Although plagued by political instability since gaining independence from France in 1960, Burkina Faso has been fortunate to have little ethnic conflict and has done fairly well with its meager assets of cotton, gold, and livestock. Highlighting the historical and contemporary factors behind Burkinas instability, Englebert considers the contours of Burkinab polity, examines the countrys economic policies and prospects, and analyzes its external relations. Poor even by the standards of West Africa and landlocked at the edge of the Sahel, Burkina Fasothe Land of Men of Dignityhas been plagued by political instability since independence from France in 1960. The country has suffered five military coups, the last of which cost the life of the outspoken and charismatic leader Thomas Sankara, who had waged war on poverty, corruption, and illiteracy.Yet Burkinas growth was surprisingly strong during the 1980s, as it made the best of its meager assets in cotton, gold, and livestock. The country is also fortunate in its relative lack of ethnic conflict, and the several religions practicedIslam, Christianity, and animismpeacefully coexist. Burkina has earned mixed reviews on the international stage, however, fighting two wars with Mali and supporting Taylors rebels in the Liberian civil war.In this textured introduction to Burkina, Englebert highlights the historical and contemporary factors that account for the countrys instability; considers the ethnic, religious, and social contours of the Burkinab polity; examines in depth the countrys economic policies and prospects; and analyzes Burkinas external relations. Looking toward the next millennium, he concludes by assessing the chances of the apparent recent drive toward a more democratic system.