The Central African Republic is famed worldwide for its lowland gorilla population, Pygmy culture, and fabulous national parks.
In the 1800s, the local Pygmy population was all but decimated by the slave trade. The French (to their credit) were anti-slavery, and began to take control of this land in 1905 by establishing the colony of Ubangi-Chair. In the 1940's the country became a French overseas territory, finally gaining its independence from France in 1958.
From 1965 - 1979, the country suffered through the dictatorial reign of Colonel Jean-Bedel Bokassa. A series of military coups followed, with multiparty elections finally held in 1993.
The country has the potential to be a major tourist destination, but generally, that's defeated by its poor infrastructure. However, for those that somehow venture in (mostly Europeans), the pristine parks and wildlife are second to none, and hunting safaris (sadly) are still a big business.
Those national parks are home to forest elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos and countless other animals. One of the lowland gorilla's last habitats is found in the rainforests of the south.
Due to consistent flooding, the land is lightly cultivated, and agriculture is mostly at the subsistence level. Diamond and Uranium mining, as well as timber harvesting remain important industries.
Within the Central African Republic, HIV/AIDS is still spreading, and the country is seriously afflicted by destabilizing financial and social problems.
Facts and Figures
Official Name Central African Republic
Population 4,303,356 (123 out of 192)
Capital City Bangui (838,000)
Largest Cities Bangui, Carnot, Bouar
Currency CFA Franc
Latitude/Longitude 4°36' N, 18°56' E
Languages French (official), Sangho, others
National Day 1 December; Republic Day
Religions Local beliefs, Protestant, Catholic
Land Area 622,436 sq km (42 out of 192)
Landforms The Central African Republic is in essence an undulating plateau.
Central and south is a series of forested, rolling hills, with some topping 600 m. A dense tropical rainforest in the southeast fronts the Ubangi River, and in the north, the land flattens into a treeless, desert-like savanna grassland.
On the western border with Cameroon the land rises into the high granite plateau of the Karre Mountains. The Bongos Massif in the far northeast extends into Sudan.
Numerous tributaries of the Chair (Shari) and Longone rivers crisscross the land, central and north, while the Ubangi River system dominates the south, as it forms much of the country's southern border with the DRC.
Highest Pt. Mt. Kayagangiri (1,420 m)
Lowest Pt. Oubangui River (335 m)
Climate April through October is the rainy season, and in the southern part of the country, annual amounts exceed 1800 mm, and severe flooding is commonplace. The north is much drier, but some areas do receive near 750 mm of rainfall.
Countrywide, temperatures are hot with very high humidity. Overall, mean high temperatures are in the mid 27°C, however, daily highs are often in the high 32°C, especially in the north. Lows average in the high 16°C.