Burkina Faso pottery
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Burkina Faso pottery

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Burkina Faso Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

274,200 sq km (105,870 sq miles).

Population

17.8 million (2013).

Population density

65 per sq km.

Capital

Ouagadougou.

Government

Republic. Gained independence from France in 1960. Changed its name from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso ('Land of Honest Men') in 1984.

Head of state

President Blaise Compaoré since 1987.

Head of government

Prime Minister Luc-Adolphe Tiao since 2011.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style plugs with two rounded pins are standard.

The landlocked state of Burkina Faso remains poor even by West African standards. However, the government is investing in tourism and measures have been taken to increase the accommodation available in the country and to make tourist destinations more attractive.

Wildlife is a key element of this objective in the eastern part of the country while the central part around Ouagadougou concentrates on business tourism. The west focuses on cultural tourism, the north on the discovery of nomadic populations and traditions.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 31 March 2015

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.


Crime

There is a risk of armed groups stopping vehicles (including public buses) to rob them, particularly at night.

Street crime poses high risks for visitors. Most incidents involve opportunist snatches of purses, wallets, jewellery and other valuables. Thieves are particularly active in crowds. The areas near and around the UN Circle and the former Central Market in Ouagadougou experience the highest amount of street crime. You should take sensible precautions. Don’t carry valuables in public places or walk alone at night.

Scams

British nationals are increasingly being targeted by scam artists operating in West Africa. The scams come in many forms: romance and friendship, business ventures, work and employment opportunities, and can pose great financial risk to victims.

You should treat with considerable caution any requests for funds, a job offer, a business venture or a face to face meeting from someone you have been in correspondence with over the internet who lives in West Africa.

Local travel

You should avoid travel between towns by road at night, particularly from Bobo Dioulasso to Ivory Coast, and Fada to Benin and Togo, due to a history of incidents in these areas.

You should avoid all travel by road from Ouagadougou to Po as banditry in these areas has worsened since 2007. Incidents are not confined to principal routes. Secondary roads (notably roads in the east to Benin, Bogande and Gayeri) are also affected.

Take care if you are travelling by road between Burkina Faso and Niger. There have been reports of bandits using land mines to attack lorries travelling on the road from Ouagadougou to Niamey. You should travel in convoy where possible and seek local advice before setting out. Where possible you should follow a police patrol.

Armed roadside banditry is a problem across the country, and the number of attacks is increasing. Drivers who have refused to stop for robbers have been shot at. Remote and border regions are particularly vulnerable but there have been attacks on the main road between Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso. You should travel in convoy and during daylight where possible, and seek local advice before setting out.

Road travel

You can drive in Burkina Faso using a UK driving licence.

With a few exceptions, roads are poor with few street lights. There is a risk of banditry and hitting stray livestock. Road conditions off the main roads are often difficult, especially in the rainy season (June-September). Vehicles do not always have headlights and are often in poor condition.

Stay on clearly marked roads or tracks and avoid minor roads in remote areas unless travelling in convoy. If you break down off a main road you may not be able to attract help. Carry drinking water with you.

Political situation

The political and security situation has calmed significantly since the violent protests that led to the resignation of President Compaoré on 31 October and installation of a civilian-led transitional government. You should avoid large public gatherings and political rallies.

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