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Central African Republic

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The Central African Republic (French: République centrafricaine or Centrafrique, Sangho: Ködörösêse tî Bêafrîka) is at the geographic center of Africa, bordered by Cameroon to the west, Chad to the north, Sudan and South Sudan to the east, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Republic of the Congo to the south.

Regions

Cities

  • Bangui - the capital
  • Bambari
  • Bangassou
  • Birao
  • Bria
  • Mbaiki
  • Nola
  • Sibut

Other destinations

  • Dzanga-Sangha National Park
  • Manovo-Gounda St. Floris National Park is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
  • Pygmy settlements in the rainforests surrounding Mbaiki.

Understand

History

Until the early 1800s, the peoples of the CAR lived beyond the expanding Islamic frontier in the Sudanic zone of Africa and thus had relatively little contact with outsiders. During the first decades of the nineteenth century, however, Muslim traders increasingly began to penetrate the region of the CAR and to cultivate special relations with local leaders to facilitate their trade and settlement in the region. The initial arrival of Muslim traders in the early 1800s was relatively peaceful and depended upon the support of local peoples, but after about 1850, slave traders with well-armed soldiers began to penetrate the region.

European penetration of Central African territory began in the late nineteenth century during the so-called Scramble for Africa. The French, Belgian and British competed to establish their claims to territory in the Central African region.

In 1889 the French established a post on the Ubangi River at Bangui, the future capital of and the CAR and in 1894, the "French Congo's" borders with (Belgian) Congo Free State, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo and (German) Cameroon were fixed by diplomatic agreements. The French named their colony Ubang Shari.

On 1 December 1958 the colony of Ubangi-Shari became an autonomous territory and took the name Central African Republic. The founding father, Barthélémy Boganda, died in a mysterious plane accident in 1959, just eight days before the last elections of the colonial era. On 13 August 1960 the Central African Republic gained its independence and two of Boganda's closest aides became involved in a power struggle. David Dacko won and by 1962 had established a one-party state.

Since then a series of coups, including a notorious period under a self-declared emperor, Jean-Bedel Bokassa, and periodic violence from rebel groups, have dealt a very bad lot to the citizens of the Central African Republic. Today, this remains one of the most lawless, dangerous and unstable nations on earth.

Climate

The climate is generally tropical. The northern areas are subject to harmattan winds, which are hot, dry, and carry dust. The northern regions have been subject to desertification, and the northeast is desert. The remainder of the country is prone to flooding from nearby rivers.

In the November 2008 issue of National Geographic, the Central African Republic was named the country least affected by light pollution.

People

Central African Republic consists of 80 ethnic groups, each having their own language, including the Gbaya, Banda, Mandija, Sara, Mboum, M'baka and Yakoma.

Get in

Everyone will need a visa except citizens of Switzerland and Israel.

Visas can be single entry or multiple entry, but multiple entry is recommended more than single entry. Multiple entry visas usually last a year, whereas the single entry last three months. They cost $150 and take two days to process. If you are from a country without a CAR embassy (such as New Zealand), you may apply for a CAR visa at a French consulate/embassy. It is unclear if other nationals (citizens of the USA, France, etc.) may apply at a French consulate or not. Policies for obtaining a visa vary among CAR embassies and from month-to-month. You may apply for a CAR visa at CAR embassies in neighboring Yaounde, N'Djamena, Brazzaville, Kinshasa, & Khartoum. The CAR also has embassies in Washington, Paris, & Bonn.

Borders with Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (at least east of Bangui) are very insecure and any attempt to travel across them by land is not recommended. There is no land routes between the CAR and Congo-Brazzaville (Republic of the Congo).

By air

The country's only international airport (and only airport with scheduled flights) is Bangui M'Poko International Airport (IATA: BGF). There is no Central African airline to provide regional connections or transfers to domestic flights. Air France provides the only service to Europe, flying to Paris. Ethiopian Airlines flies to Addis Ababa. Kenya Airways serves Bangui on its three-city route Nairobi-Bangui-Douala. Royal Air Maroc flies the three-city route Casablanca-Douala-Bangui. TAAG Angola Airlines flies two three-city routes connecting Luanda-Brazzaville-Bangui and Luanda-Douala-Bangui.

