Central African Republic

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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 but lasted only a decade. In March, 2003 President Ange-Felix PATASSE was deposed in a military coup led by General Francois BOZIZE, who established a transitional government. Elections held in 2005 affirmed General BOZIZE as president; he was reelected in 2011 in voting widely viewed as flawed. The government still lacks full control of the countryside, where lawlessness persists. The militant group, Lord's Resistance Army, continues to destabilize southeastern Central African Republic, and several rebel groups joined together in early December 2012 to launch a series of attacks that left them in control of numerous towns in the northern and central parts of the country. The rebels - unhappy with BOZIZE's government - participated in peace talks in early January 2013 which resulted in a coalition government including the rebellion's leadership. In March 2013, the coalition government dissolved, rebels seized the capital, and President BOZIZE fled the country. Rebel leader Michel DJOTODIA assumed the presidency and the following month established a National Transitional Council (CNT). In January 2014, the CNT elected Catherine SAMBA-PANZA as interim president; legislative and presidential elections are scheduled to begin on 27 December 2015 and the transitional mandate is scheduled to expire in March 2016.



Central Africa, north of Democratic Republic of the Congo

Geographic coordinates

7.00° N, 21.00° E

Area 45/257

total: 622,984 sq km

land: 622,984 sq km

water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Texas

Land boundaries

total: 5,920 km

border countries (6): Cameroon 901 km, Chad 1,556 km, Democratic Republic of the Congo 1,747 km, Republic of the Congo 487 km, South Sudan 1,055 km, Sudan 174 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)


tropical; hot, dry winters; mild to hot, wet summers


vast, flat to rolling plateau; scattered hills in northeast and southwest


mean elevation:

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

agricultural land: 8.1%

arable land 2.9%; permanent crops 0.1%; permanent pasture 5.1%

forest: 36.2%

other: 55.7% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

10 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

144.4 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 0.07 cu km/yr (83%/17%/1%)

per capita: 17.42 cu m/yr (2005)

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 and Society


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%


French (official), Sangho (lingua franca and national language), tribal languages


indigenous beliefs 35%, Protestant 25%, Roman Catholic 25%, Muslim 15%

note: animistic beliefs and practices strongly influence the Christian majority

Population 119/238


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 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 40.43% (male 1,095,968/female 1,083,705)

15-24 years: 20.06% (male 543,491/female 537,804)

25-54 years: 32.02% (male 863,314/female 862,916)

55-64 years: 3.98% (male 96,377/female 118,278)

65 years and over: 3.52% (male 74,192/female 115,494) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 75.2%

youth dependency ratio: 68.4%

elderly dependency ratio: 6.8%

potential support ratio: 14.8% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 19.5 years

male: 19.2 years

female: 19.9 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 45/233

2.13% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 22/224

35.08 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 10/225

13.8 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 102/222

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)


urban population: 40% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 2.59% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

BANGUI (capital) 794,000 (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.82 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female

total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 4/184

882 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 4/224

total: 90.63 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 98.24 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 82.79 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 219/224

total population: 51.81 years

male: 50.5 years

female: 53.16 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 31/224

4.41 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

15.2% (2010/11)

Health expenditures 168/191

3.9% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

0.05 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital bed density

1 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source


urban: 89.6% of population

rural: 54.4% of population

total: 68.5% of population


urban: 10.4% of population

rural: 45.6% of population

total: 31.5% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access


urban: 43.6% of population

rural: 7.2% of population

total: 21.8% of population


urban: 56.4% of population

rural: 92.8% of population

total: 78.2% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

4.25% (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

135,400 (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

9,900 (2014 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 175/191

4.4% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 26/138

23.5% (2011)

Education expenditures 171/173

1.2% of GDP (2011)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 7 years

male: 9 years

female: 6 years (2012)


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)


several previous; latest adopted by transitional council on 30 August 2015; referendum scheduled for October 2015; held in mid-December 2015

Legal system

civil law system based on the French model

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: least one parent must be a citizen of the Central African Republic

