Africa :: Central African Republic
page last updated on August 3, 2010
Flag of Central African Republic
Map of Central African Republic
Introduction ::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. 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. Unrest in the neighboring nations of Chad, Sudan, and the DRC continues to affect stability in the Central African Republic as well.
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
country comparison to the world: 44
land: 622,984 sq km
water: 0 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:
none (landlocked)
Current Weather
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)
Total renewable water resources:
144.4 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.03 cu km/yr (80%/16%/4%)
per capita: 7 cu m/yr (2000)
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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography - note:
landlocked; almost the precise center of Africa
People ::Central African Republic
country comparison to the world: 116
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, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2010 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 41.1% (male 1,002,625/female 989,039)
15-64 years: 55.1% (male 1,318,765/female 1,350,647)
65 years and over: 3.8% (male 73,823/female 110,028) (2010 est.)
Median age:
total: 19.1 years
male: 18.7 years
female: 19.5 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.149% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
Birth rate:
36.79 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 25
Death rate:
15.3 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 12
Net migration rate:
urban population: 39% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2.3% annual rate of change (2005-10 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: 0.67 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 101.6 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 7
male: 109.65 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 93.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 49.68 years
country comparison to the world: 214
male: 48.45 years
female: 50.95 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate:
4.68 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 32
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
6.3% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 11
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
160,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 35
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
11,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
animal contact disease: rabies (2009)
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: 48.6%
male: 64.8%
female: 33.5% (2000 est.)
Education expenditures:
1.4% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 174
Government ::Central African Republic
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:
name: Bangui
geographic coordinates: 4 22 N, 18 35 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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)
ratified by popular referendum 5 December 2004; effective 27 December 2004
Legal system:
based on French law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
21 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Francois BOZIZE (since 15 March 2003 coup)
head of government: Prime Minister Faustin-Archange TOUADERA (since 22 January 2008)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: under the new constitution, the president elected for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); elections last held on 13 March and 8 May 2005 (next to be held on 10 May 2010); prime minister appointed by the political party with a parliamentary majority
election results: Francois BOZIZE elected president; percent of second round balloting - Francois BOZIZE (KNK) 64.6%, Martin ZIGUELE (MLPC) 35.4%
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (105 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held on 13 March 2005 and 8 May 2005 (next to be held in April 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - KNK 42, MLPC 11, RDC 8, PSD 4, FPP 2, ADP 2, LONDO 1, independents 34, other 1
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Cour Supreme; Constitutional Court (three judges appointed by the president, three by the president of the National Assembly, and three 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 Rally 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]; Londo Association or LONDO; Movement for Democracy and Development or MDD [David DACKO]; Movement for the Liberation of the Central African People or MLPC [Ange-Felix PATASSE] (the party of deposed president); National Convergence or KNK; National Unity Party or PUN [Jean-Paul NGOUPANDE]; Patriotic Front for Progress or FPP [Abel GOUMBA]; People's Union for the Republic or UPR [Pierre Sammy MAKFOY]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [Enoch LAKOUE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Monam (combating gender-base violence)
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Stanislas MOUSSA-KEMBE
chancery: 1618 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 483-7800
FAX: [1] (202) 332-9893
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Frederick B. COOK
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; a yellow five-pointed star to the hoist side of the blue band; banner combines the Pan-African and French flag colors; red symbolizes the blood spilled in the struggle for independence, blue represents the sky and freedom, white peace and dignity, green hope and faith, and yellow tolerance; the star represents aspiration towards a vibrant future
Economy ::Central African Republic
Economy - overview:
Subsistence agriculture, together with forestry, remains the backbone of the economy of the Central African Republic (CAR), with about 60% of the population living in outlying areas. The agricultural sector generates more than 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. Distribution of income is extraordinarily unequal. Grants from France and the international community can only partially meet humanitarian needs.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$3.327 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 169
$3.249 billion (2008 est.)
$3.179 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$2.006 billion (2009 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2.4% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 75
2.2% (2008 est.)
4.2% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$700 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 220
$700 (2008 est.)
