Central African Republic

Coordinates: 7°N 21°E / 7°N 21°E

Central African Republic

  • Ködörösêse tî Bêafrîka  (Sango)
  • République centrafricaine  (French)
Motto: "Unité, Dignité, Travail" (French)
"Unity, Dignity, Work"
Anthem: E Zingo  (Sango)
La Renaissance  (French)
"The Renaissance"
Location of Central African Republic (dark blue) – in Africa (light blue & dark grey) – in the African Union (light blue)
Location of Central African Republic (dark blue)

– in Africa (light blue & dark grey)
– in the African Union (light blue)

Location of the Central African Republic
Capital
and largest city
Bangui
4°22′N 18°35′E / 4.367°N 18.583°E
Official languagesFrench
Sango
Ethnic groups
Religion
Predominantly Christianity
Demonym(s)Central African
GovernmentUnitary semi-presidential constitutional republic
• President
Faustin-Archange Touadéra
Firmin Ngrébada
LegislatureNational Assembly
Independence
• from France
13 August 1960
• Central African Empire established
4 December 1976
• Republic restored
21 September 1979
Area
• Total
622,984 km2 (240,535 sq mi) (44th)
• Water (%)
150
Population
• 2016 estimate
4,594,621[1] (119th)
• 2003 census
4,987,640[2]
• Density
7.1/km2 (18.4/sq mi) (221st)
GDP (PPP)2017 estimate
• Total
$3.454 billion[3]
• Per capita
$693[3]
GDP (nominal)2017 estimate
• Total
$2.003 billion[3]
• Per capita
$401[3]
Gini (2008)56.3[4]
high · 28th
HDI (2017)Increase 0.367[5]
low · 188th
CurrencyCentral African CFA franc (XAF)
Time zoneUTC+1 (WAT)
Driving sideright[6]
Calling code+236
ISO 3166 codeCF
Internet TLD.cf

The Central African Republic (CAR; Sango: Ködörösêse tî Bêafrîka; French: République centrafricaine  pronounced [ʁepyblik sɑ̃tʁafʁikɛn], or Centrafrique [sɑ̃tʁafʁik]) is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Chad to the north, Sudan to the northeast, South Sudan to the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south, the Republic of the Congo to the southwest and Cameroon to the west. The CAR covers a land area of about 620,000 square kilometres (240,000 sq mi) and had an estimated population of around 4.6 million as of 2016. Currently, the C.A.R. is the scene of a civil war, ongoing since 2012.

Most of the CAR consists of Sudano-Guinean savannas, but the country also includes a Sahelo-Sudanian zone in the north and an equatorial forest zone in the south. Two thirds of the country is within the Ubangi River basin (which flows into the Congo), while the remaining third lies in the basin of the Chari, which flows into Lake Chad.

What is today the Central African Republic has been inhabited for millennia; however, the country's current borders were established by France, which ruled the country as a colony starting in the late 19th century. After gaining independence from France in 1960, the Central African Republic was ruled by a series of autocratic leaders, including an abortive attempt at a monarchy;[7] by the 1990s, calls for democracy led to the first multi-party democratic elections in 1993. Ange-Félix Patassé became president, but was later removed by General François Bozizé in the 2003 coup. The Central African Republic Bush War began in 2004 and, despite a peace treaty in 2007 and another in 2011, civil war resumed in 2012, still ongoing.

Despite its significant mineral deposits and other resources, such as uranium reserves, crude oil, gold, diamonds, cobalt, lumber, and hydropower,[8] as well as significant quantities of arable land, the Central African Republic is among the ten poorest countries in the world, with the lowest GDP per capita at purchasing power parity in the world as of 2017.[9] As of 2015, according to the Human Development Index (HDI), the country had the lowest level of human development, ranking 188th out of 188 countries.[5] It is also estimated to be the unhealthiest country[10] as well as the worst country in which to be young.[11] The Central African Republic is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie and the Non-Aligned Movement.

History

Bouar Megaliths stamp
The Bouar Megaliths, pictured here on a 1967 Central African stamp, date back to the very late Neolithic Era (c. 3500–2700 BC).

Early history

Approximately 10,000 years ago, desertification forced hunter-gatherer societies south into the Sahel regions of northern Central Africa, where some groups settled.[12] Farming began as part of the Neolithic Revolution.[13] Initial farming of white yam progressed into millet and sorghum, and before 3000 BC[14] the domestication of African oil palm improved the groups' nutrition and allowed for expansion of the local populations.[15] This Agricultural Revolution, combined with a "Fish-stew Revolution", in which fishing began to take place, and the use of boats, allowed for the transportation of goods. Products were often moved in ceramic pots, which are the first known examples of artistic expression from the region's inhabitants.[12]

The Bouar Megaliths in the western region of the country indicate an advanced level of habitation dating back to the very late Neolithic Era (c. 3500–2700 BC).[16][17] Ironworking arrived in the region around 1000 BC from both Bantu cultures in what is today Nigeria and from the Nile city of Meroë, the capital of the Kingdom of Kush.[18]

During the Bantu Migrations from about 1000 BC to AD 1000, Ubangian-speaking people spread eastward from Cameroon to Sudan, Bantu-speaking people settled in the southwestern regions of the CAR, and Central Sudanic-speaking people settled along the Ubangi River in what is today Central and East CAR.

Bananas arrived in the region and added an important source of carbohydrates to the diet; they were also used in the production of alcoholic beverages. Production of copper, salt, dried fish, and textiles dominated the economic trade in the Central African region.[19]

16th–19th century

Sultan and his wives at Bangassou, 1906
The Sultan of Bangassou and his wives, 1906

During the 16th and 17th centuries slave traders began to raid the region as part of the expansion of the Saharan and Nile River slave routes. Their captives were enslaved and shipped to the Mediterranean coast, Europe, Arabia, the Western Hemisphere, or to the slave ports and factories along the West and North Africa or South the Ubanqui and Congo rivers.[20][21] In the mid 19th century, the Bobangi people became major slave traders and sold their captives to the Americas using the Ubangi river to reach the coast.[22] During the 18th century Bandia-Nzakara peoples established the Bangassou Kingdom along the Ubangi River.[21] In 1875, the Sudanese sultan Rabih az-Zubayr governed Upper-Oubangui, which included present-day CAR.

