The World Factbook (1990)/Central African Republic


Central African Republic

World Factbook (1990) Central African Republic.jpg

 See regional map VII


Total area: 622,980 km²; land area: 622,980 km²

Comparative area: slightly smaller than Texas

Land boundaries: 5,203 km total; Cameroon 797 km, Chad 1,197 km, Congo 467 km, Sudan 1,165 km, Zaire 1,577 km

Coastline: none—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

Natural resources: diamonds, uranium, timber, gold, oil

Land use: 3% arable land; NEGL% permanent crops; 5% meadows and pastures; 64% forest and woodland; 28% other

Environment: hot, dry, dusty harmattan winds affect northern areas; poaching has diminished reputation as one of last great wildlife refuges; desertification

Note: landlocked; almost the precise center of Africa


Population: 2,877,365 (July 1990), growth rate 2.6% (1990)

Birth rate: 44 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 18 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 0 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 141 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 45 years male, 48 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 5.6 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Central African(s); adjective—Central African

Ethnic divisions: about 80 ethnic groups, the majority of which have related ethnic and linguistic characteristics; 34% Baya, 27% Banda, 10% Sara, 21% Mandjia, 4% Mboum, 4% M'Baka; 6,500 Europeans, of whom 3,600 are French

Religion: 24% indigenous beliefs, 25% Protestant, 25% Roman Catholic, 15% Muslim, 11% other; animistic beliefs and practices strongly influence the Christian majority

Language: French (official); Sangho (lingua franca and national language); Arabic, Hunsa, Swahili

Literacy: 40.2%

Labor force: 775,413 (1986 est.); 85% agriculture, 9% commerce and services, 3% industry, 3% government; about 64,000 salaried workers; 55% of population of working age (1985)

Organized labor: 1% of labor force


Long-form name: Central African Republic (no short-form name); abbreviated CAR

Type: republic, one-party presidential regime since 1986

Capital: Bangui

Administrative divisions: 14 prefectures (préfectures, singular—préfecture) and 2 economic prefectures* (préfectures économiques, singular—préfecture économique); Bamingui-Bangoran, Basse-Kotto, Gribingui*, Haute-Kotto, Haute-Sangha, Haut-Mbomou, Kémo-Gribingui, Lobaye, Mbomou, Nana-Mambéré, Ombella-Mpoko, Ouaka, Ouham, Ouham-Pendé, Sangha*, Vakaga; note—there may be a new autonomous commune of Bangui

Independence: 13 August 1 960 (from France; formerly Central African Empire)

Constitution: 21 November 1986

Legal system: based on French law

National holiday: National Day (proclamation of the republic), 1 December (1958)

Executive branch: president, Council of Ministers (cabinet)

Legislative branch: bicameral Congress consists of an upper house or Economic and Regional Council (Conseil Économique et Régional) and a lower house or National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Cour Suprême)

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government—President André-Dieudonné KOLINGBA (since 1 September 1981)

Political parties and leaders: only party—Centrafrican Democrtic Rally Party (RDC), André-Dieudonné Kolingba

Suffrage: universal at age 21

Elections: President—last held 21 November 1986 (next to be held November 1993); results—President Kolingba was reelected without opposition;

National Assembly—last held 31 July 1987 (next to be held July 1992); results—RDC is the only party; seats—(total) RDC 52

Communists: small number of Communist sympathizers

Member of: ACP, AfDB, CCC, Conference of East and Central African States, EAMA, ECA, FAO, G-77, GATT, IBRD, ICAO, ICO, IDA, IFAD, ILO, IMF, INTELSAT, INTERPOL, ITU, NAM, OAU, OCAM, UDEAC, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO

Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Jean-Pierre SOHAHONG-KOMBET; Chancery at 1618 22nd Street NW, Washington DC 20008; telephone (202) 483-7800 or 7801; US—Ambassador Daniel H. SIMPSON; Embassy at Avenue du President David Dacko, Bangui (mailing address is B. P. 924, Bangui); telephone 61-02-00 or 61-25-78, 61-43-33

Flag: 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


Overview: The Central African Republic (CAR) is one of the poorest countries in Africa, with a per capita income of roughly $450 in 1988. Subsistence agriculture, including forestry, is the backbone of the economy, with over 70% of the population living in the countryside. In 1988 the agricultural sector generated about 40% of GDP, mining and manufacturing 14%, utilities and construction 4%, and services 41%. Agricultural products accounted for about 60% of export earnings and the diamond industry for 30%. Important constraints to economic development include the CAR's landlocked position, a poor transportation infrastructure, and a weak human resource base. Multilateral and bilateral development assistance plays a major role in providing capital for new investment.

GDP: $1.27 billion, per capita $453; real growth rate 2.0% (1988 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): -4.2% (1988 est.)

Unemployment rate: 30% in Bangui (1988 est.)

Budget: revenues $132 million; current expenditures $305 million, including capital expenditures of $NA million (1989 est.)

Exports: $138 million (f.o.b., 1988 est.); commodities—diamonds, cotton, coffee, timber, tobacco; partners—France, Belgium, Italy, Japan, US

Imports: $285 million (c.i.f., 1988 est.); commodities—food, textiles, petroleum products, machinery, electrical equipment, motor vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, industrial products; partners—France, other EC, Japan, Algeria, Yugoslavia

External debt: $660 million (December 1989)

Industrial production: 1.9% (1987 est.)

Electricity: 35,000 kW capacity; 84 million kWh produced, 30 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: sawmills, breweries, diamond mining, textiles, footwear, assembly of bicycles and motorcycles

Agriculture: accounts for 40% of GDP; self-sufficient in food production except for grain; commercial crops—cotton, coffee, tobacco, timber; food crops—manioc, yams, millet, corn, bananas

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $44 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $1.3 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $6 million; Communist countries (1970-88), $38 million

Currency: Communauté Financière Africaine franc (plural—francs); 1 CFA franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Communauté Financière Africaine francs (CFAF) per US$1—287.99 (January 1990), 319.01 (1989), 297.85 (1988), 300.54 (1987), 346.30 (1986), 449.26 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Highways: 22,000 km total; 458 km bituminous, 10,542 km improved earth, 11,000 unimproved earth

Inland waterways: 800 km; traditional trade carried on by means of shallow-draft dugouts; Oubangui is the most important river

Civil air: 2 major transport aircraft

Airports: 66 total, 49 usable; 4 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 2 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 22 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: fair system; network relies primarily on radio relay links, with low-capacity, low-powered radiocommunication also used; 6,000 telephones; stations—1 AM, 1 FM, 1 TV; 1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth station

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Air Force

Military manpower: males 15-49, 642,207; 335,863 fit for military service

Defense expenditures: 1.8% of GDP, or $23 million (1989 est.)