Region: Central Africa
Population: 4,434,873 (July 2008 est.)
Surface area: 622,984 sq km
Currency: CFA franc (XAF)
GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity US $700 (2007 est.)
The Central African Republic is located at the cross-roads of Sub-Saharan Africa. It borders Chad in the north, Sudan in the northeast, South Sudan in the east, Cameroon in the west, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Republic of the Congo in the south. The CAR covers an area of about 622,984 sq km and has an estimated population of 5,057,208 (July 2012 est).
Approximately 20 percent of the CAR population lives in Bangui, the capital city.
The Central African Republic became independent in 1960 and it is the former French colony of Ubangi-Shari. During the era of the French colonialism the Central African Republic faced imperialist aggression and diplomatic pressure. The French colonial rule cooperated with Central African rulers and took advantage of the local population and local resources, forced labor, slave raiding were not rare but common.
On 13 August 1960, the CAR gained its independence. Following a power struggle between tow potential candidate, David Dacko and Abel Goumba. Dacko, with the support of the French, got the upper hand and became the president of CAR. Dacko had established one party state and ruled with a military junta. That was the beginning of three decades of military governments. In 1990 an array of external and internal pressures coming from different countries and international organizations along with internal pro-democracy movement led General Andr’e Kolingba to hold free elections. In 1993 free elections were held and Ange-Felix Patasse was elected to be president and civilian rule was established and lasted for one decade. Patasse's civilian government suffered various attacks both political and military from it’s opposition. In March 2003 Patasse’s civilian government was deposed in a military coup led by General Francois Bozize, who established a transitional government. Elections held in 2005 affirmed General Bozize as president; he was reelected in 2011 in voting widely viewed as severely flawed.
To this day the government of Central African Republic is consistently lacking stability. State authority is weak in many parts of the country, which are largely controlled by rebel groups and criminal armed groups. Ethnic tensions in the north, frequent armed incursions by rebel elements from neighboring countries and the presence of elements of the militant Ugandan group Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) continue to shake the political ground of the CAR.
A history of political instability and recurring armed conflict has left the CAR saturated with humanitarian difficulties. The government is vulnerable and subject to immediate threats, accordingly the state mechanism is weak and insufficient to cope with the humanitarian needs of the population. The ongoing conflict between Boizze government and rebels groups forced more than 200,000 people escaped from their homes due to attacks and they were internally displaced while 200,000 refugees lived in neighboring countries. Due to ongoing violence in various areas of the CAR. Thousands of people were often at risk of starvation. The population of the CAR is repeatedly suffers from human rights abuse by its own government and by armed groups, mostly by the Army for the Restoration of Democracy (APRD) and the LRA . Armed groups abused civilians with impunity in large parts of the CAR affected by armed conflict, civilians were killed, injured, women and girls were raped and property was vandalized.
The Central African Republic is classified as one of the world's least developed countries. Although it is gifted with significant mineral and natural resources such as oil, gold and diamonds those are largely unexploited and the Central African Republic remains one of the poorest countries in the world and among the ten poorest countries in Africa.
The agricultural sector of Central African Republic is generates more than half of the country’s GDP. Timber and diamonds account for most export earnings, followed by cotton. Industry contributed only about 15% of the country's GDP in 2009. Services accounted for about 29% of GDP in 2009, largely because of the oversized government bureaucracy and high transportation costs arising from the country's landlocked position.
According to the World Bank website (www.worldbank.com) “The 2010 UNDP Human Development Report ranks CAR near the bottom of its Human Development Index (159th out of 162 countries) and unlikely to meet its MDG goals. The proportion of Central Africans living on $1 a day has decreased slightly to 62% but it needs to be half of that in order to reach the 2015 goal, and the prevalence of underweight children under-five has increased since 2003 to nearly 30 percent, a rate nearly three times the MDG target.” Constraints to the Central African Republic economic growth include its geographical conditions as a landlocked country, a poor transportation system, a largely unskilled work force and a history of misdirected macroeconomic policies. Factional struggle between the government and its opponents continues to weigh down the economy.
Since 2009 the IMF has worked with the CAR’S government to establish reforms that created some improvement in budget transparency. In 2012 the World Bank approved $125 million in funding for transport infrastructure and regional trade, focused on the route between CAR's capital and the port of Douala in Cameroon. After a two year lag in donor support, the IMF's first review of CAR's extended credit facility for 2012-2015 praised improvements in revenue collection but warned of weak management of spending. In any way in the complicated political and social economic conditions of car’s Grants from the international community can only partially meet humanitarian needs (www.cia.gov).