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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. President Ange-Felix Patasse's civilian government was plagued by unrest, and in March 2003 he was deposed in a military coup led by General Francois Bozize, who established a transitional government. Though the government has the tacit support of civil society groups and the main parties, a wide field of candidates contested the municipal, legislative, and presidential elections held in March and May of 2005 in which General Bozize was affirmed as president. Bozize was reelected in the 2011 elections, which were widely viewed as having gross inaccuracies and discrepancies. The government still does not fully control the countryside, where pockets of lawlessness persist. Militant group Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) continues to affect stability in the Central African Republic as well.


Country Name:

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


  • name: Bangui
  • population: 702,000
  • 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: President Francois Bozize (since 15 March 2003 coup)
  • head of government: Prime Minister Faustin-Archange Touadera (since 22 January 2008)
  • cabinet: Council of Ministers
  • elections: president elected for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); elections last held on 23 January 2011 (next to be held in 2016); 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


  • 5,057,208 (global rank: 117)
  • growth rate: 2.142% (global rank: 42)


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

Major Cities:

  • Bangui (capital): 702,000

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: 50.48 years (global rank: 218)
  • male: 49.23 years
  • female: 51.76 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 97.17 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 5)
  • male: 105.04 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 89.06 deaths/1,000 live births


  • adult prevalence rate: 4.7% (2009 est.) (global rank: 16)
  • people living with AIDS: 130,000 (2009 est.) (global rank: 36)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 48.6%
  • male: 64.8%
  • female: 33.5%


Overview: Subsistence agriculture, together with forestry, 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 has accounted for about 16% of export earnings and the diamond industry, for 40%. 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. CAR currently lacks an IMF program.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $3.672 billion (global rank: 171)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $800 (global rank: 217)
  • real growth rate: 4.1% (global rank: 96)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 53.4%, industry: 14.6%, services: 32.1%


  • currency: Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale Francs (XAF)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 473.7


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

Agricultural Products:

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


  • gold and diamond mining, logging, brewing, textiles, footwear, assembly of bicycles and motorcycles

Exports Commodities:

  • diamonds, timber, cotton, coffee, tobacco

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: 3.1%
  • permanent crops: 0.15%
  • other: 96.75%

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): 7,900 (Sudan); 3,700 (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
  • internally displaced persons: 197,000 (ongoing unrest following coup in 2003)
  • human trafficking: Central African Republic is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation; the majority of victims are children trafficked within the country for sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, street vending, and forced agricultural, mine, market and restaurant labor; to a lesser extent, children are trafficked from the Central African Republic to Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo; rebels continue to abduct and exploit enslaved Sudanese, Congolese, Central African, and Ugandan children for use as cooks, porters, concubines, and combatants

Published: Thursday, September 04, 2008