(pronounced "AN-je FEE-liks pa-TASS-a")
"Today I am president of all Central African men and women without exception… Let us…reconstruct the Central African Republic, our dear and beautiful country which is in an unprecedented state of ruin."
The Central African Republic (CAR), which was known as the Central African Empire between 1976 and 1979, is a landlocked nation located in the geographic center of the African continent. It shares a northern border with Chad and a southern border with both the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its western and eastern frontiers are shared with Cameroon and Sudan respectively. The total area of the CAR is 622,984 sq km (240,534 sq mi). The south-central and western portions of the country contain the bulk of the population while the east-central and northeast portions of the country remain sparsely inhabited. The largest cities are the capital of Bangui, Bouar, and Berberati.
In 2002, the population of the CAR was estimated at 3.6 million. There are more than 60 different ethnic groups including the Aka or Babinga peoples sometimes referred to as pygmies, though the Baya, the Banda, the Manja, and a group known as the Oubanguian or Riverine, comprise almost 90% of the population. The national language is Sangho, which is widely spoken throughout the country, though the official language is French, which is used in government. The people of the CAR are approximately 25% Roman Catholic, 25% Protestant, 15% Muslim, while the remainder practice a variety of indigenous religions, including animism.
The per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at US $1,300 in 2001. The unit of currency is the Communauté Financière Africaine (CFA) franc , a currency that the CAR shares with Chad, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, and Gabon. The five nations that hold the CFA franc have an arrangement with the French treasury to manage their balance of payments and guarantee the exchange of the CFA franc for the French franc. The Central Africans grow cotton, coffee, and tobacco for export and cultivate manioc, corn, millet, sorghum, and peanuts for food crops. Diamonds and timber are harvested for export, and the country also contains reserves of uranium and gold.
Presidence de la Republique
Bangui, Central African Republic
Web site: http://www.rca-gouv.net