Country Profile: Central African Republic
Capital and largest cityBangui
Official languagesSangho, French
Area622, 984 sq km
Population4, 216, 666 (2007 est.)
Sangho is the national language in the Central African Republic, and is spoken by the majority of inhabitants. Only a very small percentage have any understanding of French, even though it is the official language. The Central African Republic has over 80 different ethnic groups, and each of them has a different language.
Agriculture is a key industry for the CAR's economy, with the cultivation of cassava, peanuts, maize, millet, sorghum, sesame and plantains. The production of food crops is considerably higher than that of cash crops. Although the country has a very low per capita income, this figure does not take into account the unacknowledged sales of alcohol, diamonds, traditional medicine, ivory and bushmeat. Thus, this informal economy is more productive and important than the formal one. Ecotourism is an area of possible future expansion, due to the country's many wilderness regions. The country also has national parks and is renowned for its large numbers of forest elephants, which attract visitors. The Central African Republic is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa. The Central African Republic has been named one of the world's leading countries for sustainable development.
Because it is one of the world's poorest countries, the Central African Republic relies a great deal upon foreign aid, as well as NGOs which step in and provide services if the government fails to do so. In 2008, CAR was put on the agenda of the UN Peacekeeping Commission, and in addition to this the country is elligible to receive aid through the Peacebuilding Fund, with three key areas for improvement outlined: security sector reform, promotion of good governance and revitalisation of those communities affected by conflicts.
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