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Central African Republic

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Central African Republic

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Population: 4,422,000 (est.)

Language(s): French, Sango

Capital: Bangui

Interesting Facts:

  • The country’s official currency is the Central African CFA franc.
  • About 80 percent of the population of the Central African Republic are Christians. It is believed that many of these followers incorporate traditional indigenous elements into their faith practices.
  • The economy of the Central African Republic is dominated by the cultivation and sale of food crops such as cassava, peanuts, maize, sorghum, millet, sesame, and plantain.
  • The climate of the Central African Republic is generally tropical. The northern areas are subject to winds that are hot, dry and carry dust. The southern regions have been subject to desertification, while the northeast of the country already is a desert.
  • Central African Republic is one of the poorest countries in the world and among the ten poorest countries in Africa.
  • The Human Development Index for the Central African Republic is 0.343, which gives the country a rank of 179 out of 187 countries with data.

The Central African Republic, is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It borders Chad in the north, Sudan in the northeast, South Sudan in the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Congo in the south, and Cameroon in the west. The CAR covers a land area of about 240,000 square miles (620,000 km2), and has an estimated population of about 4.4 million as of 2008. Bangui is the country’s capital city.

Most of the CAR consists of Sudano-Guinean savannas but it also includes a Sahelo-Sudanian zone in the north and an equatorial forest zone in the south. Two thirds of the country lies in the basins of the Ubangi River, which flows south into the Congo River, while the remaining third lies in the basin of the Chari River, which flows north into Lake Chad.

Since most of the territory is located in the Ubangi and Chari river basins, France called the colony it carved out in this region Oubangui-Chari. It became a semi-autonomous territory of the French Community in 1958 and then an independent nation on 13 August 1960, taking its present name. For over three decades after independence, the CAR was ruled by presidents, and an emperor, who either were not freely elected or took power by force. Local discontent with this system was eventually reinforced by international pressure, following the end of the Cold War.

The first multi-party democratic elections were held in 1993 with resources provided by the country’s donors and help from the UN Office for Electoral Affairs, and brought Ange-Félix Patassé to power. He lost popular support during his presidency and was overthrown in 2003 by French-backed General François Bozizé, who went on to win a democratic election in May 2005. Inability to pay workers in the public sector led to strikes in 2007, leading Bozizé to appoint a new government headed by Faustin-Archange Touadéra on 22 January 2008. In February 2010, Bozizé signed a presidential decree setting the date for the next presidential election as 25 April 2010. Although initially postponed, elections were held in January and March 2011. Bozizé and his party both won in the elections.

Despite its significant mineral and other resources (uranium reserves in Bakouma, crude oil, gold, diamonds, lumber, hydropower) and its arable land, the Central African Republic remains one of the poorest countries in the world and among the ten poorest countries in Africa. The Human Development Index for the Central African Republic is 0.343, which gives the country a rank of 179 out of 187 countries with data.

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