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 35 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Interim President Catherine SAMBA-PANZA (since 23 January 2014)

head of government: Prime Minister Mahamat KAMOUN (since 10 August 2014); note - Prime Minister Andre NZAPAYEKE replaced Prime Minister Nicolas TIANGAYE on 25 January 2014 and was fired on 5 August 2014; Nicolas TIANGAYE resigned 10 January 2014

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president

elections/appointments: interim president elected by the National Transitional Council on 20 January 2014 and sworn in three days later (first round of election is scheduled for 27 December 2015)

election results: Catherine SAMBA-PANZA elected in second round; SAMBA-PANZA 75 votes from the National Transitional Council, Desire KOLINGBA 53 votes (128 MPs out of 135 voted)

note: rebel forces seized the capital in March 2013, forcing former President BOZIZE to flee the country; Interim President Michel DJOTODIA assumed the presidency, reinstated the prime minister, and established a National Transitional Council (CNT) in April 2013; the NTC elected Catherine SAMBA-PANZA interim president in January 2014 to serve until February 2015 when new elections were to be held; her term has been extended because instability has delayed new elections and the transition is scheduled to end in March 2016

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (105 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote with a second round if needed; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 23 January 2011 and 27 March 2011 (first round of elections is scheduled for 27 December 2015)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - KNK 61, Presidential Majority 11, independent 26, other 2; note - information on 5 seats is unavailable

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of NA judges); Constitutional Court (consists of 9 judges, at least 3 of which are women)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges appointed by the president; Constitutional Court judge appointments - 2 by the president, 1 by the speaker of the National Assembly, 2 elected by their peers, 2 are advocates elected by their peers, and 2 are law professors elected by their peers; judges serve 7-year non-renewable terms

subordinate courts: high courts; magistrates' courts

Political parties and leaders

Action Party for Development or PAD

Alliance for Democracy and Progress or ADP [Clement BELIBANGA]

Central African Democratic Rally or RDC [Desire Nzanga KOLINGBA]

Movement for Democracy and Development or MDD [Louis PAPENIAH]

Movement for the Liberation of the Central African People or MLPC [Martin ZIGUELE]

National Convergence (also known as Kwa Na Kwa) or KNK [Francois BOZIZE]

New Alliance for Progress or NAP [Jean-Jacques DEMAFOUTH]

Social Democratic Party or PSD [Enoch LAKOUE]

International organization participation


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

National symbol(s)

elephant; national colors: blue, white, green, yellow, red

National anthem

name: "Le Renaissance" (The Renaissance)

lyrics/music: Barthelemy BOGANDA/Herbert PEPPER

note: adopted 1960; Barthelemy BOGANDA wrote the anthem's lyrics and was the first prime minister of the autonomous French territory


Economy - overview

Subsistence agriculture, together with forestry and mining, 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 and diamonds account for most export earnings, followed by cotton. Important constraints to economic development include the CAR's landlocked geography, 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.

Since 2009 the IMF has worked closely with the government to institute reforms that have resulted in some improvement in budget transparency, but other problems remain. The government's additional spending in the run-up to the election in 2011 worsened CAR's fiscal situation. In 2012, the World Bank approved $125 million in funding for transport infrastructure and regional trade, focused on the route between CAR's capital and the port of Douala in Cameroon. After a two-year lag in donor support, the IMF's first review of CAR's extended credit facility for 2012-15 praised improvements in revenue collection but warned of weak management of spending.

Kimberley Process participants partially lifted the ban on diamond exports from the country in 2015, but persistent insecurity will prevent GDP from recovering to its pre-2013 level.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 188/230

$3.052 billion (2015 est.)

$2.893 billion (2014 est.)

$2.864 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$1.624 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 32/225

5.5% (2015 est.)

1% (2014 est.)

-36% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 227/230

$600 (2015 est.)

$600 (2014 est.)

$600 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 169/179

2.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

4.1% of GDP (2014 est.)

