Burkina Faso profile
A poor country even by West African standards, landlocked Burkina Faso has suffered from recurring droughts and, until the 1980s, military coups.
Burkina Faso has significant reserves of gold, but cotton is the economic mainstay for many Burkinabes.
This industry is vulnerable to changes in world prices.
A major challenge to the status quo came in 1983, when Capt Thomas Sankara seized power and adopted radical left-wing policies.
He renamed the country, previously Upper Volta. Its present name which translates as "land of honest men".
At a glance
- Politics: Coup leader Blaise Compaore won a new five-year term in 2010 after 23 years at the helm
- Economy: The UN rates Burkina Faso as the world's third poorest country
- International: Burkina Faso has been involved in the various conflicts of the region. Many citizens who had traditionally worked in Ivory Coast fled after recent instability there
Country profiles compiled by BBC Monitoring
In 1987 Mr Sankara was overthrown and killed in a coup by his erstwhile colleague Blaise Compaore, who went on to re-introduce a multi-party system.
Burkina Faso has faced domestic and external concern over the state of its economy and human rights, and allegations that it was involved in the smuggling of diamonds by rebels in Sierra Leone.
Troubles in neighbouring Ivory Coast have raised tensions, with Ivory Coast accusing its northern neighbour of backing rebels in the north and Burkina Faso accusing Ivory Coast of mistreating expatriate Burkinabes.