Central African Republic Profile

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Central African Republic

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Overview

The Central African Republic (CAR) has been unstable since its independence from France in 1960 and is one of the least-developed countries in the world.

CAR

The Central African Republic (CAR) or Centrafrique 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, the Republic of the Congo in the south and Cameroon in the west. The CAR covers a land area of about 620,000 square kilometres (240,000 sq mi) and has an estimated population of about 4.4 million as of 2008. The capital is Bangui.

The first multi-party democratic elections in the CAR were held in 1993, with the aid of resources provided by the country’s donors and help from the United Nations. The elections brought Ange-Félix Patassé to power, but he lost popular support during his presidency and was overthrown in 2003 by the French-backed General François Bozizé, who went on to win a democratic election in May 2005.[5] Bozizé’s inability to pay public sector workers led to strikes in 2007, which led him to appoint a new government on 22 January 2008, headed by Faustin-Archange Touadéra. In February 2010, Bozizé signed a presidential decree which set 25 April 2010 as the date for the next presidential election. This was postponed, but elections were held in January and March 2011, which were won by Bozizé and his party. Despite maintaining a veneer of stability, Bozizé’s rule was plagued with heavy corruption, underdevelopment, nepotism and authoritarianism, which led to an open rebellion against his government. The rebellion was led by an alliance of armed opposition factions known as the Séléka Coalition during the Central African Republic Bush War (2004–2007) and the 2012–2013 Central African Republic conflict. This eventually led to his overthrow on 24 March 2013.

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, while the remaining third lies in the basin of the Chari, which flows north into Lake Chad. Despite its significant mineral and other resources, such as uranium reserves in Bakouma, crude oil, gold, diamonds, lumber and hydropower,[6] as well as arable land, the Central African Republic is one of the poorest countries in the world and is among the ten poorest countries in Africa. The Human Development Index for the Central African Republic is 0.343, which puts the country at 179th out of those 187 countries with data.

The Situation

On 1 December 1958 the colony of Ubangi-Shari became an autonomous territory within the French Community and took the name Central African Republic. The founding father and president of the Conseil de Gouvernement, Barthélémy Boganda, died in a mysterious plane accident in 1959, just eight days before the last elections of the colonial era.
On 13 August 1960, the Central African Republic gained its independence and two of Boganda’s closest aides, Abel Goumba and David Dacko, became involved in a power struggle. With the backing of the French, Dacko took power and soon had Goumba arrested. By 1962, President Dacko had established a one-party state.
In November 2012 a coalition of rebel groups took over towns in the north and center of the country. These groups eventually reached a peace deal with the Bozizé’s government in January 2013 involving a power sharing government. This peace deal was later broken when the rebels who had joined the power sharing government left their posts and rebel groups stormed the capital. Bozizé fled the country and Michel Djotodia took over the presidency.

Banks in the Central African Republic dispense the CFA franc, which is accepted in a number of different countries. Agriculture is dominated by the cultivation and sale of food crops such as cassava, peanuts, maize, sorghum, millet, sesame, and plantain. The annual real GDP growth rate is just above 3%. The importance of food crops over exported cash crops is indicated by the fact that the total production of cassava, the staple food of most Central Africans, ranges between 200,000 and 300,000 tonnes a year, while the production of cotton, the principal exported cash crop, ranges from 25,000 to 45,000 tonnes a year. Food crops are not exported in large quantities, but they still constitute the principal cash crops of the country, because Central Africans derive far more income from the periodic sale of surplus food crops than from exported cash crops such as cotton or coffee.

The per capita income of the Republic is often listed as being around $300 a year, said to be one of the lowest in the world, but this figure is based mostly on reported sales of exports and largely ignores such unregistered sale of foods, locally produced alcohol, diamonds, ivory, bushmeat and traditional medicine. For most Central Africans, the informal economy of the CAR is more important than the formal economy.[citation needed] Diamonds constitute the country’s most important export, accounting for 40–55% of export revenues, but it is estimated that between 30% and 50% of those produced each year leave the country clandestinely. Export trade is hindered by poor economic development and the country’s location away from the coast.
The wilderness regions of this country represent potential ecotourist destinations. In the southwest, the Dzanga-Sangha National Park is located in a rain forest area. The country is noted for its population of forest elephants and western lowland gorillas. To the north, the Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park is well-populated with wildlife, including leopards, lions, and rhinos. The Bamingui-Bangoran National Park is located in the north-east of CAR. The parks have been badly affected by the activities of poachers, in particular from Sudan, over the past two decades.[citation needed]
CAR is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA). In the 2009 World Bank Group’s report Doing Business, it was ranked 180th of 181 as regards ‘ease of business’, a composite index that takes into account regulations that enhance business activity and those that constrain it.

Fun Trivia Facts
  • Full name: Central African Republic
  • Population: 4.6 million (UN, 2012)
  • Capital: Bangui
  • Area: 622,984 sq km (240,535 sq miles)
  • Major languages: French, Sangho (lingua franca)
  • Major religions: Christianity, Islam, indigenous beliefs
  • Life expectancy: 48 years (men), 51 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc = 100 centimes
  • Main exports: Diamonds, timber, cotton, coffee, tobacco
  • GNI per capita: US $480 (World Bank, 2011)
  • Internet domain: .cf
  • International dialling code: +236
Forest elephants in Central African Republic

Forest elephants in Central African Republic

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