Facts About the Central African Republic's Culture, Geography, and History
Central African Republic (CAR) is etched in the heartland of Africa and is encapsulated by six other countries in the middle of Africa – Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Cameroon. It is a country blessed with rich natural wealth and authentic culture but still suffers political turmoil in the struggle to carve out a modern statehood.
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There is more to learn about the Central African Republic. We have compiled 11 fascinating facts about this magnificent African nation as a stepping-stone for you to explore more.
11. A high percentage of the country lives in rural areas
About three-fifths of the population is rural, residing primarily in the southern and western parts of the country. Prior to the ‘scramble for Africa’ by European colonial powers, Central African Republic was hitherto guarded against the rest of the world by the jealous chest of mother Africa. Its people lived in peace and prosperity in their traditional setups in an independent self-sufficient rural way of life. They were living as close to nature as possible with the blessed African nature providing all they needed. However, with the advent of colonialism, more cities started to crop up. Nevertheless, to date, the bulk of the nation’s population is still rural.
10. Protestantism is the main religion
The main religion of Central African Republic is Protestant. Around 50 percent of the population is Protestant and practice a form of Christianity. Over 80% of CAR citizens profess the Christian faith. About 15% of the citizens profess the Islamic faith. The rest profess other faiths with over 3% professing traditional faiths. Protestantism is the most dominant form of Christianity claiming about 50% of the nation’s Christians followed by Roman Catholicism, which claims about 30%.
9. The country is very rich in resources, but one of the poorest nations in the world at the same time
Despite its significant mineral deposits and other resources, such as uranium reserves, crude oil, gold, diamonds, cobalt, lumber, and hydropower, as well as significant quantities of arable land, the Central African Republic is among the ten poorest countries in the world. The Central African Republic, like other former colonies in Sub-Saharan Africa, is stuck to the paradox of poverty amidst plenty. Despite its rich natural wealth, like most of its neighbors, these resources have been more of a curse than a blessing as both internal and external political powers jostle for the control of this wealth. This has pushed the nation in perpetual turmoil.
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8. Contains over 80 ethnic groups
The Central African Republic is divided into over 80 ethnic groups, each having its own language. CAR, like most African nations, is a multi-ethnic nation comprising of 80 distinct ethnic groups. The most dominant groups are the Baya taking up 33% of the population, followed closely by Banda that takes up 27% of the population. Mandjia comes at a distant third with 13% of the population and followed closely by Sara that grabs 10% of the population and Mbuom with 7% of the population. M’baka comes at a far distance from Mbuom with 4%, which is almost matched by Yakoma at about 4%. The rest takes the remaining 2%. Like all other multi-ethnic groups in Africa, each has its own language.
7. Boali Falls is a massive waterfall worth seeing
Boali Falls belong to the best-known landmarks in the Central African Republic. This impressive waterfall is some 50 meters (165 feet) high and 250 meters (820 feet) wide. The spectacular sight of the Boali Falls is reminiscent of the undisturbed innocent virginity of Africa. The waterfalls mark the transition from one beautifully scenic landmark above to another scenic low-lying plain with huge swathes of green vegetation. There is every temptation to swim and bathe in the crisp-clear waters below but the gnashing jaws that occasionally pop up clearly warns you of the dangers underneath as they seek to guard this nature’s beauty. Just watch, but do not disturb the ever-vigilant army of crocodiles. They will hardly smile at your flesh once within their reach. Boali town itself is a rural town with buzzing activities by the locals. The warmth of the people there is characteristic of the welcoming attitude of the African people. You will feel free at home and at ease while visiting the area.
6. Has 5 national parks and 33 protected areas
The Central African Republic has 5 national parks and 33 other protected areas. The rich flora and fauna in CAR are fascinating. It is rich in diversity. Unfortunately, due to a rapidly growing and highly impoverished population, this natural African wealth is threatened and endangered by the encroachment of the Western-style of modernity where concrete urban jungles and market-based economic engagements are given prominence. Nonetheless, CAR government has recognized the importance of this biodiversity and thus created national parks and protected zones. As such, CAR has 5 national parks and 33 protected areas. The 5 prominent national parks are Dzanga-Ndoki National Park, Manovo Gounda (St. Floris) National Park, Bamingui-Bangoran National Park and Biosphere Reserve, Andre Felix National Park, Mbaéré Bodingué National Park. Most of the prominent African wildlife animals are in these parks. These include the famous BIG 5 (African Elephant, African Rhino, African Buffalo, African Lion, and African Leopard), among others. Touring these parks gives you a quick glimpse of what a rich natural Africa has to offer.
5. Home to a diverse mixture of plants and animal species
The Central African Republic is home to about 3,600 species of plants, 663 birds, 131 mammals, 187 reptiles, and 29 amphibians. CAR is the heartland of Africa’s biodiversity. You not only get the popular African species but also rare species only unique to the heartland of Africa. Visiting CAR parks gives a glimpse of the mosaic and collage of Africa’s rich flora and fauna.
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4. Once had the 3rd largest area of rain forest cover in Africa
The Central African Republic once had the third-largest area of rain forest cover in Africa. Today, while tropical forest covers about 35% of the country, most of this has been degraded by logging. Like other impoverished countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, rising population pressure with inadequate modern sources of livelihood, people are forced to resort to overexploitation of natural resources. CAR has already lost more than a million hectares of forest cover since its independence. The ‘curse of wealth’ continues to be exhibited in CAR as in other African countries where rich resources have resulted in carefully orchestrated civil wars triggered and/or sponsored by foreign multinationals and their countries of origin competing for these resources. Germany (39%), China (28%), and France (24%) are the leading importers of timber from CAR – a significant proportion of it being from illegal sources.
3. Its highest mountain is Mont Ngaoui
Mont Ngaoui is the highest mountain in the Central African Republic. This mountain is located on the Western border with Cameroon. It has a summit elevation of 1410 meters. This is a great place for enthusiastic mountain climbers to stretch their muscles while enjoying the scenic beauty of Central African Republic.
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2. It is the 43rd largest country in the world
The Central African Republic is the 43rd largest country in the world in terms of land area. The expansive landmass of CAR stresses as far as 622,984 km sq. It is just slightly smaller than Texas and almost equivalent to the size of Ukraine. With a population of slightly above 5 ½ million people, it has a population density of 8.8 persons per km sq.
1. French and Sango are the two official languages
The Central African Republic has two official languages: French and Sango. Surprisingly, unlike most other African countries, the official indigenous national language – Sango – comes from a minority tribe. Sango language is spoken by over 90% of the population. Though French is also an official national language, very few people who are largely concentrated in major urban centers speak it. You will need a grasp of few Sango words in order to socialize quickly with locals in the Central African Republic.
Central African Republic (CAR) is a country with rich natural heritage, diverse communities, hopes and challenges. It is a country with a bright future only held back by incessant backward politics that continue to trap people into the dungeons of poverty. Despite the harsh political climate, the people of CAR continue to exude a lot of confidence, pride in their African ancestry, and un-extinguishable joy.
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