Central African Republic Travel Information

Photo The former French colony of Ubangi-Shari became the Central African Republic upon independence in 1960. After three tumultuous decades of misrule mostly by military governments - a civilian government was installed in 1993. Subsistence agriculture, together with forestry, remains the backbone of the economy of the Central African Republic (CAR), with more than 70% of the population living in outlying areas Because of its location between the equatorial rainforest of Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, the Central African Republic is home to many natural resources, has great agricultural potential, and is rich in mineral resources, including gold and diamonds. The location, however, has also contributed to heavy patterns of human migration, and consequently, some strain has been placed upon the region's ecological capacity In terms of education, an estimated 60% of the population age 15 and over are literate. The infant mortality rate is 103.42 deaths per 1,000 live births. The life expectancy at birth for the total population is 47.19 years, the average age for males is 45.4 years and for females is 49.1 years.

Street crime in downtown Bangui, while uncommon, does occur. Visitors should avoid the KM5 market. Armed gangs operate in outlying residential areas, although police anti-crime efforts have somewhat reduced this problem. Armed highway robbery in rural areas is common, especially in the dry season from December until May and in the northern and eastern regions of the country. When a crime does occur, the victim may have to pay to send a vehicle to pick up police officers due to the shortage of police vehicles.

Taking photographs of police or military installations, or any other government buildings, is prohibited. These official buildings and installations are often unmarked. Unauthorized photography may result in seizure of photographic equipment by Central African Republic authorities. Police or other government authorities can provide information and grant permission for photographing a particular subject or location.

The security situation is uncertain following an attempted coup in the capital city of Bangui in late May 2001. Recently there has been fighting in the north of the capital between factions of the armed forces. The area should be avoided. The situation elsewhere in the city is relatively calm but the security situation could deteriorate quickly and without notice. Most other parts of the country are stable, but armed gangs are in evidence in rural townships and on roads between urban areas. There is a curfew in place from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. This is being rigidly enforced with a shoot-on-sight policy.

Important: Travel to Central African Republic may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Central African Republic visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: Central African Republic
Capital city: Bangui
Area: 622,984 sq km
Population: 5,057,208
Ethnic groups: Baya 33%, Banda 27%, Mandjia 13%, Sara 10%, Mboum 7%, M'Baka 4%, Yakoma 4%, other 2%
Languages: French
Religions: indigenous beliefs 35%, Protestant 25%, Roman Catholic 25%, Muslim 15%
Government: republic
Chief of State: President Francois BOZIZE
Head of Government: Prime Minister Faustin-Archange TOUADERA
GDP: 3.636 billion
GDP per captia: 800
Annual growth rate: 3.3%
Inflation: 0.1%
Agriculture: cotton, coffee, tobacco, manioc
Major industries: gold and diamond mining, logging, brewing, textiles, footwear, assembly of bicycles and motorcycles
Natural resources: diamonds, uranium, timber, gold, oil, hydropower
Location: Central Africa, north of Democratic Republic of the Congo
Trade Partners - exports: Belgium 30.4%, China 17.1%, Democratic Republic of the Congo 7.9%, France 7.1%, Indonesia 6.3%, Morocco 5.3%
Trade Partners - imports: South Korea 45.8%, Netherlands 8.8%, France 7.2%, Cameroon 5.1%