Regions of Burkina Faso

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Update 8 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes, the successor to FIPS standard 10-4, is dated 2012-05-01. It changes the recognized primary subdivisions from the provinces to the regions.

Newsletter II-2, an update to the ISO 3166-2 standard, is dated 2010-06-30. It assigns ISO codes to the regions, as shown below. They're the same as the codes I had previously arbitrarily assigned to the regions.

Country overview: 

ISO codeBF
LanguageFrench (fr)
Time zone0


The area now known as Burkina Faso was part of French Sudan at the beginning of the 20th century. French colonial control was not yet firmly established, and borders were indefinite. In 1904, the colony of Upper Senegal and Niger was created. On 1919-03-01, it was broken up, and Upper Volta was one of the parts thus formed. On 1932-09-06, Upper Volta was partitioned among Ivory Coast, French Sudan, and Niger, but this change was nullified on 1947-09-04. The country gained its independence on 1960-08-05, and changed its name to Burkina Faso in 1984.

Other names of country: 

  1. Danish: Burkina Faso
  2. Dutch: Burkina Faso, Opper Volta (obsolete)
  3. English: People's Democratic Republic of Burkina Faso (formal), Burkina (informal), Upper Volta (obsolete), Voltaic Republic (obsolete)
  4. Finnish: Burkina Faso, Ylä-Volta (obsolete)
  5. French: Burkina m, Burkina Faso m, République f Démocratique Populaire de Burkina Faso (formal), Haute Volta f (obsolete)
  6. German: Burkina Faso n, Obervolta (obsolete)
  7. Icelandic: Búrkína Fasó
  8. Italian: Burkina Faso, Alto Volta m (obsolete)
  9. Norwegian: Burkina Faso
  10. Portuguese: Burkina Faso m, Burquina Faso m, Alto Volta m (obsolete)
  11. Russian: Буркина Фасо
  12. Spanish: Burkina Faso, Alto Volta (obsolete)
  13. Swedish: Burkina Faso
  14. Turkish: Burkina Faso

Origin of name: 

Fatherland of honest men (Moré burkina: worthy, Dioula faso: fatherland)

Primary subdivisions: 

Burkina Faso is divided into 13 régions (regions).

Boucle du MouhounBF.BO01UV791,434,8471,184,75634,15313,187Dédougou
Centre EstBF.CE04UV821,132,023853,09911,8114,560Tenkodogo
Centre NordBF.CN05UV831,203,073927,49219,8297,656Kaya
Centre OuestBF.CO06UV841,183,473943,56821,7228,387Koudougou
Centre SudBF.CS07UV85638,379530,69611,3214,371Manga
EstBF.ES08UV861,209,399853,70646,25617,860Fada N'Gourma
Hauts BassinsBF.HB09UV871,410,2841,031,42725,3449,785Bobo Dioulasso
Plateau CentralBF.PC11UV89693,137570,1548,5443,299Ziniaré
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: Region codes from ISO 3166-2. For full identification in a global context, prefix
    "BF-" to the code (ex: BF-12 represents Sahel).
  • Pop-2006: 2006-12-23 census, preliminary results.
  • Pop-1996: 1996-12-10 census.


Populations and areas were calculated by adding the figures for the component secondary subdivisions. Their areas, in turn, were calculated by dividing the province population by population density (source [1]), and will not generally be accurate to more than three places.

Further subdivisions:

See the Provinces of Burkina Faso page and Departments of Burkina Faso page.

The regions are subdivided into 45 provinces, which are subdivided into 351 départements.

