Central African Republic


Central African Republic
a republic in central Africa: a member of the French Community. 3,342,051; 238,000 sq. mi. (616,420 sq. km). Cap.: Bangui. Formerly, Central African Empire, Ubangi-Shari.

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Central African Republic

Introduction Central African Republic -
Background: 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 - a civilian government was installed in 1993. Geography Central African Republic
Location: Central Africa, north of Democratic Republic of the Congo
Geographic coordinates: 7 00 N, 21 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 622,984 sq km water: 0 sq km land: 622,984 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Texas
Land boundaries: total: 5,203 km border countries: Cameroon 797 km, Chad 1,197 km, Democratic Republic of the Congo 1,577 km, Republic of the Congo 467 km, Sudan 1,165 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: tropical; hot, dry winters; mild to hot, wet summers
Terrain: vast, flat to rolling, monotonous plateau; scattered hills in northeast and southwest
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: arable land: 3.1% permanent crops: 0.14% other: 96.76% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: NA sq km
Natural hazards: hot, dry, dusty harmattan winds affect northern areas; floods are common Environment - current issues: tap water is not potable; poaching has diminished its reputation as one of the last great wildlife refuges; desertification; deforestation Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 94 signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography - note: landlocked; almost the precise center of Africa People Central African Republic -
Population: 3,642,739 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 and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 43% (male 788,417; female 776,721) 15-64 years: 53.2% (male 951,908; female 986,947) 65 years and over: 3.8% (male 60,395; female 78,351) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.8% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 36.6 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 18.62 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/ female total population: 0.98 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 103.81 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 43.58 years female: 45.13 years (2002 est.) male: 42.08 years
Total fertility rate: 4.77 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 13.84% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ 240,000 (1999 est.)
AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 23,000 (1999 est.)
Nationality: 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%
Religions: indigenous beliefs 35%, Protestant 25%, Roman Catholic 25%, Muslim 15% note: animistic beliefs and practices strongly influence the Christian majority
Languages: French (official), Sangho (lingua franca and national language), tribal languages
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 60% male: 68.5% female: 52.4% (1995 est.) Government Central African Republic -
Country name: conventional long form: Central African Republic conventional short form: none local short form: none former: Ubangi-Shari, Central African Empire local long form: Republique Centrafricaine abbreviation: CAR
Government type: republic
Capital: Bangui Administrative divisions: 14 prefectures (prefectures, singular - prefecture), 2 economic prefectures* (prefectures economiques, singular - prefecture economique), and 1 commune**; Bamingui-Bangoran, Bangui**, Basse- Kotto, Gribingui*, Haute-Kotto, Haute-Sangha, Haut-Mbomou, Kemo- Gribingui, Lobaye, Mbomou, Nana- Mambere, Ombella-Mpoko, Ouaka, Ouham, Ouham-Pende, Sangha*, Vakaga
Independence: 13 August 1960 (from France)
National holiday: Republic Day, 1 December (1958)
Constitution: passed by referendum 29 December 1994; adopted 7 January 1995
Legal system: based on French law
Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Ange-Felix PATASSE (since 22 October 1993) head of government: Prime Minister Martin ZIGUELE (since 1 April 2001) cabinet: Council of Ministers elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term; election last held 19 September 1999 (next to be held NA September 2005); prime minister appointed by the president election results: Ange-Felix PATASSE reelected president; percent of vote - Ange-Felix PATASSE 51.63%, Andre KOLINGBA 19.38%, David DACKO 11.15%
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (109 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms; note - there were 85 seats in the National Assembly before the 1998 election) elections: last held 22-23 November and 13 December 1998 (next to be held NA 2003) election results: percent of vote by party - MLPC 43%, RDC 18%, MDD 9%, FPP 6%, PSD 5%, ADP 4%, PUN 3%, FODEM 2%, PLD 2%, UPR 1%, FC 1%, independents 6%; seats by party - MLPC 47, RDC 20, MDD 8, FPP 7, PSD 6, ADP 5, PUN 3, FODEM 2, PLD 2, UPR 1, FC 1, independents 7
Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Cour Supreme; Constitutional Court (3 judges appointed by the president, 3 by the president of the National Assembly, and 3 by fellow judges); Court of Appeal; Criminal Courts; Inferior Courts Political parties and leaders: Alliance for Democracy and Progress or ADP [Jacques MBOLIEDAS]; Central African Democratic Assembly or RDC [Andre KOLINGBA]; Civic Forum or FC [Gen. Timothee MALENDOMA]; Democratic Forum for Modernity or FODEM [Charles MASSI]; Liberal Democratic Party or PLD [Nestor KOMBO-NAGUEMON]; Movement for Democracy and Development or MDD [David DACKO]; Movement for the Liberation of the Central African People or MLPC [the party of the president, Ange-Felix PATASSE]; Patriotic Front for Progress or FPP [Abel GOUMBA]; People's Union for the Republic or UPR [Pierre Sammy MAKFOY]; National Unity Party or PUN [Jean-Paul NGOUPANDE]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [Enoch LAKOUE] Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization ACCT, ACP, AfDB, BDEAC, CCC, CEEAC,
participation: CEMAC, ECA, FAO, FZ, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC (observer), OPCW (signatory), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Emmanuel TOUABOY FAX: [1] (202) 332-9893 telephone: [1] (202) 483-7800 chancery: 1618 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador Mattie
US: R. SHARPLESS embassy: Avenue David Dacko, Bangui mailing address: B. P. 924, Bangui telephone: [236] 61 02 00 FAX: [236] 61 44 94
Flag description: four equal horizontal bands of blue (top), white, green, and yellow with a vertical red band in center; there is a yellow five-pointed star on the hoist side of the blue band Economy Central African Republic
Economy - overview: Subsistence agriculture, together with forestry, remains the backbone of the economy of the Central African Republic (CAR), with more than 70% of the population living in outlying areas. The agricultural sector generates half of GDP. Timber has accounted for about 16% of export earnings and the diamond industry for 54%. Important constraints to economic development include the CAR's landlocked position, a poor transportation system, a largely unskilled work force, and a legacy of misdirected macroeconomic policies. The 50% devaluation of the currencies of 14 Francophone African nations on 12 January 1994 had mixed effects on the CAR's economy. Diamond, timber, coffee, and cotton exports increased, leading an estimated rise of GDP of 7% in 1994 and nearly 5% in 1995. Military rebellions and social unrest in 1996 were accompanied by widespread destruction of property and a drop in GDP of 2%. The IMF approved an Extended Structure Adjustment Facility in 1998 and the World Bank extended further credits in 1999 and approved a $10 million loan in early 2001. As of January 2002, many civil servants were owed as much as 16 months pay during the PATASSE administration, as well as 14 months pay from the KOLINGBA administration.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $4.6 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 1.8% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,300 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 55% industry: 20% services: 25% (2001 est.) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: 0.7%
percentage share: highest 10%: 47.7% (1993) Distribution of family income - Gini 61.3 (1993)
index: Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.6% (2001 est.)
Labor force: NA
Unemployment rate: 8% (23% for Bangui) (2001 est.)
Budget: revenues: $NA expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA
Industries: diamond mining, sawmills, breweries, textiles, footwear, assembly of bicycles and motorcycles Industrial production growth rate: 3.9% (2001) Electricity - production: 104 million kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 20.19% hydro: 79.81% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 96.72 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: cotton, coffee, tobacco, manioc (tapioca), yams, millet, corn, bananas; timber
Exports: $166 million (f.o.b., 2000)
Exports - commodities: diamonds, timber, cotton, coffee, tobacco
Exports - partners: Benelux 64%, Cote d'Ivoire, Spain, China, Egypt, France (1999)
Imports: $154 million (f.o.b., 2000)
Imports - commodities: food, textiles, petroleum products, machinery, electrical equipment, motor vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, industrial products
Imports - partners: France 35%, Cameroon 13%, Benelux, Cote d'Ivoire, Germany, Japan (1999)
Debt - external: $881.4 million (2000 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $172.2 million (1995); note - traditional budget subsidies from France
Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF); note - responsible authority is the Bank of the Central African States
Currency code: XAF
Exchange rates: Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XAF) per US dollar - 742.79 (January 2002), 733.04 (2001), 711.98 (2000), 615.70 (1999), 589.95 (1998), 583.67 (1997); note - from 1 January 1999, the XAF is pegged to the euro at a rate of 655.957 XAF per euro
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Central African Republic - Telephones - main lines in use: 10,000 (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 570 (1997)
Telephone system: general assessment: fair system domestic: network consists principally of microwave radio relay and low-capacity, low-powered radiotelephone communication international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) Radio broadcast stations: AM 0, FM 4, shortwave 1 (2001)
Radios: 283,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 1 (2001)
Televisions: 18,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .cf Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 1,500 (2001) Transportation Central African Republic -
Railways: 0 km
Highways: total: 23,810 km paved: 429 km unpaved: 23,381 km (2000)
Waterways: 900 km note: traditional trade carried on by means of shallow-draft dugouts; Oubangui is the most important river, navigable all year to craft drawing 0.6 m or less; 282 km navigable to craft drawing as much as 1.8 m
Ports and harbors: Bangui, Nola, Salo, Nzinga
Airports: 51 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 3 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 48 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 9 914 to 1,523 m: 23 under 914 m: 15 (2001) Military Central African Republic -
Military branches: Central African Armed Forces (FACA) (including Republican Guard, Ground Forces, Naval Forces, and Air Force), Presidential Security Guard, Gendarmerie, National Police Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 845,182 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 442,220 (2002 est.)
service: Military expenditures - dollar $29 million (FY96)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 2.2% (FY96)
GDP: Transnational Issues Central African Republic - Disputes - international: none

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French République Centrafricaine formerly Ubangi-Shari

Republic, central Africa.