$700 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 55%
industry: 20%
services: 25% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
1.926 million (2007)
country comparison to the world: 122
Unemployment rate:
8% (2001 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
note: 23% unemployment for Bangui
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.1%
highest 10%: 33% (2003)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
61.3 (1993)
country comparison to the world: 6
revenues: $334 million
expenditures: $362 million (2009 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
0.9% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42
Central bank discount rate:
4.75% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 87
5.25% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
NA% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 47
15% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money:
$241.3 million (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 141
$218.3 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money:
$51.65 million (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 161
$47.57 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit:
$NA (31 December 2008)
$320.2 million (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
Agriculture - products:
timber, 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)
country comparison to the world: 43
Electricity - production:
115 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 187
Electricity - consumption:
107 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 189
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 197
Oil - consumption:
2,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 187
Oil - exports:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 146
Oil - imports:
2,203 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 175
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 193
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 187
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 199
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 193
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 193
Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 192
Current account balance:
-$77 million (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 73
$146.7 million (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 184
Exports - commodities:
diamonds, timber, cotton, coffee, tobacco
Exports - partners:
Belgium 32.57%, China 10.49%, Indonesia 10.36%, Morocco 10.24%, Democratic Republic of the Congo 6.87%, France 5.79% (2009)
$237.3 million (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 198
Imports - commodities:
food, textiles, petroleum products, machinery, electrical equipment, motor vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals
Imports - partners:
South Korea 19.29%, France 11.95%, US 7.78%, Cameroon 7.39%, Netherlands 6.77% (2009)
Debt - external:
$1.153 billion (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 147
Exchange rates:
Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale francs (XAF) per US dollar - 481.35 (2009), 447.81 (2008), 481.8 (2007), 522.59 (2006), 527.47 (2005)
note: since 1 January 1999, the Central African CFA franc (XAF) has been pegged to the euro at a rate of 655.957 CFA francs per euro; Central African CFA franc (XAF) coins and banknotes are not accepted in countries using West African CFA francs (XOF), and vice versa, even though the two currencies trade at par
Communications ::Central African Republic
Telephones - main lines in use:
12,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 200
Telephones - mobile cellular:
154,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 176
Telephone system:
general assessment: network consists principally of microwave radio relay and low-capacity, low-powered radiotelephone communication
domestic: limited telephone service with less than 1 fixed-line connection per 100 persons; spurred by the presence of multiple mobile-cellular service providers, cellular usage is increasing from a low base; most fixed-line and mobile-cellular telephone services are concentrated in Bangui
international: country code - 236; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2008)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 5, shortwave 1 (2001)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (2001)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
21 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 215
Internet users:
19,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 191
Transportation ::Central African Republic
40 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 104
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2009)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 38
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 12
914 to 1,523 m: 17
under 914 m: 8 (2009)
total: 24,307 km (2000)
country comparison to the world: 105
2,800 km (primarily on the Oubangui and Sangha rivers) (2007)
country comparison to the world: 35
Ports and terminals:
Bangui, Nola, Salo, Nzinga
Military ::Central African Republic
Military branches:
Central African Armed Forces (Forces Armees Centrafricaines, FACA): Ground Forces (includes Military Air Service), General Directorate of Gendarmerie Inspection (DGIG), National Police (2009)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for selective military service; 2-year conscript service obligation (2009)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 1,121,548
females age 16-49: 1,118,432 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 637,474
females age 16-49: 643,188 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 54,024
female: 53,203 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
0.9% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 135
Transnational Issues ::Central African Republic
Disputes - international:
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): 7,900 (Sudan); 3,700 (Democratic Republic of the Congo); note - UNHCR resumed repatriation of Southern Sudanese refugees in 2006
IDPs: 197,000 (ongoing unrest following coup in 2003) (2007)
Trafficking in persons:
current situation: Central African Republic is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation; the majority of victims are children trafficked within the country for sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, street vending, and forced agricultural, mine, market and restaurant labor; to a lesser extent, children are trafficked from the Central African Republic to Cameroon, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo; rebels conscript children into armed forces within the country
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Central African Republic is on the Tier 2 Watch List for the third consecutive year for its failure to show evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking in 2007; efforts to address trafficking through vigorous law enforcement measures and victim protection efforts were minimal, though awareness about trafficking appeared to be increasing in the country; the government does not actively investigate cases, work to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, or rescue and provide care to victims; the government has not taken measures to reduce demand for commercial sex acts (2008)

Source: The World Factbook (CIA)