Country Profile - Central African Republic
Country Profile of Central African Republic
Central African Republic
President: Catherine Samba-Panza
Prime Minister: Mahamat Kamoun
Land area: 622 980 kilometers squared
Population: 5 277 959; growth-rate 2.13%; birth-rate 35.45/1000; life-expectancy 51.35
Monetary unit: CFA Franc
Languages: French (official), Sangho.
Ethnicity: Baya 33%, Banda 27%, Mandjia 13%, Sara 10%, Mboum 7%, Mbaka 4%, Yakoma 4%, other 2%
Literacy rate: 56.6%
Economic summary: GDP/PPP $3.336 billion; real-growth -14.5%; Inflation 7%; Unemployment 8%; Imports $218.6 million; Exports $138.9 million
Agriculture: cotton, coffee, tobacco, manioc (tapioca), yams, millet, corn, bananas; timber
Situated about 500 mi (805 km) north of the equator, the Central African Republic is a landlocked nation bordered by Cameroon, Chad, the Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of Congo. The Ubangi and the Shari are the largest of many rivers.
From the 16th to 19th century, the people of this region were ravaged by slave traders. The Banda, Baya, Ngbandi, and Azande make up the largest ethnic groups.
The French occupied the region in 1894. As the colony of Ubangi-Shari, what is now the Central African Republic was united with Chad in 1905. In 1910 it was joined with Gabon and the Middle Congo to become French Equatorial Africa. After World War II a rebellion in 1946 forced the French to grant self-government. In 1958 the territory voted to become an autonomous republic within the French Community, and on Aug. 13, 1960, President David Dacko proclaimed the republic's independence from France. Dacko moved the country politically into Beijing's orbit, but he was overthrown in a coup on Dec. 31, 1965, by Col. Jean-Bédel Bokassa, army chief of staff.
On December of 1976, the Central African Republic became the Central African Empire. Marshal Jean-Bédel Bokassa, who had ruled the republic since he took power in 1965, was declared Emperor Bokassa I. Brutality and excess characterized his regime. He was overthrown in a coup on September of 1979. Former president David Dacko returned to power and changed the country's name back to the Central African Republic. An army coup on September of 1981 deposed President Dacko yet again.
In 1991, President André Kolingba, under pressure, announced a move toward parliamentary democracy. In elections held in August 1993, Prime Minister Ange-Félix Patassé defeated
Kolingba. Part of Patassé's popularity rested on his pledge to pay the back salaries of the military and civil servants. Patassé survived a coup attempt in May 2001, but two years later, in March 2003, he was overthrown by General François Bozizé. After two years of military rule, presidential elections were held, and Bozizé won in what international monitors called a free and fair election.
In presidential elections in early 2011, incumbent François Bozizé won re-election with 64.4% of the vote. In March 2013, Bozizé was ousted by rebels from the northern part of the country. The rebels, who are mostly Muslim and collectively known as Seleka, have been engaged in battles with government troops and said they, overthrew Bozizé because he failed to follow through on earlier peace deals. Bozizé's presidency was marred by allegations of corruption and cronyism.
The current President is Catherine Samba-Panza and the Prime Minister is Mahamat Kamoun. The capital city if CAR is Bangui and the country has an estimated population of 5 million. The monetary unit used is the CFA Franc.
The Central African Republic’s economic freedom score is 45.9, making its economy the 166th freest in the 2015 Index. Its overall score is 0.8 point lower than last year, with modest gains in the rule of law undermined by declines in six other areas. The CAR is ranked 41st out of 46 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is lower than the regional average.
Over the past five years, economic freedom in the CAR has declined by 3.4 points, with score decreases in the past two years wiping out steady improvements earlier in the decade. Score declines in eight of the 10 economic freedoms indicate deteriorations across such key policy areas as market openness and regulatory efficiency. In the 2015 Index, the CAR has registered its lowest economic freedom score ever.
The security situation, combined with a lack of funding, has hampered travel and tourism development within the country. Despite possessing natural attractions, the number of inbound visitors remains extremely low, comprising largely business visitors, many of whom are aid and conservation workers. Many countries, including the US, UK and Canada, have warnings against all travel to the country. As a result, travel and tourism is facing an uphill struggle in the country to attract visitors, combined with inadequate facilities on the ground.