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 - civilian rule was established in 1993 but lasted only a decade. In March 2003, President Ange-Felix PATASSE 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 flawed. The government still lacks full control of the countryside, where lawlessness persists. Several rebel groups joined together in early December 2012 to launch a series of attacks that left them in control of numerous towns in the northern and central parts of the country. The rebels - unhappy with BOZIZE's government - participated in peace talks in early January 2013 which resulted in a coalition government including the rebellion's leadership. In March 2013, the coalition government dissolved, rebels seized the capital, and President BOZIZE fled the country. Rebel leader Michel DJOTODIA assumed the presidency and the following month established a National Transitional Council (CNT). In January 2014, the CNT elected Catherine SAMBA-PANZA as interim president. Elections completed in March 2016 installed independent candidate Faustin-Archange TOUADERA as president; he continues to work towards peace between the government and armed groups, and is developing a disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, and repatriation (DDRR) program to reintegrate the armed groups into society.
Central Africa, north of Democratic Republic of the Congo
diamonds, uranium, timber, gold, oil, hydropower
Population - distribution
majority of residents live in the western and central areas of the country, especially in and around the capital of Bangui
French (official), Sangho (lingua franca and national language), tribal languages
BANGUI (capital) 794,000 (2015)
- Conventional long form
- Central African Republic
- Conventional short form
- Local long form
- Republique Centrafricaine
- Local short form
- Geographic coordinates
- 4 22 N, 18 35 E
- Time difference
- UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Subsistence agriculture, together with forestry and mining, remains the backbone of the economy of the Central African Republic (CAR), with about 60% of the population living in outlying areas. The agricultural sector generates more than half of GDP. Timber and diamonds account for most export earnings, followed by cotton. Important constraints to economic development include the CAR's landlocked geography, poor transportation system, largely unskilled work force, and legacy of misdirected macroeconomic policies. Factional fighting between the government and its opponents remains a drag on economic revitalization. Distribution of income is extraordinarily unequal. Grants from France and the international community can only partially meet humanitarian needs.
- External debt stocks
- US$ 661,851,000
- Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
- Real Interest Rate
- Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
- Current Account Balance
- US$ -24,675,584
- Labor Force, Total
- Employment in Agriculture
- Employment in Industry
- Employment in Services
- Unemployment Rate
- Imports of goods and services
- US$ 527,084,436
- Exports of goods and services
- US$ 223,454,294
- Total Merchandise Trade
- FDI, net inflows
- US$ 3,000,000
- Commercial Service Exports
- US$ 0
cotton, coffee, tobacco, cassava (manioc, tapioca), yams, millet, corn, bananas; timber
gold and diamond mining, logging, brewing, sugar refining
- diamonds, timber, cotton, coffee
- Norway 52.2%, China 14.1%, Democratic Republic of the Congo 8.3% (2015)
- food, textiles, petroleum products, machinery, electrical equipment, motor vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals
- Norway 39.3%, France 6.8%, US 4.6% (2015)
- Country Risk Rating
- The highest-risk political and economic situation and the most difficult business environment. Corporate default is likely.
- Business Climate Rating
- The highest possible risk in terms of business climate. Due to a lack of available financial information and an unpredictable legal system, doing business in this country is extremely difficult.
- Agricultural potential, silviculture and mineral wealth (diamonds, gold and uranium)
- Significant international financial support
- Economy vulnerable to external shocks
- Poor transport infrastructure and inadequate power production capacity
- Unstable political and security situations, increasing religious tensions
- Presence of several armed foreign rebel groups (in particular the Ugandan ADF rebels)
Growth is expected to increase in 2017 with a gradual upturn in exports, following the lifting of the embargo on diamond sales, and in foreign investments. However, these are not likely to return to their levels prior to the 2013 conflict because of the enduring insecurity which is acting to dampen economic activity.
Domestic demand is likely to remain flat given the exile of almost a quarter of the population (1 million people have left the country since the start of the conflict and have yet to return). The arrival in power of a stable government in 2016 could mark the start of a period of transition and could see an increase in agriculture and mining operations. Agricultural production, which accounts for more than half of GDP and employs almost 75% of the population, remains the dominant activity in the Central African economy. Despite the emergency aid granted by the EU and IMF, the country is struggling to recover, as are both private and public investments which are likely to remain marginal in 2017.Inflation is falling but is expected to continue above the 3% target of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community. The slight reduction will probably be due to lower domestic agricultural product prices (thanks to an increase in supply).
In partnership with the IMF, the new government is going to gradually restart the budget reforms that were interrupted by the 2013 coup d'etat and the ensuing conflict. At the end of July 2016, the IMF approved a three-year aid plan covering around 6% of GDP. On top of this, the international community announced in November 2016 the provision of grants equal to the country’s GDP. The actual delivery of these grants remains uncertain as many allowances are never paid (only 34% of the grants under the Humanitarian Response Plan were paid in 2016). Nevertheless, these should help the country to significantly reduce its public debt.
Revenues should increase slightly thanks to improvements in administration by the tax and customs authorities aimed at maximizing the benefits of growing trade flows. Government revenues however are likely to remain too small to pay for all current spending and service the external debt, making the country extremely reliant on international aid. Expenditure should rise, less rapidly, with the desire of the government to focus on a national disarmament plan for the rebel groups.
The current account deficit should fall in 2017, boosted by the partial lifting of the embargo on Central African diamonds. However, any recovery in exports is going to be gradual and will depend on the ability of the government to restore the markets that went into the informal sector with the start of the conflict in 2013. Exports of wood, coffee and cotton (the country’s leading agricultural resources) are expected to continue struggling in the face of the insecurity and the disruptions impacting on the transport and logistics sector. Despite weak domestic demand, imports are likely to continue to rise as oil and gas prices gradually recover.
The presidential and parliamentary elections (held simultaneously on 14 February 2016), concluded with the election of Faustin-Archange Touadéra to office following the validation of the results by the Constitutional Court on 1 March. With the formation of his government, in April 2016, Touadéra demonstrated his desire for a unified republic with the appointment of members of the opposition. The new President did however exclude any representatives of armed groups. This decision could however fan certain tensions, reflecting the growing discontent within the population concerning the government’s inability to defend people against the rebel militias. The government is tied hand and foot by the international embargo on weapons and thus is unable to defend its citizens by forming a Central African army. Whilst talks between the government and the United Nations on lifting this embargo are ongoing, the Peacekeepers are tasked with protecting its citizens. The fighting has not in fact ended, as was demonstrated by the skirmish between former Séléka and anti-Balaka militias in the north of the country in October 2016, which resulted in considerable numbers of civilian deaths.
In this context of friction, the business climate is likely to remain unstable and strained. Thus according to the World Bank, the Central African Republic was, in 2016, one of the worst rated countries in terms of government effectiveness, regulatory quality and rule of law.