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torstai 5. marraskuuta 2015

Central African Republic, Cool Facts #77

<= 76. Cote D'Ivoire                                                                                                         78. Gabon =>

1. Story behind the Flag

The first president of the independent Central African Republic, Barthelemy Boganda, designed the current flag of the country. The Catholic priest Boganda represented Central Africa in the French parliament and said that France and Central Africa must march together, so it's no wonder that he combined the French tricolour with Pan-African colors. 

The flag contains all the colors of the countries, which were together with Central African Republic as a part of the French Equatorial Africa. These are Congo, Gabon and Chad.

Blue: represents the Black
White: represents the Europeans
Green: represents the mulattos
Yellow: represents the Asians
Red: represents blood which is red regardless of ethnicity
Star: represents independence and unity 

Boganda on the right

2. Languages

Central African Republic has two official languages: French and Sango. There are 54 independent recognized countries in Africa and from these only 16 countries have an African language as one of their official languages. So in this way Central African Republic belongs to the minority in Africa as it has an African language as an official language. 

Most of the African countries have two or three official languages. Some countries have only European languages as official languages and the Muslim countries Arabic as well. In Central African Republic the elite speaks French, but the whole population speaks Sango. 

Statistics of official languages in Africa: 

1/54 country (Ethiopia): has only one official language which is African (Amharic) 
15/54 countries: have an African language as an official language in addition to Arabic or European languages 
6/54 countries: have Arabic as their only official language
12/54 countries: have Arabic as one of their official languages

3. Emperor Bokassa I

In 1966 colonel Jean-Bedel Bokassa overthrew president David Dacko in a coup. Ten years after in 1976 the autocratic Bokassa crowned himself as emperor Bokassa I in a lavish ceremony which costed the fourth of the state budget. Bokassa I had commissioned to manufacture a similar throne, that the ancient king Salomon had had. The story of the empire ended in 1979 with student demonstrations. The French troops arrived and helped David Dacko back to power. 

Bokassa's coronation video

Bokassa I sitting in his throne

4. France in Central African Republic

Central African Republic gained independence from France in 1960. Still France has a lot of influence in the country and it has interfered into the politics and internal issues of Central African Republic. 

The French has hacked the forests and the coffee and cotton plantations are mainly in European possession. The French and American companies extract Uranium. Diamonds account for about 40-55% of export revenues but it's estimated that between 30-50% of the diamonds are smuggled out of the country illegally. 

Despite all the huge reserves of diamonds, uranium, crude oil, gold, lumber, arable land and hydropower Central African Republic remains as one of the ten poorest countries in the world from year to year. The majority of people live in poverty and suffers from tropical diseases transmitted by for example the tsetse fly. 

Diamond mine
Illegal mineral trade in Central Africa

5. Oubangui-Chari 

In 1894 the country got the name Oubangui-Chari from the French, who named the territory after the Ubangi River. Oubangui-Chari was first part of French Congo. In 1910 France merged Oubangui-Chari with Chad, Gabon and Congo creating the French Equatorial Africa.

Between 1916-1934 it was  administered separately before being administered as a part of French Equatorial Africa again between 1934-1958. In 1958 the country got autonomy before becoming independent in 1960.

During the colonial times the French chartered lumber from Central African Republic and established coffee and cotton plantations. Also the gold and diamond deposits attracted the French. During the colonial administration the French relied on the Mbaka tribe, who became the power elite after the independence.

Pictures from colonial Oubangui-Chari


1600-1700s The slave trade devastates the life in the region
1894 Central African Republic becames a colony named Oubangui-Chari
1910 Oubangui-Chari becomes part of the French Equatorial Africa with Chad, Gabon and Congo
1958 Oubangui-Chari gets autonomy
1960 Oubangui-Chari becomes independent as the Central African Republic, David Dacko becomes the first president
1966 Jean-Bedel Bokassa overthrows Dacko in a military coup
1976 Bokassa crowns himself as the emperor Bokassa I
1979 Student demonstrations followed by the French intervention who bring Dacko back to power
1981 Dacko is being overthrown again, this time by general Andre Kolingba
1993 Kolingba and Dacko both lose, Ange-Felix Patasse becomes elected as president
2001 President Patassa managed to counter the coup with the help of Libyan and Congolese rebels
2003 Patasse is overthrown by Francois Bozize
2007 Peace treaty with the UFDR
2011 Bozize is elected in an election considered fraudulent
2013 Bozize fled the country as Séléka coalition occupied the country's northern and central parts


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