A country of staggering rare natural beauty, with some of the world’s most amazing wildlife, it nonetheless remains underdeveloped, fragmented and poverty stricken. It’s a country, like so many in Africa, that could and should be very prosperous; it’s just that pesky ‘government-that-doesn’t-care-about-its-people’ factor that gets in the way. The country has important mineral deposits and great natural resources, yet precious little of the wealth generated seeps down to the population. For centuries Central Africa Republic has endured rapacity from invaders and then its own leaders.Travelling here is a backpacking bungee jump. At the time of writing most of the country was not considered stable or safe enough to travel through. Look at the neighbours: to the east Central Africa Republic borders on the troubled Darfur region of Sudan, to the north Chad is often in turmoil, to the south things are far from placid in Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Only to the west is Cameroon a region of relative stability. Apart from business and government callers to the capital, Bangui, There are a handful of lucky visitors that search for gorillas and elephants in the Dzanga Sangha National Park, in the little finger of land in the southeast corner of the Central Africa Republic . Whatever you do check the situation with your embassy before attempting to visit. Bangui, the capital of CAR, is set beside the Oubangui River – the most important river in the country. It therefore follows that the city is the biggest trading port. Although petty thievery remains a problem, the situation is not as bad as it used to be except, perhaps, at Kilometre 5, the transport hub.The French founded Bangui in 1880 and then constructed the city a la France with wide, shaded boulevards and a central market area from where everything radiated.
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