About the Central African Republic
(from the CIA World Factbook)
Area: 622,984 sq km, slightly smaller than Texas
Population: 5,990,855 (July 2020 est., taking into account excess mortality from AIDS)
Median age: 20 years
Ethnic Groups: Baya 33%, Banda 27%, Mandjia 13%, Sara 10%, Mboum 7%, M’Baka 4%, Yakoma 4%, other 2%
Religion: Christian 89.5%, Muslim 8.5%, folk 1%, unaffiliated 1% (2010 est.)
GDP (purchasing power parity): $3.39 billion (2017 est.)
GDP per capita: $700 (2017 est.)
Unemployment: 6.9% (2017 est.)
Since gaining independence from France in 1960, many of its presidents have been ousted through unconstitutional means.
Despite natural resources, including gold, timber, diamonds and uranium, the Central African Republic (CAR) is among the poorest nations in the world.
CAR is a possible hideout of Joseph Kony, the brutal leader of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA).
The Seleka, a coalition of rebels predominately from a Muslim region, forced President Francois Bozize from office in March 2013. CAR has since been plagued by violence between Christians and Muslims.
There are more than 600,136 internally displaced persons (as of September 30, 2019), and more than 611,000 refugees outside the country (as of March 31, 2020).
(Source: UNHCR; COR and Commission de Mouvement de Population)
1894 - The territory of Ubangi-Shari (Oubangui-Chari) is brought under French colonial rule.
1910 - Ubangi-Shari joins with three other dependencies to form French Equatorial Africa (AEF).
December 1958 - Becomes an autonomous republic within the French Community, with Barthelemy Boganda serving as prime minister until his death in 1959.
August 13, 1960 - Achieves full independence from France as the Central African Republic. David Dacko becomes the first president.
1962 - President Dacko declares Social Evolution Movement of Black Africa (MESAN) the only legal political party.
1964 - Dacko runs unopposed and is formally elected president.
December 31, 1965 - Dacko is overthrown in a military coup led by Jean-Bedel Bokassa, commander of the armed forces.
January 1966 - CAR’s constitution is rescinded, and the legislature is dissolved.
1972 - Bokassa makes himself president for life.
1976 - Bokassa proclaims himself emperor of the newly renamed Central African Empire.
September 20, 1979 - Bokassa is deposed in a coup by Dacko, with French backing.
September 1, 1981 - General Andre Kolingba leads a coup removing Dacko from power and establishes a military government.
November 29, 1986 - Kolingba is sworn in as constitutional president.
October 1992 - Multiparty presidential elections are held, but the results are later annulled by the Supreme Court due to voting irregularities.
1993 - In the rescheduled multiparty presidential elections, Ange-Felix Patasse is elected president, defeating Kolingba and Dacko.
October 1999 - President Patasse is reelected, with 51.6% of the vote.
March 2003 - Bozize, backed by Chad, seizes power while Patasse is abroad. Bozize is elected president in 2005.
September 25, 2007 - The United Nations Security Council passes Resolution 1778, which establishes the peacekeeping operation MINURCAT, the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad. The mission’s mandate ends on December 31, 2010.
January 23, 2011 - Bozize is reelected despite allegations of fraud by election observers.
October 14, 2011 - In a letter to US Speaker of the House John Boehner, US President Barack Obama says he is sending about 100 US troops to central Africa to provide them with assistance in hunting down Kony, the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
December 2012 - Seleka, a coalition of predominantly Muslim rebel groups, stages attacks on several cities as they advance towards the capital Bangui.
January 11, 2013 - An agreement signed in Gabon’s capital, Libreville, sets up a unity government headed by Bozize. Under the agreement, the Seleka and opposition party members will pick a prime minister, and legislative elections will take place in a year.
March 2013 - Seleka accuses Bozize of reneging on the peace deal and ousts him. Bozize flees to Cameroon and Michel Djotodia, a Seleka leader, declares himself president.
April 13, 2013 - The National Transitional Council confirms Djotodia as interim president.
August 18, 2013 - Djotodia is sworn in as interim president. He is considered the first Muslim head of state and the first from the northeast.
September 2013 - Djotodia officially disbands the Seleka coalition.