5.7% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 107.3%

government consumption: 8.2%

investment in fixed capital: 13.7%

investment in inventories: 0%

exports of goods and services: 11.3%

imports of goods and services: -40.5%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 58.3%

industry: 11.9%

services: 29.9% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

cotton, coffee, tobacco, cassava (manioc, tapioca), yams, millet, corn, bananas; timber


gold and diamond mining, logging, brewing, sugar refining

Industrial production growth rate 56/202

4% (2015 est.)

Labor force 117/233

2.306 million (2015 est.)

Unemployment rate 91/207

8% (2001 est.)

note: 23% unemployment in the capital, 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 5/144

61.3 (1993)


revenues: $212 million

expenditures: $253.4 million (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 204/219

13.1% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 93/220

-2.6% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 196/226

8% (2015 est.)

15% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 87/156

4.25% (31 December 2009)

4.75% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 35/184

15.5% (31 December 2015 est.)

15% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 173/192

$322.4 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$376.7 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 185/193

$410.4 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$454.7 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 175/191

$428.2 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$457.8 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance 79/197

-$192 million (2015 est.)

-$105 million (2014 est.)

Exports 189/224

$172.8 million (2015 est.)

$150.3 million (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

diamonds, timber, cotton, coffee

Exports - partners

China 29.2%, Indonesia 15.1%, Democratic Republic of the Congo 15%, Norway 7%, Morocco 5.9%, Saudi Arabia 4.4%, France 4% (2014)

Imports 201/223

$264.9 million (2015 est.)

$279.1 million (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

food, textiles, petroleum products, machinery, electrical equipment, motor vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals

Imports - partners

Norway 14%, France 7.7%, US 7.6% (2014)

Debt - external 175/206

$630.1 million (31 December 2014 est.)

$574.4 million (31 December 2013 est.)

Exchange rates

Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale francs (XAF) per US dollar -

580.5 (2015 est.)

494.42 (2014 est.)

494.42 (2013 est.)

510.53 (2012 est.)

471.87 (2011 est.)


Electricity - production 188/220

181 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 191/219

168.3 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 126/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 136/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 191/214

44,000 kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 162/214

43.2% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 73/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 39/214

56.8% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 171/212

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 121/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 112/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 177/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 120/215

0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 170/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 186/212

2,300 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 170/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 181/213

2,318 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 174/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 133/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 83/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 183/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 127/212

0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 184/212

435,000 Mt (2012 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines 216/219

total subscriptions: 800

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 155/217

total: 1.5 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 28 (2014 est.)

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) (2011)

Broadcast media

government-owned network, Radiodiffusion Television Centrafricaine, provides domestic TV broadcasting; licenses for 2 private TV stations are pending; state-owned radio network is supplemented by a small number of privately owned broadcast stations as well as a few community radio stations; transmissions of at least 2 international broadcasters are available (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 1, FM 5, shortwave 1 (2001)

Television broadcast stations

1 (2001)

Internet country code


Internet hosts 221/232

20 (2012)

Internet users 157/217

total: 181,000

percent of population: 3.4% (2014 est.)


Airports 106/236

39 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 37

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 11

914 to 1,523 m: 19

under 914 m: 6 (2013)

Roadways 107/223

total: 20,278 km

paved: 1,385 km

unpaved: 18,893 km (2010)

Waterways 34/107

2,800 km (the primary navigable river is the Ubangi, which joins the River Congo; it was the traditional route for the export of products because it connected with the Congo-Ocean railway at Brazzaville; because of the warfare on both sides of the River Congo from 1997, importers and exporters preferred routes through Cameroon) (2011)

Ports and terminals

river port(s): Bangui (Oubangui); Nola (Sangha)

Military and Security

Military branches

Central African Armed Forces (Forces Armees Centrafricaines, FACA): Ground Forces (includes Military Air Service), General Directorate of Gendarmerie Inspection (DGIG), National Police (2011)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for selective military service; 2-year conscript service obligation (2012)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

periodic skirmishes persist over water and grazing rights among related pastoral populations along the border with southern Sudan

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 5,342 (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (2015)

IDPs: 452,000 (clashes between army and rebel groups since 2005; tensions between ethnic groups) (2016)