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 but lasted only a decade. In March 2003, President Ange-Felix PATASSE was deposed in a military coup led by General Francois BOZIZE, who established a transitional government. Elections held in 2005 affirmed General BOZIZE as president; he was reelected in 2011 in voting widely viewed as flawed. The government still lacks full control of the countryside, where lawlessness persists. The militant group, Lord's Resistance Army, continues to destabilize southeastern Central African Republic, and several rebel groups joined together in early December 2012 to launch a series of attacks that left them in control of numerous towns in the northern and central parts of the country. The rebels - unhappy with BOZIZE's government - participated in peace talks in early January 2013 which resulted in a coalition government including the rebellion's leadership. In March 2013, the coalition government dissolved, rebels seized the capital, and President BOZIZE fled the country. Rebel leader Michel DJOTODIA assumed the presidency and the following month established a National Transitional Council (CNT). In January 2014, the CNT elected Catherine SAMBA-PANZA as interim president. Elections completed in March 2016 installed independent candidate Faustin-Archange TOUADERA as president.



Central Africa, north of Democratic Republic of the Congo

Geographic coordinates

7 00 N, 21 00 E

Map references



total: 622,984 sq km
land: 622,984 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Texas

Land boundaries

total: 5,920 km
border countries (6): Cameroon 901 km, Chad 1,556 km, Democratic Republic of the Congo 1,747 km, Republic of the Congo 487 km, South Sudan 1,055 km, Sudan 174 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)


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


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


mean elevation: 635 m
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

agricultural land: 8.1%
arable land 2.9%; permanent crops 0.1%; permanent pasture 5.1%
forest: 36.2%
other: 55.7% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

10 sq km (2012)

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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, 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

People and Society

Population growth rate

2.12% (2016 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, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2016 est.)


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%


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


indigenous beliefs 35%, Protestant 25%, Roman Catholic 25%, Muslim 15%
note: animistic beliefs and practices strongly influence the Christian majority

Demographic profile

The Central African Republic’s (CAR) humanitarian crisis has worsened since a coup in March 2013. CAR’s high mortality rate and low life expectancy are attributed to elevated rates of preventable and treatable diseases (including malaria and malnutrition), an inadequate health care system, precarious food security, and armed conflict. Some of the worst mortality rates are in western CAR’s diamond mining region, which is impoverished because of government attempts to control the diamond trade and the fall in industrial diamond prices. To make matters worse, the government and international donors have reduced health funding in recent years. The CAR’s weak educational system and low literacy rate have also suffered as a result of the country’s ongoing conflict. Schools are closed, qualified teachers are scarce, infrastructure, funding, and supplies are lacking and subject to looting, and many students and teachers are displaced by violence.
Rampant poverty, human rights violations, unemployment, poor infrastructure, and a lack of security and stability have led to forced displacement internally and externally. Since the political crisis that resulted in CAR’s March 2013 coup began in December 2012, approximately 370,000 people have fled to Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and other neighboring countries, while an estimated 385,000 are displaced internally. The UN has urged countries to refrain from repatriating CAR refugees amid the heightened lawlessness.

Age structure

0-14 years: 40.27% (male 1,114,727/female 1,102,809)
15-24 years: 19.98% (male 553,264/female 547,308)
25-54 years: 32.24% (male 888,304/female 887,348)
55-64 years: 4.04% (male 101,306/female 120,964)
65 years and over: 3.47% (male 74,516/female 116,711) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 75.2%
youth dependency ratio: 68.4%
elderly dependency ratio: 6.8%
potential support ratio: 14.8% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 19.6 years
male: 19.3 years
female: 19.9 years (2016 est.)

Birth rate

34.7 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

13.5 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)


urban population: 40% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 2.59% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

BANGUI (capital) 794,000 (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.84 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Child labor - children ages 5-14

total number: 532,518
percentage: 47% (2006 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

882 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 88.4 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 95.9 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 80.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 52.3 years
male: 51 years
female: 53.7 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

4.36 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

15.2% (2010/11)

Health expenditures

4.2% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

0.05 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital bed density

1 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source

urban: 89.6% of population
rural: 54.4% of population
total: 68.5% of population
urban: 10.4% of population
rural: 45.6% of population
total: 31.5% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 43.6% of population
rural: 7.2% of population
total: 21.8% of population
urban: 56.4% of population
rural: 92.8% of population
total: 78.2% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

3.7% (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

118,800 (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

7,800 (2015 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
animal contact disease: rabies (2016)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

4.4% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

23.5% (2011)

Education expenditures

1.2% of GDP (2011)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 36.8%
male: 50.7%
female: 24.4% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 7 years
male: 8 years
female: 6 years (2012)


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
etymology: self-descriptive name specifying the country's location on the continent; "Africa" is derived from the Roman designation of the area corresponding to present-day Tunisia "Africa terra," which meant "Land of the Afri" (the tribe resident in that area), but which eventually came to mean the entire continent

