Formerly a part of French West Africa, Upper Volta gained independence in 1960, and in 1984 changed its name to Burkina Faso (meaning roughly, the People’s Republic of Burkina). The country had previously been mapped by the French Institut Géographique National (IGN) and its predecessors. 1:200,000 scale mapping began as early as 1922. All the current sheets, however are based on post-1950 aerial photography and are in a regular four or five-color edition with 40 m contours. Projection is UTM, Clarke 1880 ellipsoid. Complete cover requires 34 of these one-degree sheets and all have been published. Some sheets have been revised by the Institut Géographique du Burkina (IGB), Ouagadougou, which was established in 1976 to take over responsibility for national mapping. A 1:500,000 scale cover in nine sheets was completed by the French in 1959.

In 1979, a 1:50,000 series was in production. Some 328 sheets are required to cover the country, and progress has depended heavily on the availability of overseas aid. Initially a few sheets, including some around the capital, were published with French and with Dutch aid. A further 61 sheets were published by IGB in 1987-88. These cover the main river basins and were printed in the UK by the former Clyde Surveys. Further sheets are in the programme. The 1:50,000 scale sheets each cover an area of one-quarter degree latitude and longitude, and are in four colours with 10 m contours. Projection is UTM, Clarke 1880 ellipsoid. Larger scale mapping has been undertaken in a piecemeal way to meet the needs of urban development or specific rural development projects.

Soviet military topographic mapping of Burkina Faso is available at the following scales: 1:1,000,000 (4 sheets, complete coverage, published in 1986); 1:500,000 (10 sheets, complete coverage, published 1983-1985); 1:200,000 (54 sheets, complete coverage, published 1981-1985); and a city (1:10,000) topographic map of Ouagadougou published in 1976. These products are available in print, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats from East View Geospatial.

In 1990 the government prepared a Master Plan for Cartography which defined a series of priorities for improving the country’s geodetic network (using GPS), levelling network, completing the 1:50,000 scale map coverage and revising the 1:200,0000 and 1:500,000 scale maps. Feasibility studies are also being carried out for the implementation of a cadastral system. A GIS has been established with World Bank aid, and is to be used for image processing, statistical work and thematic cartography, and a National Programme for Rural Land Development has been initiated.

Earth science mapping is the responsibility of the Bureau des Mines et de la Géologie du Burkina (BUMIGEB). A 1:200,000 scale mapping program began in 1969 with the assistance of the French Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM) and of the Belgian Musée Royale de l’Afrique Centrale (MRAC). A single sheet geological map was published in 1975.

A remote sensing unit, the Centre Régional de Télédetection du Ouagadougou (CRTO), was established in 1977.

A five-sheet soil map of the country was completed at 1:500,000 scale in 1969 by Institut Français de Recherche Scientifique pour le Développement en Coopération (ORSTOM). There is also a five-sheet series by ORSTOM showing agronomic units derived from the soil map. Since 1975, soil mapping has been undertaken the Bureau National des Sols, Ouagadougou, which has produced various ad hoc local surveys at scales ranging between 1:2,000 and 1:500,000. These maps are printed as dye-lines. A plan for a 1:100,000 scale series was adopted by the government in 1990. There are also plans to introduce a digital mapping programme in cooperation with the IGB.

A 1995 map of vegetation and land use, based on LANDSAT MSS and Spot satellite imagery was prepared by the Institut de la Carte Internationale Végétal (ICIV), Toulouse and the University of Ouagadougou. It is available in paper, digital raster and digital vector GIS formats. It includes inset maps of phytogeography, agriculture, bioclimate, soil and geology. An earlier map of natural regions was prepared by the Institut de Recherches Agronomiques Tropicales et des Cultures Vivrières (IRAT), based primarily on geological, physiographic and soil criteria. 1:500,000 scale maps of grazing potential for the north of Burkina and smaller scale maps on other agriculture-related topics are included in the report, Burkina – Élevage et potentialités pastorales sahéliennes prepared in 1987 by the French Institut d’Élevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux (IEMVT) with the Netherlands-based Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA).

IGB has also published a number of thematic maps, including a linguistic map, a wall map for use in schools, an administrative map of the provinces and departments, and, in association with the National Tourist Office, tourist maps of Ouagadougou and Bobo Dioulasso. The latest general map of the country was published in 1994 in the IGN Pays et villes du Monde series. It includes small insert maps of administrative areas and of ethnic groups.

French publishing house Editions du Jaguar produced a small atlas of the country in 1975. The Geography Department of the University of Ouagadougou has been producing thematic maps for a new atlas which is to be printed by Jaguar.

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