Burkina Faso, situated between latitudes 10° and 15° N, is surrounded on the north and west by Mali, on the east by Niger, and on the south by Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Côte d'Ivoire, placing it 1 000 km from the sea to the south and 1 500 km to the south-west. It is 274 000 km2 in area, and its altitude ranges from 150 to 750 m above sea level.
The country is situated on an inland plateau that slopes to the south and varies from about 200 to 700 m in elevation. The country is drained to the south by the Black Volta (Mouhoun), Red Volta (Nazinon), and White Volta (Nakanbe) rivers and to the east by the Sirba, Gorki and Mahiou rivers connecting with the Niger. Other rivers include the Comoe, Léraba and Banifing, and the Pendjari on the frontier with Benin. Wooded grassland covers most of the country, but there is a swampy region in the south-east and wooded hills to the west.
Burkina Faso has a generally semi-arid climate, with well-defined dry and rainy seasons. Rainfall ranges from 400 mm in the north to 1 300 mm in the south-west. The water balance is negative throughout the country. Average temperatures in Ouagadougou vary from 24° C in January to 28° C in July. Three climatic zones can be recognised (Kambou, 1977):
- A southern-Sudanian zone, lying south of latitude 11° 30´ N, that can be divided into two regions, one to the west of the Black Volta, the other to the east. In the western region, rainfall is generally over 1 000 mm, but may reach 1 300 to 1 400 mm, and the rainy season lasts five to six months. In the eastern region, rainfall is around 1 000 mm and the rainy season lasts four months;
- A northern-Sudanian zone, accounting for the largest part of the country. Annual rainfall ranges from 650 to 1 000 mm and the rainy season lasts four months, peaking markedly in August;
- A Sahelian zone, covering all the country north of latitude 14° N. Rainfall ranges from 500 mm in the north to 600 mm in the south and is spread over roughly three months (with 40 to 45 days of rain).
The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.