Close to Burkina Faso's northern-most border there is a remarkable freshwater lake, the
Mare d'Oursi, which is fringed by sand dunes. The lake is a magnet not only to local
farmers, herders and livestock, but also to the many species of bird which migrate across
the Sahara twice a year, breeding in Europe and spending winter in Africa. Many species of
wading birds feed here on their journey, and sand martins and swallows can be seen passing
through on their autumn migration.
Further South the rainfall is heavier, supporting the small-scale farming which
provides a livelihood for most of the population. Several national parks preserve the
wooded grassland (or 'savannah') that once covered most of the country. The Pô and
Nazinga reserves, and the Parc d'Arli and Parc du W (yes, it really is spelt like that!)
provide a refuge for antelope, baboon, buffalo, elephant, hippopotamus, hyaena, leopard,
lion, and warthog, as well as a wide variety of birds.
Most of Burkina Faso is very flat, but in the south-west there are rolling hills,
tumbling waterfalls and dense woodlands. The country's second city and former capital,
Bobo-Dioulasso, is perched on top of the spectacular rocky cliff of the Falaise de
Banfora. This is the wettest part of the country, supporting rice fields and vast
plantations of cashew nuts and sugar cane.
The rainy season in Burkina Faso usually begins in June and ends by October. The
country is located between 9º and 15º north of the equator, and is warm throughout the
year. In the hottest months, from March to May, temperatures rise to over 40º C. People
say that in the North, around Gorom Gorom, the sun is hot enough to cook an egg.
Most people in Burkina Faso are farmers who grow cash crops (peanuts,
shea nuts, sesame, cotton), and food crops (sorghum, millet,
maize, rice and vegetables). Industries include cotton lint,
beverages, agricultural processing, soap, cigarettes, textiles,
and gold mining. The countries natural resources include manganese,
limestone, marble; small deposits of gold, copper, nickel, bauxite,
lead, phosphates, zinc, and silver.