World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide

Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

List of Countries
Map of Africa

Central African Republic Travelling Guide
Central African Republic Travelling Guide

General background: 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.

Area comparative: Slightly smaller than Texas

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

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

Population: 3,642,739

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%

Language: French (official), Sangho (lingua franca and national language), tribal languages

Government type: Republic

Capital: Bangui

Legal system: Based on French law

Economic 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 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 2%. The IMF approved an Extended Structure Adjustment Facility in 1998 and the World Bank extended further credits in 1999 and approved a $10 million loan in early 2001. As of January 2002, many civil servants were owed as much as 16 months pay during the PATASSE administration, as well as 14 months pay from the KOLINGBA administration.

Communication/Telephone system: Fair system, network consists principally of microwave radio relay and low-capacity, low-powered radiotelephone communication. Satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean).

Places of interest: The Central African Republic (CAR) has possibly the most pristine national park in the whole of Africa, where pygmies guide you through forest that's the domain of elephants and rare lowland gorillas. Dense rainforests explode in riots of colorful butterflies, and out on the plains you can spot elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos and a host of other animals you won't see outside of a zoo at home.

Travel tips: Foreigners are targeted regularly by rebels and thieves. Check with your own embassy if you intend to go to the Central African Republic, but seriously consider changing your plans and traveling to a safer country for the time being.