Other airlines serving Bangui include: Camairco & Interair South Africa (both to Douala) and Toumai Air Chad (to Brazzaville, Cotonou, Douala, Libreville, Lomé, & N'Djamena)

By bus

Bus service is available from Cameroon and Chad, although the length and the dangerous countryside makes such bus trips infrequent. In terms of safety and ease of passing through checkpoints, however, traveling by bus is preferable to traveling by 4x4.

By boat

Other African cities and countries are accessible via boats and barges that travel infrequently along the Ubangui river. The Ubangui River flows into the Congo River, which is navigable all the way to Stanley Falls near Kinshasa/Brazzaville. Although slow, there are regular (although adhering to no set schedule) barges which travel from Bangui to Kinshasa/Brazzaville.

Boats also traverse the Bangui river from Bangui to Zongo, DRC, which is connected to the DRC's limited & rough road network, continuing onward to Uganda/Rwanda/Burundi.

By 4x4

The Central African Republic is one of the least developed countries in Africa and its road network is in poor condition and services are almost non-existent away from the larges cities/towns. The police/military are extremely corrupt and checkpoints (set up for bribes more than any other reason) are frequent. There are no roads through the dense jungle between the CAR & Congo-Brazzaville. Travel from Cameroon to Bangui and onwards to Dzanga-Sangha Reserve is relatively easy, but bribe checkpoints are common.

In the northern & eastern parts of the country, local rebels and nominally government-controlled soldiers pose a great threat. Kidnapping and banditry are grave dangers in these regions and travel in the northern or eastern regions of the CAR (especially if you plan on driving your own vehicle) should only be done in consultation with local experts. This includes all routes to/from Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, & crossings into the DRC East of Bangui.

Get around

By bus

By hitchhiking

By boat

Traditional trade is carried on by means of shallow-draft dugouts. Oubangui is the most important river, navigable all year to craft drawing 0.6 m or less. 282 km of waterways are navigable to craft drawing as much as 1.8 m

Talk

The main language is French with a dialect called Central African French, which is easily understood by speakers of French. There are a lot of indigenous languages also. While French is the official language of the Central African Republic, only a few people in the country know more than a few words of it.

Sängö (also referred to as Sangro or Sangho) is the lingua franca and is spoken by most of the people in the Central African Republic (some 2000 have it as a mother tongue whilst 80% of the country have it as a second language). To find out if someone speaks Sängö, simply say Balâo (which means Hello), if they respond back with Balâo mïngï then you have found yourself a Sango speaker.

English is spoken by almost no one, even in the capital.

See

The Musée Ethnograhique Barthélémy Boganda in Bangui is the country's national museum and has a decent collection of local instruments, weapons, tools, and displays about local traditions, religion, and architecture.

Prehistoric rock paintings can be found in several locations, but some of the best can be found in Bambari.

The "Chutes de Boali", a possible daytrip from the capital, are a rather picturesque series of waterfalls, which are even more impressive in the rainy season.

Megaliths near the town of Bouar are positioned in concentric circles and are remnants of the CAR's ancient peoples.

As with most of Africa, local markets can be a feast for the eyes, offering a wide arrangement of crafts. Just be vigilant, as markets in the CAR are rife with petty and violent theft.

The country is made up of vast swathes of tropical rainforest that make it popular for exploring.

Do

Visits and stays with the Pygmy communities are probably the biggest draw for the country's few tourists. Possible activities include: hunting with traditional weapons/devices, gathering medicinal plants with the women of the village, participating in a night of music & dance, and much more.

Visit the Dzanga Sangha Special Reserve to trek through the jungle in search of gorillas, elusive forest elephants, chimpanzees, & more. A visit to the reserve is often combined with a stay in a Pygmy village. The reserve is part of larger protected area, with Dzanga-Ndoki National Park (which consists of two noncontinuous parts: "Dzanga Park" & "Ndoki Park") flanking Dzanga-Sangha Special Reserve on two sides and which in turn is part of a larger, tri-national protected area including Lobéké National Park in Cameroon & Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in Congo-Brazzaville.

Should the CAR ever emerge from the grip of conflict & dysfunctional government, the country would be an appealing ecotourism destination (similar to Gabon). Bamingui-Bangoran National Park and Manovo-Gounda St.Floris National Park are promising wildlife reserves that are in insecure regions and without facilities.

