From early history to the 19th century
People have lived in the area of what is now the Central African Republic since the Stone Age. The Gbaya, Manschia and Pygmies are among the oldest ethnic groups.
From the 16th century the slave trade was carried out from Sudan. The prisoners were abducted and taken to Europe or the coasts of North and West Africa, from where they were sold to America.
Banda came from the northeast in the early 19th century. They established the Bang Assou Sultanate. Azande settled in the southeast. They also established a sultanate called Rafai in 1800.
French colony (1894-1960)
At the end of the 19th century, the French came to Central Africa. They established a colony which they named after the two major rivers in the Ubangi-Shari region. Bangui was founded as a military post in 1889. In 1910, France combined several areas into one large colony: French Equatorial Africa. In addition to Ubangi-Shari, it consisted of the areas of today’s Chad, the Republic of the Congo and Gabon.
After the Second World War, the colony received more rights. It was represented in the French National Assembly, parties were founded. In 1958 the country was allowed to administer itself. On August 13, 1960, it gained full independence. It was now called the Central African Republic.
David Dacko became the first president of the independent country. He was overthrown by Jean-Bédel Bokassa in a coup in 1966. In 1976 he turned the country into a monarchy, which he ruled dictatorially as Emperor Bokassa. Opponents were punished with torture and beatings, there was terror.
The Central African Empire lasted until 1979 when a coup by André Kolingba ended this period. Kolingba ruled until 1993, when free elections were allowed for the first time, which Ange-Félix Patassé won. He ruled until 2003.
Military revolts, coups and attempts at overthrow happened regularly over the years. Violent transfers of power were the rule.
President of François Bozizé
In 2003, Patassé was overthrown by François Bozizé. In 2006, violent conflicts broke out in the north of the country. Rebels from the Islamic ruled Séléka fought against government troops from Bozizé. In addition, the anti-balaka were founded. These are Christian militias. The conflict is thus at the same time a conflict between Muslims and Christians. Thousands of people fled their villages to other parts of the country or to neighboring countries. Both Séléka and Anti-Balaka use child soldiers.
In March 2013, President Bozizé was overthrown by the Séléka. As a country located in Africa according to softwareleverage, the country has since experienced another wave of violence. First, the rebel leader Djotodia appointed himself the new president, then handed over the office to Catherine Samba-Panza in January, who formed a transitional government with representatives from all sides.
But even this and several international peace missions have so far failed to bring the country politically back into a stable position. In December 2015, the Séléka proclaimed the Republic of Dar el Kuti in the north-east of the country. This is not recognized internationally. The United Nations sent blue helmet troops whose mission ended in April 2016.
The civilian population in particular suffers from the vortex of violence. Muslims in particular are fleeing to neighboring countries. 500,000 of them have already fled. There are hardly any schools, roads, or hospitals in the northeastern provinces they inhabit.
Faustin Archange Touadéra has been President of the Central African Republic since March 30, 2016.
Where does the conflict come from?
The Christian governments in Bangui neglected this part of the country and the Muslims were excluded from political power. Because their ancestors immigrated mainly from Chad, they are still seen today as immigrants and not as residents of the country. Old conflicts still play a role today, such as the slave raids by Arab-Muslim groups from what is now Sudan. At the same time, the poor Christian farmers see themselves at a disadvantage compared to the often wealthier Muslims.
Central African Republic Today
Many people in the Central African Republic live in poverty. They do not have enough to eat and are malnourished. This is especially bad for children because they cannot develop properly. 15 out of 100 children are born with too little weight. Many people are dependent on aid supplies from other countries.
Then there is the civil war that is raging in the country. Muslim and Christian rebels fight each other. Many people are on the run. There are also looting and raids.
The water supply is bad. Only half of the rural population has access to clean drinking water. But even those who have running water and a power connection are always unlucky because both fail regularly.
Another problem is illness. Many develop malaria, but yellow fever, cholera, schistosomiasis and African sleeping sickness (trypanosomiasis) are also common. Children often get diarrhea or pneumonia. The proportion of people infected with HIV is also high.