French colonial period

The European invasion of Central African territory began in the late 19th century during the Scramble for Africa.[23] Europeans, primarily the French, Germans, and Belgians, arrived in the area in 1885. France seized and colonized Ubangi-Shari territory in 1894. In 1911 at the Treaty of Fez, France ceded a nearly 300,000 km² portion of the Sangha and Lobaye basins to the German Empire which ceded a smaller area (in present-day Chad) to France. After World War I France again annexed the territory. Modeled on King Leopold's Congo Free State, concessions were doled out to private companies that endeavored to strip the region's assets as quickly and cheaply as possible before depositing a percentage of their profits into the French treasury. The concessionary companies forced local people to harvest rubber, coffee, and other commodities without pay and held their families hostage until they met their quotas. Between 1890, a year after the French first arrived, and 1940, the population declined by half due to diseases, famine and exploitation by private companies.[24]

De Gaulle Bangui 1940
Charles de Gaulle in Bangui, 1940.

In 1920 French Equatorial Africa was established and Ubangi-Shari was administered from Brazzaville.[25] During the 1920s and 1930s the French introduced a policy of mandatory cotton cultivation,[25] a network of roads was built, attempts were made to combat sleeping sickness, and Protestant missions were established to spread Christianity. New forms of forced labor were also introduced and a large number of Ubangians were sent to work on the Congo-Ocean Railway. Through the period of construction until 1934 there was a continual heavy cost in human lives, with total deaths among all workers along the railway estimated in excess of 17,000 of the construction workers, from a combination of both industrial accidents and diseases including malaria.[26] In 1928, a major insurrection, the Kongo-Wara rebellion or 'war of the hoe handle', broke out in Western Ubangi-Shari and continued for several years. The extent of this insurrection, which was perhaps the largest anti-colonial rebellion in Africa during the interwar years, was carefully hidden from the French public because it provided evidence of strong opposition to French colonial rule and forced labor.

In September 1940, during the Second World War, pro-Gaullist French officers took control of Ubangi-Shari and General Leclerc established his headquarters for the Free French Forces in Bangui.[27] In 1946 Barthélémy Boganda was elected with 9,000 votes to the French National Assembly, becoming the first representative of the CAR in the French government. Boganda maintained a political stance against racism and the colonial regime but gradually became disheartened with the French political system and returned to CAR to establish the Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa (Mouvement pour l'évolution sociale de l'Afrique noire, MESAN) in 1950.

Since independence (1960–present)

In the Ubangi-Shari Territorial Assembly election in 1957, MESAN captured 347,000 out of the total 356,000 votes,[28] and won every legislative seat,[29] which led to Boganda being elected president of the Grand Council of French Equatorial Africa and vice-president of the Ubangi-Shari Government Council.[30] Within a year, he declared the establishment of the Central African Republic and served as the country's first prime minister. MESAN continued to exist, but its role was limited.[31] After Boganda's death in a plane crash on 29 March 1959, his cousin, David Dacko, took control of MESAN and became the country's first president after the CAR had formally received independence from France. Dacko threw out his political rivals, including former Prime Minister and Mouvement d'évolution démocratique de l'Afrique centrale (MEDAC), leader Abel Goumba, whom he forced into exile in France. With all opposition parties suppressed by November 1962, Dacko declared MESAN as the official party of the state.[32]

Bokassa and the Central African Empire (1965–1979)

On 31 December 1965, Dacko was overthrown in the Saint-Sylvestre coup d'état by Colonel Jean-Bédel Bokassa, who suspended the constitution and dissolved the National Assembly. President Bokassa declared himself President for Life in 1972, and named himself Emperor Bokassa I of the Central African Empire (as the country was renamed) on 4 December 1976. A year later, Emperor Bokassa crowned himself in a lavish and expensive ceremony that was ridiculed by much of the world.[7]

In April 1979, young students protested against Bokassa's decree that all school attendees would need to buy uniforms from a company owned by one of his wives. The government violently suppressed the protests, killing 100 children and teenagers. Bokassa himself may have been personally involved in some of the killings.[33] In September 1979, France overthrew Bokassa and restored Dacko to power (subsequently restoring the name of the country to the Central African Republic). Dacko, in turn, was again overthrown in a coup by General André Kolingba on 1 September 1981.

Central African Republic under Kolingba

Kolingba suspended the constitution and ruled with a military junta until 1985. He introduced a new constitution in 1986 which was adopted by a nationwide referendum. Membership in his new party, the Rassemblement Démocratique Centrafricain (RDC), was voluntary. In 1987 and 1988, semi-free elections to parliament were held, but Kolingba's two major political opponents, Abel Goumba and Ange-Félix Patassé, were not allowed to participate.[34]

By 1990, inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall, a pro-democracy movement arose. Pressure from the United States, France, and from a group of locally represented countries and agencies called GIBAFOR (France, the US, Germany, Japan, the EU, the World Bank, and the UN) finally led Kolingba to agree, in principle, to hold free elections in October 1992 with help from the UN Office of Electoral Affairs. After using the excuse of alleged irregularities to suspend the results of the elections as a pretext for holding on to power, President Kolingba came under intense pressure from GIBAFOR to establish a "Conseil National Politique Provisoire de la République" (Provisional National Political Council, CNPPR) and to set up a "Mixed Electoral Commission", which included representatives from all political parties.[34]

When a second round of elections were finally held in 1993, again with the help of the international community coordinated by GIBAFOR, Ange-Félix Patassé won in the second round of voting with 53% of the vote while Goumba won 45.6%. Patassé's party, the Mouvement pour la Libération du Peuple Centrafricain (MLPC) or Movement for the Liberation of the Central African People, gained a simple but not an absolute majority of seats in parliament, which meant Patassé's party required coalition partners.[34]

