|Country||Central African Republic|
|• Mayor||Nazaire Yalanga Nganaféï (2011-)|
|• Total||67 km2 (26 sq mi)|
|Elevation||369 m (1,211 ft)|
|• Density||11,000/km2 ( 28,000/sq mi)|
Bangui (French pronunciation: [bɑ̃ɡi]) is the capital of and the largest city in the Central African Republic. As of 2012 it had an estimated population of 734,350. Established by the French in 1889 as 'Bongai', which means 'rapids', it is the only capital in the world which is situated on a river that is an anagram of its name. Located on the northern bank of the Ubangi River, it grew into a town during its period as part of French Equatorial Africa. The majority of the population of the Central African Republic lives in the western parts of the country, in Bangui and the area surrounding it.
The city forms an autonomous commune (commune autonome) of the Central African Republic which is surrounded by Ombella-M'Poko prefecture. The commune has an area of 67 square kilometres (26 sq mi) and it is the smallest high-level administrative division in the country, but the highest in terms of population. The city consists of 8 urban districts (‘arrondissements’), 16 groups (‘groupements’) and 205 neighborhoods (‘quartiers’).
Bangui has been the scene of intense rebel activity and destruction during decades of political upheaval, including the current rebellion. In 2009 the city was named as one of the most dangerous cities in the world.
As the capital of the Central Africa Republic, Bangui serves as an administrative, trade, and commercial centre. It is served by Bangui M'Poko International Airport. The National Assembly, government buildings, banks, foreign enterprises and embassies, hospitals, hotels, main markets and the Ngaragba Central Prison are all located here. Bangui manufactures textiles, food products, beer, shoes and soap. The Cathédrale Notre-Dame is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bangui. The city is also home to the University of Bangui, inaugurated in 1970.
Archaeological studies in and around the city have yielded at least 26 ancient Iron Age sites that contain many metallurgical tools and objects, illuminating the pre-European history of the city and surrounding area. These archaeological sites were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on 11 April 2006 in the Cultural category. The site closest to Bangui is Pendere-Sengue, 800 metres (2,600 ft) from modern Independence Avenue, where archaeologists and conservation agencies have carried out studies. It is a paleo-metallurgical site where, apart from several thousand shards of ceramics, iron tools and pottery, an iron spatula weighing 9 kilograms (20 lb) has been unearthed; the iron outcrops here have been noted in a length of 200 metres (660 ft) along a stream bed. Its dating, compared with similar sites in Nigeria and Sudan could be closer to the 9th century BC.
Bangui was founded in 1889 in what was the French colony of Haut-Oubangui, later called Ubangi-Chari and made part of French Equatorial Africa. Named after the rapids of the river, the city grew due to the proximity of a French military post situated on the Ubangi River. Bangui served as the administration centre in the colonial era and continues to be the administrative centre of the Central African Republic.
The French established radio communications in Bangui, which was described in 1932 as "the most remote radio station in Africa". During World War II, French soldiers were based in Bangui. One visitor to the city in during this period remarked that "it was the only place in the world where I have seen almost the entire French community drunk at 10 o'clock in the morning".
In 1970, President Jean-Bédel Bokassa established the University of Bangui. In 1971 he established the national airline, Air Centrafrique, and ordered the construction of two new luxury hotels in Bangui. With tensions mounting between Bangui and Paris as a result of Bokassa's uncontrollable expenditures, western banks refused to loan him any more money. Relations with the French worsened still further in April 1974, when Brigette Miroux's body was discovered in a hotel room in Bangui and it was reported in the French media that she had been Bokassa's mistress and that he was responsible for her murder. As a result, Bokassa banned imports of French newspapers and assumed control of the Agence France-Presse office in Bangui. By 1975, Bangui had a population of 300,723.
In March 1981, widespread violence took place in Bangui following elections, after Operation Caban led the French to drop Bokassa, by then calling himself Emperor Bokassa I, and replace him with David Dacko. Opponents of the President met in Bangui and were forced to flee the country. Bokassa went on trial, but returned voluntarily to Bangui in the autumn of 1986. Initially sentenced to death, this was commuted to life imprisonment in February 1988. His successor, General André Kolingba, suspended the constitution and implementing the transition to the Military Committee for National Recovery but established a de facto military dictatorship.
