Central African Republic, Africa
Ködörösêse tî Bêafrîka
Central African Republic
Quick Facts About the Country
Capital - Bangui
Government - Republic
Currency - Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF)
Area - 622,984 km2
Population - 4,303,356 (June 2006 est.)
Language - French (official), Sangho (lingua franca and national language), tribal languages
Religion - Indigenous beliefs 35%, Protestant 25%, Roman Catholic 25%, Muslim 15% (animistic beliefs and practices strongly influence the Christian majority)
Calling Code +236
Internet TLD .cf
Time Zone UTC +1
The Central African Republic (French: République Centrafricaine) is a landlocked country in central Africa. It borders Chad in the north, Sudan on the east, the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the south, and Cameroon on the west.
Most of the CAR consists of Sudano-Guinean savannas but it also includes a Sahelo-Sudanese zone in the north and an Equatorial forest zone in the south. Two thirds of the country lies in the basins of the Ubangi river, which flows south into the Congo River, while the remaining third lies in the basin of the Shari river, which flows north into Lake Chad.
Since most of the territory is located in the Ubangi and Shari river basins, the French called the colony it carved out in this region Ubangi-Shari, or Oubangui-Chari in French. This French colony of Ubangi-Shari became a semi-autonomous territory of the French Community in 1958 and then an independent nation on 13 August 1960.
For over three decades since independence the CAR was ruled by presidents who were not chosen in truly democratic elections or who took power by force. The first fair democratic elections were held in 1993 and brought Ange-Félix Patassé to power, but President Patassé was overthrown by General François Bozizé in 2003. General Bozizé won a democratic election in May 2005 and remains in power today.
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Weather and Climate
The climate of the Central African Republic is hot and humid; the average annual temperature is about 26°C (about 79°F). Tornadoes and floods are common at the onset of the rainy season, which lasts from June to November. Annual rainfall varies from about 1,800 mm (about 70 in) in the Ubangi River valley to about 200 mm (about 8 in) in the semiarid north.
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Major Travel and Tourism Info (Travel Guide)
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. Subsistence agriculture, together with forestry, remains the backbone of the economy, with more than 70% of the population living in outlying areas.
The Central African Republic is in fact at the geographic center of Africa, bordered by Cameroon to the west, Chad to the north, Sudan to the east, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Republic of the Congo to the south.
Bangui - the capital
Other Tourism Destinations
Manovo-Gounda St. Floris National Park is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Vast, flat to rolling, monotonous plateau; scattered hills in northeast and southwest.
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 of waterways are navigable to craft drawing as much as 1.8 m
Hot, dry, dusty harmattan winds affect northern areas. Floods are common.
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History in Brief: Summary
Post Colonial History
The On 1 December 1958 the French colony of Ubangi-Shari became an autonomous territory within the French Community and took the name Central African Republic. The founding father and president of the "Conseil de Gouvernement," Barthélémy Boganda, died in a mysterious plane accident in 1959, just eight days before the last elections of the colonial era.
On 13 August 1960 the Central African gained its independence and two of Boganda's closest aides, Abel Goumba and David Dacko, became involved in a power struggle. With the backing of the French, Dacko took power and soon had Goumba arrested. By 1962 President Dacko had established a one-party state.
On 31 December 1965 Dacko was overthrown by Colonel Jean-Bédel Bokassa, who suspended the constitution and dissolved the National Assembly. President Bokassa declared himself President for life in 1972 and had himself named Emperor Bokassa I on 4 December 1977. Bokassa was crowned in a lavish and expensive ceremony that was ridiculed by much of the world. In 1979 France carried out a coup against Bokassa and "restored" Dacko to power. Dacko, in turn, was overthrown in a coup by General André Kolingba on 1 September 1981.
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, semi-competitive elections to parliament were held and municipal elections were held in 1988. Kolingba's two major political opponents, Abel Goumba and Ange-Félix Patassé, boycotted these elections because their parties were not allowed to compete.
By 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a pro-democracy movement became very active. In May 1990 a letter signed by 253 prominent citizens asked for the convocation of a National Conference but Kolingba refused this request and detained several opponents. Pressure from the United States and, more reluctantly, from France, finally led Kolingba to agree, in principle, to hold free elections in October 1992.
After using the excuse of alleged irregularities to suspend the elections, President Kolingba came under intense pressure from the international community 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.
When elections were finally held in 1993, Ange-Félix Patassé came in first in the first round and Kolingba came in fourth after Abel Goumba and David Dacko. In the second round, Patassé won 52.5 percent of the vote while Goumba won 45.6 percent. Most of Patassé's support came from Gbaya, Kare and Kaba voters in seven heavily-populated prefectures in the northwest while Goumba's support came largely from ten less-populated prefectures in the south and east.
Furthermore, 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 needed coalition partners.
Patassé relieved former President Kolingba of his military rank of general in March of 1994 and then charged several former ministers with various crimes. Patassé also removed many Yakoma from important, lucrative posts in the government. Two hundred mostly Yakoma members of the presidential guard were also dismissed or reassigned to the army. Kolingba's RDC loudly proclaimed that Patassé's government was conducting a "witch hunt" against the Yakoma.
A new constitution was approved on 28 December 1994 and promulgated on 14 January 1995, but this constitution, like those before it, did not have much impact on the practice of politics. In 1996-1997, three mutinies against Patassé's government was accompanied by widespread destruction of property and heightened ethnic tension.
On 25 January 1997, the Bangui Peace Accords were signed which provided for the deployment of an inter-African military mission, the Mission Interafricaine de Surveillance des Accords de Bangui (MISAB). Mali's former president, Amadou Touré, served as chief mediator and brokered the entry of ex-mutineers into the government on 7 April 1997. The MISAB mission was later replaced by a U.N. peacekeeping force, the Mission des Nations Unis en RCA (MINURCA).
In 1998 parliamentary elections resulted in Kolingba' RDC winning 20 out of 109 seats, which constituted a comeback, but in 1999 Patassé won free elections to become president for a second term. On 28 May 2001 rebels stormed stategic buildings in Bangui in an unsuccessful coup attempt. The army chief of staff, Abel Abrou, and General Francois N'Djadder Bedaya were shot, but Patassé regained the upper hand by bringing in at least 300 troops of the rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba from over the river in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and by Libyan soldiers.
In the aftermath of this failed coup, militias loyal to Patassé sought revenge against rebels in many neighborhoods of the capital, Bangui, that resulted the destruction of many homes as well as the torture and murder of many opponents. Eventually Patassé came to suspect that General François Bozizé was involved in another coup attempt against him and so Bozizé fled with loyal troops to Chad.
On 25 October 2002 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, who took control of the country and thus succeeded in overthrowing Patassé.
François Bozizé suspended the constitution and named a new cabinet which included most opposition parties. Abel Goumba, "Mr. Clean", 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. A national dialogue was held from 15 September to 27 October 2003, and Bozizé won a fair election that excluded Patassé, to be elected president on a second ballot, in May 2005.
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Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2003
The World Factbook 2006
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