Situated between Chad, Sudan, South Sudan and the Congo, the Central African Republic (CAR) is a landlocked nation spanning 240,535 square miles. Since receiving independence from the French in 1960, the population has nearly quadrupled and is now estimated to be about 5,000,000. The ethnic breakdown of the population is diverse. Over 80 regional ethnic groups possessing their own cultural norms and languages reside within the country, but the largest group is the Gbaya people. Half of the population belongs to this ethnic group hailing from Nigeria.
The Central African Republic enjoys a tropical climate with frequent rainfall and high humidity. Less than 10 percent of the mostly flat country is covered in forest, but the forested area is a rainforest rich in biodiversity. Rainforests, with their unique conditions, are generally home to abundant wildlife, and the rainforest of the CAR is no exception. Leopards, rhinoceroses, chimpanzees, and elephants are commonly encountered creatures in the southwestern regions. Unfortunately, illegal lumber industries and poaching threatens the flourishing biomes of the CAR.
- Before the Central African Republic gained independence from the French in 1960, it was known as Ubangi-Shari, named for the rivers it existsupon.
- In the eastern CAR, there exist many burial mounds featuring upright megaliths called tanjuru. These tanjuru are estimated at thousands of years old.
- One of the most wondrous natural features in the Central African Republic are the Kembe Falls that are around the CAR’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo on the River Kotto.
- In the Lobaye region, many indigenous forest tribes live in small groups of huts they construct using lianas—thick, long vines rooted in the ground— and leaved roofs.
- The Central African Republic’s economy is mainly supported by forestry, mining and subsistence agriculture.
- The Central African Republic’s national flag is red, blue, white, green and yellow. Designed by the nation’s first prime minister, Barthelemy Boganda, the flag represents cooperation between France and the Central African Republic.
- The current president began his professional career as a math teacher.
- The Central African Republic is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Texas.
- National Geographic ranked the Central African Republic the country least affected by light pollution in 2008.
- There are many different types of music enjoyed in the CAR, including pop music and rock, but also soukous and Afrobeat—two African-based genres.