OFFICIAL NAME: Central African Republic
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Multiparty Republic
AREA: 622,984 Sq Km (240,535 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 3,518,400
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: The Central African Republic is
a landlocked country located in Central Africa. It is bound
by Chad to the north, Sudan to the northeast, Democratic
Republic of the Congo (Zaire) and Congo to the south and
Cameroon to the west. The country consists of a plateau
between the Chad and Congo River Basins while the Bongo
Massif in the northeast, the Yade Massif in the northwest
and the Fertit Hills are the most prominent features of
the landscape. The vegetation varies from tropical rain
forests in the extreme southwest to semi-desert in the northeastern
tip of the country while most of the land area is wooded.
The country is drained by two river systems, the Chari River
flowing north into the Chad River Basin and the Ubangi River
flowing south into the Congo River Basin. Major Cities (pop.
est.); Bangui 451,700, Bambari 41,900, Bouar 39,700, Berberati
38,600, Bossangoa 31,500 (1988). Land Use; forested 75%,
pastures 5%, agricultural-cultivated 3%, other 17% (1993).
CLIMATE: The Central African Republic has a tropical climate,
although in the western highlands the conditions can be quite cool. There
are two alternating wet seasons, one from May to June and the other from
October to November as well as two dry seasons, one from November to May
and the other from June to October. In the north the average annual precipitation
varies between 875 and 1,000 mm (34 and 39 inches) to between 1,500 and
2,000 mm (59 to 79 inches) in the south. In summer the country is subject
to the Harmattan, a hot dry dust laden wind that blows from the Sahara
Desert. Average annual temperature ranges in Bangui are from 21 to 29 degrees
Celsius (70 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit) in July or August to 21 to 34 degrees
Celsius (70 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit) in February.
PEOPLE: The Central African Republic has over 80 ethnic groups,
of which the major ethnic group are the Baya who account for 34% of the
population followed by the Banda who account for 25%, the Sara for 7%,
the Nabandi for 11%, the Azande for 10% and the Mbaka for 5%. A small European
community also exists, of which the majority are French or Portuguese descendants.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 5 persons per sq km (12
persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 33.2% urban, 66.8% rural (1987).
Sex Distribution; 48.4% male, 51.6% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth;
46.0 years male, 51.0 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 45% under 15,
25% 15 to 29, 15% 30 to 44, 9% 45 to 59, 5% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1990).
Birth Rate; 45.5 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 17.8 per 1,000 (1990). Increase
Rate; 27.7 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 132.0 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians which account for 83% of the population,
of which 33% are Roman Catholic and 50% are Protestant. Around 12% of the
population follow local native tribal beliefs and 3% are Muslims.
LANGUAGES: The official language is French and Sangho or Sango,
which is used for commerce and intertribal communication.
EDUCATION: Aged 15 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
73.5%, primary 22.8%, lower secondary 3.0%, upper secondary 0.6%, higher
0.1% (1975). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 37.7% (1990).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: During 1946 Oubangui-Chari became
an overseas territory of France. In Dec. 1958 the country was granted internal
self-government, although it was still in the French Community and the
country's name was changed to the Central African Republic (CAR). On Aug.
13, 1960 CAR gained complete independence with David Dacko as its first
President. In 1966 Col. Jean Bedel Bokassa, Dacko's cousin, seized power.
In Dec. 1977 Bokassa made himself Emperor and his rule was extravagant
as well as brutal with Amnesty International revealing he had participated
in the massacre of 80 school children. The country's name was changed to
the Central African Empire. In Sept. 1979 Bokassa was ousted by a coup
that was supported by French paratroopers and resulted in the restoration
of the republic. In 1981 the country's name was changed back to CAR and
in the same year the military led by Gen. Andre Kolingba overthrew Dacko
once more, taking control of the government. The new military government
banned all political parties and in 1986 Bokassa returned to CAR from exile
in France. In 1987 Bokassa was convicted of embezzlement and being an accomplice
to several murders. He was sentenced to death, although his sentence was
later commuted to life imprisonment. On July 31, 1987 the first legislative
elections were held. In May 1989 diplomatic relations were broken off with
Sudan after they refused airspace for a trip to Israel, although relations
were restored again in mid-1990. In July 1990 a decree gave the nations
10,000 pygmies full citizenship. In Apr. 1991 Pres. Kolingba was forced
as a result of political unrest to announce moves towards a multiparty
democracy. In June 1991 there were violent clashes between students and
police which resulted in further demonstrations and violence as well as
the mass arrest of senior trade union leaders. In Aug. 1991 three opposition
parties were legalized in an attempt to counter the growing unrest while
six others were recognized. In Sept. 1991, Pres. Kolingba announced an
amnesty which resulted in the release from prison of the trade union detainees.
In 1992 Pres. Kolingba resisted demands for a National Conference to be
convened, instead authorizing only broad "national debate". In
July 1992 the EU agreed to a further CFAC 35 billion three-year aid program.
On Aug. 1, 1992 the debate officially convened, although it was boycotted
by apposition parties, the Roman Catholic church and trade union officials.
On the same day, the leader of the opposition Alliance for Democracy and
Progress, Jean-Claude Congugo, was killed in violent clashes between pro-democracy
protesters and security forces in Bangui. On Aug. 3, 1992 anti-government
leaders declared the day a "dead cities day" shutting down the
capital in response to Congugo death. On Nov. 29, 1992 Pres. Kolingba announced
that legislative and presidential elections would be held in Feb. 1993.
On Aug. 22, 1993 Pres. Kolingbe was defeated by his former prime minister
Ange-Felix Patasse in presidential elections. Following the electional
defeat, Kolingbe attempted to invalidate the results by announcing laws
changing both the electoral code and the membership to the Supreme Court,
however, following opposition protests and France's decision to immediately
withdraw aid Pres. Kolingbe withdrew his decrees. On Sept. 1, 1993 the
12th anniversary of Kolingbe's rule, he decreed a total amnesty for all
prisoners, which was widely seen as a retaliative move for his electoral
defeat. During 1993 economic woes continued while the government virtually
ceased as unpaid civil servants went on prolonged strikes. Students and
army members also held various protests during the year.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the CFA Franc (Communaute
Financiere Africaine-CFAF) divided into 100 Centimes.
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $1,267,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $797,200,000 (1993). Imports; CFAF 76,100,000,000 (1994). Exports;
CFAF 85,300,000,000 (1994). Tourism Receipts; USD $8,000,000 (1991). Balance
of Trade; CFAF 9,300,000,000 (1994). Economically Active Population; 1,450,000
or 45.7% of total population (1992). Unemployed; 7.5% (1988).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are France,
Germany, the USA, the UK, Israel, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bananas, Cassava, Coffee, Cotton, Diamonds,
Gold, Ground Nuts, Livestock, Maize, Millet, Plantains, Sweet Potatoes,
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Beverages, Footwear, Forestry, Mining,
MAIN EXPORTS: Coffee, Cotton, Diamonds, Gold, Timber.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 22,500 km (13,981 mi)
(1989). Vehicles; cars 10,782 (1989), trucks and buses 8,051 (1989). Merchant
Marine; nil. Air Transport; passenger-km 344,698,000 (214,185,000 passenger-mi)
(1988), cargo ton-km 35,223,000 (24,124,000 short ton-mi) (1988).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 1 with a circulation
of 2,000 (1990). Radio; receivers 180,000 (1994). Television; receivers
7,500 (1994). Telephones; units 6,800 (1993).
MILITARY: 2,650 (1995) total active duty personnel with 94.3%
army, 0.0% navy and 5.7% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 2.1% (1992) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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