[Country map of Central African Republic]

Central African Republic


Location: Central Africa, north of Zaire

Map references: Africa

total area: 622,980 sq km
land area: 622,980 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than Texas

Land boundaries: total 5,203 km, Cameroon 797 km, Chad 1,197 km, Congo 467 km, Sudan 1,165 km, Zaire 1,577 km

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims: none; landlocked

International disputes: none

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

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

Natural resources: diamonds, uranium, timber, gold, oil

Land use:
arable land: 3%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 5%
forest and woodland: 64%
other: 28%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

current issues: tap water is not potable; poaching has diminished reputation as one of last great wildlife refuges; desertification
natural hazards: hot, dry, dusty harmattan winds affect northern areas; floods are common
international agreements: party to - Endangered Species, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection; signed, but not ratified - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Law of the Sea

Note: landlocked; almost the precise center of Africa


Population: 3,209,759 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 43% (female 690,290; male 694,153)
15-64 years: 53% (female 886,421; male 825,268)
65 years and over: 4% (female 64,846; male 48,781) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.1% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 41.84 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 20.89 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 135.6 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 42.15 years
male: 40.68 years
female: 43.67 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 5.37 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Central African(s)
adjective: Central African

Ethnic divisions: Baya 34%, Banda 27%, Sara 10%, Mandjia 21%, Mboum 4%, M'Baka 4%, Europeans 6,500 (including 3,600 French)

Religions: indigenous beliefs 24%, Protestant 25%, Roman Catholic 25%, Muslim 15%, other 11%
note: animistic beliefs and practices strongly influence the Christian majority

Languages: French (official), Sangho (lingua franca and national language), Arabic, Hunsa, Swahili

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1990 est.)
total population: 38%
male: 52%
female: 25%

Labor force: 775,413 (1986 est.)
by occupation: agriculture 85%, commerce and services 9%, industry 3%, government 3%
note: about 64,000 salaried workers (1985)


conventional long form: Central African Republic
conventional short form: none
local long form: Republique Centrafricaine
local short form: none
former: Central African Empire

Abbreviation: CAR

Digraph: CT

Type: republic;

Capital: Bangui

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

Independence: 13 August 1960 (from France)

National holiday: National Day, 1 December (1958) (proclamation of the republic)

Constitution: 21 November 1986

Legal system: based on French law

Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Ange PATASSE (since 22 October 1993); election last held 19 September 1993 (next scheduled for 1998); PATASSE received 52.45% of the votes and Abel GOUMBA received 45.62%
head of government: Prime Minister (vacant) (Dr. Jean-Luc MANDABA resigned on 11 April 1995)
cabinet: Council of Ministers; appointed by the president

Legislative branch: unicameral
National Assembly (Assemblee Nationale): elections last held 19 September 1993; results - percentage vote by party NA; seats - (85 total) MLPC 33, RDC 14, PLD 7, ADP 6, PSD 3, others 22
note: the National Assembly is advised by the Economic and Regional Council (Conseil Economique et Regional); when they sit together they are called the Congress (Congres)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Cour Supreme)

Political parties and leaders: Movement for the Liberation of the Central African People (MLPC), the party of the new president, Ange Felix PATASSE; Movement for Democracy and Development (MDD), David DACKO; Marginal Movement for Democracy, Renaissance and Evolution (MDREC), Joseph BENDOUNGA; Central African Democratic Assembly (RDC), Andre KOLINGBA; Patriotic Front for Progress (FFP), Abel GOUMBA; Civic Forum (FC), Gen. Timothee MALENDOMA


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Henri KOBA (appointed 19 September 1994)
chancery: 1618 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 483-7800, 7801
FAX: [1] (202) 332-9893

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Robert E. GRIBBIN III
embassy: Avenue David Dacko, Bangui
mailing address: B. P. 924, Bangui
telephone: [236] 61 02 00, 61 25 78, 61 02 10
FAX: [236] 61 44 94

Flag: 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


Overview: Subsistence agriculture, together with forestry, remains the backbone of the CAR economy, with more than 70% of the population living in outlying areas. The agricultural sector generates about half of GDP. Timber has accounted for about 26% 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. A major plus is the large forest reserves, which the government is moving to protect from overexploitation. The 50% devaluation of the currencies of 14 Francophone African nations on 12 January 1994 had mixed effects on CAR's economy. While diamond, timber, coffee, and cotton exports increased - leading GDP to increase by 5.5% - inflation rose to 40%, fueled by the rising prices of imports on which the economy depends. CAR's poor resource base and primitive infrastructure will keep it dependent on multilateral donors and France for the foreseeable future.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $2.2 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 5.5% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $700 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 40% (1994 est.)

Unemployment rate: 30% (1988 est.) in Bangui

revenues: $175 million
expenditures: $312 million, including capital expenditures of $122 million (1991 est.)

Exports: $123.5 million (f.o.b., 1992)
commodities: diamonds, timber, cotton, coffee, tobacco
partners: France, Belgium, Italy, Japan, US

Imports: $165.1 million (f.o.b., 1992)
commodities: food, textiles, petroleum products, machinery, electrical equipment, motor vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, industrial products
partners: France, other EC countries, Japan, Algeria

External debt: $859 million (1991)

Industrial production: growth rate 4% (1990 est.); accounts for 14% of GDP

capacity: 40,000 kW
production: 100 million kWh
consumption per capita: 29 kWh (1993)

Industries: diamond mining, sawmills, breweries, textiles, footwear, assembly of bicycles and motorcycles

Agriculture: self-sufficient in food production except for grain; commercial crops - cotton, coffee, tobacco, timber; food crops - manioc, yams, millet, corn, bananas

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-90), $52 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-90), $1.6 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $6 million; Communist countries (1970-89), $38 million

Currency: 1 CFA franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (CFAF) per US$1 - 529.43 (January 1995), 555.20 (1994), 283.16 (1993), 264.69 (1992), 282.11 (1991), 272.26 (1990)
note: beginning 12 January 1994, the CFA franc was devalued to CFAF 100 per French franc from CFAF 50 at which it had been fixed since 1948

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 0 km

total: 22,000 km
paved: bituminous 458 km
unpaved: improved earth 10,542 km; unimproved earth 11,000 km

Inland waterways: 800 km; traditional trade carried on by means of shallow-draft dugouts; Oubangui is the most important river

Ports: Bangui, Nola

total: 61
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
with paved runways under 914 m: 19
with unpaved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 9
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 29


Telephone system: NA telephones; system is only fair
local: NA
intercity: network consists principally of micowave radio relay and low capacity, low powered radio communication
international: 1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth station

broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 1
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Central African Army (includes Republican Guard), Air Force, National Gendarmerie, Police Force

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 718,487; males fit for military service 375,950 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $30 million, 2.3% of GDP (1994)