National name: Republique Centrafricaine
Area: 241,313 sq. mi. (622,980 sq. 1cm)
Population (1999 est.): 3,444,951 (average annual rate of natural increase: 2.18%); birth rate: 38.3(1-000; infant mortality rate: 103.4/1000; density per sq. ml.: 14 Capital and largest city (1990 est Bangul, 706,000. Monetary unit: Franc CFA. Languages: French (official), Sangho, Arabic, Hansa, Swahili. Ethnicity! race: Baya 34%, Banda 27%, Sara 10%, Mandjia 21%, Mboum 4%, M’Baka 4%, Europeans 6,500 (including 3,600 French). Religions: 24% indigenous beliefs, 50% Protestant and Roman Catholic with animist influence, 15% Muslim, 11% other. Literacy rate: 38% Economic summary: GDP/PPP (1997 est.): $3.3 billion; $1,000 per capita. Real growth rate: na.. Inflation: 4% (1996 est.). Unemployment: 6% (1993). Arable land: 3%. Agriculture: cotton, coffee, tobacco, manioc (tapioca), yams, millet, corn, bananas, timber. Labor force: na. Industry: diamond mining, sawmills, breweries, textiles, footwear, assembly of bicycles and motorcycles. Natural resources: diamonds, uranium, timber, gold, oil. Exports: $171 million (f.o.b., 1995): diamonds, timber, cotton, coffee, tobacco. Imports: $174 million (fob., 1995): food, textiles, petroleum products, machinery, electrical equipment, motor vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, industrial products. Major trading partners: France, Belgium-Luxembourg, Italy, Japan, U.S., Spain, Iran, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, EU, Algeria, Cameroon, Namibia.
Geography Situated about 500 miles (805 1cm) 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.Twice the size of New Mexico, it is covered by tropical forests in the south and semidesert land in the east. The Ubangi and the Shari are the largest of many rivers.
Government Multiparty republic since 1991.
History From the 16th to 19th centuries, the people of this region were ravaged by slave traders. The Banda, Bays, Ngbandi, and Azande make up the larg est ethnic groups.
The French occupied the region in 1894. As the colony of Ubangi-Shari, what is now the Central Afri can 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 pro claimed the republic’s independence from France. Dacko moved the country into Beijing’s orbit, but was overthrown in a coup on Dec. 31, 1965, by Col. Jean-Bédel Bokassa, army chief of staff.
On Dec. 4, 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 Sept. 20, 1979. Former president David Dacko returned to power and changed the country’s name back to the Central African Republic. An army coup on Sept. 1, 1981, deposed President Dacko again.
In 1991, President Kolingba, under pressure, announced a move toward multiparty democracy. Elections in Aug. 1993 saw the defeat of Kolingba and the victory of Prime Minister Patassd as president. A military revolt was crushed with the aid of French soldiers in Jan. 1997. At the end of 1999 the Dacko.
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