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CIA Seal  World Factbook Seal Central African Republic
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 - a civilian government was installed in 1993.
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
water: 0 sq km
land: 622,984 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)
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: 0.14%
other: 96.76% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
NA sq km
Natural hazards:
hot, dry, dusty harmattan winds affect northern areas; floods are common
Environment - current issues:
tap water is not potable; poaching has diminished its reputation as one of the last great wildlife refuges; desertification; deforestation
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 94
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography - note:
landlocked; almost the precise center of Africa
People Central African Republic
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 and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 43% (male 788,417; female 776,721)
15-64 years: 53.2% (male 951,908; female 986,947)
65 years and over: 3.8% (male 60,395; female 78,351) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.8% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
36.6 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
18.62 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
103.81 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 43.58 years
female: 45.13 years (2002 est.)
male: 42.08 years
Total fertility rate:
4.77 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
13.84% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
240,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
23,000 (1999 est.)
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: 60%
male: 68.5%
female: 52.4% (1995 est.)
Government Central African Republic
Country name:
conventional long form: Central African Republic
conventional short form: none
local short form: none
former: Ubangi-Shari, Central African Empire
local long form: Republique Centrafricaine
abbreviation: CAR
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
14 prefectures (prefectures, singular - prefecture), 2 economic prefectures* (prefectures economiques, singular - prefecture economique), and 1 commune**; Bamingui-Bangoran, Bangui**, Basse-Kotto, Gribingui*, Haute-Kotto, Haute-Sangha, Haut-Mbomou, Kemo-Gribingui, Lobaye, Mbomou, Nana-Mambere, Ombella-Mpoko, Ouaka, Ouham, Ouham-Pende, Sangha*, Vakaga
13 August 1960 (from France)
National holiday:
Republic Day, 1 December (1958)
passed by referendum 29 December 1994; adopted 7 January 1995
Legal system:
based on French law
21 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Ange-Felix PATASSE (since 22 October 1993)
head of government: Prime Minister Martin ZIGUELE (since 1 April 2001)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term; election last held 19 September 1999 (next to be held NA September 2005); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Ange-Felix PATASSE reelected president; percent of vote - Ange-Felix PATASSE 51.63%, Andre KOLINGBA 19.38%, David DACKO 11.15%
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (109 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms; note - there were 85 seats in the National Assembly before the 1998 election)
elections: last held 22-23 November and 13 December 1998 (next to be held NA 2003)
election results: percent of vote by party - MLPC 43%, RDC 18%, MDD 9%, FPP 6%, PSD 5%, ADP 4%, PUN 3%, FODEM 2%, PLD 2%, UPR 1%, FC 1%, independents 6%; seats by party - MLPC 47, RDC 20, MDD 8, FPP 7, PSD 6, ADP 5, PUN 3, FODEM 2, PLD 2, UPR 1, FC 1, independents 7
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Cour Supreme; Constitutional Court (3 judges appointed by the president, 3 by the president of the National Assembly, and 3 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 Assembly 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]; Movement for Democracy and Development or MDD [David DACKO]; Movement for the Liberation of the Central African People or MLPC [the party of the president, Ange-Felix PATASSE]; Patriotic Front for Progress or FPP [Abel GOUMBA]; People's Union for the Republic or UPR [Pierre Sammy MAKFOY]; National Unity Party or PUN [Jean-Paul NGOUPANDE]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [Enoch LAKOUE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Emmanuel TOUABOY
FAX: [1] (202) 332-9893
telephone: [1] (202) 483-7800
chancery: 1618 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Mattie R. SHARPLESS
embassy: Avenue David Dacko, Bangui
mailing address: B. P. 924, Bangui
telephone: [236] 61 02 00
FAX: [236] 61 44 94
Flag description:
four equal horizontal bands of blue (top), white, green, and yellow with a vertical red band in center; there is a yellow five-pointed star on the hoist side of the blue band
Economy Central African Republic
Economy - overview:
Subsistence agriculture, together with forestry, remains the backbone of the economy of the Central African Republic (CAR), with more than 70% of the population living in outlying areas. The agricultural sector generates half of GDP. Timber has accounted for about 16% of export earnings and the diamond industry for 54%. 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. The 50% devaluation of the currencies of 14 Francophone African nations on 12 January 1994 had mixed effects on the CAR's economy. Diamond, timber, coffee, and cotton exports increased, leading an estimated rise of GDP of 7% in 1994 and nearly 5% in 1995. Military rebellions and social unrest in 1996 were accompanied by widespread destruction of property and a drop in GDP of 2%. The IMF approved an Extended Structure Adjustment Facility in 1998 and the World Bank extended further credits in 1999 and approved a $10 million loan in early 2001. As of January 2002, many civil servants were owed as much as 16 months pay during the PATASSE administration, as well as 14 months pay from the KOLINGBA administration.
purchasing power parity - $4.6 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1.8% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $1,300 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 55%
industry: 20%
services: 25% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1%
highest 10%: 48% (1993) (1993)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
61 (1993)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3.6% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
Unemployment rate:
8% (23% for Bangui) (2001 est.)
revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA
diamond mining, sawmills, breweries, textiles, footwear, assembly of bicycles and motorcycles
Industrial production growth rate:
3.9% (2001)
Electricity - production:
104 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 20%
hydro: 80%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
96.72 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
cotton, coffee, tobacco, manioc (tapioca), yams, millet, corn, bananas; timber
$166 million f.o.b. (2000)
Exports - commodities:
diamonds, timber, cotton, coffee, tobacco
Exports - partners:
Benelux 64%, Cote d'Ivoire, Spain, China, Egypt, France (1999)
$154 million f.o.b. (2000)
Imports - commodities:
food, textiles, petroleum products, machinery, electrical equipment, motor vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, industrial products
Imports - partners:
France 35%, Cameroon 13%, Benelux, Cote d'Ivoire, Germany, Japan (1999)
Debt - external:
$881.4 million (2000 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$172.2 million (1995); note - traditional budget subsidies from France (1995)
Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF); note - responsible authority is the Bank of the Central African States
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XAF) per US dollar - 742.79 (January 2002), 733.04 (2001), 711.98 (2000), 615.70 (1999), 589.95 (1998), 583.67 (1997); note - from 1 January 1999, the XAF is pegged to the euro at a rate of 655.957 XAF per euro
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Central African Republic
Telephones - main lines in use:
9,500 (2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
710 (1998)
Telephone system:
general assessment: fair system
domestic: network consists principally of microwave radio relay and low-capacity, low-powered radiotelephone communication
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 5, shortwave 1 (2002)
283,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (2001)
18,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2002)
Internet users:
2,000 (2002)
Transportation Central African Republic
0 km
total: 23,810 km
paved: 429 km
unpaved: 23,381 km (2000)
900 km
note: traditional trade carried on by means of shallow-draft dugouts; Oubangui is the most important river, navigable all year to craft drawing 0.6 m or less; 282 km navigable to craft drawing as much as 1.8 m
Ports and harbors:
Bangui, Nola, Salo, Nzinga
51 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 47
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 10
914 to 1,523 m: 23
under 914 m: 13 (2002)
Military Central African Republic
Military branches:
Central African Armed Forces (FACA) (including Republican Guard, Ground Forces, Naval Forces, and Air Force), Presidential Security Guard, Gendarmerie, National Police
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 845,182 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 442,220 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$29 million (FY96)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2.2% (FY96)
Transnational Issues Central African Republic
Disputes - international:

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003