Patassé Government (1993–2003)

Patassé purged many of the Kolingba elements from the government and Kolingba supporters accused Patassé's government of conducting a "witch hunt" against the Yakoma. A new constitution was approved on 28 December 1994 but had little impact on the country's politics. In 1996–1997, reflecting steadily decreasing public confidence in the government's erratic behaviour, three mutinies against Patassé's administration were accompanied by widespread destruction of property and heightened ethnic tension. During this time (1996) the Peace Corps evacuated all its volunteers to neighboring Cameroon. To date, the Peace Corps has not returned to the Central African Republic. The Bangui Agreements, signed in January 1997, provided for the deployment of an inter-African military mission, to Central African Republic and re-entry of ex-mutineers into the government on 7 April 1997. The inter-African military mission was later replaced by a U.N. peacekeeping force (MINURCA). Since 1997, the country has hosted almost a dozen peacekeeping interventions, earning it the title of "world champion of peacekeeping".[24]

In 1998, parliamentary elections resulted in Kolingba's RDC winning 20 out of 109 seats but in 1999, in spite of widespread public anger in urban centers over his corrupt rule, Patassé won a second term in the presidential election.

On 28 May 2001, rebels stormed strategic buildings in Bangui in an unsuccessful coup attempt. The army chief of staff, Abel Abrou, and General François N'Djadder Bedaya were killed, but Patassé regained the upper hand by bringing in at least 300 troops of the Congolese rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba and Libyan soldiers.[35]

In the aftermath of the failed coup, militias loyal to Patassé sought revenge against rebels in many neighborhoods of Bangui and incited unrest including the murder of many political opponents. Eventually, Patassé came to suspect that General François Bozizé was involved in another coup attempt against him, which led Bozizé to flee with loyal troops to Chad. In March 2003, Bozizé launched a surprise attack against Patassé, who was out of the country. Libyan troops and some 1,000 soldiers of Bemba's Congolese rebel organization failed to stop the rebels and Bozizé's forces succeeded in overthrowing Patassé.[36]

Civil wars

Rebel in northern CAR 01
Rebel militia in the northern countryside, 2007.

François Bozizé suspended the constitution and named a new cabinet, which included most opposition parties. Abel Goumba was named vice-president, which gave Bozizé's new government a positive image. Bozizé established a broad-based National Transition Council to draft a new constitution, and announced that he would step down and run for office once the new constitution was approved.

In 2004, the Central African Republic Bush War began, as forces opposed to Bozizé took up arms against his government. In May 2005, Bozizé won the presidential election, which excluded Patassé, and in 2006 fighting continued between the government and the rebels. In November 2006, Bozizé's government requested French military support to help them repel rebels who had taken control of towns in the country's northern regions.[37] Though the initially public details of the agreement pertained to logistics and intelligence, the French assistance eventually included strikes by Dassault Mirage 2000 fighters against rebel positions.[38]

The Syrte Agreement in February and the Birao Peace Agreement in April 2007 called for a cessation of hostilities, the billeting of FDPC fighters and their integration with FACA, the liberation of political prisoners, integration of FDPC into government, an amnesty for the UFDR, its recognition as a political party, and the integration of its fighters into the national army. Several groups continued to fight but other groups signed on to the agreement, or similar agreements with the government (e.g. UFR on 15 December 2008). The only major group not to sign an agreement at the time was the CPJP, which continued its activities and signed a peace agreement with the government on 25 August 2012.

In 2011, Bozizé was reelected in an election which was widely considered fraudulent.[8]

In November 2012, Séléka, a coalition of rebel groups, took over towns in the northern and central regions of the country. These groups eventually reached a peace deal with the Bozizé's government in January 2013 involving a power sharing government[8] but this deal broke down and the rebels seized the capital in March 2013 and Bozizé fled the country.[39][40]

Michel Djotodia took over as president. Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye requested a UN peacekeeping force from the UN Security Council and on 31 May former President Bozizé was indicted for crimes against humanity and incitement of genocide.[41] By the end of the year there were international warnings of a "genocide"[42][43] and fighting was largely from reprisal attacks on civilians from Seleka's predominantly Muslim fighters and Christian militias called "anti-balaka."[44] By August 2013, there were reports of over 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs)[45][46]

Refugees of the fighting in the Central African Republic observe Rwandan soldiers being dropped off at Bangui M'Poko International Airport in the Central African Republic Jan. 19, 2014 140119-F-RN211-760
Refugees of the fighting in the Central African Republic, January 2014

French President François Hollande called on the UN Security Council and African Union to increase their efforts to stabilize the country. On 18 February 2014, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the UN Security Council to immediately deploy 3,000 troops to the country, bolstering the 6,000 African Union soldiers and 2,000 French troops already in the country, to combat civilians being murdered in large numbers. The Séléka government was said to be divided.[47] and in September 2013, Djotodia officially disbanded Seleka, but many rebels refused to disarm, becoming known as ex-Seleka, and veered further out of government control.[44] It is argued that the focus of the initial disarmament efforts exclusively on the Seleka inadvertently handed the anti-Balaka the upper hand, leading to the forced displacement of Muslim civilians by anti-Balaka in Bangui and western CAR.[24]

On 11 January 2014, Michael Djotodia and Nicolas Tiengaye resigned as part of a deal negotiated at a regional summit in neighboring Chad.[48] Catherine Samba-Panza was elected as interim president by the National Transitional Council,[49] becoming the first ever female Central African president. On 23 July 2014, following Congolese mediation efforts, Séléka and anti-balaka representatives signed a ceasefire agreement in Brazzaville.[50] By the end of 2014, the country was de facto partitioned with the anti-Balaka in the southwest and ex-Seleka in the northeast.[24] On 14 December 2015, Séléka rebel leaders declared an independent Republic of Logone.[51]

Geography

Republique Centrafricaine - Boali - Chutes de Boali
Falls of Boali on the Mbali River
CARvillagefromthesky
A village in the Central African Republic

The Central African Republic is a landlocked nation within the interior of the African continent. It is bordered by Cameroon, Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of the Congo. The country lies between latitudes and 11°N, and longitudes 14° and 28°E.

