Central African Republic
About this schools Wikipedia selection
This Schools selection was originally chosen by SOS Children for schools in the developing world without internet access. It is available as a intranet download. See http://www.soschildren.org/sponsor-a-child to find out about child sponsorship.
|Central African Republic
|Motto: "Unité, Dignité, Travail" (French)
"Unity, Dignity, Work"
|Anthem: E Zingo (Sango)
La Renaissance (French)
and largest city
|Official languages||Sango and French|
|-||Prime Minister||Nicolas Tiangaye|
|Legislature||National Assembly (suspended)|
|-||from France||13 August 1960|
|-||Total||622,984 km2 ( 45th)
240,534 sq mi
|-||2009 estimate||4,422,000 ( 124th)|
|-||Density||7.1/km2 ( 223rd)
|GDP ( PPP)||2012 estimate|
|GDP (nominal)||2012 estimate|
low · 179th
|Currency|| Central African CFA franc (
|Time zone||WAT ( UTC+1)|
|-||Summer ( DST)||not observed ( UTC+1)|
|Drives on the||right|
|ISO 3166 code||CF|
The Central African Republic (CAR; Sango Ködörösêse tî Bêafrîka; French: République centrafricaine, pronounced: [ʁepyblik sɑ̃tʁafʁikɛn], or Centrafrique [sɑ̃tʀafʀik]) is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It borders Chad in the north, Sudan in the northeast, South Sudan in the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo in the south and Cameroon in the west. The CAR covers a land area of about 620,000 square kilometres (240,000 sq mi) and has an estimated population of about 4.4 million as of 2008. The capital is Bangui.
France called the colony it carved out in this region Oubangui-Chari, as most of the territory was located in the Ubangi and Chari river basins. It became a semi-autonomous territory of the French Community in 1958 and then an independent nation on 13 August 1960, taking its present name. For over three decades after independence, the CAR was ruled by presidents or an emperor, who either were unelected or who took power by force. Local discontent with this system was eventually reinforced by international pressure, following the end of the Cold War.
The first multi-party democratic elections in the CAR were held in 1993, with the aid of resources provided by the country's donors and help from the United Nations. The elections brought Ange-Félix Patassé to power, but he lost popular support during his presidency and was overthrown in 2003 by the French-backed General François Bozizé, who went on to win a democratic election in May 2005. Bozizé's inability to pay public sector workers led to strikes in 2007, which led him to appoint a new government on 22 January 2008, headed by Faustin-Archange Touadéra. In February 2010, Bozizé signed a presidential decree which set 25 April 2010 as the date for the next presidential election. This was postponed, but elections were held in January and March 2011, which were won by Bozizé and his party. Despite maintaining a veneer of stability, Bozizé's rule was plagued with heavy corruption, underdevelopment, nepotism and authoritarianism, which led to an open rebellion against his government. The rebellion was led by an alliance of armed opposition factions known as the Séléka Coalition during the Central African Republic Bush War (2004–2007) and the 2012–2013 Central African Republic conflict. This eventually led to his overthrow on 24 March 2013.
Most of the CAR consists of Sudano-Guinean savannas but it also includes a Sahelo- Sudanian 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, while the remaining third lies in the basin of the Chari, which flows north into Lake Chad.
Despite its significant mineral and other resources, such as uranium reserves in Bakouma, crude oil, gold, diamonds, lumber and hydropower, as well as arable land, the Central African Republic is one of the poorest countries in the world and is among the ten poorest countries in Africa. The Human Development Index for the Central African Republic is 0.343, which puts the country at 179th out of those 187 countries with data.
Between about 1000 BC and 1000 AD, Ubangian-speaking peoples spread eastward from Cameroon to Sudan, settling in most of what is now known as the Central African Republic. During the same period, a much smaller number of Bantu-speaking immigrants settled in south-western CAR and a number Central Sudanic-speaking people settled along the Oubangi. As a result of these early migrations, the majority of the CAR's present population speak Ubangian languages, or Bantu languages that belong to the Niger–Congo family. A minority speak Central Sudanic languages of the Nilo-Saharan family.
Exposure to the outside world
Before the 19th century, the people living in what is now 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 19th century, Muslim traders penetrated the region and cultivated relations with local leaders to facilitate trade and settlement in the region.