Area: 240,376 sq mi (622,374 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 3,643,000. Capital: Bangui. Almost all the inhabitants trace their origin to communities founded in the 18th–19th centuries when various African peoples fled into the interior to escape slave traders. They now form heterogeneous ethnic groups, with the Banda, Baya (Gbaya), Ngbandi, and Zande comprising almost three-quarters of the inhabitants. Languages: French, Sango (both official), Zande. Religions: animism, Christianity. Currency: CFA franc. A landlocked country, it consists of a plateau with an average altitude of about 2,200 ft (670 m). The northern half is characterized by savanna and is drained by tributaries of the Chari River. The southern half is densely forested. The country has a developing free-enterprise economy of mixed state and private structure, with agriculture as the main component. It is a republic with one legislative body; its chief of state is the president and its head of government, the prime minister. Though seemingly inhabited for a long time, the area has yielded few archaeological remains. For several centuries before the arrival of Europeans, the territory was exploited by slave traders. The French explored and claimed central Africa and in 1889 established a post at Bangui. In 1898 they partitioned the colony among commercial concessionaires. United with Chad in 1906 to form the French colony of Ubangi-Shari-Chad, it later became part of French Equatorial Africa. It was separated from Chad in 1920 and became an overseas territory in 1946. It became an autonomous republic within the French Community in 1958 and achieved independence in 1960. In 1966 the military overthrew a civilian government and installed Jean-Bédel Bokassa, who in 1976 renamed the country the Central African Empire. He was overthrown in 1979, but the military again seized power in the 1980s. Elections in 1993 led to installation of a civilian government.

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▪ 2009

Area:
622,436 sq km (240,324 sq mi)
Population
(2008 est.): 4,424,000
Capital:
Bangui
Chief of state:
President François Bozizé
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Élie Doté and, from January 22, Faustin Archange Touadéra

      After being named prime minister of the Central African Republic (CAR) on Jan. 22, 2008, Faustin Archange Touadéra, rector of the University of Bangui, declared that peace and security were his government's priorities. Nevertheless, by February 100,000 Central Africans had fled from the north to neighbouring countries, while an additional 200,000 had been driven from their homes by continuing violent confrontations between the army and various rebel groups. In other conflict-related news, an EU force of more than 3,000 was mobilized in March to CAR and Chad to protect displaced people fleeing from the strife in Darfur, a region in The Sudan.

      On May 9 the government, having reached agreement with several smaller rebel factions, signed a cease-fire with two major groups, the Popular Army for the Restoration of the Republic and Democracy (APRD) and the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR). The APRD, however, later disowned the pact and renewed attacks on government troops; a major confrontation occurred on August 7. In an effort to restart the peace process, the government appointed a special commission to study the feasibility of an unconditional amnesty for the rebels.

      Armed banditry was on the increase in the northwest. Five persons were kidnapped in early March, three of whom were later found dead. In another incident two doctors and their staff were taken and held for eight days before a ransom was paid. On March 14 the nongovernmental organization Doctors Without Borders suspended their northern operations after a series of attacks on its ambulances killed an aid worker. In early June bandits reportedly killed at least 37 villagers north of Kamba Kota in Ouham province.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2008

Area:
622,436 sq km (240,324 sq mi)
Population
(2007 est.): 4,343,000
Capital:
Bangui
Chief of state:
President François Bozizé
Head of government:
Prime Minister Élie Doté

 The crisis in northern Central African Republic (CAR) worsened during 2007, with tens of thousands of civilians forced to flee their homes and farms as fighting between dissident groups and the army intensified. The violence led to the abandonment of entire towns, and relief agencies estimated that at least one million people were in need of basic provisions. An agreement signed between the governments of Chad and CAR to allow their military forces to cross each other's border to pursue rebels wreaked further misery upon civilians caught in the cross fire. In March bandits reportedly began kidnapping children and adult herdsmen for ransom. Two volunteer health workers were abducted in May by armed men, and Doctors Without Borders reported the fatal shooting on June 11 of one of its workers. The following day all aid agencies in the north of the country suspended operations. Various cease-fire agreements were drafted and signed between the government and some rebel groups, but none took hold.

      The International Criminal Court in The Hague opened an investigation on May 22 into alleged war crimes committed in 2003 in the aftermath of a military coup led by François Bozizé against the government of Pres. Ange-Fèlix Patasse. The inquiry would focus primarily on hundreds of rape cases.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2007

Area:
622,436 sq km (240,324 sq mi)
Population
(2006 est.): 4,039,000
Capital:
Bangui
Chief of state:
President François Bozizé
Head of government:
Prime Minister Élie Doté

      In 2006 tens of thousands of civilians fled the intensified fighting between security forces and armed groups in the northwestern Central African Republic (CAR). By the summer, relief agencies estimated that more than 90,000 people had been displaced by the violence. The government maintained that it was combating rebels opposed to the government of Chad who had crossed into the country. Some opposition politicians, however, claimed that CAR dissidents, supported by Chadian fighters, were behind much of the unrest. On July 5 Pres. François Bozizé dismissed virtually the entire general staff of the army as the situation in the north continued to deteriorate. Relief agencies described conditions as desperate, estimating that 50,000 people were living in the bush without shelter, food supplies, or security.

      On June 18 armed bandits in the northwest executed seven of the children of Fulani herdsmen whom they had been holding for ransom. In response, the Fulani organized self-defense units, and on July 12, armed with bows and poisoned arrows, they freed 13 more kidnapped children.

      Former president Ange-Félix Patassé and three other former high-ranking politicians were tried in absentia on charges of fraud and embezzlement. On August 29 the court found Patassé guilty, sentenced him to 20 years' hard labour, and imposed a large fine. The government also applied to the International Criminal Court to have Patassé and a former rebel leader of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jean-Pierre Bemba, tried on charges of rape and murder allegedly committed in the five months before Bozizé's successful 2003 military coup.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2006

Area:
622,436 sq km (240,324 sq mi)
Population
(2005 est.): 4,038,000
Capital:
Bangui
Chief of state:
President François Bozizé
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Célestin Gaombalet and, from June 13, Élie Doté

 Two years after he seized power in a military coup in the Central African Republic (CAR), Pres. François Bozizé ran against 10 rival candidates in the March 13, 2005, presidential elections. Bozizé took 42.9% of the vote, nearly double that of his nearest rival, former prime minister Martin Ziguélé. In the May 8 runoff election, Bozizé easily defeated Ziguélé. Although former ruler Ange-Félix Patassé had been barred from the contest, international observers generally applauded the moves toward the restoration of constitutional rule. On June 21 newly appointed Prime Minister Élie Doté named a 27-member cabinet that included several of the defeated presidential candidates.

      The CAR's continuing struggle to pay its civil servants was considered by international donors to be the cause of much political instability. The European Union withheld the release of development funds for the CAR until a new cooperative agreement with the IMF was reached. In a belt-tightening measure, President Bozizé on September 1 suspended the recruitment of new government employees.

      As a result of renewed fighting in early June between government and rebel forces in the north, more than 8,000 people were forced to flee across the border into Chad. An additional 2,000 others followed in mid-July after an operation was launched to clear the area of armed dissidents. By year's end the UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that more than 43,000 CAR refugees were living in southern Chad.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2005

Area:
622,436 sq km (240,324 sq mi)
Population
(2004 est.): 3,742,000
Capital:
Bangui
Chief of state:
President François Bozizé
Head of government:
Prime Minister Célestin Gaombalet

      Under increasing international pressure to restore democratic institutions to the Central African Republic (CAR), on May 25, 2004, Pres. François Bozizé, in power since the 2003 military coup, appointed 30 people to sit on the newly created Mixed Independent Electoral Commission formed to oversee legislative and presidential elections scheduled for Jan. 30 and Feb. 27, 2005. Despite being in exile in Togo, former president Ange-Félix Patassé was reelected head of the Movement for the Liberation of the Central African People at its June 6 convention, and he declared himself a candidate, but on December 31 a court ruled him ineligible to run.

      The National Transitional Council (CNT) met in June and again in August to discuss proposed constitutional reform and electoral procedures. On September 3, seven opposition parties denounced both the constitution and the electoral code, claiming they did not reflect the directives agreed upon earlier. The constitution was approved in a referendum held on December 5.

