What Do the Colors and Symbols of the Flag of Burkina Faso Mean?

By Molly John on April 27 2018 in World Facts

The flag of Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in Western Africa whose topography is vastly covered by grassy savannahs in the north and sparse forests in the south. The former French colony was named after the Bobo and Mossi people, who were among the earliest settlers in the land. Burkina Faso became an independent state in 1960 under the name Upper Volta, before being renamed in 1983. A new flag, national anthem, and coat of arms were also adopted at this timothy .

History of Burkina Faso

The earliest settlers in Burkina Faso were the Bobo, Lobi, and Gurunsi Neolithic cultures, whose axes were found in Northern Burkina Faso. In the 15th century, equestrians believed to be from the neighboring country, Ghana, annexed the region from the south, establishing the Mossi and Gurma Kingdoms in the central and eastern areas. Numerous monarchies in Mossi united to form the larger Ouagadougou Kingdom headed by a king, the morho naba. Towards the end of the 19th century, European explorers began arriving in West Africa seeking to annex the regions. The French were successful in negotiating their bid to colonize Burkina Faso, and the country became a French Colony through a peaceful takeover in 1897.

The Flag of Burkina Faso

During French imperial rule, which began in the late 18th century, France’s tricolor flag of red, white, and blue flew over the country and was the official flag of Burkina Faso. In December 1959, the executive council government under the French colony adopted the Upper Volta’s first flag that had equal horizontal bands of black, white, and red. The stripes represented the three branches of River Volta (Red, Black, and White, which rise from the Bobo Dioulasso Highlands in Burkina Faso). In 1983, Thomas Sankara, former prime minister and proponent of Pan Africanism, seized the Upper Volta Region and became president. To instigate his people to Pan Africanism, Sankara renamed the country on August 4, 1984, from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso (meaning Land of Incorruptible People). A new coat of arms and a new national anthem were created. To signify the new freedom, the country adopted a new flag comprising of two horizontal bands of equal measure, with red at the top and green at the bottom, and a yellow 5-pointed star in the middle.


The flag of Burkina Faso is a combination of the popular Pan-African colors that signify a break from the country’s oppressive colonial past and its integration with other African ex-colonies. The red color signifies the revolutionary struggles necessary for shifting the nation’s focus, while the green color is a symbol of hope and the richness of agriculture and natural vegetation. The yellow star at the center is a guiding light of revolution leadership programs. It also signifies the country’s rich endowment of mineral wealth. The flag's design is believed to have been inspired by the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam’s flag. At that time the Vietnamese Cong guerrilla army was widely venerated by many developing countries as a role model due to their fight against colonization and their dedication towards economic and political reforms.

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