The arrival of Muslim traders in the early 19th century was relatively peaceful and depended upon the support of local peoples, but after about 1850, Arab slave traders with well-armed soldiers began to penetrate the region. The Bobangi people became major slave traders. From about 1860 to 1910, slave traders from Sudan, Chad, Cameroon, Dar al-Kuti in northern CAR and Nzakara and Zande states in south-eastern CAR permanently depopulated the eastern CAR.
French colonial period
The European penetration of Central African territory began in the late 19th century, during the so-called Scramble for Africa. Count Savorgnan de Brazza established the French Congo and sent expeditions up the Ubangi River from Brazzaville in an effort to expand France's claims to territory in Central Africa. Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom also competed to establish their claims to territory in the region.
In 1889, the French established a post on the Ubangi River at Bangui. In 1890–91, De Brazza sent expeditions up the Sangha River, in what is now south-western CAR, up the centre of the Ubangi basin toward Lake Chad, and eastward along the Ubangi River toward the Nile, with in the intention of expanding the borders of the French Congo to link up other the French territories in Africa. In 1894, the French Congo's borders with Leopold II of Belgium's Congo Free State and German Cameroon were fixed by diplomatic agreements. In 1899, the French Congo's border with Sudan was fixed along the Congo-Nile divide. This situation left France without her much coveted outlet on the Nile.
Once European negotiators had 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 it had acquired. The reported financial successes of Leopold II's concessionary companies in the Congo Free State convinced the French government to grant 17 private companies large concessions in the Ubangi-Shari region in 1899. In return for the right to exploit these lands by buying local products and selling European goods, the companies promised to pay rent to France and to promote the development of their concessions. The companies employed European and African agents, who frequently used brutal methods to force the Africans to work for them. At the same time, the French colonial administration began to force the local population to pay taxes and to provide the state with free labor. The companies and the French administration at times collaborated in forcing the Central Africans to work for them. Some French officials reported abuses committed by private company militias, and their own colonial colleagues and troops, but efforts to bring these criminals to justice almost always failed. When any news of atrocities committed against Central Africans reached France and caused an outcry, investigations were undertaken and some feeble attempts at reform were made, but the situation on the ground in Ubangi-Shari remained essentially the same.
During the first decade of French colonial rule, from about 1900 to 1910, the rulers of the Ubangi-Shari region increased both their slave-raiding activities and the selling of local produce to Europe. They took advantage of their treaties with the French to procure more weapons, which were used to capture more slaves: much of the eastern half of Ubangi-Shari was depopulated as a slave-trading by local rulers during the first decade of colonial rule.
During the 1910s, armed employees of private companies and the colonial state dealt brutally with any local resistance, but after the power of local African rulers was destroyed, slave raiding 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. Western Ubangi-Shari remained under German rule until World War I, after which France reconquered this territory using Central African troops.
From 1920 to 1930, a network of roads was built, cash crops were promoted and mobile health services were formed to combat sleeping sickness. Protestant missions were established 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. He exposed the continuing atrocities committed against Central Africans in Western Ubangi-Shari by such employees as the Forestry Company of Sangha-Ubangi. In 1928 a major insurrection, the Kongo-Wara 'war of the hoe handle' broke out in Western Ubangi-Shari, which continued for several years. The extent of this insurrection, which was perhaps the largest anti-colonial rebellion in Africa during the interwar years, was carefully hidden from the French public, because it provided evidence of strong opposition to French colonial rule and forced labor.
During the 1930s, 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 able to fix the prices paid to cultivators, which assured profits for their shareholders. In September 1940, during the Second World War, pro-Gaullist French officers took control of Ubangi-Shari.
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 in the Saint-Sylvestre coup d'état 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 (as the country was renamed) 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. Around 100 elementary school students were killed in April 1979. In 1979 France carried out a coup against Bokassa and "restored" Dacko to power (the name of the country was subsequently restored to Central African Republic). 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, inspired by 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 led in the first round and Kolingba came in fourth behind Abel Goumba and David Dacko. In the second round, Patassé won 53% of the vote while Goumba won 45.6%. 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 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 Unies en RCA ( MINURCA).
In 1998, parliamentary elections resulted in Kolingba's RDC winning 20 out of 109 seats, constituting a comeback. However, in 1999, notwithstanding widespread public anger in urban centers at 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 François 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 across 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 in 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. In March 2003, 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, known as "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.
In November 2006, the Bozizé government requested French military support to fend off rebels who had taken control of towns in the country's north. Though the initially public details of the agreement pertained to logistics and intelligence, the French assistance eventually included strikes by Mirage jets against rebel positions.