      Hundreds of former rebels rioted in April, demanding payments promised them for supporting Bozizé in the coup. Civil servants went on a three-day strike that effectively shut down the government in late August. On July 23 the IMF approved a $8.2 million credit to assist the country in stabilizing its finances and continuing its program of political reform.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2004

Area:
622,436 sq km (240,324 sq mi)
Population
(2003 est.): 3,684,000
Capital:
Bangui
Chief of state:
Presidents Ange-Félix Patassé and, from March 15, François Bozizé
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Martin Ziguélé and, from March 23, Abel Goumba

      Another chapter in the Central African Republic's decades of political turmoil was written on March 15, 2003, when rebels backing Gen. François Bozizé, the ousted army chief, stormed into the capital. Government troops, unpaid for months, offered little resistance. Pres. Ange-Félix Patassé, returning from a conference in Niamey, Niger, flew instead to Cameroon and then on to Lomé, Togo. As if to echo the troubled history of the CAR, the country's first president, David Dacko, who had twice been ousted from power, died in November. (See Obituaries (Dacko, David ).)

      Declaring himself head of state, Bozizé suspended the constitution but announced plans for a National Transitional Council to draw up a new electoral code and to plan for elections that he promised would be held within 18 to 30 months. The new president appeared to have won considerable support throughout the country, not least for his promises to stamp out corruption and to restore internal security. On September 15 the first session of the oft-postponed national reconciliation talks was held.

      On April 1 the newly appointed prime minister, Abel Goumba, named a 28-member cabinet that included two members of Patassé's former government, although key portfolios were in the hands of Bozizé's allies. All incoming ministers had to declare their wealth before taking office. On July 17 soldiers were sent to reestablish order in six important towns in the north and west, where armed bands had terrorized the population and paralyzed the economy. An international arrest warrant was issued against Patassé, charging him with murder and embezzlement.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2003

Area:
622,436 sq km (240,324 sq mi)
Population
(2002 est.): 3,643,000
Capital:
Bangui
Chief of state:
President Ange-Félix Patassé
Head of government:
Prime Minister Martin Ziguélé

      The aftermath of an abortive coup attempt on May 28, 2001, continued to dominate the political scene in the Central African Republic in 2002. On February 15 the oft-postponed trials of 85 of the nearly 700 people accused of complicity in the coup began with the case against former defense minister Jean-Jacques Demafouth. Most of the defendants had already fled the country, although 69 were present in court. Former president André Kolingba, who was in Uganda while seeking asylum in another country, was the most notable absentee. On August 26 the court passed sentence on 600 people tried in absentia. Kolingba was sentenced to death, as were 21 coconspirators, including three of Kolingba's sons. Demafouth was acquitted in October.

      In February the Organization of African Unity announced that it had petitioned the UN Security Council to send an international peacekeeping force to the Central African Republic once again. On February 12 a national disarmament campaign was launched in an attempt to reduce violence in the country. A nationwide curfew that had been enforced since the coup attempt was lifted on May 9. The killing of 11 Chadian herdsmen on the border between Chad and the Central African Republic in March heightened tensions between the two countries. In early August a clash left at least 20 soldiers dead, with each country accusing the other of having instigated the attack. A commission composed of UN officials and representatives from both countries toured the border area on August 21 to investigate the incidents. New clashes were reported in September.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2002

Area:
622,436 sq km (240,324 sq mi)
Population
(2001 est.): 3,577,000
Capital:
Bangui
Chief of state:
President Ange-Félix Patassé
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Anicet Georges Dologuélé and, from April 1, Martin Ziguélé

      Army rebels loyal to former president André Kolingba attempted to overthrow the government on May 28, 2001. The mutineers, reportedly aided by several hundred Rwandan and Angolan mercenaries, attacked the Bangui palace of Pres. Ange-Félix Patassé; the assault resulted in at least 20 deaths. The government received swift military assistance from Libya, and reinforcements also arrived from Chad and the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); those from the latter were a group seeking to overthrow the DRC government. Fighting continued in the capital for more than a week, and unofficial estimates put the number of persons killed at between 250 and 300. Many rebel soldiers caught by government forces were thought to have been summarily executed. On June 7 the government claimed complete success at suppressing the coup, although sporadic outbreaks of violence continued. Kolingba and other suspected coup leaders remained at large. The government appealed for relief supplies to aid the nearly 80,000 people who had fled the fighting.

      Kolingba's Central African Democratic Rally, once the sole legal political party, was ordered dissolved on June 22. Accused of implication in the coup attempt, Defense Minister Jean-Jacques Demafouth was dismissed on August 25. Two days later Kolingba's wife and children were abducted from the French embassy in Bangui, where they, along with an estimated 300 others, had taken refuge after the coup. Their fate was unknown.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2001

Area:
622,436 sq km (240,324 sq mi)
Population
(2000 est.): 3,513,000
Capital:
Bangui
Chief of state:
President Ange-Félix Patassé
Head of government:
Prime Minister Anicet Georges Dologuélé

      The remaining 430 members of the UN Mission in the Central African Republic, an approximately 1,350-strong peacekeeping operation, withdrew from the Central African Republic on Feb. 15, 2000, some four months after it had originally been scheduled to complete its withdrawal. Conditions in the capital remained tense, however, exacerbated by a growing fuel shortage, a wave of violent crime, and rumours that the army was poised to overthrow the government. In early July opposition parties demanded the resignation of Pres. Ange-Félix Patassé and the establishment of a government of national unity. In response, Patassé announced plans to facilitate a reconciliation by bringing together representatives of the various political and economic factions, but a conference date was not announced. In December thousands of civil servants went on strike in Bangui protesting against 29 months of unpaid salaries.

      On January 10 the government of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo accused authorities in the Central African Republic of allowing Ugandan-backed rebels the use of its territory as a staging point for guerrilla raids. Following a regional summit of the Community of Sahelian-Saharan States in February, the Central African Republic and 10 other members signed a security charter that would guarantee each of them territorial integrity. Prime Minister Anicet Dologuélé headed a delegation to the UN on May 15–16 and met with representatives of donor governments and nongovernmental organizations to discuss rescue efforts for the country's battered economy. The priorities identified were reform of security forces, reduction in the size of the army, and expansion of the country's economic base. Donors agreed to provide aid of $33 million, an amount considered far below the country's immediate needs.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2000

Area:
622,436 sq km (240,324 sq mi)
Population
(1999 est.): 3,445,000
Capital:
Bangui
Chief of state:
President Ange-Félix Patassé
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Michel Gbezera-Bria and, from January 4, Anicet Georges Dologuélé

      Political tensions in the Central African Republic remained high throughout 1999. Despite taking 55 of the 109 seats in the December 1998 elections for the new National Assembly, the opposition coalition, Union of Forces for Peace (UFAP), boycotted the legislature for the first three months of the year. They charged Pres. Ange-Félix Patassé's party, the Central African People's Liberation Movement (MLPC), which won only 47 seats, with having stolen the election by bringing one independent candidate into the fold. The balance of power in the National Assembly then rested with six independent deputies. With the assistance of the United Nations Mission (MINURCA), leaders of UFAP and MLPC agreed in May to accept a revised list of members to serve on the Mixed Independent Electoral Commission to supervise presidential elections in September. Amid complaints of election-rigging by the losers, Patassé was duly reelected and Dologuélé was invited to form a new government.

      Stationed in the Central African Republic since the army mutinies of 1996, France's remaining troops withdrew from the country on February 26. Peacekeeping duties then lay with the 1,350 troops of MINURCA, who themselves were scheduled to be withdrawn in November.

      The political climate had a dampening effect on the already weak economy. Timber output and exports fell by over 20%. Diamond trading, suspended for a year, finally resumed on June 12 when the CAR international diamond exchange reopened. In July the International Monetary Fund released some $10 million of a structural-adjustment loan to enable the government to pay two months of salary arrears due its civil servants.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 1999

      Area: 622,436 sq km (240,324 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 3,376,000

      Capital: Bangui

      Chief of state: President Ange-Félix Patassé

      Head of government: Prime Minister Michel Gbezera-Bria

      On April 15, 1998, the Inter-African Mission to Monitor the Implementation of the Bangui Agreements, charged with maintaining security in the Central African Republic following a series of 1996 army mutinies, was replaced by a UN-sponsored 1,350-strong peacekeeping force. France withdrew the last of its 1,400 troops from the nation on that same date. On May 11 Pres. Ange-Félix Patasse and Pres. Laurent Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo signed a defense pact.

      On August 15 the Independent Electoral Commission announced that parliamentary elections, originally scheduled for late September, would be postponed until November 22 in order to update and verify the voter rolls. in the election, held in two rounds, on November 22 and December 13, President Patassé's Central African People's Liberation Movement gained control of the 109-member parliament by winning 49 seats and then gaining the support of five independents and a defector from the opposition.

      As part of its attempts to qualify for an International Monetary Fund loan, the government on May 22 announced that various tax and customs exemptions were being discontinued, an action designed to reduce the budget deficit for 1998 by about 25%. In July the IMF granted the nation a $66 million three-year loan to bolster its economic-reform program.