Government type

presidential republic


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


13 August 1960 (from France)

National holiday

Republic Day, 1 December (1958)


several previous; latest adopted by referendum in December 2015 (2016)

Legal system

civil law system based on the French model

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: least one parent must be a citizen of the Central African Republic
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: 35 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Faustin-Archange TOUADERA (since 30 March 2016)
head of government: Prime Minister Simplice SARANDJI (since 2 April 2016)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections/appointments: under the new constitution, the president is elected by universal direct sufferage for a period of 5 years renewable for a second term; last election was held 20 February 2016 (next to be held April 2021)
election results: First round held on 30 December 2015, percent of vote - Anicet-Georges DOLOGUELE (URCA) 23.7%, Faustin-Archange TOUADERA (independent) 19.1%, Desire KOLINGBA (RDC) 12.0%, Martin ZIGUELE (MLPC) 11.4%, other 33.8%; second round held on 20 February 2016, percent of vote - Faustin-Archange TOUADERA (independent) 62.7%, Anicet-Georges DOLOGUELE (URCA) 37.3%
note: rebel forces seized the capital in March 2013, forcing former President BOZIZE to flee the country; Interim President Michel DJOTODIA assumed the presidency, reinstated the prime minister, and established a National Transitional Council (CNT) in April 2013; the NTC elected Catherine SAMBA-PANZA interim president in January 2014 to serve until February 2015 when new elections were to be held; her term was extended because instability delayed new elections and the transition did not take place until the end of March 2016

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (131 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote with a second round if needed; members serve 5-year terms)
elections: last held February 2016 and 31 March 2016 (next election to be held in 2021)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UNDP 13, URCA 13, RDC 10, MLPC 9, KNK 7, independents 56, other 23

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court or Cour Supreme (consists of NA judges); Constitutional Court (consists of 9 judges, at least 3 of whom are women)
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges appointed by the president; Constitutional Court judge appointments - 2 by the president, 1 by the speaker of the National Assembly, 2 elected by their peers, 2 are advocates elected by their peers, and 2 are law professors elected by their peers; judges serve 7-year non-renewable terms
subordinate courts: high courts; magistrates' courts

National symbol(s)

elephant; national colors: blue, white, green, yellow, red

Political parties and leaders

Action Party for Development or PAD
Alliance for Democracy and Progress or ADP [Clement BELIBANGA]
Central African Democratic Rally or RDC [Desire Nzanga KOLINGBA]
Movement for Democracy and Development or MDD [Louis PAPENIAH]
Movement for the Liberation of the Central African People or MLPC [Martin ZIGUELE]
National Convergence (also known as Kwa Na Kwa) or KNK [Francois BOZIZE]
National Union for Democracy and Progress or UNDP [Amine MICHEL]
New Alliance for Progress or NAP [Jean-Jacques DEMAFOUTH]
Social Democratic Party or PSD [Enoch LAKOUE]
Union for Central African Renewal or URCA [Anicet-Georges DOLOGUELE]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Stanislas MOUSSA-KEMBE (since 24 August 2009)
chancery: 2704 Ontario Road NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 483-7800
FAX: [1] (202) 332-9893

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Jeffrey HAWKINS (30 October 2015)
embassy: Avenue David Dacko, Bangui
mailing address: P.O. Box 924, Bangui
telephone: [236] 21 61 0200
FAX: [236] 21 61 4494
note: embassy operations suspended in December 2012; resumed limited operations on 15 Septermber 2014

Flag description

four equal horizontal bands of blue (top), white, green, and yellow with a vertical red band in center; a yellow five-pointed star to the hoist side of the blue band; banner combines the Pan-African and French flag colors; red symbolizes the blood spilled in the struggle for independence, blue represents the sky and freedom, white peace and dignity, green hope and faith, and yellow tolerance; the star represents aspiration towards a vibrant future

National anthem

name: "Le Renaissance" (The Renaissance)
lyrics/music: Barthelemy BOGANDA/Herbert PEPPER
note: adopted 1960; Barthelemy BOGANDA wrote the anthem's lyrics and was the first prime minister of the autonomous French territory


Industrial production growth rate

3.5% (2016 est.)

Economy - overview

Subsistence agriculture, together with forestry and mining, remains the backbone of the economy of the Central African Republic (CAR), with about 60% of the population living in outlying areas. The agricultural sector generates more than half of GDP. Timb

Since 2009, the IMF has worked closely with the government to institute reforms that have resulted in some improvement in budget transparency, but other problems remain. The government's additional spending in the run-up to the 2011 election worsened CAR'

Kimberley Process participants partially lifted the ban on diamond exports from the country in 2015, but persistent insecurity will prevent GDP from recovering to its pre-2013 level.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$3.206 billion (2016 est.)
$3.048 billion (2015 est.)
$2.908 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$1.782 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

5.2% (2016 est.)
4.8% (2015 est.)
1% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$700 (2016 est.)
$600 (2015 est.)
$600 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

6.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
4.9% of GDP (2015 est.)
4.6% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 108.3%
government consumption: 9.1%
investment in fixed capital: 10.4%
investment in inventories: 0%
exports of goods and services: 12.7%
imports of goods and services: -40.5% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 58%
industry: 11.7%
services: 30.3% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

cotton, coffee, tobacco, cassava (manioc, tapioca), yams, millet, corn, bananas; timber


gold and diamond mining, logging, brewing, sugar refining

Labor force

2.421 million (2016 est.)