Much of the country consists of flat or rolling plateau savanna approximately 500 metres (1,640 ft) above sea level. Most of the northern half lies within the World Wildlife Fund's East Sudanian savanna ecoregion. In addition to the Fertit Hills in the northeast of the CAR, there are scattered hills in the southwest regions. In the northwest is the Yade Massif, a granite plateau with an altitude of 348 metres (1,143 ft).

At 622,941 square kilometres (240,519 sq mi), the Central African Republic is the world's 45th-largest country. It is comparable in size to Ukraine.

Much of the southern border is formed by tributaries of the Congo River; the Mbomou River in the east merges with the Uele River to form the Ubangi River, which also comprises portions of the southern border. The Sangha River flows through some of the western regions of the country, while the eastern border lies along the edge of the Nile River watershed.

It has been estimated that up to 8% of the country is covered by forest, with the densest parts generally located in the southern regions. The forests are highly diverse and include commercially important species of Ayous, Sapelli and Sipo.[52] The deforestation rate is about 0.4% per annum, and lumber poaching is commonplace.[53]

In 2008, Central African Republic was the world's least light pollution affected country.[54]

The Central African Republic is the focal point of the Bangui Magnetic Anomaly, one of the largest magnetic anomalies on Earth.[55]

Wildlife

In the southwest, the Dzanga-Sangha National Park is located in a rain forest area. The country is noted for its population of forest elephants and western lowland gorillas. In the north, the Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park is well-populated with wildlife, including leopards, lions, cheetahs and rhinos, and the Bamingui-Bangoran National Park is located in the northeast of CAR. The parks have been seriously affected by the activities of poachers, particularly those from Sudan, over the past two decades. [56]

Climate

Koppen-Geiger Map CAF present
Central African Republic map of Köppen climate classification.

The climate of the Central African Republic is generally tropical, with a wet season that lasts from June to September in the northern regions of the country, and from May to October in the south. During the wet season, rainstorms are an almost daily occurrence, and early morning fog is commonplace. Maximum annual precipitation is approximately 1,800 millimetres (71 in) in the upper Ubangi region.[57]

The northern areas are hot and humid from February to May,[58] but can be subject to the hot, dry, and dusty trade wind known as the Harmattan. The southern regions have a more equatorial climate, but they are subject to desertification, while the extreme northeast regions of the country are already desert.

Prefectures and sub-prefectures

BanguiSangha-MbaéréMambéré-KadéïNana-MambéréOuham-PendéOuhamOmbella-M'PokoLobayeNana-GrébiziKémoOuakaBasse-KottoBamingui-BangoranVakagaHaute-KottoMbomouHaut-Mbomou
A clickable map of the fourteen prefectures of the Central African Republic.

The Central African Republic is divided into 16 administrative prefectures (préfectures), two of which are economic prefectures (préfectures economiques), and one an autonomous commune; the prefectures are further divided into 71 sub-prefectures (sous-préfectures).

The prefectures are Bamingui-Bangoran, Basse-Kotto, Haute-Kotto, Haut-Mbomou, Kémo, Lobaye, Mambéré-Kadéï, Mbomou, Nana-Mambéré, Ombella-M'Poko, Ouaka, Ouham, Ouham-Pendé and Vakaga. The economic prefectures are Nana-Grébizi and Sangha-Mbaéré, while the commune is the capital city of Bangui.

Demographics

Group of Peul women in Paoua
Fula women in Paoua

The population of the Central African Republic has almost quadrupled since independence. In 1960, the population was 1,232,000; as of a 2016 UN estimate, it is approximately 4,594,621.[1]

The United Nations estimates that approximately 4% of the population aged between 15 and 49 is HIV positive.[59] Only 3% of the country has antiretroviral therapy available, compared to a 17% coverage in the neighbouring countries of Chad and the Republic of the Congo.[60]

The nation is divided into over 80 ethnic groups, each having its own language. The largest ethnic groups are the Baya, Banda, Mandjia, Sara, Mboum, M'Baka, Yakoma, and Fula or Fulani,[61] with others including Europeans of mostly French descent.[8]

Religion

Niem (RCA) - Eglise de brousse 1
A Christian church in the Central African Republic.

According to the 2003 national census, 80.3% of the population was Christian—51.4% Protestant and 28.9% Roman Catholic—, 10% is Muslim and 4.5 percent other religious groups, with 5.5 percent having no religious beliefs.[63] More recent work from the Pew Research Center estimated that, as of 2010, Christians constituted 89.8% of the population (with Protestantism at 60.7% and Catholicism 28.5%) while Muslims make up 8.9%.[64][65] The Catholic Church claims over 1.5 million adherents, approximately one-third of the population.[66] Indigenous belief (animism) is also practiced, and many indigenous beliefs are incorporated into Christian and Islamic practice.[67] A UN director described religious tensions between Muslims and Christians as being high.[68]

There are many missionary groups operating in the country, including Lutherans, Baptists, Catholics, Grace Brethren, and Jehovah's Witnesses. While these missionaries are predominantly from the United States, France, Italy, and Spain, many are also from Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other African countries. Large numbers of missionaries left the country when fighting broke out between rebel and government forces in 2002–3, but many of them have now returned to continue their work.[69]

According to Overseas Development Institute research, during the crisis ongoing since 2012, religious leaders have mediated between communities and armed groups; they also provided refuge for people seeking shelter.[70]

Languages

The Central African Republic's two official languages are French and Sango (also spelled Sangho), a creole developed as an inter-ethnic lingua franca based on the local Ngbandi language. CAR is one of the few African countries to have an African language as their official language.[71]

Culture

Sports

Basketball is the country's most popular sport and a good way to connect with its people.[72][73] Its national team won the African Championship twice and was the first Sub-Saharan African team to qualify for the Basketball World Cup.

