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Central African Republic

Photos of Central African Republic

The image shows wave clouds rippling over a fire-speckled Central African Republic landscape. Wave clouds typically form when a mountain, island, or even another mass of air forces an air mass to rise, then fall again, in a wave pattern. The air cools as it rises, and if there is moisture in the air, the water condenses into clouds at the top of the wave. As the air begins to sink, the air warms and the cloud dissipates. The result is a line of clouds marking the crests of the wave separated by clear areas in the troughs of the wave. Each red “hotspot” marks an area of actively burning fires deliberately set to manage the land. Image courtesy of NASA/ Jeff Schmaltz.

Introduction

Background

The Central African Republic (CAR) is a perennially weak state that sits at the crossroads of ethnic and linguistic groups in the center of the African continent. Among the last areas of Sub-Saharan Africa to be drawn into the world economy, its introduction into trade networks around the early 1700s fostered significant competition among its population. The local population sought to benefit from the lucrative Atlantic, trans-Saharan, and Indian Ocean trade in enslaved people and ivory. Slave raids aided by the local populations fostered animosity between ethnic groups that remains today. The territory was established as a French colony named Ubangui-Shari in 1903, and France modeled its administration of the colony after the Belgian Congo, subcontracting control of the territory to private companies that collected rubber and ivory. Although France banned the domestic slave trade in CAR in the 1910s, the private companies continued to exploit the population through forced labor. The colony of Ubangi-Shari gained independence from France as the Central African Republic in 1960, but the death of independence leader Barthelemy BOGANDA six months prior led to an immediate struggle for power.

CAR’s political history has since been marred by a series of coups, the first of which brought Jean-Bedel BOKASSA to power in 1966. Widespread corruption and intolerance for any political opposition characterized his regime. In an effort to prolong his mandate, BOKASSA named himself emperor in 1976 and changed the country’s name to the Central African Empire. His regime’s economic mismanagement culminated in widespread student protests in 1979 that were violently suppressed by security forces. BOKASSA fell out of favor with the international community and was overthrown in a French-backed coup in 1979. After BOKASSA’s departure, the country’s name once again became the Central African Republic.

CAR’s fifth coup in 2013 unseated President Francois BOZIZE after the Seleka, a mainly Muslim rebel coalition, seized the capital and forced BOZIZE to flee the country. The Seleka's widespread abuses spurred the formation of mainly Christian self-defense groups that called themselves the anti-Balaka, which have also committed human rights abuses against Muslim populations in retaliation. Since the rise of these groups, conflict in CAR has become increasingly ethnoreligious, although focused on identity rather than religious ideology. Elections in 2016 installed independent candidate Faustin-Archange TOUADERA as president; he was reelected in 2020. A peace agreement signed in 2019 between the government and the main armed factions has had little effect, and armed groups remain in control of large swaths of the country's territory. TOUADERA's United Hearts Movement has governed the country since 2016, and a new constitution approved by referendum on 30 July 2023 effectively ended term limits, creating the potential for TOUADERA to extend his rule. 

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Central Africa, north of Democratic Republic of the Congo

Geographic coordinates

7 00 N, 21 00 E

Area

total: 622,984 sq km

land: 622,984 sq km

water: 0 sq km

comparison ranking: total 47

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Texas; about four times the size of Georgia

Area comparison map:
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 5,920 km

border countries (5): Cameroon 901 km; Chad 1556 km; Democratic Republic of the Congo 1,747 km, Republic of the Congo 487 km; South Sudan 1055 km; Sudan 174 km

Coastline

0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)

Climate

tropical; hot, dry winters; mild to hot, wet summers

Terrain

vast, flat to rolling plateau; scattered hills in northeast and southwest

Elevation

highest point: Mont Ngaoui 1,410 m

lowest point: Oubangui River 335 m

mean elevation: 635 m

Natural resources

diamonds, uranium, timber, gold, oil, hydropower

Land use

agricultural land: 8.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 2.9% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 5.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 36.2% (2018 est.)

other: 55.7% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

10 sq km (2012)

Major rivers (by length in km)

Oubangui (Ubangi) river [s] (shared with Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Congo [m]) - 2,270 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Congo (3,730,881 sq km), (Mediterranean Sea) Nile (3,254,853 sq km)
Internal (endorheic basin) drainage: Lake Chad (2,497,738 sq km)

