Burkina Faso is a landlocked nation in West Africa. It is surrounded 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. Formerly Haute-Volta it was a colony of French West Africa, before becoming the Republic of Upper Volta, it was renamed in 1984 by then President Thomas Sankara using native words meaning "the land of upright and honest people." The inhabitants are known as Burkinabé.
Ouagadougou is the capital and largest city of Burkina Faso. Governmental instability during the 1970s and 1980s was followed by multiparty elections in the early 1990s, though one party still dominates the politics of the nation. Despite the greater political stability, Burkina Faso is still troubled by intermittent droughts, tropical diseases and HIV/AIDS, low worldwide prices for cotton (one of its major cash exports), poverty, illiteracy, and uneven population density (very high in the capital while huge areas are deserted).