The country also has a national football team, which is governed by the Central African Football Federation, and stages matches at the Barthélemy Boganda Stadium.

Government and politics

Politics in the Central African Republic formally take place in a framework of a semi-presidential republic. In this system, the President is the head of state, with a Prime Minister as head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament.

Changes in government have occurred in recent years by three methods: violence, negotiations, and elections. A new constitution was approved by voters in a referendum held on 5 December 2004. The government was rated 'Partly Free' from 1991 to 2001 and from 2004 to 2013.[74]

Executive branch

The president is elected by popular vote for a six-year term, and the prime minister is appointed by the president. The president also appoints and presides over the Council of Ministers, which initiates laws and oversees government operations. However, as of 2018 the official government is not in control of large parts of the country, which are governed by rebel groups.

Acting president since April 2016 is Faustin Archange Touadera who followed the interim government under Catherine Samba-Panza, interim prime minister André Nzapayeké.

Legislative branch

The National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) has 105 members, elected for a five-year term using the two-round (or Run-off) system.

Judicial branch

As in many other former French colonies, the Central African Republic's legal system is based on French law.[75] The Supreme Court, or Cour Supreme, is made up of judges appointed by the president. There is also a Constitutional Court, and its judges are also appointed by the president.

Foreign relations

Foreign aid and UN Involvement

The Central African Republic is heavily dependent upon foreign aid and numerous NGOs provide services that the government does not provide.

In 2006, due to ongoing violence, over 50,000 people in the country's northwest were at risk of starvation[76] but this was averted due to assistance from the United Nations. On 8 January 2008, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon declared that the Central African Republic was eligible to receive assistance from the Peacebuilding Fund.[77] Three priority areas were identified: first, the reform of the security sector; second, the promotion of good governance and the rule of law; and third, the revitalization of communities affected by conflicts. On 12 June 2008, the Central African Republic requested assistance from the UN Peacebuilding Commission,[78] which was set up in 2005 to help countries emerging from conflict avoid devolving back into war or chaos.

In response to concerns of a potential genocide, a peacekeeping force – the International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA) – was authorized in December 2013. This African Union force of 6,000 personnel was accompanied by the French Operation Sangaris.[70]

Economy

Bangui Shopping District
Bangui shopping district

The per capita income of the Republic is often listed as being approximately $400 a year, one of the lowest in the world, but this figure is based mostly on reported sales of exports and largely ignores the unregistered sale of foods, locally produced alcoholic beverages, diamonds, ivory, bushmeat, and traditional medicine.

The currency of Central African Republic is the CFA franc, which is accepted across the former countries of French West Africa and trades at a fixed rate to the euro. Diamonds constitute the country's most important export, accounting for 40–55% of export revenues, but it is estimated that between 30% and 50% of those produced each year leave the country clandestinely.

Tree map export 2009 Central African Republic.jpeg
Graphical depiction of Central African Republic's product exports in 28 color-coded categories

Agriculture is dominated by the cultivation and sale of food crops such as cassava, peanuts, maize, sorghum, millet, sesame, and plantain. The annual real GDP growth rate is just above 3%. The importance of food crops over exported cash crops is indicated by the fact that the total production of cassava, the staple food of most Central Africans, ranges between 200,000 and 300,000 tonnes a year, while the production of cotton, the principal exported cash crop, ranges from 25,000 to 45,000 tonnes a year. Food crops are not exported in large quantities, but still constitute the principal cash crops of the country, because Central Africans derive far more income from the periodic sale of surplus food crops than from exported cash crops such as cotton or coffee. Much of the country is self-sufficient in food crops; however, livestock development is hindered by the presence of the tsetse fly.

The Republic's primary import partner is the Netherlands (19.5%). Other imports come from Cameroon (9.7%), France (9.3%), and South Korea (8.7%). Its largest export partner is Belgium (31.5%), followed by China (27.7%), the Democratic Republic of Congo (8.6%), Indonesia (5.2%), and France (4.5%).[8]

The CAR is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA). In the 2009 World Bank Group's report Doing Business, it was ranked 183rd of 183 as regards 'ease of doing business', a composite index which takes into account regulations that enhance business activity and those that restrict it.[79]

Infrastructure

Transportation

Central African Republic - Trucks in Bangui
Trucks in Bangui

Bangui is the transport hub of the Central African Republic. As of 1999, eight roads connected the city to other main towns in the country, Cameroon, Chad and South Sudan; of these, only the toll roads are paved. During the rainy season from July to October, some roads are impassable.[80][81]

River ferries sail from the river port at Bangui to Brazzaville and Zongo. The river can be navigated most of the year between Bangui and Brazzaville. From Brazzaville, goods are transported by rail to Pointe-Noire, Congo's Atlantic port.[82] The river port handles the overwhelming majority of the country's international trade and has a cargo handling capacity of 350,000 tons; it has 350 metres (1,150 ft) length of wharfs and 24,000 square metres (260,000 sq ft) of warehousing space.[80]

Bangui M'Poko International Airport is Central African Republic's only international airport. As of June 2014 it had regularly scheduled direct flights to Brazzaville, Casablanca, Cotonou, Douala, Kinshasha, Lomé, Luanda, Malabo, N'Djamena, Paris, Pointe-Noire, and Yaoundé.

Since at least 2002 there have been plans to connect Bangui by rail to the Transcameroon Railway.[83]

Energy

The Central African Republic primarily uses hydroelectricity as there are few other resources for energy and power.

Communications

Presently, the Central African Republic has active television services, radio stations, internet service providers, and mobile phone carriers; Socatel is the leading provider for both internet and mobile phone access throughout the country. The primary governmental regulating bodies of telecommunications are the Ministère des Postes and Télécommunications et des Nouvelles Technologies. In addition, the Central African Republic receives international support on telecommunication related operations from ITU Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D) within the International Telecommunication Union to improve infrastructure.

Education

CAR classroom
Classroom in Sam Ouandja

Public education in the Central African Republic is free and is compulsory from ages 6 to 14.[84] However, approximately half of the adult population of the country is illiterate.[85]

Higher education

The University of Bangui, a public university located in Bangui, includes a medical school, and Euclid University, an international university in Bangui, are the two institutions of higher education in the Central African Republic.