NANCY ELLEN LAWLER

▪ 1998

      Area: 622,436 sq km (240,324 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 3,342,000

      Capital: Bangui

      Chief of state: President Ange-Félix Patassé

      Head of government: Prime Ministers Jean-Paul Ngoupande and, from January 30, Michel Gbezera-Bria

      As a result of the army mutiny that began in November 1996, the third in less than a year, Bangui was brought virtually to a standstill. On Jan. 4, 1997, despite the extension of a temporary truce between the mutineers and the government, two French army officers serving with an international mediation team were killed. In reprisal, French troops stationed in Bangui attacked the mutineers' bases in the city on January 5, killing at least 10. To prevent further escalation of the fighting, Pres. Ange-Félix Patassé and rebel leader Capt. Anicet Saulet signed a pact in late January, agreeing that African peacekeepers should replace those of France. On February 12, small units from Chad, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Mali, Senegal, and Togo took over from French troops.

      All those detained following the November 1996 mutiny were freed on March 17 as disarmament talks between the opposing sides continued. In February an effort at national reconciliation brought eight opposition deputies into the government. Most of the mutineers agreed in April to return to their barracks. Further disturbances, however, erupted when three rebels were killed by security forces on May 2. Blaming Patassé for the deaths, opposition parties pulled out of the government and called for a general strike. On June 24, after four days of violent clashes, the African peacekeeping force shelled Bangui. At least 100 died, thousands fled the city, and many foreign embassies were closed. Negotiations reopened, and by the end of July, most of the army dissidents had returned to their units.

NANCY ELLEN LAWLER
      This article updates Central African Republic, history of (Central African Republic).

▪ 1997

      The Central African Republic is a landlocked state in central Africa. Area: 622,436 sq km (240,324 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 3,274,000. Cap.: Bangui. Monetary unit: CFA franc, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a par value of CFAF 100 to the French franc and a free rate of CFAF 518.24 to U.S. $1 (CFAF 816.38 = £ 1 sterling). President in 1996, Ange-Félix Patassé; prime ministers, Gabriel Koyambounou and, from June 6, Jean-Paul Ngoupande.

      Despite signs of improvement in the previous year, the economic situation worsened in 1996, and the country was threatened with bankruptcy. Payments to virtually all pensioners, teachers, civil servants, and soldiers were several months in arrears. In what the government described as an attempted coup, a large group of soldiers demanding their wages mutinied on April 18 at Kasai camp. The tense situation eased after blocked aid funds were released to enable salary payments to be made. One month later, however, on May 18, military units seized Kasai's armoury and took to the streets. Within hours a full-scale insurrection broke out, and clashes spread to the provinces. France sent in reinforcements to quell the rioting and looting in Bangui. At least 40 people died and more than 200 were injured during the rioting. By May 27 calm had returned, but on November 16 fighting again broke out. Foreign mediators worked to end the crisis.

      Pres. Ange-Félix Patassé announced a new government of national unity. On June 6 he appointed as prime minister Jean-Paul Ngoupande, former ambassador to France. (NANCY ELLEN LAWLER)

      This article updates Central African Republic, history of (Central African Republic).

▪ 1996

      The Central African Republic is a landlocked state in central Africa. Area: 622,436 sq km (240,324 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 3,141,000. Cap.: Bangui. Monetary unit: CFA franc, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a par value of CFAF 100 to the French franc and a free rate of CFAF 501.49 to U.S. $1 (CFAF 792.78 = £ 1 sterling). President in 1995, Ange-Félix Patassé; prime ministers, Jean-Luc Mandaba and, from April 12, Gabriel Koyambounou.

      A new constitution was approved by 83% of the voters in a referendum on Dec. 28, 1994. Opposition parties, however, called it a defeat for Pres. Ange-Félix Patassé, as only 46% of the electorate voted. Prime Minister Jean-Luc Mandaba resigned in April when deputies of the majority Central African People's Liberation Party called for a vote of no-confidence. He was replaced by former inspector general Gabriel Koyambounou, who promised to launch an all-out campaign against corruption.

      The government banned a May 1 protest organized by the opposition Democratic Movement for the Rebirth and Evolution of the Central African Republic (MDRERC). Its leader, Joseph Bendounga, had called the march to demand that President Patassé convene the national conference promised before his April 1993 election. A presidential decree of July 8, announcing the formation of a special anti-corruption squad with powers of arrest, also drew opposition fire. The MDRERC claimed that the squad would be dominated by the government and could be used to silence political protest.

      Thousands of Chadian refugees who had fled to the Central African Republic during the years of civil war in their nation began returning home on April 22 in accordance with a 1994 repatriation agreement signed in Bangui. In May the Central African Republic lodged an official protest with Zaire over several border incidents in the Ubangi River, which separates the two countries.

      Sharp increases in cotton and diamond production fueled an improvement in the economy. A real growth rate of 7% was anticipated, although consumers were continuing to feel the inflationary effects of the devaluation of the CFA franc. (NANCY ELLEN LAWLER)

      This updates the article Central African Republic, history of (Central African Republic).

▪ 1995

      The Central African Republic is a landlocked state in central Africa. Area: 622,436 sq km (240,324 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 3,069,000. Cap.: Bangui. Monetary unit: CFA franc, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a par value of CFAF 100 to the French franc and a free rate of CFAF 526.67 to U.S. $1 (CFAF 837.67 = £ 1 sterling). President in 1994, Ange-Félix Patassé; prime minister, Jean-Luc Mandaba.

      Pres. Ange-Félix Patassé spent much of 1994 trying to reestablish the Central African Republic's close ties with France. Twelve years earlier France had refused Patassé's bid for political asylum following an abortive coup against former Central African Republic leader Gen. André Kolingba, and in 1993 it had supported David Dacko in the presidential elections. Relations deteriorated further following a banking scandal in which a French associate of Patassé was arrested on January 19, charged with involvement in the disappearance of F 75 million in loan guarantees deposited with the Crédit Mutuel de Sud-Ouest. It was not until August that Patassé was able to arrange an official visit to French Pres. François Mitterrand, who had canceled two earlier meetings. Hints from Patassé that his government might close France's important military base in the Central African Republic apparently played a large part in Mitterrand's decision to welcome him to Paris.

      The nation's economy remained extremely weak. The important mining industry was producing below capacity, and mineral revenues were further reduced by widespread smuggling. Civil servants were being paid but were still owed huge amounts in back pay. On August 3 legislators from Kuwait arrived in Bangui to express their gratitude for the nation's help during the Gulf war. It was anticipated that the Arab nation would continue to provide aid for road and school construction. (NANCY ELLEN LAWLER)

      This updates the article Central African Republic, history of (Central African Republic).

▪ 1994

      The Central African Republic is a landlocked state in central Africa. Area: 622,436 sq km (240,324 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 2,998,000. Cap.: Bangui. Monetary unit: CFA franc, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a par value of CFAF 50 to the French franc and a free rate of CFAF 283.25 to U.S. $1 (CFAF 429.12 = £ 1 sterling). Presidents in 1993, Gen. André Kolingba and, from September 27, Ange-Félix Patassé; prime ministers, Timothée Malendoma, Enoch Lakoue from February 26, and, from October 25, Jean-Luc Mandaba.

      On Aug. 22, 1993, Pres. André Kolingba of the Central African Republic joined the growing list of African military dictators defeated at the polls. Former prime minister Ange-Félix Patassé received nearly 38% of the vote in the first round and 52.47% in the second round of the oft-postponed presidential elections against longtime opposition leader, Prof. Abel Goumba. Kolingba attempted to invalidate the first round by announcing laws changing both the electoral code and the membership of the Supreme Court. Protests from the opposition and pressure from France, which immediately suspended all aid, forced Kolingba to withdraw the decrees. On September 1, the 12th anniversary of his coming to power, Kolingba, in a move widely seen as retaliation for his electoral defeat, declared a total amnesty for all prisoners, including former president Jean-Bedel Bokassa, jailed in 1986 for cannibalism, murder, and embezzlement. The year of political confusion did little to assuage the country's economic woes. The government virtually ceased to function as civil servants, unpaid for seven months, went on a prolonged strike. Students and soldiers held numerous protests during the year. (NANCY ELLEN LAWLER)

      This updates the article Central African Republic, history of (Central African Republic).

* * *

Introduction
Central African Republic, flag of the   landlocked country located in the centre of Africa. The area that is now the Central African Republic has been settled for at least 8,000 years; the earliest inhabitants were the probable ancestors of today's Aka (Pygmy) peoples, who live in the western and southern forested regions of the country. The slave state of Dar al-Kuti occupied the northern reaches until the various regions of the Central African Republic were brought under French colonial rule late in the 19th century. Colonial administrators favoured some ethnic groups over others, resulting in political rivalries that persisted after independence in 1960. Following periods of civil strife and dictatorial government, including the infamous regime of the self-styled Emperor Bokassa I (who renamed the country the Central African Empire), the country embarked on a course of democracy that was threatened, at the end of the 20th century, by interethnic civil war in neighbouring countries as well as by attempted coups d'état. Weary of social chaos and shifting allegiances among contending elements of the power elite, the country's citizens quote a regional proverb, "When elephants fight, the grass suffers; when elephants make love, the grass still suffers."