Major aquifers

Congo Basin, Lake Chad Basin

Population distribution

majority of residents live in the western and central areas of the country, especially in and around the capital of Bangui as shown in this population distribution map

Natural hazards

hot, dry, dusty harmattan winds affect northern areas; floods are common

Geography - note

landlocked; almost the precise center of Africa

People and Society

Population

total: 5,650,957

male: 2,814,497

female: 2,836,460 (2024 est.)

comparison rankings: female 119; male 117; total 117

Nationality

noun: Central African(s)

adjective: Central African

Ethnic groups

Baya 28.8%, Banda 22.9%, Mandjia 9.9%, Sara 7.9%, M'Baka-Bantu 7.9%, Arab-Fulani (Peuhl) 6%, Mbum 6%, Ngbanki 5.5%, Zande-Nzakara 3%, other Central African Republic ethnic groups 2%, non-Central African Republic ethnic groups .1% (2003 est.)

Languages

French (official), Sangho (lingua franca and national language), tribal languages

Religions

Roman Catholic 34.6%, Protestant 15.7%, other Christian 22.9%, Muslim 13.8%, ethnic religionist 12%, Baha'i 0.2%, agnostic/atheist 0.7% (2020 est.)

note: animistic beliefs and practices strongly influence the Christian majority

Demographic profile

The Central African Republic’s (CAR) humanitarian crisis has worsened since the coup of March 2013. CAR’s high mortality rate and low life expectancy are attributed to elevated rates of preventable and treatable diseases (including malaria and malnutrition), an inadequate health care system, precarious food security, and armed conflict. Some of the worst mortality rates are in western CAR’s diamond mining region, which has been impoverished because of government attempts to control the diamond trade and the fall in industrial diamond prices. To make matters worse, the government and international donors have reduced health funding in recent years. The CAR’s weak educational system and low literacy rate have also suffered as a result of the country’s ongoing conflict. Schools are closed, qualified teachers are scarce, infrastructure, funding, and supplies are lacking and subject to looting, and many students and teachers have been displaced by violence.

Rampant poverty, human rights violations, unemployment, poor infrastructure, and a lack of security and stability have led to forced displacement internally and externally. Since the political crisis that resulted in CAR’s March 2013 coup began in December 2012, approximately 600,000 people have fled to Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other neighboring countries, while another estimated 515,000 were displaced internally as of December 2022. The UN has urged countries to refrain from repatriating CAR refugees amid the heightened lawlessness.

(2019)

Age structure

0-14 years: 38.5% (male 1,113,795/female 1,063,971)

15-64 years: 58% (male 1,613,770/female 1,662,522)

65 years and over: 3.5% (2024 est.) (male 86,932/female 109,967)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 102.8

youth dependency ratio: 97.7

elderly dependency ratio: 5.1

potential support ratio: 19.7 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 20.4 years (2024 est.)

male: 19.7 years

female: 21.2 years

comparison ranking: total 202

Population growth rate

1.76% (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 50

Birth rate

31.9 births/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 21

Death rate

11.3 deaths/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 21

Net migration rate

-3.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 180

Population distribution

majority of residents live in the western and central areas of the country, especially in and around the capital of Bangui as shown in this population distribution map

Urbanization

urban population: 43.6% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 3.32% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

958,000 BANGUI (capital) (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female

total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2024 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

835 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 4

Infant mortality rate

total: 80.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2024 est.)

male: 86.4 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 74.5 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 3

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 56.4 years (2024 est.)

male: 55.1 years

female: 57.7 years

comparison ranking: total population 226

Total fertility rate

3.94 children born/woman (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 25

Gross reproduction rate

1.94 (2024 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 83.9% of population

rural: 47.5% of population

total: 62.9% of population

unimproved: urban: 16.1% of population

rural: 52.5% of population

total: 37.1% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

9.4% of GDP (2020)

Physician density

0.07 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Hospital bed density

1 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 53.8% of population

rural: 12.4% of population

total: 29.9% of population

unimproved: urban: 46.2% of population

rural: 87.6% of population

total: 70.1% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2023)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria, dengue fever, and sexually transmitted diseases: HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B (2024)

