Central African Republic [Country Flag of Central African Republic]
Transnational Issues
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Central African Republic


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Current issues: In 1996, the Central African Republic experienced three mutinies by dissident elements of the armed forces, which demanded back pay as well as political and military reforms. Continuing violence in 1997 between the government and rebel military groups over pay issues, living conditions, and lack of opposition party representation in the government has destroyed many businesses in the capital, reducing tax revenues and exacerbating the government's problems in meeting expenses.


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Location: Central Africa, north of Democratic Republic of the Congo

Geographic coordinates: 7 00 N, 21 00 E

Map references: Africa

total: 622,980 sq km
land: 622,980 sq km
water: 0 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

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims: none (landlocked)

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

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

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Oubangui River 335 m
highest point: Mount Gaou 1,420 m

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

Land use:
arable land: 3%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 5%
forests and woodland: 75%
other: 17% (1993 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


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Population: 3,375,771 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 44% (male 745,128; female 737,879)
15-64 years: 52% (male 864,263; female 906,656)
65 years and over: 4% (male 55,051; female 66,794) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.02% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 38.72 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 16.75 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -1.78 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 105.73 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 46.82 years
male: 45.02 years
female: 48.68 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 5.12 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Central African(s)
adjective: Central African

Ethnic groups: 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

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 60%
male: 68.5%
female: 52.4% (1995 est.)


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Country name:
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

Data code: CT

Government type: republic

National 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: passed by referendum 29 December 1994; adopted 7 January 1995

Legal system: based on French law

Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Ange PATASSE (since 22 October 1993)
head of government: Prime Minister Michel GBEZERA-BRIA (since January 1997)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
elections: president elected by popular vote for a 6-year term; election last held 19 September 1993 (next to be held NA 1999); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Ange PATASSE elected president; percent of vote—PATASSE 52.45%, Abel GOUMBA 45.62%

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (85 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 19 September 1993 (next to be held NA 1998)
election results: percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—MLPC 34, RDC 13, PLD 7, FPP 7, ADP 6, PSD 3, CN 3, MDREC 1, PRC 1, FC 1, MESAN 1, independents supporting David DACKO 6, other independents 2
note: the National Assembly is advised by the Economic and Regional Council or Conseil Economique et Regional; when they sit together they are called the Congress or Congres

Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Cour Supreme, judges appointed by the president; Constitutional Court, judges appointed by the president

Political parties and leaders: Alliance for Democracy and Progress or ADP [Tchapka BREDE]; Central African Democratic Assembly or RDC [Andre KOLINGBA]; Central African Republican Party or PRC; Civic Forum or FC [Gen. Timothee MALENDOMA]; Democratic Movement for the Renaissance and Evolution of Central Africa or MDREC [Joseph BENDOUNGA]; Liberal Democratic Party or PLD [Nestor KOMBO-NAGUEMON]; Movement for the Liberation of the Central African People or MLPC [the party of the president, Ange Felix PATASSE]; Movement for Democracy and Development or MDD [David DACKO]; National Convention or CN [David GALIAMBO]; Patriotic Front for Progress or FPP [Abel GOUMBA]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [Enoch Derant LAKOUE]; Social Evolution Movement of Black Africa or MESAN [Prosper LAVODRAMA and Joseph NGBANGADIBO]

International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, BDEAC, CCC, CEEAC, ECA, FAO, FZ, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC (observer), UDEAC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Henri KOBA
chancery: 1618 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 462 2517
FAX: [1] (202) 462 2517

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Mosina H. JORDAN
embassy: Avenue David Dacko, Bangui
mailing address: B. P. 924, Bangui
telephone: [236] 61 26 21
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


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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 nearly 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 1%. Ongoing violence between the government and rebel military groups over pay issues, living conditions, and political representation has destroyed many businesses in the capital, reduced tax revenues for the government, and delayed negotiations for an IMF financial aid agreement.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$3.3 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: NA%

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$1,000 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 50%
industry: 14%
services: 36% (1994 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 4% (1996 est.)

Labor force: NA

Unemployment rate: 6% (1993)

revenues: $638 million
expenditures: $1.9 billion, including capital expenditures of $888 million (1994 est.)

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

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 43,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 100 million kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 31 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: cotton, coffee, tobacco, manioc (tapioca), yams, millet, corn, bananas; timber

total value: $171 million (f.o.b., 1995)
commodities: diamonds, timber, cotton, coffee, tobacco
partners: France 16%, Belgium-Luxembourg 40.1%, Italy, Japan, US, Spain, Iran, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo

total value: $174 million (f.o.b., 1995)
commodities: food, textiles, petroleum products, machinery, electrical equipment, motor vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, industrial products
partners: France 37%, other EU countries, Japan 24%, Algeria, Cameroon, Namibia

Debt—external: $890 million (1994 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $NA; traditional budget subsidies from France

Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: CFA francs (CFAF) per US$1—608.36 (January 1998), 583.67 (1997), 511.55 (1996), 499.15 (1995), 555.20 (1994), 283.16 (1993)
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


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Telephones: 16,867 (1992 est.)

Telephone system: 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 1, shortwave 0

Radios: NA

Television broadcast stations: 1 (1987 est.)

Televisions: 7,500 (1993 est.)


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Railways: 0 km

total: 23,810 km
paved: 429 km
unpaved: 23,381 km (1995 est.)

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

Ports and harbors: Bangui, Nola

Airports: 52 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 49
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 10
914 to 1,523 m: 23
under 914 m: 15 (1997 est.)


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

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 763,085 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 398,617 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $30 million (1994)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 2.3% (1994)

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: none