Buy

Money

The currency of the country is the Central African CFA franc, denoted FCFA (ISO currency code: XAF). It's also used by five other Central African countries. It is interchangeable at par with the West African CFA franc (XOF), which is used by six countries. Both currencies are fixed at a rate of 1 euro = 655.957 CFA francs.

ATMs

There are Ecobank ATMs in Chad where you can get a cash withdrawal with a Master Card and Visa card. Look at the Ecobank website for a full list of locations.

Costs

Costs in Central African Republic are exorbitant for foreigners who plan to maintain a lifestyle similar to those in their origin country. Much of the commerce and goods must be flown or shipped into the nation, explaining the high costs for many goods. "Local" goods that are imported into CAR from regional nations such as Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon are slightly less expensive (rice, beans, water, etc.) Finally, many of the supermarkets in Bangui and other cities are owned by Lebanese people and families, so there is abundant Middle Eastern food imported into the country, although these products are also very expensive.

Eat

There is a wide diversity of food in Bangui, including Chinese, Lebanese, French, local food and so forth. Food in restaurants owned by foreigners are very expensive and can be $10–20 US per dish (or more). Local food, however, may also be expensive depending upon the restaurant and its location. There are abundant French bakeries in the downtown area in the centre of Bangui with moderate prices for baked goods as well as meals. Food in supermarkets is very expensive, although cheaper food can be purchased at local markets and from sellers in the street.

Drink

Local beer ("33", Mocaf, Crystal) and soft drink (MOCAF is a major producer) is similarly priced to products in Europe and the United States. Wine is available in some French wine shops but can be very expensive. Palm wine is common. Water is produced in Cameroon and Central African Republic and can be purchased in all of the local supermarkets. Imported products such as Coca-Cola and Fanta are also available.

Sleep

Learn

English lessons are available at the Martin Luther King centre of the United States embassy. French and Sango lessons are available at the Alliance Francaise. There is also a university in Bangui with university degrees and some graduate programmes.

Work

There are myriad opportunities for working by teaching English or for any of a number of humanitarian or religious organisations in the Central African Republic. Many of the streets of Bangui are lined with organisations including MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières), UNICEF, International Red Cross, European Union, WHO, Institut Pasteur, Catholic Relief Serices, COOPI and many others. Most organisations are involved in health and development programmes, although others deal with education, religion, etc. Speaking French is essential for somebody who wants to be effectively involved in working with these organisations, as English is rarely spoken, even in Bangui.

Stay safe

Hot, dry, dusty harmattan winds affect northern areas. Floods are common.

Police manning checkpoints will demand bribes, expect no less than USD5; there are many reports that a trip from the Cameroon border to Bangui will cost hundreds of US dollars or Euros in bribes. Police will often confiscate an item (passport, camera, watch) and demand money for it. Armed robberies on roads in the country are common. Violent crime in the capital is common even in daylight, particularly around the "kilometre 5" bus station. Alcoholism is a major problem with city-dwellers, so be wary of drunks and do not even think about drinking with locals (you will be out-drunk).

In March 2003, rebel forces took over the government of the Central African Republic, and the group's leader named himself president. Despite peaceful elections in March 2005, tourists could be at risk, particularly during public gatherings. The Christian terrorist group Anti-balaka and the Islamist group Seleka with its associated jihadists still operate in the country. For the latest on the current tense security situation, see the warningbox at the top of this page.

Photography

In theory, visitors can obtain a permis de filmer from the Ministry of Tourism in Bangui with a turnaround of a couple days. In practice, however, photography is viewed with suspicion and disliked not just with the police/army around the usual sensitive locations (government buildings, infrastructure, checkpoints), but by regular people just about everywhere. Taking photos conspicuously will draw negative attention and you should ask for permission to take anyone's photo—even in public places.

Stay healthy

Some areas of Bangui have clean and filtered drinking water, so it is safe to drink water served at some restaurants and bars. However, the purity of the water is not reliable and thus it is safer to buy bottled water or boil/filter water. Outside the capital there is no guarantee of water purity. All food should be cooked or peeled prior to being served, particularly food purchased at local markets, where hygiene is a concern. If illness should arise, it is better to seek counsel with one of the doctors at an embassy (the French embassy and US embassy both have fine doctors) or at a clinic at an organisation like Institut Pasteur. The local clinics and hospitals sometimes have a limited supply of necessary resources such as syringes, medicine, etc.

