Photo of the Day
Available Photo Albums
More About PhotoGlobe
Central African Republic
Congo, Democratic Republic
Congo, Republic of the
Equatorial Guinea
Sao Tome and Principe
Arctis, Antarctis and Oceans
Australia and Oceania
Central America and Caribbean
Middle East
North America
South America
South East Asia

Central African Republic


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 a military coup led by General Francois BOZIZE deposed the civilian government of President Ange-Felix PATASSE and has since established a transitional government. Though the government has the tacit support of civil society groups and the main parties, this is likely to weaken in the run-up to municipal, legislative, and presidential elections scheduled for December 2004 or January 2005. The government still does not fully control the countryside, where pockets of lawlessness persist.
Geography Central African Republic
Central Africa, north of Democratic Republic of the Congo
Geographic coordinates:
7 00 N, 21 00 E
Map references:
total: 622,984 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 622,984 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Texas
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 - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
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: 0.14%
other: 96.76% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
NA sq km
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
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography - note:
landlocked; almost the precise center of Africa
People Central African Republic
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 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 42.8% (male 806,506; female 795,639)
15-64 years: 53.8% (male 990,522; female 1,021,491)
65 years and over: 3.4% (male 53,860; female 74,464) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 18 years
male: 17.7 years
female: 18.4 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.56% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
35.55 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
19.99 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 92.15 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 84.99 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 99.09 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 41.36 years
male: 39.7 years
female: 43.08 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
4.59 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
12.9% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
250,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
22,000 (2001 est.)
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.)
Government Central African Republic
Country name:
conventional long form: Central African Republic
conventional short form: none
local long form: Republique Centrafricaine
former: Ubangi-Shari, Central African Empire
abbreviation: CAR
local short form: none
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)
passed by referendum 29 December 1994; adopted 7 January 1995
Legal system:
based on French law
21 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Francois BOZIZE (since 15 March 2003 coup) and Vice President Abel GOUMA (since 12 December 2003)
elections: NA; municipal, legislative and presidential elections scheduled for December 2004 or January 2005; prime minister appointed by the president
head of government: Prime Minister Celestin GAOMBALET (since 12 December 2003)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (109 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms; note - there were 85 seats in the National Assembly before the 1998 election)
elections: last held 22-23 November and 13 December 1998 (next to be held NA 2004)
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
Political parties and leaders:
Alliance for Democracy and Progress or ADP [Jacques MBOLIEDAS]; Central African Democratic Assembly or RDC [Andre KOLINGBA]; Civic Forum or FC [Gen. Timothee MALENDOMA]; Democratic Forum for Modernity or FODEM [Charles MASSI]; Liberal Democratic Party or PLD [Nestor KOMBO-NAGUEMON]; Movement for Democracy and Development or MDD [David DACKO]; Movement for the Liberation of the Central African People or MLPC [the party of deposed president, Ange-Felix PATASSE]; Patriotic Front for Progress or FPP [Abel GOUMBA]; People's Union for the Republic or UPR [Pierre Sammy MAKFOY]; National Unity Party or PUN [Jean-Paul NGOUPANDE]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [Enoch LAKOUE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Emmanuel TOUABOY
chancery: 1618 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
FAX: [1] (202) 332-9893
telephone: [1] (202) 483-7800
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant)
embassy: Avenue David Dacko, Bangui
mailing address: B. P. 924, Bangui
telephone: [236] 61 02 00
FAX: [236] 61 44 94
note: The embassy is currently operating with a minimal staff
Flag description:
four equal horizontal bands of blue (top), white, green, and yellow with a vertical red band in center; there is a yellow five-pointed star on the hoist side of the blue band
Economy Central African Republic
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 54%. 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 likely to contract in 2004. Distribution of income is extraordinarily unequal. Grants from France and the international community can only partially meet humanitarian needs.
purchasing power parity - $4.584 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $1,200 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 55%
industry: 20%
services: 25% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
NA% (1993)
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.)
Labor force:
NA (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate:
8% (23% for Bangui) (2001 est.)
revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA
diamond mining, logging, brewing, textiles, footwear, assembly of bicycles and motorcycles
Industrial production growth rate:
3% (2002)
Electricity - production:
106 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 19.8%
hydro: 80.2%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
98.63 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
2,400 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Oil - imports:
Agriculture - products:
cotton, coffee, tobacco, manioc (tapioca), yams, millet, corn, bananas; timber
$172 million f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
diamonds, timber, cotton, coffee, tobacco
Exports - partners:
Belgium 70.3%, Spain 7%, Italy 4.1% (2002)
$136 million f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
food, textiles, petroleum products, machinery, electrical equipment, motor vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals
Imports - partners:
France 30.9%, US 5.1%, Cameroon 4.4% (2002)
Debt - external:
$881.4 million (2000 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
ODA $73 million; note - traditional budget subsidies from France (2000 est.)
Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF); note - responsible authority is the Bank of the Central African States
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XAF) per US dollar - 581.2 (2003), 696.99 (2002), 733.04 (2001), 711.98 (2000), 615.7 (1999)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Central African Republic
Telephones - main lines in use:
9,000 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
12,600 (2002)
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)
283,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (2001)
18,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
6 (2002)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2002)
Internet users:
5,000 (2002)
Transportation Central African Republic
total: 23,810 km
paved: 643 km
unpaved: 23,167 km (1999 est.)
900 km
note: traditional trade carried on by means of shallow-draft dugouts; Oubangui is the most important river, navigable all year to craft drawing 0.6 m or less; 282 km navigable to craft drawing as much as 1.8 m
Ports and harbors:
Bangui, Nola, Salo, Nzinga
50 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2003 est.)
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 (2003 est.)
Military Central African Republic
Military branches:
Central African Armed Forces (FACA): Republican Guard, Ground Forces, Naval Forces, Air Force
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 878,980 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 460,469 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$14.5 million (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.1% (2003)
Transnational Issues Central African Republic
Disputes - international:
internal political instabilities with fighting and violence overlap into Chad and CAR, leaving refugees and rebel groups in both countries; Sudan has pledged to work with CAR to stem violent skirmishes over water and grazing rights among related pastoral populations along the border