      The capital city of Bangui, founded as a French trading post in 1889, sprawls on the banks of the Ubangi River. Famed in colonial times as one of the most agreeable cities in equatorial Africa, Bangui blends wooded hills and grassy meadows with heavily populated shantytowns, a handsome if now somewhat run-down city centre, and modern residential districts. Though strikes and curfews often bring the city to a standstill, Bangui enjoys a vibrant nightlife and a diverse musical culture.

Land
      The Central African Republic is roughly the size of France and is bordered by Chad to the north, The Sudan (Sudan, The) to the north and east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa) (Congo) and the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville) (Congo) to the south, and Cameroon to the west. The capital, Bangui, is situated on the southern boundary, formed by the Ubangi River, a tributary of the Congo River.

Relief, drainage, and soils
 The Central African Republic occupies an immense rolling plateau that forms, along a crest that trends southwest to northeast, the major drainage divide between the Lake Chad (Chad, Lake) and Congo River basins. The country is well supplied with waterways. Tributaries of the Chari River occupy the northern third of the country's territory. The remaining two-thirds of the terrain drains southward into the Ubangi River, which forms the Central African Republic's southern border with Congo (Kinshasa).

      The vast central plains rise gradually in the northeast to the Bongos (Bongo) Massif, extending to an elevation of 4,360 feet (1,330 metres) at Mount Toussoro, and to the Tondou Massif in the east. In the west they rise toward the high granite range of the Karre Mountains, reaching nearly 4,625 feet (1,410 metres) at Mount Ngaoui, the country's highest point, before declining eastward into sandstone plateaus. In the north the most significant mountains are those of the Dar Challa range, which rise to 4,350 feet (1,326 metres) at Mount Ngaya near the border with The Sudan. In the southeast is a plain cut by a number of rivers.

Climate
      A moist savanna climate prevails in the north and an equatorial forest zone in the south. During the rainy season (from March to October or November) heavy rainstorms occur almost daily, and early morning fog is typical. Maximum annual precipitation is 71 inches (1,800 mm), occurring from August to September in the upper Ubangi region, and in the Karre Mountains annual precipitation averages 59 inches (1,500 mm). During this season of southwestern monsoon (rain-bearing) winds, the daily temperature ranges between 66 and 86 °F (19 and 30 °C).

      The dry season—brought by the northeastern trade winds, called the harmattan—generally begins in October and ends in February or March. The air is dry, and temperatures range between 64 and 104 °F (18 and 40 °C); it is warm during the day but considerably cooler at night. The skies are generally clear. Sandstorms and dust storms occur in the extreme north.

Plant and animal life
      The country lies largely in the savanna zone of Africa. The northern part is treeless, whereas the southern portion of the country contains dense tropical rainforests (rainforest), particularly along the Ubangi and Sangha (Sangha River) rivers. A wide range of vegetation can be found in the savannas, from scrubby, drought- and fire-resistant trees and shrubs to more luxuriant gallery forests near rivers and streams.

 Many species of antelope, as well as baboons, buffalo, and elephants, are found in the savannas; there are also forest elephants, which are smaller than those in the savanna. Once-numerous black rhinoceroses are now rare, the victims of overhunting. In the rainforests an even greater diversity of wildlife exists, including gorillas, chimpanzees, and other primates, leopards, and the endangered bongo antelope. Rivers contain many species of fish, crocodiles, and hippopotamuses. A rich and varied birdlife—in addition to many varieties of snakes, bats, and insects, including many colourful butterflies and moths—makes the territory zoologically one of the most distinctive in Africa. There are several national parks and wildlife reserves, including Bamingui-Bangoran National Park in the north, Manovo–Gounda–St. Floris National Park (a World Heritage site since 1988) in the northeast, Zemongo Faunal Reserve in the east, and Dzanga-Ndoki National Park and Dzanga-Sangha Special Dense Forest Reserve, both in the southwest.

People

Ethnic groups
      The people of the Central African Republic range from the hunting-and-gathering forest Pygmy peoples, the Aka, to state-forming groups such as the Zande and Nzakara. Prior to the arrival of Europeans in the late 19th century, distinctions between different groups were highly fluid. Many thought of themselves as members of a clan rather than of a broader ethnic group. Interactions with those who spoke different languages and had different cultural practices ranged from peaceful trade and intermarriage to war and enslavement.

      The attempts by colonial administrators and ethnographers to divide Central Africans into definite ethnic groups have never been viable. However, French colonizers did promote ethnic and regional distinctions among their Central African subjects. Drawing from populations of such southern riverine people as the Ngbaka (Mbaka), Yakoma, and Ubangi, the French helped to create an elite group, which emerged as an indigenous ruling group for the whole country and has held most political positions since independence. Regional affiliations have increased the complexity of this political terrain. Other, nonriverine Central Africans, who are far more numerous, have tended to resent this situation and have occasionally taken leadership roles themselves. Although people living in the country's northern regions have gained more political power since independence, southern peoples still remain an important presence in national politics.

      A minority of Greek, Portuguese, and Yemeni traders are scattered around the country, and a small French population lives in Bangui. Diamond traders from West Africa and Chad, merchants from various African countries, and political refugees from The Sudan, Chad, Rwanda, and Congo (Kinshasa) also reside in Bangui and the hinterlands.

Languages
      Central Africans currently speak a wide variety of languages, including Baya (Gbaya), Banda, Ngbaka, Sara, Mbum, Kare, and Mandjia. French and Sango are the official languages. Sango is a lingua franca spoken by nearly nine-tenths of the population. It was originally the language of a people from the Ubangi River region, but Christian missionaries adopted, simplified, and disseminated it in the 1940s and '50s to their followers throughout the country.

Religion
      Nearly seven-tenths of the population profess to follow Christianity, with a sizable minority of unaffiliated Christians; Roman Catholics, Protestants, and independents constitute the rest. More than one-tenth of the population continue to practice traditional religions. There is a growing number of Sunnite Muslims; a small minority declare no religious affiliation.

Settlement patterns
      About three-fifths of the population is rural, residing primarily in the southern and western parts of the country. The eastern and northeastern sections of the country are less populated. Of the urban population, a significant proportion lives in Bangui. Other major towns are Berbérati, Bossangoa, and Bouar in the west, Bambari and Bria in the central plains, and Bangassou and Mobaye on the Ubangi River.

Demographic trends
      The Central African Republic is sparsely populated. The population growth rate is high but is offset by the country's low population density, net flow of emigrants, and high infant mortality rate. More than two-fifths of the population is under the age of 15, and life expectancy is less than 50 years because of poor health conditions and services and inadequate food distribution.

Economy
      Agriculture is the largest sector and the basis of the Central African economy, contributing half of the gross domestic product and occupying nearly four-fifths of the workforce; diamonds and timber also contribute to the economy. International (mostly French) capital dominates the economy, but the Central African Republic has tried since independence to attract capital and development monies from other countries, including Libya, Taiwan, China, Germany, and Japan.

      Under pressure from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reverse the growth of government spending, liberalize prices, encourage a more open investment code, and provide incentives to agriculture and forestry, the Central African Republic submitted to a structural adjustment program in 1986. In the 1990s the IMF asked for further adjustments, such as devaluing the CFA franc and privatizing various businesses—commercial banks and a petroleum distribution company. As France has reduced its financial commitments to its former colonies in Africa, the Central African Republic's financial standing has deteriorated.

      In the 1990s a decline in international prices for cash crops, the inflated cost of imports caused by poor transportation into the country, the continued smuggling of diamonds across the border, and domestic political unrest further strained the economy. Most significant, however, were corruption and financial mismanagement, which left the government unable to pay the salaries for the military and the public sector. The resulting political unrest continued into the 21st century.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
      Most Central Africans rely on farming for their livelihoods. Men clear the fields, while cultivation is largely the responsibility of women, who grow cassava (manioc), corn (maize), millet, sorghum, rice, squashes, and peanuts (groundnuts) for their families' consumption. Cash crops such as cotton and coffee, introduced by French plantation owners, are produced largely on small landholdings. The country is mostly self-sufficient in basic foodstuffs, and agricultural diversification has been encouraged by the government. The growing of vegetables for export has also been supported by the government. Although Central Africans have for some time cultivated sugarcane and oil palms on a small scale, the country has lately undertaken efforts to grow both crops on large, mechanized plantations.

      The livestock population includes cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and poultry, most of which are kept for domestic consumption. Pond-raised tilapia and river fish also contribute substantial amounts of protein to the diet. The tsetse fly reduces the area in which stock can be raised, but development programs to improve herds and herd migrations from Chad and The Sudan continue to increase the number of domestic animals in the country.

      Tropical rainforest covers a significant part of the Central African Republic, mainly in the southwest, and timber exports are a vital source of foreign exchange. Heavy reliance on international commodities markets, however, has rendered the country's economy extremely vulnerable to price fluctuations.

Resources and power
      Situated on a fertile plateau and abundant in water resources, the Central African Republic has considerable agricultural potential. It also has a wealth of mineral resources, including diamonds, which account for nearly half of the country's total export earnings. Gold, uranium, iron ore, copper, and manganese are mined in smaller quantities. The country's waterfalls are sources of hydroelectric power, and dams located on the Mbali Lim River northwest of Bangui produce about four-fifths of the country's electricity.