Respect

The locals often eat with their hands. If you are eating with them, and using your hands as well, be sure to eat with your right hand. The left is generally used for bathroom purposes, and therefore it is rude/unappealing to them if you eat with your left hand.

Connect

The single story about Africa

Photo by Tanja Heffner

In her famous TED talk, Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warned viewers of “The Danger of a Single Story.” She tells a poignant story of her experience living with her American college roommate in the United States to illustrate her point:

“My roommate had a single story of Africa. A single story of catastrophe. In this single story there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her, in any way. No possibility of feelings more complex than pity. No possibility of a connection as human equals.[…] If I had not grown up in Nigeria, and if all I knew about Africa were from popular images, I too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals, and incomprehensible people, fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS, unable to speak for themselves, and waiting to be saved, by a kind, white foreigner… The single story creates stereotypes and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

How can you make sure that you too don’t get trapped in a single story of Africa? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Understand the geography of the African continent.

Africa is bigger than the United States, China, India and all of Europe combined. And yet too often, a negative news story about simply one of Africa’s fifty-four countries ends up negatively affecting the whole continent. For example, a BBC article reported that when the Ebola epidemic hit Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, even countries in sub-Saharan Africa lost tourist revenue: advance bookings for 2015 in Tanzania were 50% lower. Tourists couldn’t understand that cities like Rome and Madrid were closer to the center of the of Ebola outbreak than Tanzania was. Instead they simply assumed that any country in Africa was automatically more dangerous.

2. Acknowledge the successes on the continent, instead of single-mindedly focusing on the negative.

It’s way too simplistic to focus only on the bad news coming out of Africa, particularly when there are plenty of things Africa does better than the States: According to data by the World Bank, Rwanda leads the world in female representation in their government (64% of their government officials are female. In the United States, that number is 18%). Unlike the United States, African countries offer paid maternal leave. Countries like the Central African Republic, Chad, Namibia all also have higher voter turnout rates than we do.

3. Read and watch Western portrayals of the Africa with a critical eye.

As Courtney Martin wrote, “single stories are born, not just from inadequately seeing real people (although that is sometimes the case), but inadequately writing real people — creating caricatures rather than characters.” This happens too often when Westerners attempt to portray African people in their art.

Check out this viral Youtube video made by an organization called Mama Hope, which points out the various stereotypes African men are tired of seeing in Hollywood movies. And check out Binyavanga Wainaina’s video instructing Westerners “How not to write about Africa”:

Keep these videos and idea in mind anytime you’re reading books or watching movies about the continent and its people.

4. Diversify your news sources.

In 2013, the #SomeoneTellCNN controversy in Kenya showed how Western new outlets reporting on Africa can often get the story wrong. Journalists get lazy and write pieces that don’t give the story the actual nuance (or even accuracy) it deserves.

To make sure you’re getting the full context of a story, check out news outlets that actually feature African journalists on the ground. Here are a few:

  • Africa is a Country — This was founded by Sean Jacobs in 2009 and aimed to “challenge the received wisdom about Africa from a left perspective, informed by his experiences of resistance movements to Apartheid.”
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  • Africa Check — This non-profit organization was created in 2012 to “promote accuracy in public debate and the media in Africa” and “raise the quality of information available to society across the continent.”
  •  

  • Okay Africa — This website reports on African youth culture and art, and aims to fill “a much needed gap in representations of Africa by presenting a forward-thinking, nuanced view of Africa today.”
  • Blood River: The Terrifying Journey Through The World's Most Dangerous Country

    Tim Butcher

    Published to rave reviews in the United Kingdom and named a Richard & Judy Book Club selection—the only work of nonfiction on the 2008 list—Blood River is the harrowing and audacious story of Tim Butcher’s journey in the Congo and his retracing of legendary explorer H. M. Stanley’s famous 1874 expedition in which he mapped the Congo River. When Daily Telegraph correspondent Tim Butcher was sent to Africa in 2000 he quickly became obsessed with the legendary Congo River and the idea of recreating Stanley’s journey along the three-thousand-mile waterway. Despite warnings that his plan was suicidal, Butcher set out for the Congo’s eastern border with just a backpack and a few thousand dollars hidden in his boots. Making his way in an assortment of vehicles, including a motorbike and a dugout canoe, helped along by a cast of characters from UN aid workers to a pygmy rights advocate, he followed in the footsteps of the great Victorian adventurer. An utterly absorbing narrative that chronicles Butcher’s forty-four-day journey along the Congo River, Blood River is an unforgettable story of exploration and survival.

