Burkina Faso's 15.3 million people belong to two major West African cultural groups—the Voltaic and the Mande (whose common language is Dioula). The Voltaic Mossi make up about one-half of the population. The Mossi claim descent from warriors who migrated to present-day Burkina Faso from Ghana and established an empire that lasted more than 800 years. Predominantly farmers, the Mossi kingdom is still led by the Mogho Naba, whose court is in Ouagadougou.
Burkina Faso is an ethnically integrated, secular state. Most of Burkina's people are concentrated in the south and center of the country, sometimes exceeding 48 per square kilometer (125/sq. mi.). Hundreds of thousands of Burkinabe migrate to Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, many for seasonal agricultural work. These flows of workers are obviously affected by external events; the September 2002 coup attempt in Cote d'Ivoire and the ensuing fighting there have meant that hundreds of thousands of Burkinabe returned to Burkina Faso.
Average life expectancy at birth in 2004 was estimated at 48 for females and 47 for males. The median age of its inhabitants is 16.7. The estimated population growth rate is 3.109%. Central government spending on health was 3 % in 2001. As of 2004, it was estimated that there were as few as 6 physicians per 100,000 people. In addition there were only 41 nurses, and 13 midwives per 100,000 people.
While exact statistics on religion in Burkina Faso are not available and estimates vary widely, the Government of Burkina Faso stated in its most recent census (1996) that approximately 60 percent of the population practice Islam, and that the majority of this group belong to the Sunni branch, while remaining minorities adhere to the Shi'a branch, and significant numbers of Sunni Muslims identify with the Tijaniyah Sufi, or Salafi traditions. The Government also estimated that 24 percent of the population maintains traditional indigenous beliefs, 17 percent practices Roman Catholicism, and 3 percent are members of various Protestant denominations. Atheism is virtually nonexistent.
A common proverb in Burkina Faso claims that "50% are Muslim, 50% are Christian, and 100% are animist". This shows the large level of acceptance of the various religions amongst each other. Even for Muslims and Christians, ancient animist rites are still highly valued. The Great Mosque of Bobo-Dioulasso was built by people of all faiths working together.
Culture and Cuisine
Cinema Sanyon in Bobo-Dioulasso.Literature in Burkina Faso is based on the oral tradition, which remains important. In 1934, during French occupation, Dim-Dolobsom Ouedraogo published his Maximes, pensées et devinettes mossi (Maximes, Thoughts and Riddles of the Mossi), a record of the oral history of the Mossi people. The oral tradition continued to have an influence on Burkinabè writers in the post-independence Burkina Faso of the 1960s, such as Nazi Boni and Roger Nikiema. The 1960s saw a growth in the number of playwrights being published. Since the 1970s, literature has developed in Burkina Faso with many more writers being published.
The theatre of Burkina Faso combines traditional Burkinabè performance with the colonial influences and post-colonial efforts to educate rural people to produce a distinctive national theatre. Traditional ritual ceremonies of the many ethnic groups in Burkina Faso have long involved dancing with masks. Western-style theatre became common during colonial times, heavily influenced by French theatre. With independence came a new style of theatre inspired by forum theatre aimed at educating and entertaining Burkina Faso's rural people.
The cuisine of Burkina Faso, typically of west African cuisine, is based around staple foods of sorghum, millet, rice, maize, peanuts, potatoes, beans, yams and okra.
The most common sources of protein are chicken, chicken eggs and fresh water fish. A typical Burkinabè beverage is Banji or Palm Wine, which is fermented palm sap, and Zoom-kom. Especially the town of Banfora is known for its good quality Banji, though you should be wary of the Banji sold by hawkers as it is often not very fresh and may contain added water.
August 30, 2009, Burkina Faso experienced the worst flood in the country's recent history, leaving 150,000 people homeless, and more than 8 people dead. Burkina Faso people requested international aid to help the victims and rebuild the country. Japan, France, Ivory Coast and the European Union responded, while the Burkina American community requested that the president of the United States of America extend a helping hand to the victims of the flood.