Small land locked country lying in the sub-Saharan region of Africa, directly N of Ghana and S of the great bend in the Niger River in Mali. Upper Volta is an agricultural country occupying the region of the medieval Mossi Empire. French colonialists seized the region in 1896 and ruled it until 1960, when independence was achieved. Under its first leader, Maurice Yameogo, Upper Volta approached total bankruptcy and disorganization. A military group led by Colonel Sangoule Lamizana took control in 1966, and Upper Volta slowly began to improve its infrastructure systems and agriculture with aid from France, the rest of the Common Market, and the World Bank. In the early 1970s the great drought of the sub-Saharan Sahel region brought starvation and death to many thousand s in the northern part of the country. Military rule ended in 1978, and Lamizana was elected president. A series of military coups followed as in 1980 Lamizana was overthrown by Colonel Saye Zerbo, who was overthrown by Major Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo, who was overthrown by Captain Thomas Sankara in 1983. Sankara pursued a policy of nonalignment with Western nations, and developed stronger relations with neighbors such as Ghana and Libya. Sankara was less suppressive of the political opposition and increased the government’s focus on economic development. To declare the country’s rejection of its colonial past, in 1984, he renamed Upper Volta Burkina Faso meaning “the land of incorruptible men.” In 1987 Captain Blaise Compaore took control in a bloody coup, killing Sankara. There have been elections in 1992 and 1998 with Compaore the presidentelect in the midst of election irregularities. Unrest in the Ivory Coast has impacted the country as Burkino Fasan workers have been repatriated as refugees.