    Central African Republic Violence and Genocide: Ethnic conflict Political unrest, and Religious crises

    George Baker

    Central African Republic Genocide.Unspeakable horrors in a country on the verge of genocide, Militias in the Central African Republic are slitting children's throats, razing villages and throwing young men to the crocodiles. What needs to happen before the world intervenes? Holding civilian’s captive, killing children, and sexually enslaving women and girls are shocking tactics by these anti-balaka and amount to war crimes. This is the world of horrors that the Central African Republic (CAR) has become. Thousands of people are dying at the hands of soldiers and militia gangs or from untreated diseases such as malaria. Boys and girls as young as eight are pressganged into fighting between Christians and Muslims. There are reports of beheadings and public execution-style killings. Villages are razed to the ground. Find out more about Central African Republic conflict situation, the safety and danger …...

    CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC Country Studies: A brief, comprehensive study of Central African Republic

    CIA

    A brief yet detailed report on the country of Central African Republic with updated information on the map, flag, history, people, economics, political conditions in government, foreign affairs, and U.S. relations.

    Safari Guide II: Detailed, Up-to-Date Information on Big-Game Hunting in Benin, Botswana, CAmeroon, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Mozambique, ... South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

    Peter Flack, Jacqueline Neufeld

    Safari Guide II is a completely updated work that gives detailed information on all aspects of hunting in the hunting countries of Africa. Whether you are planning your first trip to South Africa or Namibia and want to get insightful information on the who, what, when, or where, or whether you are planning a trip to Ethiopia for an animal such as the mountain nyala, Safari Guide II will clearly show you what to expect-from the preplanning paperwork to the point when you actually start hunting.

    Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and Joseph Kony: American Efforts to Counter the LRA in Central Africa, Uganda, Central African Republic (CAR), Congo, and South Sudan

    White House

    As America commits military personnel to Central Africa, learn about the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony. In announcing the deployment of U.S. military troops, President Obama stated: "For more than two decades, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women, and children in central Africa. The LRA continues to commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security. Since 2008, the United States has supported regional military efforts to pursue the LRA and protect local communities. Even with some limited U.S. assistance, however, regional military efforts have thus far been unsuccessful in removing LRA leader Joseph Kony or his top commanders from the battlefield. In the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, Public Law 111 172, enacted May 24, 2010, the Congress also expressed support for increased, comprehensive U.S. efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability."This essential compilation of government and military reports and papers, totaling over 700 pages, provides analysis and background data on the LRA and related issues includes extensive background information on Uganda, the Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa). There is in-depth coverage of human rights and counterterrorism in those Central African countries, plus detailed information from the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). There is review of the history of U.S. military involvement in Africa, the expanding role of U.S. military assistance and security cooperation in Africa, and the use of U.S. Armed Forces in Africa from 1950 to 2008.In May 2010, President Obama signed into law the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to support regional partners’ efforts to end the atrocities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in central Africa. For more than two decades, the LRA has murdered, raped and kidnapped tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children. Since 2008 alone, the LRA has killed more than 2,400 people and abducted more than 3,400. The United Nations estimates that over 380,000 people are displaced across Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and South Sudan as a result of LRA activity. The United States’ comprehensive, multi-year strategy seeks to help mitigate and end the threat posed to civilians and regional stability by the LRA. The strategy outlined four strategic objectives for U.S. support: (1) the increased protection of civilians, (2) the apprehension or removal of Joseph Kony and senior LRA commanders from the battlefield, (3) the promotion of defections and support of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of remaining LRA fighters, and (4) the provision of continued humanitarian relief to affected communities. The United States’ decision to send a small group of military advisers to assist the forces that are countering the LRA forms part of our continuing effort to achieve these strategic objectives. This is a privately authored news service and educational publication of Progressive Management.

