The Central African Republic (CAR) has been unstable since its independence from France in 1960.
It is rich in diamonds, gold, oil and uranium but has one of the world’s poorest populations.
It was plunged into turmoil in 2013 when Muslim rebels from the Seleka umbrella group seized power in the majority Christian country. A band of mostly Christian militias, called the anti-balaka, rose up to counter the Seleka.
Seleka handed power to a transitional government in 2014 under international pressure but months of violence followed and the country was effectively partitioned, in spite of the presence of a UN peacekeeping force and a French mission.
The country is undergoing an internationally supervised transition involving a constitutional referendum as well as presidential and parliamentary elections.
- Central African Republic
- Capital: Bangui
- Population 4.6 million
- Area 622,984 sq km (240,535 sq miles)
- Languages French, Sangho (lingua franca)
- Major religions Christianity, Islam, indigenous beliefs
- Life expectancy 48 years (men), 51 years (women)
- Currency CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc