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Brief History

Central African Republic achieved independence from France on August 13, 1960 and was given its current name after France had called the colony Ubangi-Chari. For over three decades after independence, the C.A.R. was ruled by presidents who were not chosen in multi-party democratic elections or took power by force. The first multi-party democratic elections were held in 1993. A military coup in 2003, led by General Francois Bozize, deposed the president. Bozize became president as of March 15, 2003. Lawlessness continues to prevail around the country.

Geography

Central African Republic, capital Bangui, is a landlocked country in Central Africa covering an area of 622,984 square kilometers. It borders Chad in the north, Sudan in the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo in the south, and Cameroon in the west. The climate of is generally tropical, with hot, dry winters and mild to hot, wet summers. Two thirds of the country lies in the basins of the Ubangi River, which flows south into the Congo River, while the remaining third lies in the basin of the Chari River, which flows north into Lake Chad. Natural resources include diamonds, uranium, timber, gold, oil, and hydropower.

People

Central African Republic has a population of 4,844,927 (2010) of over 8o ethnic groups, the largest of which is the Baya forming 33% of the population, whose official language is French. Other languages include the Sangho and tribal languages. The literacy rate is 48.6% (2000) and the unemployment rate is 8% (2001). Its religions are distributed among 50% Christians, 35% followers of indigenous beliefs, and 15% Muslims. There are small minorities of Europeans, mainly French.

Government

The government of Central African Republic is subject to a republic system. Its legal system is based on French law. It has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. The chief of state is President Francois Bozize since the March 15, 2003 coup, and the head of government is Prime Minister Faustin-Archange Touadera since January 22, 2008. The official currency is the Central African CFA franc, where 534 franc are equivalent to US$1.

Economy

Subsistence agriculture, together with forestry, remains the backbone of the economy of the Central African Republic, accounting for 55% of the GDP in 2001. Food crops include cassava, peanuts, maize, sorghum, millet, sesame, and plantain. Timber is also an important export and has accounted for about 16% of export earnings. Other export products include wax, rubber, tobacco and leather. The livestock industry is growing in Central African Republic.

The manufacturing industry in Central African Republic is very small and does not contribute significantly to GDP, around 20%. Industries consist of processing agricultural and forest products such as cotton ginning, leather tanning and textiles, and with light industry such as soap, paint, bricks and utensil manufacture, motor cycle and bicycle assembly and brewing. Key industries in the Central African Republic are the mining and oil industries; the diamond industry accounts for 40% of export earnings, with the CAR being the world's 10th largest producer of diamonds. The country also had deposits of nickel, graphite, ilmenite, lignite, monazite, rutile, manganese, cobalt, tin, copper, china clay, and limestone, however, the lack of adequate transportation and industrial infrastructure hindered the development of the nation's mineral industry.

The wilderness regions of this country have potential as ecotourist destinations. The country is noted for its population of forest elephants.

The CAR is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).

The GDP per capita is US$700 (2009) and the inflation rate is 0.9% (2007). The Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is estimated to be US$ 407.82 (2010).


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