Healthcare

Caf babies
Mothers and babies aged between 0 and 5 years are lining up in a Health Post at Begoua, a district of Bangui, waiting for the two drops of the oral polio vaccine.

The largest hospitals in the country are located in the Bangui district. As a member of the World Health Organization, the Central African Republic receives vaccination assistance, such as a 2014 intervention for the prevention of a measles epidemic.[86] In 2007, female life expectancy at birth was 48.2 years and male life expectancy at birth was 45.1 years.[87]

Women's health is poor in the Central African Republic. As of 2010, the country had the 4th highest maternal mortality rate in the world.[88] The total fertility rate in 2014 was estimated at 4.46 children born/woman.[8] Approximately 25% of women had undergone female genital mutilation.[89] Many births in the country are guided by traditional birth attendants, who often have little or no formal training.[90]

Malaria is endemic in the Central African Republic, and one of the leading causes of death.[91] According to 2009 estimates, the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is about 4.7% of the adult population (ages 15–49).[92] This is in general agreement with the 2016 United Nations estimate of approximately 4%.[93] Government expenditure on health was US$20 (PPP) per person in 2006[87] and 10.9% of total government expenditure in 2006.[87] There was only around 1 physician for every 20,000 persons in 2009.[94]

Human rights

The 2009 Human Rights Report by the United States Department of State noted that human rights in CAR were poor and expressed concerns over numerous government abuses.[95] The U.S. State Department alleged that major human rights abuses such as extrajudicial executions by security forces, torture, beatings and rape of suspects and prisoners occurred with impunity. It also alleged harsh and life-threatening conditions in prisons and detention centers, arbitrary arrest, prolonged pretrial detention and denial of a fair trial, restrictions on freedom of movement, official corruption, and restrictions on workers' rights.[95]

The State Department report also cites widespread mob violence, the prevalence of female genital mutilation, discrimination against women and Pygmies, human trafficking, forced labor, and child labor.[96] Freedom of movement is limited in the northern part of the country "because of actions by state security forces, armed bandits, and other nonstate armed entities", and due to fighting between government and anti-government forces, many persons have been internally displaced.[97]

Violence against children and women in relation to accusations of witchcraft has also been cited as a serious problem in the country.[98][99][100] Witchcraft is a criminal offense under the penal code.[98]

Freedom of speech is addressed in the country's constitution, but there have been incidents of government intimidation of the media.[95] A report by the International Research & Exchanges Board's media sustainability index noted that "the country minimally met objectives, with segments of the legal system and government opposed to a free media system".[95]

Approximately 68% of girls are married before they turn 18,[101] and the United Nations' Human Development Index ranked the country 188 out of 188 countries surveyed.[102] The Bureau of International Labor Affairs has also mentioned it in its last edition of the List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.

See also

References

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Bibliography

  • Eur (31 October 2002). Africa South of the Sahara 2003. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-85743-131-5.
  • Kalck, Pierre (2004). Historical Dictionary of the Central African Republic.
  • McKenna, Amy (2011). The History of Central and Eastern Africa. The Rosen Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1615303229.
  • Balogh, Besenyo, Miletics, Vogel: La République Centrafricaine

Further reading

  • Doeden, Matt, Central African Republic in Pictures (Twentyfirst Century Books, 2009).
  • Petringa, Maria, Brazza, A Life for Africa (2006). ISBN 978-1-4259-1198-0.
  • Titley, Brian, Dark Age: The Political Odyssey of Emperor Bokassa, 2002.
  • Woodfrok, Jacqueline, Culture and Customs of the Central African Republic (Greenwood Press, 2006).

External links

Overviews
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Other
Aka language

Aka, also known as Yaka or Beka, is a Bantu language spoken in the Central African Republic and Republic of Congo, along the Ubangi River dividing the two countries.

Aka is spoken by the Aka people, pygmies closely related to the Ubangian-speaking Baka of Cameroon, Congo and Gabon. Together, these peoples are known as the Mbenga (Bambenga) or Binga (Babinga), the latter derogatory.

Famously, Aka shares vocabulary with the Baka languages, mostly concerning a specialised forest economy, such as words for edible plants, medicinal plants and honey collecting. This is among the 30% of Aka which is not Bantu and the 30% of Baka which is not Ubangian and has been posited as the remnant of an ancestral Western Pygmy (Mbenga or "Baaka") language which has otherwise vanished. However, it is entirely possible that the Aka shifted to Bantu from a Ubangian language related to Baka, in which case the situation reduces to a single ethnic group adapted to the forest with correspondingly specialised vocabulary. There is no evidence for a wider linguistic affiliation with any of the other Pygmy peoples.The Aka people call themselves Mraka in the singular and Beka in the plural. The people and their language go by various alternate spellings: Mò-Áka, Moyaka, Bayaka, Yaga, Bayaga, Gbayaka, Biaka, Beká, Yakwa, Yakpa, Yakpwa, Nyoyaka. The western Aka are known as the Benzele (Mbenzélé, Babenzélé, Bambenzele, Ba-Benjelle), and the eastern Aka as the Sese (Basese). These might be distinct dialects; Nzari might be another.

Pygmies of northern Gabon called the Mikaya and Luma are evidently either Aka or speak a language closely related to Aka.

Bangui

Bangui (French pronunciation: ​[bɑ̃ɡi]) (or Bangî in Sango, formerly written Bangi in English) is the capital and largest city of the Central African Republic. As of 2012 it had an estimated population of 734,350. It was established as a French outpost in 1889 and named after its location on the northern bank of the Ubangi River (French: Oubangui); the Ubangi itself was named from the Bobangi word for the "rapids" located beside the settlement, which marked the end of navigable water north from Brazzaville. The majority of the population of the Central African Republic lives in the western parts of the country, in Bangui and the surrounding area.

