2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Africa; Cities

Typical street scene. Shows the Place des Nations Unies in the center of the city
Typical street scene. Shows the Place des Nations Unies in the centre of the city
Nickname: Ouaga
Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso)
Location within Burkina Faso
Country Burkina Faso
Region Centre Region
Province Kadiogo
 - Mayor Simon Compaoré
 - Metro 1,083 sq mi (2,805 km²)
Population (2006-Dec-09)
 - City 1,181,702
 - Urban 1,181,702
 - Metro 1,523,980
 - Metro Density 1,406.4/sq mi (543/km²)

Ouagadougou (IPA: /ˌwɑgəˈduːguː/, Mossi IPA [wɑgədəgə]) is the capital of Burkina Faso. The administrative, communications, cultural and economic centre of the nation, it is also the country's largest city, with a population of 1,181,702 ( as of 2006). The city's name is often shortened to Ouaga.

Ouagadougou's primary industries are food processing and textiles. It is served by an international airport, rail links to Abidjan in Côte d'Ivoire and to Kaya in the north of Burkina, and a highway to Niamey, Niger. Being such a focal point, there are many cinemas, nightclubs, and French, American, and Zaka cultural centers. Ouagadougou was the site of Ouagadougou grand market, one of the largest markets in West Africa, which burned in 2003 and remains closed. Other attractions include the National Museum of Burkina Faso, the Moro-Naba Palace (site of the Moro-Naba Ceremony), the National Museum of Music, and several craft markets.


Near east in 1200 AD, showing Kingdom of Wagadugu and its neighbors.
Near east in 1200 AD, showing Kingdom of Wagadugu and its neighbors.

The name Ouagadougou goes back to the 15th century when the Yonyonse and the Ninsi tribes inhabited the area. They were in constant conflict until 1441 when Wubri, a Yonyonse hero and an important figure in Burkina Faso’s history, led his tribe to victory. He then renamed the area from “Kumbee-Tenga,” as the Ninsi had called it, to “Wogodogo,” meaning "where people get honour and respect." Ouagadougou is a corruption of Wogodogo. The spelling of the name Ouagadougou is derived from the French orthography common in former French African colonies. If English orthography were used (as in Ghana or Nigeria), the spelling would be Wagadugu.


Barrage in Ouagadougou
Barrage in Ouagadougou

Ouagadougou, situated on the central plateau (12.4° N 1.5° W), grew around the imperial palace of the Mogho Naaba. Being an administrative center of colonial rule, it became an important urban centre in the post-colonial era. First the capital of the Mossi Empire and later of Upper Volta and Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou became a veritable communal centre in 1995.


The first municipal elections were held in 1956. Ouagadougou is governed by a mayor, who is elected for a five-year term, two senior councilors, and 90 councilors.

The city is divided into five arrondissements, consisting of 30 sectors, which are subdivided into districts. Districts of Ouagadougou include Gounghin, Kamsaoghin, Koulouba, Moemmin, Niogsin, Paspanga, Peuloghin, Bilbalogho, and Tiendpalogo. Seventeen villages comprise the Ouagadougou metropolitan area, which is about 219.3 km².

The population of this metropolitan area is estimated to be 1,200,000 inhabitants, 48% of which are men and 52% women. The rural population is about 5% and the urban population about 95% of the total, and the density is 6,249 inhabitants per square kilometer, according to 1997 statistics.

Concerning city management, the communes of Ouagadougou have made the decision to invest in huge projects. This is largely due to the fact that Ouagadougou constitutes a 'cultural centre' by merit of holding the SIAO (International Arts and Crafts fair) and the FESPACO (Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou). Moreover, the growing affluence of the villages allow for such investment, and the fact that the population is growing rapidly necessitates it.

The Arrondissements of Ouagadougou
Arrondissement Population (Census 2006)
Baskuy 180,512
Bogodogo 374,473
Boulmiougou 366,182
Nongremassom 188,329
Sig-Noghin 163,859


The climate of Ouagadougou is rather hot. The city is part of the Soudano-Sahelian area, with a rainfall of 750 mm (30 in) per year. The rainy season stretches from May to October, with an average temperature of 30 °C (86 °F). The cold season runs from December to January, with a minimum temperature of 19 °C (66 °F). The maximum temperature during the hot season, which runs from April to May, can reach 45 °C (113 °F). The harmattan (a dry wind) and the monsoon are the two main factors that determine Ouagadougou's climate.


