2 minute read

Central African Republic

Central African Republic, landlocked country in equatorial Africa, bordered by Chad, Sudan, Zaire, Congo and Cameroon.

Land and climate

The republic lies north of the equator and is a rolling plateau at about 2,500 ft (763 m). In the east the Fertit Hills rise to 4,200 ft (1,280 m), and in the northeast the Ouanda-Djale Hills reach 3,750 ft (1,143 m). A dense tropical rainforest covers the southern part of the country; the rest is grassland, becoming drier and treeless toward the northern border. Jungle wildlife is abundant. Rain is abundant in the south, but mainly confined to the season from June to October in both central and northern areas. The chief rivers are the Ubangi and the Shari.


The Central African Republic has a population density of 5 persons per sq mi (2 per sq km). Ethnic groups include the Zandé, the Banda, and the Mbaka. The small European group is mainly French. French is the official language, but Sango is the language most commonly spoken. Religion is mainly animism, but a growing number of Muslims live near the Chad border. Illiteracy is high, but school attendance is rising. There are technical schools, but no university.


The country's poor economy is based on farm crops for home consumption and cotton and diamonds for export. The tsetse fly prevents significant expansion of the cattle industry. There are plans to exploit the deposits of iron, limestone, silver, and uranium. The one large industrial complex is the textile plant at Bouali, which uses hydroelectric power. The country's economy suffers from the lack of a seaport and the absence of railways. The capital, Bangui, is a river port, located on the Ubangi, a tributary of the Congo River.


The first French outposts were established in 1886. In 1894 the area was called the territory of Ubangi-Shari. In 1910 it was incorporated into French Equatorial Africa. After World War II demands for independence were led by M. Barthélemy Boganda, resulting in the inclusion of Ubangi-Shari in the French Community in 1958. Two years later, on August 13, the country became an independent nation as the Central African Republic. In 1959 David Dacko became the independent nation's first president. He was overthrown in 1966 by a military coup, led by Colonel Jean-Bedel Bokassa, who assumed the presidency and had the nation's sole political party appoint him president for life in 1972. In 1979 Dacko regained control with support from the French, and Bokassa went into exile. Dacko, elected to a 6-year term in 1981, was ousted in a military coup later that year. The country returned to a civilian government in 1993 when Ange-Felix Pattass was democratically elected as the new president. His policy is aimed at a socio-economic reconstruction of the country.


Additional topics

21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Catherine de' Medici to Children's home