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All you need to know about Burkina Faso

IN CHARGE: President Blaise Compaoré

THE 2013 African Cup of Nations will come to a climax with a final match between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and The Stallions of Burkina Faso on Sunday, February 10.

While plenty is known about the Nigerian team with its reputation as the giant of Africa, their West African neighbours – whose team will play in the finals for the first time – are a bit more understated.

Juliana Lucas tells you a few things you should know about Burkina Faso.

1. The obvious starting point is Burkino Faso’s capital which has one of the best names: Ouagadougou (pronounced ‘Wagga-doo-doo’)

2. The country gained full independence from France on August 5, 1960. It is now led by Blaise Compaoré who has been president since 1987 when he overthrow his former colleague, Thomas Sankara, who was killed in the coup. Compaore, who went on to reintroduce a multi-party system.

3. In 2011, Burkina Faso’s population was estimated at 17,275,115, making it the 18th most populous country in Africa.

UNITED AS ONE: Burkina Faso's national football team

4. Burkina Faso is bordered by six countries: Mali to the north; Niger to the east; Benin to the southeast; Togo and Ghana to the south; and Côte d'Ivoire to the southwest.

5. Captain Thomas Sankara, who seized power in 1984, renamed the country, previously known as République de Haute-Volta (translated in English as Upper Volta), to its present name. He used a word from each of the country's two major native languages. ‘Burkina’, from the Mòoré language, is translated as ‘men of integrity’, while ‘Faso’ means ‘fatherland’ in Dioula.

6. Burkina Faso, plagued by drought and famine, has significant reserves of gold, but cotton is the economic mainstay for many Burkinabés.

7. Dolo and Bissap are the two most popular forms of beer that are available in the country. Another typical Burkinabè beverage is Banji or Palm Wine, which is fermented palm sap and zoom-kom made with millet flour and water and flavored with ginger and lemon.

8. A national dish is ‘Tô’ which is made from either corn flour or millet flour. It is mixed with water and cooked over a fire with a constant stirring until it forms a thick paste. It is then scooped (usually using a spoon made from calabash and placed in a big basin or bowl to let it cool down.

9. Burkina Faso has three main rivers — the Black Volta, the Red Volta and the White Volta.

10. The country made its first appearance as the Africa Cup of Nations in 1978, as the Upper Volt, but only made it to the first round.

11. The team is nicknamed Les Etalons, which means ‘The Stallions’. It is a reference to the horse belonging to legendary African Princess Yennenga, considered the mother of the Mossi people of Burkina Faso.

12. Paul Put, a Belgian, was announced as new coach in March 2012 following the dismissal of Paulo Duarte when they failed to win any of their group matches in the 2012 African Cup of Nation.

13. Burkina Faso is ranked number 92 in the world by FIFA out of 207. Its highest ever ranking of 66 was achieved in 2011. Its worst, 127, was in 1993.

14. In 1998, Burkina Faso hosted the African Cup of Nations but were knocked out in the semi-finals.

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