Republic of Upper Volta

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Republic of Upper Volta

République de Haute-Volta (French)
Motto: "Unité – Travail – Justice" (in French)
"Unity – Work – Justice"
Location of Upper Volta
Common languagesFrench
GovernmentOne-party presidential republic (1960–1966)
Military dictatorship (1966–1984)
• 1959–1966
Maurice Yaméogo
• 1966–1980
Sangoulé Lamizana
• 1980–1982
Saye Zerbo
• 1982–1983
Jean-Baptiste Ouédraogo
• 1983–1984
Thomas Sankara
High Commissioner 
• 1958–1959
Max Berthet
• 1959–1960
Paul Masson
Prime Minister 
• 1971–1974
Gérard Kango Ouédraogo
• 1983
Thomas Sankara
Historical eraCold War
December 11, 1958
August 5, 1960
January 3, 1966
November 25, 1980
November 7, 1982
August 3, 1983
• Renamed
August 4, 1984
CurrencyCFA franc
Preceded by
Succeeded by
French Upper Volta
Burkina Faso
Today part of Burkina Faso
Part of a series on the
History of Burkina Faso
Flag of Burkina Faso
c. 3rd–13th century
Mossi Kingdoms c. 11th century – 1896
French Upper Volta
Republic 1958–1984
Burkina Faso
Agacher Strip War 1985
Assassination of Sankara 1987
Compaoré rule 1987–2014
Burkinabè revolution 2014
Transitional period 2014–2015
Burkinabé coup d'état 2015
2015 elections and aftermath 2015–present

The Republic of Upper Volta (French: République de Haute-Volta) now Burkina Faso was a landlocked West African country established on December 11, 1958 as a self-governing colony within the French Community.[1][2] Before attaining autonomy it had been French Upper Volta and part of the French Union. On August 5, 1960, it attained full independence from France.[3] On August 4, 1984, it changed its name to Burkina Faso.

Name and flag[edit]

Map showing the Volta River in Upper Volta

The name Upper Volta indicated that the country contains the upper part of the Volta River. The colors of the national flag corresponded to the names of its three main tributaries — the Black Volta, the White Volta, and the Red Volta.[4]


Upper Volta obtained independence on August 5, 1960. The first president of the country, Maurice Yaméogo, is at the head of the Alliance for Democracy and the Federation / African Democratic Rally. The 1960 Constitution establishes the election by direct universal suffrage of the President and the National Assembly for a term of five years. Shortly after coming to power, Yaméogo banned all political parties other than the Alliance for Democracy.

Thomas Sankara came to power through a military coup d'état on August 4, 1983.[5] After the coup, he formed the National Council for the Revolution (CNR), with himself as president. Under the direction of Sankara, the country changed its name on August 4, 1984, from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, which means "Land of Incorruptible People".[6]


From 1958 to 1960, the Republic of Upper Volta was led by a High Commissioner:

  • Max Berthet (December 11, 1958 to February 1959),
  • Paul Masson (February 1959 to August 5, 1960).

From 1971 to 1987, the Republic of Upper Volta was led by a Prime Minister:



The three colors of the national flag of Upper Volta come from the fact that the Volta has three parts: the Black Volta, the White Volta, and the Red Volta.

National Hymn[edit]

This anthem has been replaced since 1984 by a new anthem, the Ditanyè.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Burkina Faso". Afripedia. Archived from the original on 2017-02-11. Retrieved 2017-02-09.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  2. ^ "Field Listing: National Holiday". The World Factbook. CIA. Archived from the original on 2020-09-22. Retrieved 2020-11-30.
  3. ^ Meredith, Martin (2013). The State of Africa. Simon & Schuster. p. 69. ISBN 9780857203885.
  4. ^ "Upper Volta (Burkina Faso, 1959-1984)". Flags of the World. Archived from the original on 2020-09-20. Retrieved 2020-11-30.
  5. ^ "Thomas Sankara". Encyclopedia Britannica. Archived from the original on 2016-10-10. Retrieved 2017-02-09.
  6. ^ "More (Language of the Mossi Tribe) Phrase Book". World Digital Library. Archived from the original on 23 November 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2013.

Coordinates: 12°16′N 2°4′W / 12.267°N 2.067°W / 12.267; -2.067