      Though encouraged by multilateral aid agencies to increase its exports, the Central African Republic has also been under pressure to protect its natural resources. Both timber harvesting and diamond mining occur in locations that are also centres of high biodiversity. Conflicts erupted in the 1990s—between various state agencies, multinational logging companies, artisanal diamond miners, international conservation organizations, and Central African villagers seeking employment with logging companies—over how best to both protect these resources and boost exports.

Manufacturing
      In comparison with neighbouring Cameroon, the Central African Republic's manufacturing sector (sawmills, breweries, and textile factories) is small; it is also concentrated almost entirely in or near Bangui. Despite the country's wealth of water resources, it still needs petroleum imports to produce energy. Many sizable firms suffered losses from the looting and destruction that occurred in the late 1990s; others have been inefficient or ceased operation.

Finance and trade
      The Central African Republic is a member of Financial Cooperation in Central Africa (Coopération Financière en Afrique Centrale; CFA) and also an active member of the Central African Economic and Monetary Union (Communauté Économique et Monétaire de l'Afrique Centrale; CEMAC). The country's central bank, Banque des États de l'Afrique Centrale, issues the CFA franc. There are several commercial banks that are partially French-owned.

      The government has experienced sizable budgetary deficits since the early 1980s. Supported by standby programs from the IMF, direct budgetary aid from France, and assistance from other donors, the Central African government continues to struggle with the burden of a large and often inefficient public sector. Foreign investment is theoretically welcomed and encouraged by liberal conditions for foreign investors and assistance to the private sector. Few non-French companies have sought to invest in the Central African Republic, however, since licenses are required for imports, and payments for imports from countries outside the Franc Zone are subject to exchange control regulations. The situation worsened beginning in the late 1990s, when potential investors were discouraged by the political and social upheavals in Bangui.

      The Central African Republic relies heavily on its exports, of which the most important are timber, diamonds, cotton, and coffee. Belgium is the country's leading trading partner, buying most of the diamond exports. France is also an important partner, purchasing most of the coffee and tobacco produced. Imports include foodstuffs, chemicals, machinery and transport equipment, and petroleum. The 1994 devaluation of the CFA franc has made it extremely difficult for Central Africans to afford many crucial imported goods, including medicine and diesel fuel.

Services, labour, and taxation
      Violence and civil unrest in the late 1990s and an inadequate transport system within the country have hindered tourism, exacerbated by the limited capacity and poor service of Bangui's hotels. Some exclusive tours to big-game reserves in the far north are under foreign management; passing trans-African expeditions are the only other major activity in the tourist sector.

      The government of the Central African Republic officially recognizes five trade unions. The budget consists largely of revenue from taxes on income, profits, goods, and services and from import duties and taxes.

Transportation and telecommunications
      With no direct access to the sea, no railways, and only about 400 miles (600 km) of paved roads, moving products and people is exceedingly difficult. Some commerce travels along unpaved roads, but the country relies on waterways (the Ubangi and other rivers) for communication and commerce. About five-sevenths of the international trade is shipped by river. There are about 4,400 miles (7,000 km) of inland waterways, though only some two-fifths of these are navigable. The Ubangi–middle Congo route is the normal international transportation link with the outside world. This course is navigable most of the year from Bangui to Brazzaville, Congo, and from there goods are shipped by rail to Congo's Atlantic port of Pointe-Noire.

      The only international airport is at Bangui-Mpoko. There are several regional airports and many other airstrips, although internal services are irregular, depending on an unreliable supply of aviation fuel.

      A private telecommunications company now runs a domestic Internet and e-mail service. Few Central Africans have home access to such services, but many urban dwellers obtain limited access at cyber cafés.

Government and society

Constitutional framework
      The 1995 constitution was suspended in 2003, following a military coup. Under a new constitution promulgated in late 2004, the president is head of state and limited to two consecutive five-year terms. The constitution also provides for a prime minister, a council of ministers, and a 105-member National Assembly. Assembly members are elected by universal suffrage for five-year terms. An economic and regional council and a state council advise the assembly.

Local government and justice
      The country is divided into 14 préfectures, two préfectures-economiques, and one commune. A constitutional court consists of judges appointed for nine-year terms; it assists the Supreme Court and the High Court of Justice. There are also courts of appeal, criminal courts, several lower tribunals, and a military tribunal. The judicial system is loosely based on that of France, with some traditional courts still operating on the local (subprefecture) level.

Political process
      The Social Evolution Movement of Black Africa (Mouvement d'Évolution Sociale de l'Afrique Noire; MESAN), founded in 1946 by Barthélemy Boganda, was the first political party. It won control of the first territorial assembly elections in 1957 and was the party of the first president, David Dacko (Dacko, David). Dacko officially abolished all parties except MESAN in November 1962, and they were not allowed to exist again until 1991. The Liberation Movement of the Central African People (Mouvement pour la Libération du Peuple Centrafricain; MLPC) and Central African Democratic Rally (Rassemblement Démocratique Centrafricain) were formed in that year. Although the country's most recent constitutions have provided for universal suffrage, in the early 21st century only about one-tenth of the members of the National Assembly were female. However, Elizabeth Domitien (Domitien, Elisabeth), a prosperous businesswoman, became sub-Saharan Africa's first female prime minister when she was appointed to this position by Jean-Bédel Bokassa (Bokassa, Jean-Bédel) in 1975.

Security
      The Central African Republic maintains a small military, which includes army, air force, and paramilitary forces. French troops were withdrawn from the country in 1997 and were replaced by contingents sent by the United Nations Mission (United Nations Peacekeeping Forces) in the Central African Republic (MINURCA). MINURCA troops remained in the country from April 1998 until February 2000. Since then, other multinational peacekeeping troops have served in the country.

Health and welfare
      For all practical purposes, no modern health care facilities exist outside Bangui, which itself has only one major hospital, and a few other towns. A number of hospitals and clinics staffed and operated by missionaries provide relatively good care to those who can reach them. For the majority of Central Africans, however, little is offered by the poorly equipped and insufficiently staffed maternity clinics, dispensaries, and first-aid posts available to them in the countryside. Even the hospital in Bangui is below standard for minimal care; some private clinics are available to the wealthy in the capital. The distribution of medicine is extremely difficult given the inadequate transportation system. Malaria, leprosy, tuberculosis, nutritional diseases, AIDS, and sexually transmitted diseases are major health concerns in the country. The number of cases of sleeping sickness is also increasing.

      Welfare benefits, including unemployment and maternity benefits, child-care allowances, and social security, are available to a small number of government and private-sector employees in the urban centres, but most people rely on their families and kinship networks, communities, and friends for what little help they can obtain. The country faces a growing number of homeless youths in Bangui and in the other large urban areas.

Housing
      In Bangui as well as other major towns throughout the country, people frequently live in whitewashed, fired mud-brick homes with wooden-shuttered windows and aluminum roofs. Housing assumes more varied forms in the forest and in villages. The Aka, for instance, live in small, one-room houses, which are created from flexible branches and covered with broad leaves from the forest. Elsewhere in the southern part of the country, people may live in wattle-and-daub houses with woven palm-frond roofs. Other people, particularly those living close to lumber companies, often take discarded planks from the sawmills to build their houses. Farther north some people, such as the Pana, live in round, mud-brick, one-room houses with grass-thatched roofs.

      It is difficult to determine what housing forms are “traditional.” For some Central Africans, so-called traditional housing forms were actually introduced during French colonial rule. Some people claimed that they once lived in houses made of bark or in wattle-and-daub constructions but that they learned to make mud bricks from colonial authorities.

Education
      The educational structure is modeled after the French system and does not, therefore, always serve the best interests of a developing country. School instruction is primarily in French, but the Central African government has sought to promote Sango literacy and encourages its use in schools. About half of the population is literate. Education is compulsory for all children from age 6 to 14. The University of Bangui, founded by Jean-Bédel Bokassa in 1969, has operated since October 1970. In addition, there are such colleges as the National School of Arts and the Central School of Agriculture, as well as a number of religious and technical schools. The best students, and especially those with the best political connections, continue to go to France for their education.

Cultural life

Daily life and social customs
      In most Central African families, women continue to play a crucial role in the gathering, production, conservation, distribution, and preparation of food. Hunting, trapping, and fishing—male occupations—remain important for the subsistence of many Central Africans, and women in some regions fish during the dry season. The production of such commercial crops as coffee, cotton, and tobacco tends to be chiefly a male activity, but women are the principal food producers for household consumption. Staple foods include cassava, rice, squash, pumpkins, and plantains, which are usually served with a sauce and grilled meat. Okra (gombo) figures in almost every meal, and peanuts and peanut butter appear in many dishes and add protein. Game is popular, as are the fish-based dishes called maboké and soussou. Beer, palm wine, and banana wine are made locally, and ginger beer is a popular soft drink.

