Central African Republic

Introduction 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 - civilian rule was established in 1993 and lasted for one decade. President Ange-Felix PATASSE's civilian government was plagued by unrest, and in March 2003 he was deposed in a military coup led by General Francois BOZIZE, who established a transitional government. Though the government has the tacit support of civil society groups and the main parties, a wide field of candidates contested the municipal, legislative, and presidential elections held in March and May of 2005 in which General BOZIZE was affirmed as president. The government still does not fully control the countryside, where pockets of lawlessness persist. Unrest in neighboring nations, Chad, Sudan, and the DRC, continues to affect stability in the Central African Republic as well.
History

Pre-history

Between about 1000 BC and 1000 AD, Adamawa-Eastern-speaking peoples spread eastward from Cameroon to Sudan and settled in most of the territory of the CAR. During the same period, a much smaller number of Bantu-speaking immigrants settled in Southwestern CAR and some Central Sudanic-speaking populations settled along the Oubangi. The majority of the CAR's inhabitants thus speak Adamawa-Eastern languages or Bantu languages belonging to the Niger-Congo family. A minority speak Central Sudanic languages of the Nilo-Saharan family. More recent immigrants include many Muslim merchants who most often speak Arabic or Hausa.

Exposure to the outside world

Until the early 1800s, the peoples of the CAR lived beyond the expanding Islamic frontier in the Sudanic zone of Africa and thus had relatively little contact with Abrahamic religions or northern economies. During the first decades of the nineteenth century, however, Muslim traders began increasingly to penetrate the region of the CAR and to cultivate special relations with local leaders in order to facilitate their trade and settlement in the region. The initial arrival of Muslim traders in the early 1800s was relatively peaceful and depended upon the support of local peoples, but after about 1850, slave traders with well-armed soldiers began to penetrate the region. Between c. 1860 and 1910, slave traders from Sudan, Chad, Cameroon, Dar al-Kuti in Northern CAR and Nzakara and Zande states in Southeastern CAR exported much of the population of Eastern CAR, a region with very few inhabitants today.

French colonialism

European penetration of Central African territory began in the late nineteenth century during the so-called Scramble for Africa (c. 1875-1900). Count Savorgnan de Brazza took the lead in establishing the French Congo with headquarters in the city named after him, Brazzaville, and sent expeditions up the Ubangi river in an effort to expand France's claims to territory in Central Africa. King Leopold II of Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom also competed to establish their claims to territory in the Central African region. In 1889 the French established a post on the Ubangi river at Bangui, the future capital of Ubangi-Shari and the CAR. De Brazza then sent expeditions in 1890-91 up the Sangha River in what is now Southwestern CAR, up the center of the Ubangi basin toward Lake Chad, and eastward along the Ubangi river toward the Nile. De Brazza and the procolonial in France wished to expand the borders of the French Congo to link up with French territories in West Africa, North Africa and East Africa. In 1894, the French Congo's borders with Leopold II's Congo Free State and German Cameroon were fixed by diplomatic agreements. Then, in 1899, the French Congo's border with Sudan was fixed along the Congo-Nile watershed, leaving France without her much coveted outlet on the Nile and turning Southeastern Ubangi-Shari into a cul-de-sac.

Once European negotiators agreed upon the borders of the French Congo, France had to decide how to pay for the costly occupation, administration, and development of the territory. The reported financial successes of Leopold II's concessionary companies in the Congo Free State convinced the French government in 1899 to grant 17 private companies large concessions in the Ubangi-Shari region. In return for the right to exploit these lands by buying local products and selling European goods, the companies promised to pay rent to the colonial state and to promote the development of their concessions. The companies employed European and African agents who frequently used extremely brutal and atrocious methods to force Central Africans to work for them. At the same time, the French colonial administration began to force Central Africans to pay taxes and to provide the state with free labor. The companies and French administration often collaborated in their efforts to force Central Africans to work for their benefit, but they also often found themselves at odds. Some French officials reported abuses committed by private company militias and even by their own colonial colleagues and troops, but efforts to bring these criminals to justice almost always failed. When news of terrible atrocities committed against Central Africans by concessionary company employees and colonial officials or troops reached France and caused an outcry, there were investigations and some feeble attempts at reform, but the situation on the ground in Ubangi-Shari remained essentially the same.