The city forms an autonomous commune (commune autonome) of the Central African Republic which is surrounded by the Ombella-M'Poko prefecture. With an area of 67 square kilometres (26 sq mi), the commune is the smallest high-level administrative division in the country, but the highest in terms of population. The city consists of eight urban districts (arrondissements), 16 groups (groupements) and 205 neighbourhoods (quartiers). As the capital of the Central African Republic, Bangui acts as an administrative, trade, and commercial centre. It is served by the Bangui M'Poko International Airport. The National Assembly, government buildings, banks, foreign enterprises and embassies, hospitals, hotels, main markets and the Ngaragba Central Prison are all located here. Bangui manufactures textiles, food products, beer, shoes and soap. Its Notre-Dame Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bangui. The city is also home to the University of Bangui, inaugurated in 1970.

Bangui has been the scene of intense rebel activity and destruction during decades of political upheaval, including the recent rebellion. As a result of political unrest, the city was named in 1996 as one of the most dangerous in the world.

Bodo language (Bantu)

Bodo is a possibly extinct Bantu language of the Central African Republic. It may be part of a group of languages called "Lebonya".

Central African Division I Basketball League

The Central African Division I Basketball League is the highest professional basketball league in the Central African Republic.

Central African Republic Civil War (2012–present)

The Central African Republic conflict is a civil war in the Central African Republic (CAR) involving the government, rebels from the Séléka coalition, and anti-balaka militias.In the preceding Central African Republic Bush War (2004-2007), the government of President François Bozizé fought with rebels until a peace agreement in 2007. The current conflict arose when a new coalition of varied rebel groups, known as Séléka, accused the government of failing to abide by the peace agreements and captured many towns at the end of 2012. The capital was seized by the rebels in March 2013, Bozizé fled the country, and the rebel leader Michel Djotodia declared himself president. Renewed fighting began between Séléka and militias called anti-balaka. In September 2013, President Djotodia disbanded the Séléka coalition, which had lost its unity after taking power, and in January 2014, Djotodia resigned. He was replaced by Catherine Samba-Panza, but the conflict continued. In July 2014, ex-Séléka factions and anti-balaka representatives signed a ceasefire agreement in Brazzaville. By the end of 2014, the country was de facto partitioned with the anti-Balaka controlling the south and west, from which most Muslims had evacuated, and ex-Seleka groups controlling the north and east.Much of the tension is over religious identity between Muslim Séléka fighters and Christian anti-balaka. Other contributing factors include ethnic differences among ex-Séléka factions and historical antagonism between agriculturalists, who largely comprise anti-balaka, and nomadic groups, who constitute most Séléka fighters. More than 1.1 million people have fled their homes in a country of about 5 million people, the highest ever recorded in the country.

Central African Republic national football team

The Central African Republic national football team, nicknamed Les Fauves, is the national team of the Central African Republic and is controlled by the Central African Football Federation. They are a member of CAF. Despite being traditionally one of the weakest teams in Africa and the world, they recently achieved success. They won the 2009 CEMAC Cup by beating Gabon in the semi-finals and Equatorial Guinea in the final 3–0. Their FIFA ranking rose from 202nd in August 2010 to 89th by July 2011. On 10 October 2010, they earned a shock 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier win at home against Algeria 2–0, which put them top of their qualification group. The team won its first FIFA World Cup qualifier on 2 June 2012 after beating Botswana 2–0 at home.

Central African Republic–United States relations

Central African Republic–United States relations are the international relations between Central African Republic and the United States of America. The relations have generally been positive, although concerns over the pace of political and economic liberalization and human rights have affected the degree of support provided by the United States to the Central African Republic.

Cuisine of the Central African Republic

Central African cuisine includes the cuisines, cooking traditions, practices, ingredients and foods of the Central African Republic (CAR). Indigenous agriculture in the country includes millet, sorgum, banana, yam, okra, yellow onion, garlic, spinach, rice and palm oil. Imported crops of American origin include maize, manioc (cassava), peanuts, chili peppers, sweet potato and tomato. Additional foods include onions garlic, chiles and peanuts.Meats can be scarce in the Central African Republic, although fish is used in a variety of dishes, and other sources of protein include peanuts and insects such as cicadas, grasshoppers, crickets and termites. Common meats in Central African cuisine include chicken and goat. Wild game is also hunted, especially in rural areas and during the grass burning dry-season. Staple foods include starches, such as millet, rice, sesame and sorghum. A variety of vegetables and sauces are also consumed.Roadside stalls sell foods such as baked goods and makara (a type of fried bread), sandwiches, barbecued meat and snacks. In the forests and in markets of Bangui where forest items are sold, caterpillars and the koko leaf are eaten. Restaurants are mostly for expatriates. Wild tubers, leaves, and mushrooms are used. Palm oil is widely used in various dishes.The capital city of Bangui has western foods and hotel restaurants. The legal drinking age is 18. Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol. The PK-Cinq area is known for its smaller restaurants serving with reasonably priced traditional dishes served.

Economy of the Central African Republic

The Central African Republic (CAR) is classified as one of the world's least developed countries, with an estimated annual per capita income of $547 PPP (2014).

Sparsely populated and landlocked, the nation is overwhelmingly agrarian. The vast bulk of the population engages in subsistence farming and 55% of the country's GDP arises from agriculture. 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.

Principal food crops include cassava, peanuts, sorghum, millet, maize, sesame, and plantains. Principal cash crops for export include cotton, coffee, and tobacco. Timber has accounted for about 16% of export earnings and the diamond industry for nearly 54%.

History of the Central African Republic

The history of the Central African Republic is roughly composed of four distinct periods. The earliest period of settlement began around 10,000 years ago when nomadic people first began to settle, farm and fish in the region. The next period began around 1,000 to 3,000 years ago when several non-indigenous groups began to migrate into the region from other parts of the continent. The third period involved the colonial conquest and rule of the country by France and Germany which spanned from the late 1800s until 1960 when the Central African Republic became an independent state. The final period has been the era during which the Central African Republic has been an independent state.

