The music of Burkina Faso includes the folk music of 60 different ethnic groups. The Mossi people, centrally located around the capital, Ouagadougou, account for 40% of the population while, to the south, Gurunsi, Gurma, Dagaaba and Lobi populations, speaking Gur languages closely related to the Mossi language, extend into the coastal states.
In the north and east the Fulani of the Sahel preponderate, while in the south and west the Mande languages are common; Samo, Bissa, Bobo, Senufo and Marka. Burkinabé traditional music has continued to thrive and musical output remains quite diverse. Popular music is mostly in French: Burkina Faso has yet to produce a major pan-African success.
Traditionally, women wear a long cotton skirt wrapped at the waists. Tops were added to their costume in rural areas as well as cities. Men’s traditional clothing is a cotton shirt and trousers. Some wear embroidered robes, showing a Muslim influence. City people tend to wear increasingly Westernized clothes. Farmers have taken to wearing used, American cut-off jeans as their work clothes.
Burkinabé cuisine, the cuisine of Burkina Faso, is similar to the cuisines in many parts of West Africa, and is based around staple foods of sorghum, millet, rice, fonio, maize, peanuts, potatoes, beans, yams and okra. Rice, maize and millet are the most commonly-eaten grains. Grilled meat is common, particularly mutton, goat, beef and fish. Vegetables include, besides yams and potatoes, okra, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, leeks, onions, beets, pumpkins, cucumbers, cabbage, sorrel and spinach.
Burkina Faso is a multilingual country. An estimated 69 languages are spoken there, of which about 60 are indigenous. The Mossi language (Mossi: Mòoré) is spoken by about 40%, mainly in the central region around the capital, Ouagadougou, along with other, closely related Gur languages in the south and east. In the west Mande languages are widely spoken. The language of the Fula people (Fula: Fulfulde, French: Peul) is widespread, particularly in the north.
The official language is French, which was introduced during the colonial period. French is the principal language of administrative, political and judicial institutions, public services, and the press. It is the only language for laws, administration and courts.
Burkinabé literature was originally based around oral tradition. This remains important. In 1934, during French occupation, Dim-Dolobsom Ouedraogo published his Maximes, pensées et devinettes mossi (Maximes, Thoughts and Riddles of the Mossi), a record of the oral history of the Mossi people. The oral tradition continued to have an influence on Burkinabé writers in the post-independence Burkina Faso of the 1960s, such as Nazi Boni and Roger Nikiema. The 1960s saw a growth in the number of playwrights being published. Since the 1970s, literature has developed in Burkina Faso with many more writers being published.
Traditional architecture varies by region and ethnic group. It ranges from the temporary straw hut of the Fulbe and the tent of the Tuareg to the round hut made of adobe bricks and covered by a straw roof (used by the Mossi, Bisa, and Gurmanché). In the south, the Bobo, Dagara, Gurunsi, and Lobi build huge, castle-like houses with solid wood and mud walls and flat roofs. Over a hundred persons can live in these structures, which are sometimes colorfully decorated. Villages in the south may consist of a dozen widely-dispersed huge houses. Markets in the center of villages and towns are not only spaces for commercial activities but communication centers were news is exchanged, marriages are arranged, and company is enjoyed.
Sport in Burkina Faso is widespread and includes football (soccer), basketball, cycling, Rugby union, handball, tennis, athletics, boxing and martial arts.
National holidays honor independence and the Sankara revolution: On 11 December 1959, the Republic was proclaimed and on 5 August 1960, Upper Volta became independent. The revolution is honored on 4 August, the date when Thomas Sankara came to power in 1983. His death in 1987 is remembered on 15 October.
In former kingdoms, royalty is celebrated in yearly festivals. Every Friday morning the Mogho Naaba, king of Ouagadougou, makes a public appearance with his court in front of the palace. A more modern introduction is carnival-like mask processions in Ouagadougou, such as Carnival Dodo or Carnival Salou. The National Week of Culture (SNC) is celebrated annually in Bobo-Dioulasso.
About 85 percent of the population is engaged in agriculture, almost entirely at the subsistence level. Less than 10 percent of the agricultural production is cash crops. This is due to the country being landlocked, and has few natural resources and a fragile tropical soil, which has to support a comparatively high population density.
Overgrazing and deforestation are serious problems which have lead to soil degradation, erosion, and desertification. The most important crop is millet (sorghum and penisetum). In certain regions corn, rice, groundnuts, vegetables, and yams are cultivated. The savannah environment is also ideal for extensive livestock grazing.
The main export remains labor. Since early colonial days, migrant laborers from Burkina Faso went to work in the gold mines and plantations of Ghana and the Ivory Coast.