In the meantime, during the first decade of French colonial rule (c. 1900-1910), the rulers of African states in the Ubangi-Shari region increased their slave raiding activities and also their sale of local products to European companies and the colonial state. They took advantage of their treaties with the French to procure more weapons which were used to capture more slaves and so much of the eastern half of Ubangi-Shari was depopulated as a result of the export of Central Africans by local rulers during the first decade of colonial rule. Those who had power, Africans and Europeans, often made life miserable for those who did not have the power to resist.

During the second decade of colonial rule (c. 1910-1920), armed employees of private companies and the colonial state continued to use brutal methods to deal with local populations who resisted forced labor but the power of local African rulers was destroyed and so slave raiding was greatly diminished. In 1911, the Sangha and Lobaye basins were ceded to Germany as part of an agreement which gave France a free-hand in Morocco and so Western Ubangi-Shari came under German rule until World War I, during which France reconquered this territory by using Central African troops.

The third decade of colonial rule (1920-1930) was a period of transition during which a network of roads was built, cash crops were promoted, mobile health services were formed to combat sleeping sickness, and Protestant missions established stations in different parts of the country. New forms of forced labor were also introduced, however, as the French conscripted large numbers of Ubangians to work on the Congo-Ocean Railway and many of these recruits died of exhaustion and illness. In 1925 the French writer André Gide published Voyage au Congo in which he described the alarming consequences of conscription for the Congo-Ocean railroad and exposed the continuing atrocities committed against Central Africans in Western Ubangi-Shari by employees of the Forestry Company of Sangha-Ubangi, for example. In 1928 a major insurrection, the Kongo-Wara 'war of the hoe handle' broke out in Western Ubangi-Shari and continued for several years. The extent of this insurrection, perhaps the largest anticolonial rebellion in Africa during the interwar years, was carefully hidden from the French public because it provided evidence, once again, of strong opposition to French colonial rule and forced labor.

During the fourth decade of colonial rule (c. 1930-1940), cotton, tea, and coffee emerged as important cash crops in Ubangi-Shari and the mining of diamonds and gold began in earnest. Several cotton companies were granted purchasing monopolies over large areas of cotton production and were thus able to fix the prices paid to cultivators in order to assure profits for their shareholders. Europeans established coffee plantations and Central Africans also began to cultivate coffee.

The fifth decade of colonial rule (c. 1940-1950) was shaped by the Second World War and the political reforms which followed in its wake. In September 1940 pro-Gaullist French officers took control of Ubangi-Shari.

Independence

On 1 December 1958 the 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 Republic 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 named himself Emperor Bokassa I of the Central African Empire 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. 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, more reluctantly from France, and from a group of locally represented countries and agencies called GIBAFOR (France, USA, Germany, Japan, EU, World Bank and 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.

When elections were finally held in 1993, again with the help of the international community, 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 53 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, reflecting steadily decreasing public confidence in its erratic behaviour, three mutinies against Patassé's government were 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, notwithstanding widespread public anger in urban centers with his corrupt rule, Patassé won free elections to become president for a second term. On 28 May 2001 rebels stormed strategic 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.

Geography Location: Central Africa, north of Democratic Republic of the Congo
Geographic coordinates: 7 00 N, 21 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 622,984 sq km
land: 622,984 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: Mont Ngaoui 1,420 m
Natural resources: diamonds, uranium, timber, gold, oil, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 3.1%
permanent crops: 0.15%
other: 96.75% (2005)
Irrigated land: 20 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 144.4 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.03 cu km/yr (80%/16%/4%)
per capita: 7 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: hot, dry, dusty harmattan winds affect northern areas; floods are common
Environment - current issues: tap water is not potable; poaching has diminished the country's reputation as one of the last great wildlife refuges; desertification; deforestation
Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography - note: landlocked; almost the precise center of Africa
Politics

The country is currently under the rule of François Bozizé. A new constitution was approved by voters in a referendum held on December 5, 2004. Full multiparty presidential and parliamentary elections were held in March 2005,[3] with a second round in May. Bozizé was declared the winner after a run-off vote.[4]

In February 2006, there were reports of widespread violence in the northern part of the CAR.[5] Thousands of refugees fled their homes, caught in the crossfire of battles between government troops and rebel forces. More than 7,000 people fled to neighboring Chad. Those who remained in the CAR told of government troops systematically killing men and boys suspected of cooperating with rebels.