Bozizé was reelected in an election in 2011 which was widely considered fraudulent.
In November 2012 a coalition of rebel groups took over towns in the north and centre of the country. These groups eventually reached a peace deal with the Bozizé's government in January 2013 involving a power sharing government. This peace deal was later broken when the rebels who had joined the power sharing government left their posts and rebel groups stormed the capital. Bozizé fled the country and Michel Djotodia took over the presidency. He has promised to hold elections in 2016.
The Central African Republic is a landlocked nation within the interior of the African continent. It is bordered by Cameroon, Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo. The country lies between latitudes 2° and 11°N, and longitudes 14° and 28°E.
Much of the country consists of flat, or rolling plateau savanna, typically about 500 metres (1,640 ft) above sea level, of which most of the northern half lies within the World Wildlife Fund's East Sudanian savanna ecoregion. As well as the Fertit Hills in the northeast of the CAR, there are scattered hills in the southwest. To the northwest is the Yade Massif, a granite plateau with an altitude of 1,143 feet (348 m).
At 622,941 square kilometres (240,519 sq mi), the Central African Republic is the world's 45th-largest country. It is comparable in size to Ukraine, and is somewhat smaller than the US state of Texas.
Much of the southern border is formed by tributaries of the Congo River, with the Mbomou River in the east merging with the Uele River to form the Ubangi River. In the west, the Sangha River flows through part of the country. The eastern border lies along the edge of the Nile River watershed.
It has been estimated that up to 8% of the country is covered by forest, with the densest parts in the south. The forest is highly diverse in nature and includes commercially important species of Ayous, Sapelli and Sipo. The deforestation rate is 0.4% per annum, and lumber poaching is commonplace.
In the November 2008 issue of National Geographic, the Central African Republic was named the country least affected by light pollution.
Prefectures and sub-prefectures
The Central African Republic is divided into 14 administrative prefectures (préfectures), along with two economic prefectures (préfectures economiques) and one autonomous commune. The prefectures are further divided into 71 sub-prefectures (sous-préfectures).
The prefectures are Bamingui-Bangoran, Basse-Kotto, Haute-Kotto, Haut-Mbomou, Kémo, Lobaye, Mambéré-Kadéï, Mbomou, Nana-Mambéré, Ombella-M'Poko, Ouaka, Ouham, Ouham-Pendé and Vakaga.
The two economic prefectures are Nana-Grébizi and Sangha-Mbaéré, while the commune is the capital city Bangui.
The climate of the Central African Republic is generally tropical, with a wet season that lasts from June to September in the north of the country, and from May to October in the south. During the wet season there are rainstorms on an almost daily basis and there is often early morning fog. Maximum annual precipitation is 71 inches (1,800 mm) in the upper Ubangi region.
The northern areas are hot and humid from February to May, but can be subject to the hot, dry and dusty trade wind known as the Harmattan. The southern regions have a more equatorial climate but are subject to desertification, while the northeast of the country already is a desert.
The population of the Central African Republic has almost quadrupled since independence. In 1960, the population was 1,232,000; as of a 2009 UN estimate, it was 4,422,000.
The United Nations estimates that approximately 11% of the population aged between 15 and 49 is HIV positive. Only 3% of the country has antiretroviral therapy available, compared to a 17% coverage in the neighbouring countries of Chad and the Republic of the Congo.
The nation is divided into over 80 ethnic groups, each having its own language. The largest ethnic groups are the Baya, Banda, Mandjia, Sara, Mboum, M'Baka, Yakoma, and Fula or Fulani, with others including Europeans of mostly French descent
Fifty percent of the population of CAR are Christians (Protestant 25%, Roman Catholic 25%), while 35% of the population maintain indigenous beliefs. Islam is practised by 15% of the country's population. There are many missionary groups operating in the country, including Lutherans, Baptists, Catholics, Grace Brethren, and Jehovah's Witnesses. While these missionaries are predominantly from the United States, France, Italy and Spain, many are also from Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other African countries. Missionaries left the country when fighting broke out between rebel and government forces in 2002-3, but many of them have now returned to continue their work.
The Central African Republic's two official languages are Sangho, a Ngbandi-based creole, and French.
Government and politics
Like many other former French colonies, the Central African Republic's legal system is based upon French law.