Unemployment rate

8% (2001 est.)
note: 23% unemployment in the capital, Bangui

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.1%
highest 10%: 33% (2003)

Distribution of family income - Gini index

61.3 (1993)


revenues: $207.1 million
expenditures: $284.7 million (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

11.6% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-4.4% of GDP (2016 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

3.3% (2016 est.)
4.5% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

4.25% (31 December 2009)
4.75% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

15.5% (31 December 2016 est.)
15.5% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$392.7 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$340.9 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$500.7 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$426.7 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$521.4 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$444.4 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares


Current account balance

-$178 million (2016 est.)
-$144 million (2015 est.)


$77 million (2016 est.)
$70.5 million (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

diamonds, timber, cotton, coffee

Exports - partners

Norway 52.2%, China 14.1%, Democratic Republic of the Congo 8.3% (2015)


$375.3 million (2016 est.)
$360.4 million (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

food, textiles, petroleum products, machinery, electrical equipment, motor vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals

Imports - partners

Norway 39.6%, France 6.8%, US 4.6% (2015)

Debt - external

$686.9 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$661.9 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Exchange rates

Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale francs (XAF) per US dollar -
605.7 (2016 est.)
591.45 (2015 est.)
591.45 (2014 est.)
494.42 (2013 est.)
510.53 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 4,500,000
electrification - total population: 3%
electrification - urban areas: 5%
electrification - rural areas: 1% (2013)

Electricity - production

200 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

200 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

44,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

43.2% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

56.8% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

3,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

2,828 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

400,000 Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 1,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 982,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 18 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: network consists principally of microwave radio relay and low-capacity, low-powered radiotelephone communication
domestic: very limited telephone service with less than 1 fixed-line connection per 100 persons; spurred by the presence of multiple mobile-cellular service providers, cellular usage is increasing from a low base; most fixed-line and mobile-cellular telephone servi
international: country code - 236; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2015)

Broadcast media

government-owned network, Radiodiffusion Television Centrafricaine, provides domestic TV broadcasting; licenses for 2 private TV stations are pending; state-owned radio network is supplemented by a small number of privately owned broadcast stations as wel (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 246,000
percent of population: 4.6% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 2
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 46,364
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 0 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

TL (2016)


39 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 37
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 19
under 914 m: 6 (2013)


total: 20,278 km
paved: 1,385 km
unpaved: 18,893 km (2010)


2,800 km (the primary navigable river is the Ubangi, which joins the River Congo; it was the traditional route for the export of products because it connected with the Congo-Ocean railway at Brazzaville; because of the warfare on both sides of the River Congo from 1997, importers and exporters preferred routes through Cameroon) (2011)

Ports and terminals

river port(s): Bangui (Oubangui); Nola (Sangha)


Military branches

Central African Armed Forces (Forces Armees Centrafricaines, FACA): Ground Forces (includes Military Air Service), General Directorate of Gendarmerie Inspection (DGIG), National Police (2011)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for selective military service; 2-year conscript service obligation (2012)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

periodic skirmishes persist over water and grazing rights among related pastoral populations along the border with southern Sudan

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 5,183 (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (2016)
IDPs: 462,476 (clashes between army and rebel groups since 2005; tensions between ethnic groups) (2016)

Trafficking in persons

current situation: Central African Republic (CAR) is a source, transit, and destination country for children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking, women subjected to forced prostitution, and adults subjected to forced labor; most victims appear to be CAR citizens exploited within the country, with a smaller number transported back forth between the CAR and nearby countries; armed groups operating in the CAR, including those aligned with the former Seleka Government and the Lord’s Resistance Army, continue to recruit and re-recruit children for military activities and labor; children are also subject to domestic servitude, commercial sexual exploitation, and forced labor in agriculture, mines, shops, and street vending; women and girls are subject to domestic servitude, sexual slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, and forced marriage
tier rating: Tier 3 – the Central African Republic does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; the government conducted a limited number of investigations and prosecutions of cases of suspected human trafficking in 2014 but did not identify, provide protection to, or refer to care providers any trafficking victims; the government did not directly provide reintegration programs for demobilized child soldiers, leaving victims vulnerable to further exploitation or retrafficking by armed groups, including those affiliated with the government; in 2014, an NGO and the government began drafting a national action plan against trafficking but no efforts were reported to establish a policy against child soldiering or to raise awareness about existing laws prohibiting the use of children in the armed forces (2015)