People Population: 4,369,038
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 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 41.6% (male 914,566/female 903,849)
15-64 years: 54.2% (male 1,174,520/female 1,195,364)
65 years and over: 4.1% (male 71,355/female 109,384) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 18.5 years
male: 18.2 years
female: 18.9 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.505% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 33.52 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 18.46 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.012 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.983 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.652 male(s)/female
total population: 0.978 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 83.97 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 90.68 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 77.05 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 43.74 years
male: 43.69 years
female: 43.79 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 4.32 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 13.5% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 260,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 23,000 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis (2008)
Nationality: 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%
Religions: indigenous beliefs 35%, Protestant 25%, Roman Catholic 25%, Muslim 15%
note: animistic beliefs and practices strongly influence the Christian majority
Languages: French (official), Sangho (lingua franca and national language), tribal languages
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 51%
male: 63.3%
female: 39.9% (2003 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Central African Republic
conventional short form: none
local long form: Republique Centrafricaine
local short form: none
former: Ubangi-Shari, Central African Empire
abbreviation: CAR
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Bangui
geographic coordinates: 4 22 N, 18 35 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 14 prefectures (prefectures, singular - prefecture), 2 economic prefectures* (prefectures economiques, singular - prefecture economique), and 1 commune**; Bamingui-Bangoran, Bangui**, Basse-Kotto, Haute-Kotto, Haut-Mbomou, Kemo, Lobaye, Mambere-Kadei, Mbomou, Nana-Grebizi*, Nana-Mambere, Ombella-Mpoko, Ouaka, Ouham, Ouham-Pende, Sangha-Mbaere*, Vakaga
Independence: 13 August 1960 (from France)
National holiday: Republic Day, 1 December (1958)
Constitution: ratified by popular referendum 5 December 2004; effective 27 December 2004
Legal system: based on French law
Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Francois BOZIZE (since 15 March 2003 coup)
head of government: Prime Minister Faustin-Archange TOUADERA (since 22 January 2008)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
elections: under the new constitution, the president elected to a five-year term (eligible for a second term); elections last held 13 March and 8 May 2005 (next to be held in 2010); prime minister appointed by the political party with a parliamentary majority
election results: Francois BOZIZE elected president; percent of second round balloting - Francois BOZIZE (KNK) 64.6%, Martin ZIGUELE (MLPC) 35.4%
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (109 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 13 March 2005 and 8 May 2005 (next to be held in 2010)
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 [Ange-Felix PATASSE] (the party of deposed president); National Convergence or KNK; 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: NA
International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, AU, BDEAC, CEMAC, FAO, FZ, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OIC (observer), OIF, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Emmanuel TOUABOY
chancery: 1618 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 483-7800
FAX: [1] (202) 332-9893
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires James PANOS
embassy: Avenue David Dacko, Bangui
mailing address: B. P. 924, Bangui
telephone: [236] 61 02 00
FAX: [236] 61 44 94
note: the embassy is currently operating with a minimal staff
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
Demographics

The population has tripled since independence. In 1960 the population was 1,232,000. The current population is at 4,302,360. (February 2008 est.) 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.

The United Nations estimates that approximately 11% of the population ages 15 - 49 is HIV positive.[8] Only 3% of the country has antiretroviral therapy available, compared to 17% coverage in neighbouring countries of Chad and the Republic of the Congo.[9]

The nation is divided into over 80 ethnic groups, each having its own language. The largest ethnic groups are the Baya 33%, Banda 27%, Mandjia 13%, Sara 10%, Mboum 7%, M'Baka 4%, and Yakoma 4%, with 2% others, including Europeans. Religiously, about 35% of the population follows indigenous beliefs, 25% is Protestant, 25% is Roman Catholic, and 15% is Muslim.