    Central African Republic (Republique Centrafricaine) 1:1,500,000 Country Map IGN

    IGN

    Central African Republic (Republique Centrafricaine) 1:1,500,000 Country Map IGN

    General map of Central African Republic at 1:1,500,000 with an overview plan of Bangui and an administrative map of the country. Topography and terrain are indicated by relief shading and spot heights, with forests, savanna, deserts, areas of seasonal inundation, and boundaries of national parks and forest reserves. Road network includes minor roads and tracks and shows location of petrol stations. The map also indicates hospitals and medical centres, post offices, missions and other religions establishments, selected accommodation, places of interest, etc. Latitude and longitude are marked in the margins at 2º intervals and by cross ticks on the map itself.

    The map has an index of place names, and insets showing Bangui and the surrounding area at 1:50,000 with main streets and districts within the city, and an administrative map of the country. Only little mapping is provided for neighbouring countries. Map legend is in French only.

    The Heartless Stone: A Journey Through the World of Diamonds, Deceit, and Desire

    Tom Zoellner

    An American Library Association Notable Book

    When he proposed to his girlfriend, Tom Zoellner gave what is expected of every American man--a diamond engagement ring. But when the relationship broke apart, he was left with a used diamond that began to haunt him. His obsession carried him around the globe; from the "blood diamond" rings of Africa; to the sweltering polishing factories of India; to mines above the Arctic Circle; to illegal diggings in Brazil; to the London headquarters of De Beers, the secretive global colossus that has dominated the industry for more than a century and permanently carved the phrase "A diamond is forever" on the psyche. An adventure story in the tradition of Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief, The Heartless Stone is a voyage into the cold heart of the world's most unyielding gem.

    City Maps Bangui Central African Republic

    James McFee

    City Maps Bangui Central African Republic is an easy to use small pocket book filled with all you need for your stay in the big city. Attractions, pubs, bars, restaurants, museums, convenience stores, clothing stores, shopping centers, marketplaces, police, emergency facilities and the list goes on and on. This collection of maps is up to date with the latest developments of the city. This city map is a must if you wish to enjoy the city without internet connection.

    AVOID ALL TRAVEL

    The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

    In March 2013, a coalition of rebel forces known as Seleka, entered the capital, Bangui, and took control of the country. The security situation continues to deteriorate throughout the country. Inter-communal violence has resulted in several hundred deaths. Cases of rape have been reported. A curfew is in effect. Law enforcement personnel throughout the country are unable to ensure the security of civilians. If you are in CAR despite this advisory, take the necessary precautions to stay safe. There is no resident Canadian government office in CAR. The ability of the Government of Canada to provide consular assistance or assist your departure is extremely limited.

    Prefecture of Haut Mbomou

    Incursions into the prefecture of Haut-Mbomou, in southeastern CAR, by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) have escalated, especially between the town of Zemio and the border with South Sudan. The security situation is highly volatile and the local population continues to flee the attacks.

    In December 2008, troops from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan launched a joint military offensive against bases of the LRA in northern DRC. Since the launch of the joint campaign, the LRA has dispersed and retaliated with great violence against the civilian population in villages located in border areas with South Sudan and Uganda. Many people have been killed and thousands more have fled the region. Ugandan, Congolese and South Sudanese forces, and the United Nations Mission to the DRC, have been increasing their presence and operations in the area.  United States Special Forces have been deployed to the area to provide training and support to the Central African Army in the south-eastern region of the country.

    Crime

    The country is affected by rebel activity, armed attacks and banditry.

    You should not go to the KM5 market in Bangui. Victims of crime may have to pay to transport police officers to the scene due to a shortage of police vehicles.

    Demonstrations

    Public gatherings and areas where demonstrations may occur should be avoided, as some have turned violent in the past. Avoid moving about the city during times of civil unrest.

    Road travel

    For the time being, it is recommended that any road travel outside Bangui be avoided. Roads are poor throughout the country, and the only paved roads lead out from Bangui 157 km northwest to Bossembélé, 188 km northeast to Sibut and 107 km southwest to M'Baiiki. Dirt roads can be closed for hours or for days during the wet season. Buses, trucks and minibuses are the normal means of transportation.

    Although remote areas can normally be accessed with four-wheel-drive vehicles, some roads may be impassable during the rainy season (May to October). In the event of an accident involving injuries, you should go to the nearest police station and contact the Consulate of Canada in Bangui. Police and military may set up roadblocks.