December 5, 2013 - The UN Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 2127, which authorizes MISCA, the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic, and the French peacekeeping troops already on the ground, to take all necessary measures to protect civilians and stabilize the country.
December 2013 - The African Union announces it will temporarily boost its troop levels in CAR to 6,000 soldiers.
January 2014 - As a result of the violence that has gripped CAR since March 2013, more than 935,000 people are internally displaced and nearly 60% of them are children, according to UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency.
January 10, 2014 - Djotodia and Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye resign amid pressure from African regional leaders.
February 14, 2014 - The European Union commits to sending 500 troops to CAR, a number that the coalition is planning to double, according to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. The EU’s announcement follows France’s statement that it will send 400 additional troops to join the 1,600 French personnel already deployed there.
April 1, 2014 - The European Union launches EUFOR RCA, a military operation to help restore stability to CAR.
April 10, 2014 - The UN Security Council unanimously approves the creation of a UN peacekeeping force for CAR, where competing militias have been fighting for months. The council approved the deployment of 11,800 peacekeepers to the country, where about 6,000 African-led peacekeeping forces and about 2,000 French troops already have been operating. Additionally, the European Union is planning to deploy up to 1,000 troops.
April 30, 2015 - French soldiers forced minors in CAR to perform sex acts on them in return for food or money, according to Paula Donovan, co-director of AIDS-Free World, citing a confidential UN report. The abuses were allegedly committed against a dozen hungry, vulnerable children at a displaced persons camp at M’Poko International Airport in Bangui, the capital of CAR, between December 2013 and June 2014.
May 7, 2015 - The Paris prosecutor’s office announces, “a judicial investigation against unnamed persons accused of charges of rapes on minors” aged under 15 years, or complicity in this, “by people abusing the authority conferred by their functions.”
August 12, 2015 - A day after Amnesty International details allegations of the rape of a 12-year-old girl and indiscriminate killings by UN peacekeeping forces in CAR, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon requests and accepts the resignation of Babacar Gaye, head of UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic.
August 19, 2015 - A UN spokeswoman says three additional people, including a minor, have accused UN peacekeepers working in CAR of rape. Since the UN established a force in the country in April 2014, there have been 14 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers, including the three new accusations.
September 15, 2015 - The UN announces it has received a new allegation of sexual abuse against a UN peacekeeper working in CAR.
January 20, 2016 - Nearly 2.5 million people, about half of the country’s population, are facing hunger, the UN says after completing an emergency food security assessment. The number of those suffering from hunger has doubled from a year earlier, the UN says.
February 4, 2016 - Human Rights Watch says it has documented eight sexual abuse allegations involving peacekeepers in CAR from October to December 2015.
February 20, 2016 - Faustin-Archange Touadera, a former prime minister, is elected president, the country’s elections authority says, with 62.7% of the vote.
June 21, 2016 - Former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba is sentenced to 18 years in prison by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in CAR. He is convicted of murder, rape and pillaging between October 2002 and March 2003, when forces under his command were sent to CAR to quell a coup attempt. Bemba’s conviction is reversed on June 8, 2018.
August 7, 2017 - UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien, after a visit to the country reports that violence is intensifying and that the “early warning signs of a genocide are there.” Much more humanitarian support is needed, he says.
October 5, 2017 - A Human Rights Watch report says that armed groups in the country “have used rape and sexual slavery as a tactic of war across the country during nearly five years of conflict.”
June 21, 2019 - A 50-year-old priest, Father Luk Delft, is removed from his post in the CAR after CNN reveals new child sex abuse accusations against him to his superiors in the Salesians of Don Bosco, a religious order established specifically to protect children. Father Luk Delft, who had been convicted in Europe before going to work as the country-wide director of the Catholic charity, Caritas, is accused of abusing at least two boys in the CAR. The new allegations come after a year-long CNN investigation.
November 21, 2019 - After CNN publishes their investigation into Delft, Caritas Internationalis, a network of Catholic charitable organizations, urges its regional branches to vet their staff and volunteers. The statement posted to their website claims that “both civil and religious authorities have been notified and are investigating the allegations.”