      Churches are important in both rural and urban life, constituting major centres of not just religious activity but also social interaction. In addition to Sunday services, religious schools and various fellowship groups for women, men, adolescents, and children are common. Church members frequently gather after worship services for a ndoye (Sango: “gift”), a celebration with singing and dancing to honour a notable church member. Members bring food, soap, and kerosene to the honoree, who, in turn, serves coffee, tea, and a light snack.

      Holidays are also important in the Central African Republic. In addition to the big celebrations held for Christmas and New Year's, December 1—known by various names, including National Day, Proclamation Day, and Republic Day—is important. This day commemorates the proclamation of the republic in 1958. Other holidays include Labour Day (May 1) and the anniversary of the death of President Barthélemy Boganda (March 29).

The arts and cultural institutions
      Until the 19th century, artisans in the region produced many fine handmade items. The slave trade and the early years of colonization disrupted the expansion of crafts, however, and most of them disappeared. Today woven mats and baskets, simple wooden utensils, carved stools, pottery, and musical instruments, including the balafon (much like a xylophone but constructed of animal horns, skins, and wood), are all that remain of older handiwork. More recently, handicraft workers have begun producing unique designs and pictures made from butterfly wings glued to paper and some ebony and other tropical hardwood carvings. Drawing upon earlier traditions, contemporary artists are producing carvings of animals and people, and many are available in larger towns, as well as at Bangui's artisans' market.

      The Central African Republic is also home to remarkable displays of song and dance. The Aka of the southwestern forests have received international attention for their music and dance, and several troupes have traveled to Europe to perform. In Bangui and some regional towns, Central African musicians have formed such dance bands as Musiki, Zokela, Makembe, Cool Stars, Cannon Stars, and Super Stars. These musicians play their own unique version of electrified Congolese music, in which African rhythms and languages are combined with the rumba, cha-cha, and merengue. One Central African type of music, called Zokela, named after a band from the 1980s, has become a dynamic musical form associated with the Lobaye region. It melds elements of village ceremonies with contemporary urban sounds and has influenced many Bangui bands.

      Few works of literature from Central Africa have been published, but collectors still gather traditional oral legends and folk stories from older villagers. These histories and tales, some dating to the 19th century, remain a rich reserve of historical and cultural identity. The storytellers grip their listeners with lively call-and-response songs and chants in their narratives, bringing together both young and old listeners.

      Makombo Bamboté, author of the novels Princesse Mandapu (1972) and Coup d'état Nègre (1987), is the country's best-known writer. Other prominent Central African authors include Faustin-Albert Ipeko-Etomane, Cyriaque Yavoucko, Pierre Sammy-Mackfoy, and Gabriel Danzi. Notable in Central African film production is the work of Joseph Akouissonne, who directed Zo kwe zo (“A Human Being Is a Person”) and Les Dieux noirs du stade (“The Black Gods of the Stadium”). Central African artists have produced both watercolour and oil paintings. The murals and canvases of Jerome Ramedane depict scenes of African animal life, hunting parties, and daily village life. Similar works are often found on the walls of restaurants, bars, and other gathering places in Bangui and other towns.

      The Boganda Museum in Bangui exhibits traditional musical instruments, implements of warfare, village architecture, hunting tools, pottery, and religious objects. Other attractions include the Bangui zoo and the city's red-brick cathedral.

Sports and recreation
      Football (soccer) is the most popular recreational pastime for young Central Africans. Even the smallest village usually has a football field, and villages, churches, and schools often sponsor teams for both boys and girls. Both men's and women's teams have taken part in international competitions. Basketball and rugby are also widely played, especially in Bangui. Central African athletes have participated in the Olympic Games since 1968.

Media and publishing
      Radio is by far the most important means of mass communication in the country, and the government owns and controls the major radio and television stations. The national radio system broadcasts international, national, and regional news throughout the country, but the national television system is limited mainly to the Bangui district. In addition, Africa Number One, a private radio station that is part of a French-owned network based in Gabon, has operated in Bangui since 1995, as has a station affiliated with the Roman Catholic church. Since 1997 Radio France Internationale has been operating in the country. Radio-MINURCA began broadcasting in 1998 as the radio station for UN peacekeeping forces, but in 2000, after the peacekeeping mission ended, it became Radio Ndeke Luka.

      The nation's first daily newspaper, the state-run E Le Songo, began publication in 1986. Several private daily and weekly newspapers are published, some of which criticize the president and the government. The country's main publications include Le Novateur, Le Citoyen, and L'Echo de Centrafrique.

Jan S.F. van Hoogstraten Thomas E. O'Toole Tamara Lynn Giles-Vernick

History

Early history
      This discussion focuses on the Central African Republic since the 15th century. For a treatment of the country in its regional context, see Central Africa.

      Diamond prospectors in the Central African Republic have found polished flint and quartz tools that are at least 8,000 years old. About 2,500 years ago local farmers set up megaliths weighing several tons each near Bouar. The cooperation necessary to make and position these monuments suggests that they were built by fairly large social units. By the 15th century AD various groups speaking languages related to those of the present day were living in the area. These peoples lived in relatively isolated small settlements, where they hunted and cleared land for cultivation using the slash-and-burn method. The region also produced such states as Dar al-Kuti, Zande, and Bandi, all founded in the 19th century.

      The region of the Central African Republic was not directly connected to external commercial routes until the 17th century. At that time, slavery became an important factor in Central African history as Arabic-speaking slave (slavery) traders extended the trans-Saharan and Nile River trade routes into the region. Before the mid 19th century these slave traders' captives were sent to North Africa, where they were eventually sold to countries such as Egypt or Turkey or down the Ubangi and Congo rivers to the Atlantic coast to slave ships that transported them to the Americas.

      Later in the mid 19th century the Bobangi people from the Ubangi River area, who had become major slave traders, raided the nearby Baya and Mandjia peoples for captives. In exchange for captives, the slave traders received arms, which allowed them to continue to raid for more slaves. Though these raids largely ended by the end of the century, they continued in the north until 1912 when Dar al-Kuti fell. The slave trade disrupted the societies in its wake and depopulated the region. It also created lasting tensions between ethnic groups. The ruling elite is still resented today by many in Central Africa because they tend to come from riverine groups akin to the Bobangi.

The colonial era
      During the last two decades of the 19th century, Belgium, Great Britain, Germany, and France competed for control of equatorial Africa. Belgium, Germany, and France each wanted the region that would eventually become the Central African Republic. The French were ultimately successful and named it the French Congo (later French Equatorial Africa), with its capital at Brazzaville. The French colonies included Ubangi-Shari (Oubangui-Chari; which later became the Central African Republic), Chad, Gabon, and the Middle Congo (which became the Republic of the Congo).

      The French government leased large tracts of land to private European companies in order to avoid paying for the development of its Central African possessions; it also placed few controls on their activities. In exchange for an annual rent, these firms exploited the land and dominated the people. Company overseers forced both men and women to gather wild rubber, hunt for ivory and animal skins, and work on plantations. Unable to cultivate their own fields because of the labour demands from European companies, they experienced food shortages and famine. Because they were forced to work in new environments where they were exposed to sleeping sickness, new strains of malaria, and other diseases, the death rate substantially increased.

      By the beginning of the 20th century, frontiers had been established for the Ubangi-Shari colony by the European powers. Many Africans resisted French control, and several military expeditions in the first decade of the century were needed to crush their opposition. The Kongo-Wara rebellion (1928–31) was a widespread, though unsuccessful, anticolonial uprising in the western and southwestern parts of the colony. After it was suppressed, its leaders were imprisoned and executed and populations of Central Africans were forcibly relocated to colonially designated villages where they could be supervised.

      The French colonial administration did create a network of roads and a mobile health system in Ubangi-Shari to fight disease, and Roman Catholic churches set up schools and medical clinics. However, the French also used the Central Africans for forced labour to increase the cultivation of cotton and coffee, as well as of food crops to supply French troops and labour crews. The French conscripted Central Africans and sent them to southern Congo to construct the Congo-Ocean Railway, which linked Congo to Pointe-Noire.

      During World War II, French General Charles de Gaulle (Gaulle, Charles de) called on the residents of the colonial territories to help fight the Germans, and 3,000 responded from Central Africa. After the war these troops returned to their homeland with a new sense of pride and a national, rather than ethnic, identity. After the war de Gaulle organized the French Union and created new local assemblies—consisting of French colonists and a handful of Africans—with regional political representatives. In November 1946 Barthélemy Boganda (Boganda, Barthélemy) became the first Central African elected to the French National Assembly.

Independence
The struggle for leadership
      Boganda was a Roman Catholic priest, but he left the priesthood and formed the Social Evolution Movement of Black Africa (Mouvement pour l'Évolution Sociale de l'Afrique Noire; MESAN). MESAN gained control of the Territorial Assembly in 1957, and Boganda became president of the Grand Council of French Equatorial Africa. Boganda hoped that the French territories of Chad, Gabon, Congo, and Ubangi-Shari could form a single nation. When the others rejected the unification plan, Boganda reluctantly agreed to accept the new constitution offered to Ubangi-Shari by France.