Economy 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 more than half of GDP. Timber has accounted for about 16% of export earnings and the diamond industry, for 40%. 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. Factional fighting between the government and its opponents remains a drag on economic revitalization. Distribution of income is extraordinarily unequal. Grants from France and the international community can only partially meet humanitarian needs.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $3.101 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $1.647 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 4% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $700 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 55%
industry: 20%
services: 25% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 1.857 million (2006)
Unemployment rate: 8% (23% for Bangui) (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 0.7%
highest 10%: 47.7% (1993)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 61.3 (1993)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4% (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $250 million
expenditures: $273 million (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: timber, cotton, coffee, tobacco, manioc (tapioca), yams, millet, corn, bananas; timber
Industries: gold and diamond mining, logging, brewing, textiles, footwear, assembly of bicycles and motorcycles
Industrial production growth rate: 3% (2002)
Electricity - production: 109 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 19.8%
hydro: 80.2%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 101.4 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2005)
Oil - consumption: 2,300 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 0 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 2,201 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2006)
Exports: $146.7 million f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: diamonds, timber, cotton, coffee, tobacco
Exports - partners: Belgium 30.7%, Spain 10.7%, Indonesia 8%, France 7.8%, China 6.9%, Democratic Republic of the Congo 6%, Turkey 5%, Italy 4.7% (2006)
Imports: $237.3 million f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: food, textiles, petroleum products, machinery, electrical equipment, motor vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals
Imports - partners: France 15.4%, Netherlands 15.1%, US 9.2%, Cameroon 8.9% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: ODA, $95.29 million; note - traditional budget subsidies from France (2005 est.)
Debt - external: $1.153 billion (2007 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $NA
Currency (code): Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF); note - responsible authority is the Bank of the Central African States
Currency code: XAF
Exchange rates: Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XAF) per US dollar - 481.8 (2007), 522.59 (2006), 527.47 (2005), 528.29 (2004), 581.2 (2003)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 10,000 (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 100,000 (2005)
Telephone system: general assessment: limited telephone service; fixed-line connections for well less than 1 per 100 persons coupled with mobile-cellular usage of only about 3 per 100 persons
domestic: network consists principally of microwave radio relay and low-capacity, low-powered radiotelephone communication
international: country code - 236; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2007)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 5, shortwave 1 (2001)
Radios: 283,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 1 (2001)
Televisions: 18,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .cf
Internet hosts: 15 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2002)
Internet users: 13,000 (2006)
Transportation Airports: 51 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 48
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 10
914 to 1,523 m: 24
under 914 m: 13 (2007)
Roadways: total: 23,810 km (1999)
Waterways: 2,800 km (primarily on the Oubangui and Sangha rivers) (2006)
Ports and terminals: Bangui, Nola, Salo, Nzinga
Military Military branches: Central African Armed Forces (Forces Armees Centrafricaines, FACA): Ground Forces, General Directorate of Gendarmerie Inspection (DGIG), Military Air Service, National Police (2008)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; 2-year conscript service obligation (2006)
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 853,760
females age 18-49: 835,426 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 416,091
females age 18-49: 383,056 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.1% (2006 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: periodic skirmishes over water and grazing rights among related pastoral populations along the border with southern Sudan persist
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 19,960 (Sudan), 3,325 (Democratic Republic of the Congo); note - UNHCR resumed repatriation of Southern Sudanese refugees in 2006
IDPs: 150,000 (ongoing unrest following coup in 2003) (2006)
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Central African Republic is a source and destination country for children trafficked for domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, and forced labor in shops and commercial labor activities; while the majority of child victims are trafficked within the country, some are also trafficked to and from Cameroon and Nigeria
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - the Central African Republic failed to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking in persons during 2005, specifically its inadequate law enforcement response to trafficking crimes