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

note: on 31 August 2023, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Alert for polio in Africa; the Central African Republic is currently considered a high risk to travelers for circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV); vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) is a strain of the weakened poliovirus that was initially included in oral polio vaccine (OPV) and that has changed over time and behaves more like the wild or naturally occurring virus; this means it can be spread more easily to people who are unvaccinated against polio and who come in contact with the stool or respiratory secretions, such as from a sneeze, of an “infected” person who received oral polio vaccine; the CDC recommends that before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series; before travel to any high-risk destination, the CDC recommends that adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

7.5% (2016)

comparison ranking: 159

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 0.94 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0.55 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.04 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.02 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0.33 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 152

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

20.5% (2019)

comparison ranking: 15

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 25.8%

women married by age 18: 61%

men married by age 18: 17.1% (2019 est.)

Education expenditures

2.2% of GDP (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 182

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 37.5%

male: 49.2%

female: 26.2% (2020)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 7 years

male: 8 years

female: 6 years (2012)

Environment

Environment - current issues

water pollution; tap water is not potable; poaching and mismanagement have diminished the country's reputation as one of the last great wildlife refuges; desertification; deforestation; soil erosion

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Climate

tropical; hot, dry winters; mild to hot, wet summers

Land use

agricultural land: 8.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 2.9% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 5.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 36.2% (2018 est.)

other: 55.7% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 43.6% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 3.32% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Food insecurity

exceptional shortfall in aggregate food production/supplies: due to internal conflict and high food prices - according to the latest analysis, issued in November 2022, the number of people in Crisis and above is estimated at 2.7 million between September 2022 and March 2023; this is mainly attributed to the impact of civil insecurity and high food prices; persisting insecurity and population displacements continue to affect agricultural activities and limit farmers’ access to crop growing areas and agricultural inputs; elevated international prices of fuel and fertilizers, largely imported, have reportedly led to a lower use of agricultural inputs in 2022, especially among smallholder farmers, with a negative impact on yields (2023)

Revenue from forest resources

8.99% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 5

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 71

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 27.2 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 0.3 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 22.44 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 1,105,983 tons (2014 est.)

Major rivers (by length in km)

Oubangui (Ubangi) river [s] (shared with Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Congo [m]) - 2,270 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Congo (3,730,881 sq km), (Mediterranean Sea) Nile (3,254,853 sq km)
Internal (endorheic basin) drainage: Lake Chad (2,497,738 sq km)

Major aquifers

Congo Basin, Lake Chad Basin

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 60 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 10 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 400,000 cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

141 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Central African Republic

conventional short form: none

local long form: Republique Centrale Africaine

local short form: none

former: Ubangi-Shari, Central African Empire

abbreviation: CAR

etymology: self-descriptive name specifying the country's location on the continent; "Africa" is derived from the Roman designation of the area corresponding to present-day Tunisia "Africa terra," which meant "Land of the Afri" (the tribe resident in that area), but which eventually came to mean the entire continent

Government type

presidential republic

Capital

name: Bangui

geographic coordinates: 4 22 N, 18 35 E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: established as a French settlement in 1889 and named after its location on the northern bank of the Ubangi River; the Ubangi itself was named from the native word for the "rapids" located beside the outpost, which marked the end of navigable water north from Brazzaville

Administrative divisions

14 prefectures (prefectures, singular - prefecture), 2 economic prefectures* (prefectures economiques, singular - prefecture economique), and 1 commune**; Bamingui-Bangoran, Bangui**, Basse-Kotto, Haute-Kotto, Haut-Mbomou, Kemo, Lobaye, Mambere-Kadei, Mbomou, Nana-Grebizi*, Nana-Mambere, Ombella-Mpoko, Ouaka, Ouham, Ouham-Pende, Sangha-Mbaere*, Vakaga

Independence

13 August 1960 (from France)

National holiday

Republic Day, 1 December (1958)