A new constitution was approved by voters in a referendum held on 5 December 2004. Full multiparty presidential and parliamentary elections were held in March 2005, with a second round in May. Bozizé was declared the winner after a run-off vote.
A couple of years later, the Central African Republic fell victim to one of Africa's many civil wars, rebellions and revolutions. In February 2006, there were reports of widespread violence in the northern part of the country. Thousands of refugees fled their homes, caught up in the crossfire between government troops and rebel forces. More than 7,000 people fled to neighboring Chad. Those who remained in the CAR told how government troops systematically killed men and boys that they suspected of cooperation with the rebels. The French military supported the Bozizé government's response to the rebels in November 2006.
In March 2010, Bozizé signed a decree declaring that presidential elections were to be held on 25 April 2010. The elections were postponed, firstly until 16 May and then indefinitely. Finally, the general election was set for 23 January 2011. Despite serious organizational problems, the election proceeded as scheduled. A second round was held on 27 March 2011. The general elections were partly funded by the European Union and United Nations Development Programme. The 'Observatoire National des Elections' monitored the election process. Both Bozizé and his party scored major victories.
Despite the veneer of stability during that era, Bozizé's rule was plagued with heavy corruption, underdevelopment, nepotism, and authoritarianism, leading to an open rebellion against the Bozizé government by an alliance of armed opposition factions known as the Séléka Coalition during the Central African Republic Bush War and the 2012–2013 Central African Republic conflict that eventually led to his overthrow on 24 March 2013.
In December 2012, Séléka Coalition rebels advanced towards the capital, prompting protests at the French embassy and the evacuation of the US embassy. After several days of clashes and rebel advances, and following the refusal by the French government to intervene, the Bozizé government agreed to holding talks with rebels. On 24 March 2013, the Séléka rebels marched into the capital and stormed the presidential palace, forcing Bozizé to flee to Cameroon via the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The rebel leader Djotodia proclaimed himself President after conquering the capital of Bangui. Nicolas Tiangaye remained as the prime minister: he was recently appointed and was allowed by the Séléka rebels to retain his post, as he was endorsed by the opposition.
Resistance against the new rulers consisted mostly of armed youths, and soldiers in a base 60 kilometres (37 mi) from the capital. By 27 March, normal life in the capital had begun to be resumed. Top military and police officers recognized Djotodia as President on 28 March 2013, in what was viewed as "a form of surrender".
A new government was appointed on 31 March 2013, which consisted of members of Séléka and representatives of the opposition to Bozizé, one pro-Bozizé individual and a number representatives of civil society. On 1 April, the former opposition parties declared that they would boycott the government. After African leaders in Chad refused to recognize Djotodia as President, proposing instead the formation of an transitional council and the holding of new elections, Djotodia accordingly signed a decree on 6 April for the formation of a council that would act as a transitional parliament. The council was tasked with electing a president to serve prior to elections in 18 months.
The 2009 Human Rights Report by the United States Department of State noted that, in general, the CAR's human rights record remained poor. Concerns were expressed over numerous government abuses. Freedom of speech is addressed in the country's constitution, but there were incidents of government intimidation with the intent to limit media criticism. A report by the International Research & Exchanges Board's media sustainability index noted that "the country minimally met objectives, with segments of the legal system and government opposed to a free media system".
From 1972 to 1990, and in 2002 and 2003, the CAR was rated 'Not Free' by Freedom House. It was rated 'Partly Free' in 1991–2001 and from 2004 to the present. On the United Nations Human Development Index, it ranks 179 out of 187 countries.
According to the U.S. State Department, major human rights abuses occur in the country. These include: extrajudicial executions by security forces; the torture, beating and rape of suspects and prisoners; impunity, particularly among the armed forces; harsh and life-threatening conditions in prisons and detention centers; arbitrary arrest and detention, prolonged pretrial detention and denial of a fair trial; restrictions on freedom of movement; official corruption; and restrictions on workers' rights. The State Department report also cites: widespread mob violence that often results in fatalities; the prevalence of female genital mutilation; discrimination against women and Pygmies; trafficking in persons; forced labor; and child labor. Freedom of movement is limited in the northern part of the country "because of actions by state security forces, armed bandits, and other nonstate armed entities" and due to fighting between government and anti-government forces, many persons have been internally displaced.
Foreign relations and military
The Central African Armed Forces were established in 1960. In 2009, the Central African Republic began seeking investments from China.
