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Central African Republic

Central African Republic

The Central African Republic is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It borders Chad in the north, Sudan in the east, the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the south, and Cameroon in the west.

Background History

The former French colony of Ubangi-Shari became the Central African Republic upon independence in 1960. After three tumultuous decades of misrule - mostly by military governments - civilian rule was established in 1993 and lasted for one decade. In March, 2003 President Ange-Felix Patasse was deposed in a military coup led by General Francois Bozize, who established a transitional government. Elections held in 2005 affirmed General Bozize as president; he was reelected in 2011 in voting widely viewed as flawed. The government still does not fully control the countryside, where pockets of lawlessness persist. The militant group the Lord's Resistance Army continues to destabilize southeastern Central African Republic, and several rebel groups joined together in early December 2012 to launch a series of attacks that left them in control of numerous towns in the northern and central parts of the country. The rebels - who are unhappy with Bozize's government - participated in peace talks in early January 2013 which resulted in a coalition government including the rebellion's leadership. In March 2013, the coalition government dissolved, rebels seized the capital, and President Bozize fled the country. Rebel leader Michel Djotodia assumed the presidency, reappointed Nicolas Tiangaye as Prime Minister, and established a transitional government on 31 March. On 13 April 2013, the National Transitional Council affirmed Djotodia as President.


Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Central African Republic
  • local long form: Republique Centrafricaine
  • former: Ubangi-Shari, Central African Empire


  • name: Bangui
  • geographic coordinates: 4 22 N, 18 35 E
  • time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • 13 August 1960 (from France)

Government Type:

  • Republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza (since 20 January 2014)
  • head of government: Interim Prime Minister Andre Nzapayeke (since 25 January 2014)
  • cabinet: Council of Ministers
  • elections: interim president was elected by the National Transitional Council on 20 January 2014; she will be in office until February 2015 at the new general elections; prime minister appointed by the president

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: unicameral National Assembly

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Court; Constitutional Court; Court of Appeal; Criminal Courts; Inferior Courts


People & Society


  •  5,277,959 (global rank: 118)
  • growth rate: 2.13% (global rank: 46)


  • noun: Central African(s)
  • adjective: Central African

Major Cities:

  • Bangui (capital): 740,000

Ethnic Groups:

  • Baya 33%, Banda 27%, Mandjia 13%, Sara 10%, Mboum 7%, M'Baka 4%, Yakoma 4%, other 2%


  • indigenous beliefs 35%, Protestant 25%, Roman Catholic 25%, Muslim 15%


  • French (official), Sangho (lingua franca and national language), tribal languages

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 51.35 years (global rank: 218)
  • male: 50.06 years
  • female: 52.76 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 92.86 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 5)
  • male: 100.55 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 84.93 deaths/1,000 live births


  • adult prevalence rate: 4.7% (2009 est.) (global rank: 14)
  • people living with AIDS: 130,000 (2009 est.) (global rank: 39)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 56.6%
  • male: 69.6%
  • female: 44.2%



Overview: Subsistence agriculture, together with forestry and mining, remains the backbone of the economy of the Central African Republic (CAR), with about 60% of the population living in outlying areas. The agricultural sector generates more than half of GDP. Timber and diamonds account for most export earnings, followed by cotton. Important constraints to economic development include the CAR's landlocked position, a poor transportation system, a largely unskilled work force, and a legacy of misdirected macroeconomic policies. Factional fighting between the government and its opponents remains a drag on economic revitalization. Since 2009 the IMF has worked closely with the government to institute reforms that have resulted in some improvement in budget transparency, but other problems remain. The government's additional spending in the run-up to the election in 2011 worsened CAR's fiscal situation. Distribution of income is extraordinarily unequal. Grants from France and the international community can only partially meet humanitarian needs. In 2012 the World Bank approved $125 million in funding for transport infrastructure and regional trade, focused on the route between CAR's capital and the port of Douala in Cameroon. After a two year lag in donor support, the IMF's first review of CAR's extended credit facility for 2012-15 praised improvements in revenue collection but warned of weak management of spending.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $3.336 billion (global rank: 178)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $700 (global rank: 224)
  • real growth rate: -14.5% (global rank: 221)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 56.6%, industry: 14.5%, services: 28.9%


  • currency: Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale Francs (XAF)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 500.7


  • population below poverty line: NA
  • unemployment rate: 8%

Agricultural Products:

  • cotton, coffee, tobacco, cassava (manioc, tapioca), yams, millet, corn, bananas; timber


  • gold and diamond mining, logging, brewing, sugar refining

Exports Commodities:

  • diamonds, timber, cotton, coffee

Imports Commodities:

  • food, textiles, petroleum products, machinery, electrical equipment, motor vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals




  • Central Africa, north of Democratic Republic of the Congo


  • total:622,984 sq km (global rank: 45)
  • land: 622,984 sq km
  • water: 0 sq km
  • comparative: slightly smaller than Texas


  • tropical; hot, dry winters; mild to hot, wet summers

Land Use:

  • arable land: 2.89%
  • permanent crops: 0.13%
  • other: 96.98%

Natural Resources:

  • diamonds, uranium, timber, gold, oil, hydropower

Current Environmental Issues:

  • tap water is not potable; poaching has diminished the country's reputation as one of the last great wildlife refuges; desertification; deforestation


Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: periodic skirmishes over water and grazing rights among related pastoral populations along the border with southern Sudan persist
  • refugees (country of origin): 10,992 (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
  • internally displaced persons: 551,600 (clashes between army and rebel groups since 2005; tensions between ethnic groups)
  • human trafficking: Central African Republic (CAR) is a source and destination country for children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking and possibly women subjected to forced prostitution; most victims appear to be CAR citizens exploited within the country, and that a smaller number are transported back and forth between the CAR and Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and South Sudan; children are forced into domestic servitude, commercial sexual exploitation, agricultural labor, mining, and street vending; armed groups operating in the CAR, including the Lord's Resistance Army, continue to recruit and use children for military activities, while village self-defense units use children as combatants, lookouts, and porters

Published: Thursday, March 05, 2015