Constitution

history: several previous; latest constitution passed by a national referendum on 30 July 2023 and validated by the Constitutional Court on 30 August 2023; note - the new constitution was proposed by President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, extended the presidential term from 5 to 7 years, removed term limits, and will allow President Touadéra to run again in 2025; opposition parties denounced the changes, claiming they were created to facilitate a "life precedency" for Touadéra

amendments: proposals require support of the government, two thirds of the National Council of Transition, and assent by the "Mediator of the Central African" crisis; passage requires at least three-fourths majority vote by the National Council membership; non-amendable constitutional provisions include those on the secular and republican form of government, fundamental rights and freedoms, amendment procedures, or changes to the authorities of various high-level executive, parliamentary, and judicial officials

Legal system

civil law system based on the French model

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: least one parent must be a citizen of the Central African Republic

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 35 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Faustin-Archange TOUADÉRA (since 30 March 2016)

head of government: Prime Minister Félix MOLOUA (since 7 February 2022)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president directly elected for 5-year term; election last held 27 December 2020 (next to be held in December 2025); constitutional referendum in July 2023 removed term limits and institutes 7-year terms; note - presidential and partial legislative elections were held on 27 December 2020; voting was disrupted in some areas, delaying the first round of legislative elections until 14 March 2021; constituencies that did vote on 27 December 2020 held runoff elections for their legislators

election results:
2020:
Faustin-Archange TOUADÉRA reelected president in first round; percent of vote - Faustin-Archange TOUADÉRA (independent) 53.9%, Anicet Georges DOLOGUELE (URCA) 21%, other 25.1%

2015: Faustin-Archange TOUADÉRA elected president in the second round; percent of vote in first round - Anicet-Georges DOLOGUELE (URCA) 23.7%, Faustin-Archange TOUADÉRA (independent) 19.1%, Desire KOLINGBA (RDC) 12%, Martin ZIGUELE (MLPC) 11.4%, other 33.8%; percent of vote in second round - Faustin-Archange TOUADÉRA 62.7%, Anicet-Georges DOLOGUELE 37.3%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (140 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote with a second round if needed; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held in December 2020 through July 2021 (next to be held 31 December 2025); note - on 27 December 2020, the day of first round elections, voting in many electoral areas was disrupted by armed groups; on 13 February 2021, President TOUADERA announced that new first round elections would be held on 27 February 2021 for those areas controlled by armed groups and the second round on 14 March 2021; ultimately, two additional rounds were held on 23 May and 25 July 2021 in areas that continued to suffer from election security problems

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - MCU 63, MOUNI 9, URCA 7, MLPC 7, RDC 5, KNK 3, PATRIE 3, CDE 2, RDD 2, MDD 2, PGD 2, PAD 2, CANE 2, other 11, independent 20; composition - men 124, women 16, percentage women 11.4%; note - several members of other parties and independent candidates joined the MCU following the opening session of the National Assembly; as of 21 September 2021, the MCU held 86 seats

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court or Cour Supreme (consists of NA judges); Constitutional Court (consists of 9 judges, at least 3 of whom are women)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges appointed by the president; Constitutional Court judge appointments - 2 by the president, 1 by the speaker of the National Assembly, 2 elected by their peers, 2 are advocates elected by their peers, and 2 are law professors elected by their peers; judges serve 7-year non-renewable terms

subordinate courts: high courts; magistrates' courts

Political parties and leaders

Action Party for Development or PAD [Laurent GONDAB]
African Party for Radical Transformation and Integration of States or PATRIE [Crepin MBOLI-GOUMBA]
Alliance for Democracy and Progress or ADP
Be Africa ti e Kwe (also known as Central Africa for Us All or BTK) [Honoré DOUBA]
Central African Democratic Rally or RDC
Central African Party for Integrated Development or PCDI [Timoléon MABIKIKOUA]
Democratic Movement for the Renewal and Evolution of Central Africa or MDREC [Joseph BENDOUNGA]
Kodro Ti Mo Kozo Si Movement or MKMKS [Jean-Serges BOKASSA]
Movement for Democracy and Development or MDD [Louis PAPÉNIAH]
Movement for the Liberation of the Central African People or MLPC [Martin ZIGUÉLÉ]
National Convergence (also known as Kwa Na Kwa or KNK) [Christian GUÉNÉBEM-DEDIZOUM]
National Movement of Independents or MOUNI [Thierry KAMACH]
National Union for Democracy and Progress or UNDP [Michel AMINE]
National Union of Republican Democrats or UNADER [Laurent GOMINA-PAMPALI]
New Impetus for Central Africa or CANE [Sylvain PATASSE]
Party for Democracy and Solidarity - Kélémba or KPDS [Aurélien Simplice ZINGAS]
Party for Democratic Governance or PGD [Jean-Michel MANDABA]
Path of Hope or CDE [Karim MECKASSOUA]
Renaissance for Sustainable Development or RDD [Augustin AGOU]
Socialist Party or PS [Martin PANOU]
Transformation Through Action Initiative or ITA [Dominique YANDOCKA]
Union for Central African Renewal or URCA [Anicet-Georges DOLOGUÉLÉ]
Union for Renaissance and Development or URD [Auguste BOUKANGA]
United Hearts Movement or MCU [Faustin-Archange TOUADÉRA]