      After Boganda's death in March 1959, David Dacko (Dacko, David), a government member who claimed a family relationship to Boganda, became president. Ubangi-Shari, renamed the Central African Republic, was granted independence on August 13, 1960. Dacko permitted the French to provide the new country with assistance in the areas of trade, defense, and foreign relations. He also added government positions to reward his supporters and increased a number of their salaries, which drained the national budget.

      Dacko made MESAN the only legal national political party in 1962. He thus ran unopposed in the elections of early 1964 and was formally elected president. The economy declined rapidly, and the national debt soared. In December 1965—amid impending bankruptcy and a threatened nationwide strike—the commander of the army, Jean-Bédel Bokassa (Bokassa, Jean-Bédel), replaced Dacko in a staged coup.

      Bokassa abolished the constitution, dissolved the legislature, and turned over administrative duties to his appointed cabinet; he allowed no opposition. His one forward-thinking act was to appoint Elizabeth Domitien, a prosperous businesswoman, as the country's (and sub-Saharan Africa's) first female prime minister in 1975. France continued to support him and the country's faltering economy because it wanted to retain control of the diamond (and potential uranium) output of the country. Bokassa declared himself president for life in 1972. Four years later he proclaimed himself emperor of the Central African Empire and was crowned the following year as Emperor Bokassa I with lavish ceremonies financed largely by France. While the government's debt mounted, most of the profits for the nation's diamond trade, which was personally administered by Bokassa, remained with Bokassa. Finally, in September 1979, the French government removed Bokassa—he was eventually allowed to live in France—and restored Dacko as president.

Authoritarian rule under Kolingba
      Dacko's return was not well received. To maintain his power, Dacko was forced to rely on French paratroops and on administrative officials who had also served in Bokassa's government. As opposition grew, followed by labour strikes and bomb attacks, Dacko increasingly depended on the army to retain power. Finally, in September 1981, General André Kolingba removed Dacko from office in a bloodless coup and established a military government.

      The government remained almost completely in military hands until 1985, when Kolingba dissolved the military committee that had ruled the country since the coup and named a new 25-member cabinet that included a few civilians. Under pressure from the World Bank and other international organizations, the National Assembly approved a new constitution early in 1986, adopted following a referendum later that year. Legislative elections were held in July 1987, but the government continued to operate under the direct control of Kolingba, who effectively held all executive and legislative power in the nation.

      By the early 1990s Central Africa had become increasingly intolerant of Kolingba's authoritarian control and his lavish lifestyle. Growing democratic movements elsewhere in Africa had gained strength and inspired Central Africans to take action. Riots broke out in 1991, after civil servants had not been paid in more than eight months. It took two more years for Kolingba to give in to demands for open elections, when he allowed other parties to form and slate their own candidates for the presidency. Although he ran for president, Kolingba was rejected by the voters during the first round of balloting. Instead, Ange-Félix Patassé, a former prime minister, became the first democratically elected president since independence as the leader of the Central African People's Liberation Movement (Mouvement pour la Libération du Peuple Centrafricain; MLPC).

Patassé and the quest for democracy
      Patassé's tenure as president was far from peaceful. Inheriting a nearly bankrupt treasury and disgruntled civil servants who were still owed back wages, his government endured much civil unrest. Unpaid military factions attempted to stage coups three times in 1996, and Bangui was repeatedly looted, resulting in a significant loss of infrastructure and businesses. Bandit attacks by similar factions in the provinces contributed to unrest there as well as to the interruption of trade and agricultural production. The Patassé government and the military also failed to respect the rights of its citizens. For instance, following the 1996–97 looting, the police created the Squad for the Repression of Banditry and sanctioned the execution of criminals the day after their apprehension. The squad tortured and executed more than 20 suspected bandits without trial. The government also failed to call local elections in the late 1990s, claiming that it was unable to finance them.

      The Patassé government, opposition parties, and religious groups signed the Bangui Accords in January 1997. The accords were a series of measures designed to reconcile competing political factions, reform and strengthen the economy, and restructure the military. Although the agreement did not restore peace to the country, French involvement in the Central African Republic ended in October 1997 when France withdrew its troops from Bangui and closed its long-standing military base in Bouar. The United Nations took over the peacekeeping mission and six months later sent in troops under the UN Mission to the Central African Republic (MINURCA). MINURCA's mission was to maintain stability and security, mediate between rival factions in the country, and provide advice and support in the 1998 legislative elections.

      In late 1998 the MLPC narrowly retained its majority in the National Assembly when one opposition legislator changed his affiliation. Opposition parties strenuously opposed this change and protested, but MINURCA helped to restore order, and the National Assembly again reconvened. Patassé was reelected in September 1999, and MINURCA continued its peacekeeping operations until February 2000.

The 21st century
 The government continued to be plagued by protests over its continuing inability to pay civil servants and the military at the beginning of the new millennium. Attempted military overthrows that troubled the country in the mid-1990s also continued into the 21st century, culminating in the ouster of Patassé in a 2003 coup by former army chief General Franƈois Bozizé. Bozizé's transitional government oversaw the drafting of a new constitution that was approved in late 2004 and democratic elections in 2005, in which Bozizé was elected president.

Thomas E. O'Toole Tamara Lynn Giles-Vernick  In June 2005, fighting between government and rebel forces in the north caused tens of thousands of people to flee across the border into Chad; this continued in the ensuing years. The north was also subject to violence that emanated from conflict in the Darfur region of neighbouring Sudan (Sudan, history of the) and spilled over the border.

Ed.

Additional Reading

Geography
Thomas O'Toole, The Central African Republic: The Continent's Hidden Heart (1986), is the best single source on all aspects of the country. Gérard Grellet, Monique Mainguet, and Pierre Soumille, La République Centrafricaine (1982), is the best single source on the geography of the Central African Republic. Pierre Vennetier and Yves Boulvert (eds.), Atlas de la République Centrafricaine (1984), is also useful. The Central African Republic's cultural and environmental past and present has been explored by Michelle Kisliuk, Seize the Dance!: BaAka Musical Life and the Ethnography of Performance (1998). Serge Bahuchet, Les Pygmées Aka et la forêt centrafricaine (1985); and Louis Sarno, Song from the Forest: My Life Among the Ba-Benjellé Pygmies (1993), are works concerning Aka (Pygmies) in the southwestern rainforests. Tamara Giles-Vernick, “We Wander Like Birds: Migration, Indigeneity, and the Fabrication of Frontiers in the Sangha River Basin of Equatorial Africa,” Environmental History, 4(2):168–197 (April 1999), has explored other forest-dwellers' understanding of environmental history and migration.

History
Three standard historical references are Pierre Kalck, Central African Republic: A Failure in De-colonisation (1971, originally published in French, 1971), Historical Dictionary of the Central African Republic, 2nd ed., trans. from French (1992), and Histoire de la République Centrafricaine: des origines préhistoriques à nos jours (1974). William J. Samarin, The Black Man's Burden: African Colonial Labor on the Congo and Ubangi Rivers, 1880–1900 (1989), addresses the history of labour mobilization during the early years of colonial rule. Of some interest is the ideologically slanted work of Yarisse Zoctizoum, Histoire de la Centrafrique: violence du développement, domination, et inégalités, 2 vol. (1983–84), covering the period 1879–1979. For those interested in the earliest centralized polities in the area, Dennis Cordell, Dar al-Kuti and the Last Years of the Trans-Saharan Slave Trade (1985), is a critically important, well-written analysis of the slave-raiding empire in the northernmost part of the country; Pierre Vidal, La Civilisation mégalithique de Bouar: prospection et fouilles, 1962–1966 (1969), is a valuable work as well. Marc Michel, La Mission Marchand, 1895–1899 (1972), is a sound discussion of early colonial intrusions; and Tamara Giles-Vernick, “Na lege ti guiriri: Mapping out the Past and Present in the M'Bres Region, Central African Republic,” Ethnohistory, 43(2):245–275 (Spring 1996), explores Central African interpretations of the early years of colonial rule. Jacqueline M.C. Thomas, Les Ngbaka de la Lobaye: le dépeuplement rural chez une population forestière de la République Centrafricaine (1963), is an important history of the Ngbaka people under colonial rule. Raphaël Nzabakomada-Yakoma, L'Afrique centrale insurgée: la guerre du Kongo-Wara, 1928–1930 (1986), should be read in conjunction with Thomas O'Toole, “The 1928–1931 Gbaya Insurrection in Ubangui-Shari: Messianic Movement or Village Self-Defense?,” Canadian Journal of African Studies, 18(2):329–344 (1984); and Philip Burnham and Thomas Christensen, “Karnu's Message and the ‘War of the Hoe Handle': Interpreting a Central African Resistance Movement,” Africa, 53(4):3–22 (1983).The Central African Republic's contemporary history, particularly under Jean-Bédel Bokassa, has preoccupied a number of scholars, including Didier Bigo, Pouvoir et obéissance en Centrafrique (1988); Samuel Decalo, Psychoses of Power: African Personal Dictatorships, 2nd ed. (1998); and Brian Titley, Dark Age: The Political Odyssey of Emperor Bokassa (1997).Tamara Lynn Giles-Vernick

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Universalium. 2010.

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