: 30,000 kW capacity (1980); 90 million kWh produced (1980), 13 kWh per capita

Exports: $118.6 million (f.o.b., 1980 est.); livestock (on the hoof), peanuts, shea nut products, cotton, sesame

Imports: $236.0 million (c.i.f., 1980 est.); textiles, food, and other consumer goods, transport equipment, machinery, fuels

Major trade partners: Ivory Coast and Ghana; overseas trade mainly with France and other EC countries; preferential tariff to EC and franc zone countries

Aid: economic commitments–Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF (1970-79), $693.0 million; US authorized including Ex-Im (FY70-80) $122.4 million

Budget: (1980) revenue $190.4 million, current expenditures $166.6 million, development expenditures $27.9 million

Monetary conversion rate: about 211.3 Communaute Financiere Africaine francs=US$1 (1980)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 1,173 km Ouagadougou to Abidjan (Ivory Coast line); 516 km meter gauge (1.00 m), single track in Upper Volta

Highways: 8,316 km total; 967 km paved, 5,639 km improved, 1,710 km unimproved

Civil air: no major transport aircraft

Airfields: 55 total, 54 usable; 2 with permanent-surface runways; 2 with runways 2,440-3,659 m, 3 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: all services only fair; radio relay, wire, radiocommunication stations in use; 8,600 telephones (under 0.14 per 100 popl.); 2 AM stations, 1 FM station, and 1 TV station; 1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT station


Military manpower: males 15-49, 1,373,000; 691,000 fit for military service; no conscription

Supply: mainly dependent on France, FRG, and UK