International organization participation

ACP, AfDB, AU, BDEAC, CEMAC, EITI (compliant country) (suspended), FAO, FZ, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LCBC, MIGA, NAM, OIC (observer), OIF, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Martial NDOUBOU (since 17 September 2018)

chancery: 2704 Ontario Road NW, Washington, DC 20009

telephone: [1] (202) 483-7800

FAX: [1] (202) 332-9893

email address and website:
centrafricwashington@yahoo.com

https://www.usrcaembassy.org/

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Patricia A. MAHONEY (since 8 April 2022)

embassy: Avenue David Dacko, Bangui

mailing address: 2060 Bangui Place, Washington DC  20521-2060

telephone: [236] 2161-0200

FAX: [236] 2161-4494

email address and website: https://cf.usembassy.gov/

Flag description

four equal horizontal bands of blue (top), white, green, and yellow with a vertical red band in center; a yellow five-pointed star to the hoist side of the blue band; banner combines the Pan-African and French flag colors; red symbolizes the blood spilled in the struggle for independence, blue represents the sky and freedom, white peace and dignity, green hope and faith, and yellow tolerance; the star represents aspiration towards a vibrant future

National symbol(s)

elephant; national colors: blue, white, green, yellow, red

National anthem

name: "La Renaissance" (The Renaissance)

lyrics/music: Barthelemy BOGANDA/Herbert PEPPER

note: adopted 1960; Barthelemy BOGANDA wrote the anthem's lyrics and was the first prime minister of the autonomous French territory

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 2 (natural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Manovo-Gounda St. Floris National Park; Sangha Trinational Forest

Economy

Economic overview

enormous natural resources; extreme poverty; weak public institutions and infrastructure; political and gender-based violence have led to displacement of roughly 25% of population; Bangui-Douala corridor blockade reduced activity and tax collection; strong agricultural performance offset COVID-19 downturn

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$4.597 billion (2022 est.)
$4.574 billion (2021 est.)
$4.53 billion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 182

Real GDP growth rate

0.5% (2022 est.)
0.98% (2021 est.)
0.9% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 192

Real GDP per capita

$800 (2022 est.)
$800 (2021 est.)
$800 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 223

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.383 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

5.58% (2022 est.)
4.26% (2021 est.)
1.71% (2020 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 85

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 43.2% (2017 est.)

industry: 16% (2017 est.)

services: 40.8% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 208; industry 173; agriculture 6

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 95.3% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 8.5% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 13.7% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 12% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -29.5% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

cassava, groundnuts, yams, coffee, maize, sesame seeds, bananas, taro, sugarcane, beef (2022)

note: top ten agricultural products based on tonnage

Industries

gold and diamond mining, logging, brewing, sugar refining

Industrial production growth rate

-1.5% (2022 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 187

Labor force

2.039 million (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 126

Unemployment rate

6.34% (2022 est.)
6.81% (2021 est.)
6.66% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 131

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 11.8% (2021 est.)

male: 10.6%

female: 13.1%

comparison ranking: total 137

Population below poverty line

68.8% (2021 est.)

note: % of population with income below national poverty line

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

43 (2021 est.)

note: index (0-100) of income distribution; higher values represent greater inequality

comparison ranking: 33

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.1%

highest 10%: 33.1% (2021 est.)

note: % share of income accruing to lowest and highest 10% of population

Budget

revenues: $418 million (2019 est.)

expenditures: $385 million (2019 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-0.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 72