Nation Unies crossroad
Nation Unies crossroad


A well-known site in Ouagadougou is the Bangr-Weoogo urban park (area: 2.63 km² (1 sq mi)). Before colonialism, it belonged to the Mosse chiefs. Considering it a sacred forest, many went there for traditional initiations or for refuge. The French colonists, disregarding its local significance and history, established it as a park in the 1930s. In 1985, renovations were done in the park. In January 2001, the park was renamed “Parc Urbain Bangr-Weoogo,” meaning "the urban park of the forest of knowledge." Because of the many changes, new regulations have been put in place along with a new set of objectives for the park.

Another notable park in Ouagadougou is the “ L’Unité Pédagogique,” which shelters animals in a semi-free state. This botanic garden/biosphere system stretches over 8  hectares (20  acres) and also serves as a museum for the country’s history.

Jardin de l’amitié Ouaga-Loudun” (Garden of Ouaga-Loudun Friendship), with a green space that was renovated in 1996, is a symbol of the twin-city relationship between Ouagadougou and Loudun in France. It is situated in the centre of the city, near the “ Nation Unies’ crossroads.”

Other sites

Ouagadougou Cathedral
Ouagadougou Cathedral

Naba Koom” is a statue depicting a woman handling a calabash to pour water. The 6-metre (20 ft) high-statue which faces the railway station, welcomes travellers into Ouaga. The place bears the name of an important chief in Burkina Faso’s history.

Laongo,” 30 km (19 mi) east of the city, features enormous granite slabs that were designed by sculptors. The exhibit displays works of art from five continents.

“La Place du Grand Lyon” is a monument that reflects the relationship between Burkina Faso’s capital and Lyon in France. It is located near the French cultural Centre George Melies and features an imposing lion.


A zoo called “ Parc Animalier de Ziniaré” is located 30 km (19 mi) east of the city in the hometown of the president and can be included among the great tourist attractions of Ouagadougou.

  • National Museum of Music- exhibits all the musical instruments of Burkina Faso.
  • Musée de Manega,” 55 km (34 mi) northwest of the city,

Social life and education


Though literacy in Ouagadougou is not high, there are currently 10 universities in the city. The state University of Ouagadougou was founded in 1974. The official language is French and the principal local languages are More, Dyula and Fulfulde. The bilingual program in schools (French plus one of the local languages) was established in 1994.

Sport, culture, and leisure

A wide array of sports, including association football, basketball, and volleyball, is played by Ouagadougou inhabitants. There are sports tournaments and activities organized by the local authorities.

There are a number of cultural and art venues, such as the Maison du Peuple and Salle des Banquets, in addition to performances of many genres of music, including traditional folk music, modern music, and rap.

Art and crafts

A Burkinabe man transporting chickens
A Burkinabe man transporting chickens

Several international festivals and activities are organized within the municipality, such as FESPACO (Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou), which is Africa's largest festival of this type, SIAO (International Art and Craft Fair), FESPAM (Pan-African Music Festival), FITMO (International Theatre and Marionnette Festival) and FESTIVO.

Practical information

Hotels and restaurants

There has been a recent increase in the quality of hotels and restaurants, and there are now a great number of four- and five-star hotels available.


A side street
A side street

Ouagadougou has both state and private hospitals. The two state hospitals in the city are the Centre hospitalier national Yalgado Ouedraogo (CHNYO) and the Centre hospitalier national pédiatrique Charles de Gaulle (CHNP-CDG), but there are also a large number of private hospitals and additional health infrastructure. Despite that, the local population still largely trusts more-traditional local medicine and the “pharmacopée.”


The citizens of Ouagadougou prefer their own motorcycles and bicycles (and more recently, cars) to public transportation. The city's automobiles are generally small and inexpensively made, using a small two-stroke cycle engine. Ouagadougou's citizens also travel in readily available green cabs, which take their passengers anywhere in town for 200 to 400 CFA, but the price is higher after 10:00 p.m. and can then reach 1000 CFA. The downside is that they are slow and crowded since the drivers prefer to shuttle groups of people rather than individuals.

Ouagadougou Airport serves the area with flights all over West Africa and to Europe.

Sister cities

Housing in Ouagadougou
Housing in Ouagadougou
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