Central African Republic

Flag of Central African Republic

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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. The government still does not fully control the countryside, where pockets of lawlessness persist.


Central Africa, north of Democratic Republic of the Congo

Geographic coordinates:

7 00 N, 21 00 E


total: 622,984 sq km
land: 622,984 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 5,203 km
border countries: Cameroon 797 km, Chad 1,197 km, Democratic Republic of the Congo 1,577 km, Republic of the Congo 467 km, Sudan 1,165 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims:

none (landlocked)


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


vast, flat to rolling, monotonous plateau; scattered hills in northeast and southwest

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Oubangui River 335 m
highest point: Mont Ngaoui 1,420 m

Natural resources:

diamonds, uranium, timber, gold, oil, hydropower

Land use:

arable land: 3.1%
permanent crops: 0.15%
other: 96.75% (2005)

Irrigated land:

20 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

hot, dry, dusty harmattan winds affect northern areas; floods are common

Environment - current issues:

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

Geography - note:

landlocked; almost the precise center of Africa


note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 41.9% (male 907,629/female 897,153)
15-64 years: 53.9% (male 1,146,346/female 1,173,268)
65 years and over: 4.2% (male 71,312/female 107,648) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 18.4 years
male: 18 years
female: 18.8 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.53% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

33.91 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

18.65 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 85.63 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 92.44 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 78.61 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 43.54 years
male: 43.46 years
female: 43.62 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

4.41 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

13.5% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

260,000 (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

23,000 (2003 est.)

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis (2005)


noun: Central African(s)
adjective: Central African

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%
note: animistic beliefs and practices strongly influence the Christian majority


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


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 51%
male: 63.3%
female: 39.9% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Central African Republic
conventional short form: none
local long form: Republique Centrafricaine
local short form: none
former: Ubangi-Shari, Central African Empire
abbreviation: CAR

Government type:




Administrative divisions:

14 prefectures (prefectures, singular - prefecture), 2 economic prefectures* (prefectures economiques, singular - prefecture economique), and 1 commune**; Bamingui-Bangoran, Bangui**, Basse-Kotto, Haute-Kotto, Haut-Mbomou, Kemo, Lobaye, Mambere-Kadei, Mbomou, Nana-Grebizi*, Nana-Mambere, Ombella-Mpoko, Ouaka, Ouham, Ouham-Pende, Sangha-Mbaere*, Vakaga


13 August 1960 (from France)

National holiday:

Republic Day, 1 December (1958)


5 December 2004; ratified by popular referendum

Legal system:

based on French law


21 years of age; universal

Legislative branch:

unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (109 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 13 March 2005 and 8 May 2005 (next to be held NA 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party - MLPC 43%, RDC 18%, MDD 9%, FPP 6%, PSD 5%, ADP 4%, PUN 3%, FODEM 2%, PLD 2%, UPR 1%, FC 1%, independents 6%; seats by party - MLPC 47, RDC 20, MDD 8, FPP 7, PSD 6, ADP 5, PUN 3, FODEM 2, PLD 2, UPR 1, FC 1, independents 7

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court or Cour Supreme; Constitutional Court (3 judges appointed by the president, 3 by the president of the National Assembly, and 3 by fellow judges); Court of Appeal; Criminal Courts; Inferior Courts

Economy - overview:

Subsistence agriculture, together with forestry, remains the backbone of the economy of the Central African Republic (CAR), with more than 70% of the population living in outlying areas. The agricultural sector generates 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, with GDP growth at only 0.5% in 2004 and 2.5% in 2005. Distribution of income is extraordinarily unequal. Grants from France and the international community can only partially meet humanitarian needs.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$4.479 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$1.431 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

2.5% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$1,100 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 55%
industry: 20%
services: 25% (2001 est.)

Unemployment rate:

8% (23% for Bangui) (2001 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 0.7%
highest 10%: 47.7% (1993)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

61.3 (1993)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

3.6% (2001 est.)

Agriculture - products:

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


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

Industrial production growth rate:

3% (2002)

Electricity - production:

106 million kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

98.58 million kWh (2003)

Oil - consumption:

2,400 bbl/day (2003 est.)


$131 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)

Exports - commodities:

diamonds, timber, cotton, coffee, tobacco

Exports - partners:

Belgium 39.5%, Italy 8.7%, Spain 8.2%, US 6.2%, France 6.1%, Indonesia 5.9%, China 4.9% (2004)


$203 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)

Imports - commodities:

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

Imports - partners:

France 17.7%, US 16.4%, Cameroon 9.4%, Belgium 5.1% (2004)

Debt - external:

1.06 billion (2002 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

ODA, $59.8 million; note - traditional budget subsidies from France (2002 est.)

Currency (code):

Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF); note - responsible authority is the Bank of the Central African States

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

10,000 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

60,000 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: fair system
domestic: network consists principally of microwave radio relay and low-capacity, low-powered radiotelephone communication
international: country code - 236; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 1, FM 5, shortwave 1 (2002)

Television broadcast stations:

1 (2001)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

13 (2005)

Internet users:

9,000 (2005)


50 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 47
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 10
914 to 1,523 m: 23
under 914 m: 13 (2005)


total: 23,810 km (1999)


2,800 km (primarily on the Oubangui and Sangha rivers) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Bangui, Nola, Salo, Nzinga

Military branches:

Central African Armed Forces (FACA): Ground Forces, Air Force; General Directorate of Gendarmerie Inspection (DGIG), Republican Guard (2004)

Disputes - international:

about 30,000 refugees fleeing the 2002 civil conflict in the CAR still reside in southern Chad; periodic skirmishes over water and grazing rights among related pastoral populations along the border with southern Sudan persist

Refugees and internally displaced persons:

refugees (country of origin): 19,470 (Sudan) 1,864 (Chad) 6,484 (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
IDPs: 200,000 (unrest following coup in 2003) (2005)