Public debt

52.9% of GDP (2017 est.)
56% of GDP (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 96

Taxes and other revenues

8.21% (of GDP) (2021 est.)

note: central government tax revenue as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 198

Current account balance

-$163 million (2017 est.)
-$97 million (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 92

Exports

$293.074 million (2022 est.)
$332.869 million (2021 est.)
$353.021 million (2020 est.)

note: GDP expenditure basis - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 195

Exports - partners

UAE 40%, Italy 11%, Pakistan 10%, China 10%, France 6% (2022)

note: top five export partners based on percentage share of exports

Exports - commodities

gold, wood, diamonds, vehicle parts/accessories, electrical machinery (2022)

note: top five export commodities based on value in dollars

Imports

$784.669 million (2022 est.)
$778.395 million (2021 est.)
$799.195 million (2020 est.)

note: GDP expenditure basis - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 195

Imports - partners

Cameroon 28%, US 8%, China 7%, France 6%, South Korea 5% (2022)

note: top five import partners based on percentage share of imports

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, engines, aircraft, prefabricated buildings, packaged medicine (2022)

note: top five import commodities based on value in dollars

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$483.872 million (2021 est.)
$432.524 million (2020 est.)
$350.305 million (2019 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 169

Debt - external

$779.9 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$691.5 million (31 December 2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 171

Exchange rates

Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale francs (XAF) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
623.76 (2022 est.)
554.531 (2021 est.)
575.586 (2020 est.)
585.911 (2019 est.)
555.446 (2018 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 15.7% (2022 est.)

electrification - urban areas: 34.7%

electrification - rural areas: 1.6%

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 38,000 kW (2022 est.)

consumption: 141.105 million kWh (2022 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 10 million kWh (2022 est.)

comparison rankings: transmission/distribution losses 17; consumption 196; installed generating capacity 199

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 0.7% of total installed capacity (2022 est.)

hydroelectricity: 99.3% of total installed capacity (2022 est.)

Coal

imports: 0.7 metric tons (2022 est.)

proven reserves: 3 million metric tons (2022 est.)

Petroleum

refined petroleum consumption: 2,000 bbl/day (2022 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

316,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2022 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 316,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 196

Energy consumption per capita

881,000 Btu/person (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: 194

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 2,000 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: (2021 est.) less than 1

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 215

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 1.831 million (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 34 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 153

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: given the poor fixed-line infrastructure in most countries across Africa, voice and data services across the region are greatly dependent on mobile networks; in the majority of markets, including those with better developed fixed infrastructure such as South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya, up to 98% of all voice and data connections are via mobile networks; during the last two to three years, national governments and telecom regulators have striven to improve fixed infrastructure with the wider aim of developing economic growth based on digital services and connectivity; this work is principally focused on delivering fiber-based connectivity; since the amount of copper infrastructure (DSL or HFC) used for broadband is so negligible, governments and private firms, including telcos are investing in fiber rather than in older technologies; while supporting broadband to premises, health centers, and government buildings, the new fiber infrastructure is mainly being deployed to provide mobile platforms and to support the rapid growth in data traffic (2022)

domestic: very limited telephone service with less than 1 fixed-line connection per 100 persons; 34 per 100 mobile-cellular subscribers (2020)

international: country code - 236; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Broadcast media

government-owned network, Radiodiffusion Television Centrafricaine, provides limited domestic TV broadcasting; state-owned radio network is supplemented by a small number of privately owned broadcast stations as well as a few community radio stations; transmissions of at least 2 international broadcasters are available (2017)

Internet users

total: 605,000 (2021 est.)

percent of population: 11% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 165

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 499 (2019 est.) Data available for 2019 only.