Territorial extent: 

The UN LOCODE page  for Burkina Faso lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names of subdivisions:

  1. Boucle du Mouhoun: Bend of the Mouhoun River (French boucle = buckle)
  2. Cascades: Waterfalls
  3. Centre, Centre-Est, Centre-Nord, Centre-Ouest, Est, Nord, Sud-Ouest: Describes their position within the country
  4. Hauts Bassins: High [River] Basins
  5. Ouagadougou: Possibly from Moré ouaga: come here, Dioula dougou: village
  6. Plateau Central: central plateau
  7. Sahel: originally Arabic sahil: seacoast, applied by mistake to the region north of Timbuktu, and later to any semi-arid land near the Sahara. The French botanist Auguste Chevalier asked natives what lay to the north; they thought he meant at the end of the caravan trails to the Mediterranean.
  8. Volta-Noire: Black Volta, from the name of a branch of the Volta River, whose name comes from Portuguese volta: turn

Change history: 

  1. 1960-08-05: Upper Volta became independent. At this time, it had four départements (departments).
  1. 1966-03-10: The secondary subdivisions were 83 cercles (circles). On this date, 39 circles were merged with others, leaving 44 circles.
  2. ~1967: Sahel department (capital Ouahigouya) formed from parts of Centre and Volta-Noire. Its creation had been approved in 1963, but a period of uncertainty ensued before the department was actually formed.
  3. 1974-06-07: Status of circles changed to sous-préfectures (subprefectures). Centre-Est department split from Est. Centre-Nord department split from Centre. Centre-Ouest department split from Volta-Noire. Nord department split from Sahel, in such a way that the territory of Nord was exactly the same as the part of Sahel that had been taken from Volta-Noire in ~1967. Sud-Ouest department split from Hauts-Bassins. This was the result:
DepartmentFIPSPopulationArea(km.²)CapitalNew provinces
CentreUV05944,70621,952OuagadougouBazèga, part of Boulkiemdé, Ganzourgou, Kadiogo,
Naouri, Oubritenga, Zoundwéogo
Centre-EstUV06404,60211,266TenkodogoBoulgou, Kouritenga
Centre-NordUV07632,28521,578KayaBam, Namentenga, part of Passoré, Sanmatenga
Centre-OuestUV08788,96226,324Koudougoumost of Boulkiemdé, most of Passoré, Sanguié, Sissili
EstUV09407,21549,992Fada-N'GourmaGnagna, Gourma, Tapoa
Hauts-BassinsUV10582,81043,172Bobo-DioulassoHouet, Kénédougou, Komoé
SahelUV12354,07936,869DoriOudalan, Séno, Soum
Sud-OuestUV13357,59217,448GaouaBougouriba, Poni
Volta-NoireUV14635,76033,106DédougouKossi, Mouhoun, Sourou
10 departments5,638,203274,000
  • Population: 1975-12-07 census
  • FIPS: Department codes from FIPS PUB 10-3.
  • New provinces: Province(s) formed from this department in 1984.
  1. 1984-08-03: Name of country changed to Burkina Faso. ISO code was HV before the name change. (Source [2] says that the spelling "Bourkina-Fasso" was official from 1984-08-04 to 1984-08-15.)
  2. (aside) Burkina Faso is probably the most widely-heard, least-understood insult in history. On 1983-08-04, Thomas Sankara took power from Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo in a coup d'état. Sankara went on to choose a new name for the country meaning "fatherland of honest men". We can conclude that he was insinuating that Ouedraogo had been dishonest.
  3. 1984-08-15: The ten departments were reorganized into thirty provinces. This table shows the new provinces.
Province ISOFIPSPopulationArea(km.²)Area(mi.²)Capital
30 provinces7,976,019274,200105,868
  • ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • Population: 1985-12-10 census
  1. 1997-01: Fifteen new provinces formed. The resulting set of 45 provinces is still valid, but since 2001 has formed the secondary administrative level of Burkina Faso. See Provinces of Burkina Faso.
  2. 2001-07-02: The provinces were grouped into thirteen regions, as shown in the main table above.


  1. [1] Kibare website (, dead link; retrieved 2005-06-23).
  2. [2] World Statesmen  website (retrieved 2004-10-19).
  3. [3] 2006 Census  (preliminary results; retrieved 2009-01-10).
  4. [4] Ministry for Territorial Administration and Decentralization (, dead link; document dated 2004, retrieved 2005-06-23).
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