Burkina Faso, “The Country of Upright men'' in Mooré and Dioula, stretches over a surface area of 274,000 km². It is located in the middle of West Africa between longitudes 5 ° West and 2 ° East and latitudes 9 ° North and 15 ° South.
Burkina Faso is a flat country whose relief is made up of vast plains with an altitude of 250 - 300 m slightly sloped from North to South. These plains are dominated in the South-West by sandstone plateaus rising up to 749 m at Tenakourou Peak.
It is a landlocked country bordered by Niger Republic to the East, Mali to the North-West, and Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin to the South. It has no seashore and is located more than 500 km from the Gulf of Guinea’s coasts.
Other reliefs break the general monotony. The most remarkable of them are the Gobnagou Cliffs at the Benin border and those of Banfora in the western part of the country. The Southwest of Burkina Faso is characterized by hills and valleys. A lateritic plateau stretches over the entire central part of the country, with an isolated high relief, namely the Naouri Peak in the South.
Northern Burkina Faso is characterized by a transition relief from plateaus to large Saharan spaces in Mali and Niger and that consist of sand dunes.
The country is generally characterized by tropical climatic conditions, with Sahelian conditions in the North and Sudanian conditions elsewhere. The climate consists of two (2) seasons: a rainy season extending over 4-5 months (May to October) and a seven-month dry season (November to April).
Rainfall varies depending on the various areas; hence, 1200 mm/annum are recorded on an average in the South and 300 mm/annum in the North. The highest temperatures (40- 45 °) are observed between March and June in the North of the country. However, temperatures are in the range of 10 ° C - 43 ° C. December and January are characterized by lowest temperatures.
The Sudanian area stretches over the entire South and with approximately 6 months of rainfall. The Sudano-Sahelian area, located in central Burkina Faso and spanning half of the country has 4 to 5-month rainfall, and the Sahelian area in northern Burkina Faso has about 2-month rainfall .
Moist conditions increase from the North East to South West of the country. As a result, from North to South, the vegetation changes from thorn steppes to tree savannah and open woodland forests.
Thus, northern Burkina Faso is characterized by steppes dominated by spiniferous plants such as jujube tree (Zizyphus jujuba). Southward, steppe and sand give way to large savannahs and open woodland forests dominated by baobab and shea trees.
Most forests cover the southern half of the country and form gallery forests along watercourses. Further South and in the Southwest of the country, more humid climatic conditions are favourable to the development of a denser savannah. To the east, there are tree savannas that provide a refuge to big game and consist of large wildlife parks and reserves.
These vegetation units allow the division of the country into major agro-climatic areas: the Sahelian area in the North, the Sudano-Sahelian area in the central part and the Sudanian area in the southwest part.
Burkina Faso is watered by many watercourses, lakes and dams. The longest river is the Mouhoun (former Black Volta) to the West of Burkina Faso. After being fed by the Sourou (its tributary), it joins the Nakambé (former White Volta) in Ghana to form the vast Lake Volta. The two (2) former Voltas, namely the Red Volta (Nazinon) and the White Volta (Nakambé) flow through the centre of the country from North to South. The Nakambé is fed by lakes Bam, Dem and Sian. Further West, the River Comoé joins Lake Tengrela and enters Côte d'Ivoire.
Many dams (Kompienga, Ziga and Bagré) make it possible to supply large cities with piped-running water.