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 0.01 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 210

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 2

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 46,364 (2015)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 0 (2015) mt-km

Airports

43 (2024)

comparison ranking: 94

Roadways

total: 24,000 km

paved: 700 km

unpaved: 23,300 km (2018)

comparison ranking: total 110

Waterways

2,800 km (2011) (the primary navigable river is the Ubangi, which joins the River Congo; it was the traditional route for the export of products because it connected with the Congo-Ocean railway at Brazzaville; because of the warfare on both sides of the River Congo from 1997, importers and exporters preferred routes through Cameroon)

comparison ranking: 36

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Central African Armed Forces (Forces Armees Centrafricaines, FACA): Army (includes an air squadron, Escadrille Centrafricaine)

Ministry of Interior: National Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale), National Police (2023)

note 1: the Special Republican Protection Group (Groupement Spécial Chargé de la Protection Républicaine or GSPR) is part of the Army per a March 2022 decree, but reports to the president; the GSPR provides protection to the head of state

note 2:
in 2019-2021, the CAR established three Mixed Special Security units (Unités Spéciales Mixtes de Sécurité or USMS), regionally based battalion-sized units comprised of about 40% government and 60% rebel soldiers formed to provide security along transportation corridors and at mining sites; the units were intended to be transitional in nature with a scheduled deployment time of two years; in addition, since mid-2021 the FACA have frequently recruited local militias, mostly former anti-balaka and seleka fighters, whom they pay to help track and attack rebels hiding in the bush

Military expenditures

1.8% of GDP (2023 est.)
1.7% of GDP (2022 est.)
1.8% of GDP (2021 est.)
1.8% of GDP (2020 est.)
1.7% of GDP (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 77

Military and security service personnel strengths

estimates vary; up to 15,000 FACA troops; estimated 15-20,000 Gendarmerie and National Police (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

most of the military's heavy weapons and equipment were destroyed or captured during the 2012–2014 civil war; prior to the war, most of its equipment was of French, Russian, or Soviet origin; in recent years, it has received some secondhand equipment from China and Russia, including light weapons, as well as some armored vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and helicopters (2023)

note: since 2013, CAR has been under a UNSC arms embargo; the embargo bans all supplies of arms and related materiel to the country except to the CAR security forces if approved in advance by the relevant UN Sanctions Committee; in 2023, UNSC took a step towards relaxing the arms embargo by granting permission for weaponry to be supplied to government forces

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for military service; no conscription although the constitution provides for the possibility of conscription in the event of an imminent threat to the country (2023)

Military - note

the 2013 coup resulted in the institutional collapse of the FACA; its forces were overwhelmed and forced to flee to neighboring countries; it has been estimated that only 10% of the FACA returned after the coup, and it has struggled to rebuild in the years of instability since, despite considerable foreign assistance; considerable portions of the country remain outside state control and are ungoverned, with the presence of multiple armed actors creating insecurity in much of the country 

in late 2020 and early 2021, the Coalition des Patriotes pour le Change (CPC), a loose coalition of armed groups comprised largely of former Seleka and anti-Balaka fighters, attacked the capital Bangui; CAR Government forces, along with Russian private military contractors and Rwandan troops, repelled the attack while the CPC retreated to its rear bases and into neighboring countries and continued conducting attacks; as of 2023, the CAR Government claimed to have restored authority across much of the country, including the capital, although armed groups, including some not affiliated with CPC, continued to carry out violent activities in regions outside the capital, threatening local stability; forces on both sides have been accused of abuses and atrocities in the fighting 

in 2018, the UN Security Council approved Russian security assistance for the CAR to help train and advise FACA personnel, as well as transport them to operational areas, provide logistical support, and assist with medical evacuation; in addition to teams of military trainers, Russia sent private military contractors to provide assistance to the FACA; the Russians have also performed other security roles such as guarding mines and government officials; some Russian contractors and the CAR forces they supported have been accused of carrying out indiscriminate killings, using excessive force against civilians, and looting

the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) has operated in the country since 2014; its mission includes providing security, protecting civilians, facilitating humanitarian assistance, disarming and demobilizing armed groups, and supporting the country’s fragile transitional government; as of early 2024, MINUSCA had more than 16,000 military and police personnel 

the European Union Training Mission in the Central African Republic (EUTM-RCA) has operated in the country since 2016, providing advice, training, and educational programs to the country's security forces; the EU mission has trained five FACA territorial infantry battalions and one amphibious infantry battalion; France also provided assistance to the FACA before suspending its support in 2021 (2024)

Transnational Issues

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 28,217 (Sudan) (refugees since 15 April 2023), 6,707 (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (2024)

IDPs: 490,868 (clashes between army and rebel groups since 2005; tensions between ethnic groups) (2023)