Central African Republic (Fr. République Centrafricaine)
- Maurice Djenda
- and Michelle Kisliuk
(Fr. République Centrafricaine)
Country in Central Africa. It serves as a link between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaïre), the Congo Basin and the Sudanic-Sahelian zone. It has a surface area of 622,436 km² and a population of 3.64 million (2000 estimate). The west of the country contains the largest concentration of population, while vast regions in the east remain uninhabited. The south-west has dense equatorial forests that receive large amounts of rainfall, favouring the growth of lush vegetation, including various medicinal plants. The people of the country live by subsistence agriculture and forestry. A great many commercial plants are grown, including coffee, cocoa, cotton and rubber, and the forests have been heavily depleted as a result of the exploitation of their wood during the last two decades of the 20th century.
The population of the Central African Republic belongs to approximately 85 ethnic groups. Primary ethnic groups include the Banda, Manza and the Gbaya-Manza-Ngbaka in the centre and central-eastern part of the country; the Zande and Nzakara in the east; the Gbaya in the west; the Ngbaka, Bogongo, Isongo (Mbati), Kako and Mpyemo (Mpiemo) in the forested regions of the south-east; the Gbanziri and Yakoma along the banks of the Ubangi; and the Sara Kaba, Surma and Runga in the north and north-east (...