    If you decide to undertake road travel despite this warning, keep in mind that all overland travel outside the capital should be done in a convoy of at least two vehicles and during daylight hours. Regional wars have increased access to weapons, and armed attacks occur, often consisting of highway robbery. Overland points of entry are closed to tourists since no security arrangements are provided for foreigners travelling outside the capital.

    Fuel shortages are common. Fuel reserves are recommended when travelling.

    Rail travel

    There is no rail network in operation.

    Air travel

    Consult our Transportation FAQ in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

    General safety information

    Tourist facilities are not widely available. It is recommended to carry only certified copies of your travel documents.

    Exercise caution at all times, ensure your personal belongings are secure, and do not show signs of affluence.

    Health

    Related Travel Health Notices
    Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
    Vaccines

    Routine Vaccines

    Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

    Vaccines to Consider

    You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

    Hepatitis A

    Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

    Hepatitis B

    Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

    Influenza

    Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

    Measles

    Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
     

    Meningitis

    This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease (meningitis) is a serious and sometimes fatal infection of the tissue around the brain and the spinal cord. Travellers who may be at high risk should consider getting vaccinated. High-risk travellers include those living or working with the local population (e.g., health care workers), those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings, or those travelling for a longer period of time.

    Polio

    There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.

    Rabies

    Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

    Typhoid

    Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

    Yellow Fever Vaccination

    Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

    Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

    * It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
    Risk
    • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
    Country Entry Requirement*
    • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required for travellers from all countries.
    Recommendation
    • Vaccination is recommended.
    • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
    • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
    Food/Water

    Food and Water-borne Diseases

    Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

    In some areas in Central Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Central Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

    Schistosomiasis

    Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.

    Travellers' diarrhea
    • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
    • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
    • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

    Insects

    Insects and Illness

    In some areas in Central Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, Rift Valley feverWest Nile virus and yellow fever.

    Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

    African trypanosomiasis

    African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a tsetse fly. Tsetse fly bites are painful and if the disease is left untreated it is eventually fatal. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from bites especially in game parks and rural areas during the day. Avoid wearing bright or dark-coloured clothing as these colours attract tsetse flies. There is no vaccine available for this disease.

    Onchoceriasis

    Onchocerciasis (river blindness) is an eye and skin disease caused by a parasite spread through the bite of an infected female blackfly.  Onchocerciasis often leads to blindness if left untreated. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from blackfly bites, which are most common during the daytime and close to running water. There is no vaccine available for onchocerciasis although drug treatments exist.


    Malaria

    Malaria

    • There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
    • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
    • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
    • See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.

    Animals

    Animals and Illness

    Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in Central Africa, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


    Person-to-Person

    Person-to-Person Infections

    Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

    Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

    HIV

    HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). 

    Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.

    Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.

    Tuberculosis

    Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

    For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

    Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.

    High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.


    Medical services and facilities

    Medical services and facilities

    Medical facilities are poor to non-existent outside Bangui and have been affected by strikes. Medicines are scarce and sanitary conditions are poor. Medical care is generally paid for on the spot and before any treatment.

    Keep in Mind...

    The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

    Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

    You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

    Penalties for drug use or possession are severe and may include a jail sentence.

    A licence is required to buy or sell precious gems. Penalties are heavy for those involved in smuggling.

    Photography of government buildings or police and military installations is prohibited. These sites may not be clearly marked. Ask permission before taking photographs.

    You should carry identity documents or notarized copies at all times, as failure to do so can lead to detention.

    Homosexual activity is illegal and penalties include the death sentence.

    An International Driving Permit is required.

    Money

    The currency is African Financial Community CFA franc (or XAF bank code), which is also used in Chad, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon. The West African CFA franc is not legal tender in the CAR and can neither be used nor exchanged. Credit cards (VISA, the French Carte bleue) and traveller's cheques are accepted only in major hotels in Bangui (Sofitel, Central Hotel and Somba Hotel). It is recommended that traveller's cheques be issued in euros.

    The exchange rate for cash is much lower than for traveller’s cheques, but the banks that change cheques charge commissions. Bangui and Berbérati are the only cities where you can change money.

    Climate

    The rainy season extends from May to October and the dry season extends from December to April. Some roads may become impassable during the rainy season. The rainy season diminishes progressively to four months (June to September) as you head north. Flash floods are common during the rainy season. The temperature can reach 40°C in the north between February and May, and the humidity can be oppressive.