The Central African Republic is heavily dependent upon multilateral foreign aid and the presence of numerous NGOs which provide services which the government fails to provide. As one UNDP official put it, the CAR is a country "sous serum", or a country metaphorically hooked up to an IV. (Mehler 2005:150). The very presence of numerous foreign personnel and organizations in the country, including peacekeepers and even refugee camps, provides an important source of revenue for many Central Africans.
Much of the country is self-sufficient in food crops. Livestock development is hindered by the presence of the tsetse fly.
In 2006, due to ongoing violence, over 50,000 people in the country's northwest were at risk of starvation. This was only averted thanks to United Nations support.
On 12 June 2008, the Central African Republic became the fourth country to be placed on the agenda of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, which was set up in 2005 to help countries emerging from conflict avoid the slide back into war or chaos. The 31-member body agreed to take up the situation after a request from the government.
On 8 January 2008, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon declared that the Central African Republic was eligible to receive assistance from the Peacebuilding Fund. Three priority areas were identified: firstly, the reform of the security sector; secondly, the promotion of good governance and the rule of law; and, thirdly, the revitalization of communities affected by conflicts.
Banks in the Central African Republic dispense the CFA franc, which is accepted in a number of different countries. Agriculture is dominated by the cultivation and sale of food crops such as cassava, peanuts, maize, sorghum, millet, sesame, and plantain. The annual real GDP growth rate is just above 3%. The importance of food crops over exported cash crops is indicated by the fact that the total production of cassava, the staple food of most Central Africans, ranges between 200,000 and 300,000 tonnes a year, while the production of cotton, the principal exported cash crop, ranges from 25,000 to 45,000 tonnes a year. Food crops are not exported in large quantities, but they still constitute the principal cash crops of the country, because Central Africans derive far more income from the periodic sale of surplus food crops than from exported cash crops such as cotton or coffee.
The Republic's primary import partner is South Korea (45.8%). Other imports come from Netherlands (8.8%), France (7.2%) and Cameroon (5.1%). Its largest export partner is Belgium (30.4%), followed by China (17.1%), the Democratic Republic of Congo (7.9%), France (7.1%), Indonesia (6.3%), and Morocco (5.3%).
The per capita income of the Republic is often listed as being around $300 a year, said to be one of the lowest in the world, but this figure is based mostly on reported sales of exports and largely ignores such unregistered sale of foods, locally produced alcohol, diamonds, ivory, bushmeat and traditional medicine. For most Central Africans, the informal economy of the CAR is more important than the formal economy. Diamonds constitute the country's most important export, accounting for 40–55% of export revenues, but it is estimated that between 30% and 50% of those produced each year leave the country clandestinely. Export trade is hindered by poor economic development and the country's location away from the coast.
The wilderness regions of this country represent potential ecotourist destinations. In the southwest, the Dzanga-Sangha National Park is located in a rain forest area. The country is noted for its population of forest elephants and western lowland gorillas. To the north, the Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park is well-populated with wildlife, including leopards, lions, and rhinos. The Bamingui-Bangoran National Park is located in the north-east of CAR. The parks have been badly affected by the activities of poachers, in particular from Sudan, over the past two decades.
CAR is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA). In the 2009 World Bank Group's report Doing Business, it was ranked 180th of 181 as regards 'ease of business', a composite index that takes into account regulations that enhance business activity and those that constrain it.
Science and technology
The Central African Republic has active television service and radio stations.
The Central African Republic has over 1,800 motor vehicles on the road, although a limited quantity of land has been developed into highways.
The Central African Republic primarily uses hydroelectricity because there are few resources for energy.
Public education in the Central African Republic is free and compulsory from ages 6 to 14. About half the adult population of the country is illiterate. The University of Bangui, a public university located in Bangui, and Euclid University, an international university in Bangui are the two institutions of higher education in the Central African Republic.
In 2007, female life expectancy at birth was 48.2 years and male life expectancy at birth was 45.1 years. The fertility rate is about five births per woman. According to 2009 estimates, the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is about 4.7% of the adult population (ages 15–49). Government expenditure on health was at US$ 20 (PPP) per person in 2006. There were 0.08 physicians per 100,000 people in 2004. Government expenditure on health was at 10.9% of total government expenditure in 2006.
The Central African Republic national football team, which is governed by the Fédération Centrafricaine de Football, stage matches at Barthelemy Boganda Stadium.