Central African Republic

Full Name
Central Africa Republic
Origins of name: CAR’s geographical location at the approximate centre of Africa
Formerly: CAR was formerly known as the territory of Ubangi-Shari. The name derived from its location on the basin of the Ubangi and Shari rivers

Current Leader

Catherine Samba-Panza (interim)

Catherine Samba Panza, the new Central African Republic president, takes the oath of office during a ceremony in Bangui on January 23, 2014. PHOTO | AFP

CAR was a French colony

Gained independence on August 13, 1960


Form of Government
President is elected for a 5 year term
President is eligible for a 2nd term

Government structure
Executive President, Prime Minister appointed by President

Military Statistics
Manpower fit for military service - Males age 16-49: 552,907 and females age 16-49: 512,611
Expenditures: 1.1$ of GDP
Branches: Central African Armed Forces (Forces Armees Centrafricaines, FACA): Ground Forces, General Directorate of Gendarmerie Inspection (DGIG), Military Air Service, National Police

Former leaders
David Dacko 1960-1966
Jean-Bedel Bokassa 1966-1979
David Dacko 1979-1981
Andre Kolingba 1981-1993
Angie-Felix Patassé 1993-2003
Francois Bozize 2003 to 2013

Michel Djotodia August 2013 - January 2014

Altitude: 387m
Population: 542,000

Size: 4,487,000 (2011)
Life expectancy: 44.47 years
Gender make-up: Male: 49.5%; Female: 50.5%

GDP per capita
$ 800 (2011)

$ 800 (2010)

Area : 622,984sqkm
Land boundaries: Cameroon 797km, Chad 1,197km, Democratic Republic of the Congo 1,577km, Republic of the Congo 467km, Sudan 1,165km

Major Languages
Sango (lingua franca), French (official)

Religious portfolio
Christian (Roman Catholic 25%, Protestant 25%), Indigenous beliefs 35%; - note: traditionalist beliefs and practices strongly influence the Christian majority, Muslim 15%

National Make-up
Baya 33%, Banda 27%, Mandjia 13%, Sara 10%, Mboum 7%, M'Baka 4%, Yakoma 4%, other 2%

Natural Resources
Timber, Diamonds, Gold, Uranium

Main exports
Diamonds, Timber, Cotton, Coffee, Tobacco

Land Use
Arable land: 3.1%
Permanent crops: 0.15%
Other: 96.75% (2005)

Monetary Unit/Currency
CFA franc

Dialling Code
+ 236

Internet Code

Main port: (landlocked)
Airport: M’Poko Intenational Airport (Bangui) located 5km from city

Modern issues

Deforestation due to over-exploitation of rainforest cover
Periodic flooding in the lowlands from heavy rainforest precipitation

Mr. Bozize’s re-election in 2011 was marred by vast irregularities and the results were dismissed by the opposition. One of the aspiring candidates was former Central African Republic president Ange-Felix Patasse, who after a long and chequered career was ousted in a 2003 coup. Mr. Patasse died shortly after his presidential bid in Cameroon while on his way to Equatorial Guinea for medical treatment. He had been earlier been barred from leaving the country for health check-ups.

A leaked US cable, popularly known as a Wikileak, emerged this year and suggested that President Francois Bozize had sought to personally profit from money set aside for a USAid-funded project which would have been an integral part of an east-west road. According to the cable, a frenzy of meetings with Mr Bozize and his cronies ahead of the scheduled October 26, 2009 launch of the road works left the US ambassador with the impression that the President was “personally interested in the monetary benefits that international development money brings”.

The Seleka rebels in the north had been a looming threat to President Bozize's government in late 2012. In March 2013, they finally managed to take over Bangui and overthrew Bozize.

Five months later, Michel Djotodia (leader of the Seleka coalition of rebels) was sworn in as president on August 18, 2013. Following sectarian violence in the country, he was forced to step down. Catherine Samba-Panza was then elected president, becoming the country's first female president.

The infrastructure is poor and outside Bangui is almost non-existent
Heavy dependence on foreign aid
A very limited tax base

Widespread poverty
Illegal arms proliferate in the poorly-policed countryside as a result of years of civil strife
Tropical diseases like malaria

Foreign Affairs
CAR has outstanding issues with Sudan, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo over presence of their refugees in the country
Occasional incursions into CAR by rebels from DRC, Sudan and Uganda. Lords Resistance Army (LRA) rebels from northern Uganda are said to have fled Uganda's forces into CAR

The Major Conflicts

First Coup
When: 1966
Who: David Dacko vs Jean-Bedel Bokassa
Why: Personal ambition on the part of Bokassa. He took advantage of Dacko’s clumsy attempt to dilute his influence in the army
Outcome: Dacko overthrown by Bokassa

Second Coup
When: 1979
Who: Bokassa vs the French
Why: Bokassa’s controversial self-coronation as Emperor in 1977 and his subsequent massacre of protesting school children alienated world opinion and forced France to back a coup against him
Outcome: Bokassa was replaced by Dacko who was flown in from Paris

Third Coup
When: 1981
Who: Dacko vs Gen Andre Kolingba
Why: Local French security advisers believed to be acting without the mandate of the French Government conspired against Dacko
Outcome: Kolingba assumed power as Head of State

First multi-party election cancelled
When: 1992
Who: Kolingba vs Angie-Felix Patasse
Why: Kolingba engineered the cancellation deliberately after realising he had trailed with only 10 per cent of the vote
Outcome: Western envoys, led by the US ambassador, forced Kolingba to reschedule within months another election, which Patasse won

Military rebellion and failed coup
When: 2001
Who: Patasse vs pro-Kolingba soldiers
Why: Patasse’s perceived marginalisation of the Yakoma ethnic group provoked a mutiny of Yakoma soldiers in Bangui’s Camp Kassai military barracks. The mutiny was crushed by the intervention of Libyans and Congolese soldiers loyal to Jean-Pierre Bemba
Outcome: The brutality of Bemba’s troops against the Yakoma directly led to his subsequent indictment by the International Criminal Court

Fourth Coup
When: 2003
Who: Patasse vs Gen Francois Bozize
Why: Patasse had sacked Bozize as army chief of staff on suspicion of involvement in the 2001 coup attempt. Bozize fled to Chad from where he launched the counter-attack against Patasse
Outcome: Patasse was overthrown after alienating most of the CAR’s military and political factions

March 24 2013: Rebels aligned to the Seleka rebel coalition march into capital and take over presidential palace. President Francois Bozize flees, creating confusion over who currently rules the country

Sectarian violence

When: 2013 to 2014

The country first descended into violence following the ouster of former President Francois Bozize in March 2013. Michel Djotodia, leader of rebels under the largely Muslim Seleka coalition then took over leadership. Despite disbanding Seleka, factions of the rebels continued to mete out violence on the majority Christian population.

Violence worsened, leading to his stepping down down from power and the election of current president Catherine Samba-Panza.

Christian militants calling themselves 'anti-balaka' have been targeting the Muslims in CAR in attacks, also looting the homes and businesses of Muslims who have fled the violence.

What to see?
Dzanga-Sangha National Park

Popular Sports

Famous sportsmen and sportswomen
Foxi Kethevoama: plays soccer for the national team
Boris Sandjo: plays soccer for the national team
Bruno Flavien Bongongo: Boxing
Aymad Bosse Beranger: Track and Field
Mireille Derebona-Ngaisset: Track and Field

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