List of heads of government of the Central African Republic

There have been twenty-three heads of government of Central African Republic and the Central African Empire. The office of Prime Minister, the head of government, was created when the Central African Republic became an autonomous territory of France in December 1958. It was originally the highest post of the Central African Republic, though France did maintain a governor in the territory. After the Central African Republic declared its independence and became a republic on 13 August 1960, David Dacko held both the Prime Minister and newly created President of the Central African Republic posts briefly before eliminating the Prime Minister position and placing all executive power in the office of the President.

President Jean-Bédel Bokassa restored the office of Prime Minister to assist him in governing the country in 1975, shortly before he declared himself Emperor. He selected Elisabeth Domitien to become Africa's first female head of government. After Domitien was removed from office, Bokassa named Ange-Félix Patassé to become his next Prime Minister. Patassé continued serving as Prime Minister after Bokassa declared the establishment of the Central African Empire in December 1976. Henri Maïdou succeeded Patassé and continued serving as Prime Minister after Bokassa was overthrown from power. During the following two years of Dacko's presidency, three more politicians served as Prime Minister. The post was abolished when Dacko was overthrown from the presidency by Andre Kolingba on 1 September 1981. The position, as it exists today, was recreated in 1991, when President Kolingba was forced to relinquish some of the executive power. The President has the authority to name the Prime Minister and can remove them from office at any time. The Prime Minister is the head of the government; within days of being appointed, they must select individuals for their Cabinet, who they will work with to coordinate the government.

According to a ceasefire agreement signed between the government and the Séléka rebel coalition on 11 January 2013, President François Bozizé was required to appoint a new Prime Minister from the political opposition after the National Assembly of the Central African Republic is dissolved and legislative elections are held. According to the agreement, this will happen on 11 January 2014 at the latest. Nicolas Tiangaye, who was selected as Prime Minister by the opposition and rebels, was appointed as Prime Minister on 17 January 2013.The current Prime Minister of the Central African Republic is Firmin Ngrébada (fr), since 27 February 2019.

List of heads of state of the Central African Republic

The following is a complete list of heads of state of the Central African Republic and the Central African Empire. There have been seven heads of state in the history of the Central African Republic and the Central African Empire since independence was obtained from the French on 13 August 1960. This list includes not only those persons who were sworn into office as President of the Central African Republic but also those who served as de facto heads of state.

Jean-Bédel Bokassa served as a de facto head of state (and also reigned as Emperor from 1976–1979), while David Dacko (who served as de facto head of state from 1979–1981), André Kolingba, Ange-Félix Patassé, and François Bozizé were elected into office at some point during their tenure. To date, Kolingba is the only former head of state of the Central African Republic to voluntarily step down from the office through a democratic process, following the 1993 general election.

The current President of the Central African Republic is Faustin-Archange Touadéra, since 30 March 2016.

Music of the Central African Republic

Music of the Central African Republic includes many different forms. Western rock and pop music, as well as Afrobeat, soukous and other genres have become popular nationwide. The sanza is a popular instrument.

The Pygmies have a complex folk music tradition. Polyphony and counterpoint are common components, as is a varied rhythmic structure. The trumpet-based music of the Bandas has also gained some popularity outside the area due to its jazzy structure. The Ngbaka use an unusual instrument called a mbela, which is made with an arched branch and a string strung between the two ends and held in front of the musician's mouth. When the string is struck, the mouth is used to amplify and modulate the tone. Instruments similar to the mbela are sometimes considered the oldest ancestors of all string instruments [1].

The national anthem of the Central African Republic is "La Renaissance". This song, which has been the anthem since 1960, was written by Barthélémy Boganda (words), the first President of the Central African Republic, and Herbert Pepper, who also composed the melody for the Senegalese national anthem [2].

National Assembly (Central African Republic)

The National Assembly is the lower house of the Parliament of the Central African Republic. Members are elected in single-member constituencies using the two-round (or Run-off) system. Members serve five-year terms.

Ngando language (Central African Republic)

Ngando is a Bantu macrolanguage of the Central African Republic, and according to Glottolog includes the Kota/Dikota language [of Central African Republic, not to be confused with the Kota language of Gabon (iKota), or the Kota language of India (Kō mānt)], and the Dikuta language.

Maho (2009) lists Ngando proper and Kota as separate languages.

Prefectures of the Central African Republic

The Central African Republic is administratively divided into 16 prefectures (French: préfectures, Sango: kodoro kômanda-kôta) and the capital city of Bangui, which is an autonomous commune (French: commune autonome, Sango: kôta-gbata).

Each prefecture is governed by a local assembly called General Council (Conseil Général), presided by a Prefect (Préfet). The prefectures are further subdivided into 71 sub-prefectures.

Prefectures are all named after major rivers passing through their areas:

Ubangi, Nana, Mambéré, Kadeï, Lobaye, M'Poko, Ombella, Sangha, Kémo, Ouaka, Kotto, and Mbomou all flow into the Congo River.

Pendé, Ouham, Gribingui, Bamingui, Bangoran, and Vakaga all flow into the Chari River, and then into Lake Chad.(Basse ("Lower") means downstream, and Haut or Haute ("Upper") means upstream.)

Telecommunications in the Central African Republic

Telecommunications in the Central African Republic includes radio, television, fixed and mobile telephones, and the Internet as well as the postal system.

Persistent conflict has hampered telecommunication and media development in the Central African Republic. There are active television services, radio stations, internet service providers, and mobile phone carriers. Radio is the most-popular communications medium.Socatel is the leading provider for both Internet and mobile phone access throughout the country. The primary governmental regulating bodies of telecommunications are the Ministère des Postes (Ministry of Posts), and Télécommunications et des Nouvelles Technologies (Telecommunications and New Technologies). Support is received from the ITU Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D) within the International Telecommunication Union to improve telecommunications infrastructure.

Visa policy of Central African Republic

Visitors to Central African Republic must obtain a visa from one of the Central African Republic diplomatic missions or French diplomatic missions unless they come from one of the visa exempt countries.

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