In October 1985, a conference of public health officials, including representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of Diseases in the United States and the World Health Organisation met in Bangui and defined symptoms of AIDS in Africa as "prolonged fever for a month or more, weight loss of over 10% and prolonged diarrhea". The Bangui definition proved problematic in that immune suppression can also be caused by malnutrition.
In May 1996, about 200 soldiers of the Central African Republic mutinied in Bangui, demanding salary increases and the abdication of Ange-Félix Patassé. In the aftermath, the renegades plundered and killed more than 50 people. Following this, the French troops stationed in the country suppressed the rebellion and restored the dictatorial power. After being elected, President Patassé announced a national unity government in early 1997. The Patassé government, the opposition parties, and religious groups signed the Bangui Accords in January 1997 which were a "series of measures designed to reconcile competing political factions, reform and strengthen the economy." The same year, the rebel troops refused a military base in Bangui and in June a new revolt broke out.
On 25 October 2002, several towns in the country and later Bangui were attacked by the forces of General François Bozizé, backed with international support. Bozizé "refused to accept an arrest warrant, defected with about a hundred troops, engaged in street battles in the northern neighborhoods of Bangui (traditionally supporting Patasse), and moved to the north of the country." Bozizé went into exile in Chad but later ended Patassé's presidency when he assumed power in the country in a coup in March 2003 and the situation in the city, sometimes called the 'Republic of Bangui', had improved.
2013 rebellion 
In late 2012 the Seleka coalition rebelled against his autocratic rule and entered the city. After capturing Bria, Sibut and other important towns, they were on the verge of capturing Damara, the last strategic town before Bangui. France and the USA refused to support the president and neighboring countries reinforced the Central African Multinational Force (Fomac).
In January 2013, the rebels stopped their operations, hoping for a negotiated settlement. Following a ceasefire and a power-sharing agreement, Seleka and Bozizé agreed to honour the rebel's demands for the release of rebel prisoners and the expulsion of foreign troops from the country. The agreement allowed for Bozizé to complete his term in office and to include members of Seleka in a new government. It was also agreed that fresh elections would be held in 2016. The agreement was not honoured and the rebels captured Bangui on 23 March 2013, forcing Bozize to flee the capital.
Geography and climate 
Bangui lies on the northern banks of the Ubangi River just below a series of rapids that limit major commercial shipping farther upriver, on the southern border. It is the only major city of some significant size in the country along the river with the back drop of lush green hills. It covers an area of 67 square kilometres (26 sq mi). The navigable Ubangi River turns sharply south below Bangui and connects to the Congo River just south of the equator near Brazzaville as its chief northern tributary. During the rainy season the discharge in the river is three times more than than its normal flow during the rest of the year. The river marks the border between the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Congolese town of Zongo sits opposite the river from Bangui. The river flows to the east of downtown Bangui. The traditional boat plied on the river is called pirogues, which is a pleasant way to ride on the river. The city was also known as La Coqutte (the beautiful city) in the 1970s.  The city centre lies near the river and features a large triumphal arch dedicated to Bokassa, the Presidential Palace and the central market. Lying 5 km further north, the heart of the residential area has the largest market and most nightlife. North of the city lie rolling hills. A significant colony of Nigerian expatriates has sprung up in a neighborhood known as New Ikoyi. However, most CAR people who live in suburbs of Bangui in houses known as Kodros, which are built of mud bricks with thatched roof.
A particular feature in Bangui is the Bangui Magnetic Anomaly, a name given to one of the earth’s largest crustal anomalies. It is a magnetic feature, the largest in Africa, and has its centre at Bangui. The anomaly is in the shape of an ellipse with size of 700 kilometres (430 mi) x 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) with its central point at 6 degrees N and 18 degrees E. It is formed of three parts or segments, which comprise the northern, the southern and the central anomalies. The magnetic equator passes through the center of this feature. It is a very well documented feature but the reason for its creation is still not fully understood.
The Central African Republic is situated just north of the Equator and consequently throughout the year daily high temperatures rarely fall below thirty degrees celsius. Bangui features a tropical wet and dry climate. The rainy season lasts from May until October. Bangui, being in the south of the country and thus closest to the equator, is slightly hotter and wetter than the northern parts of the country. The city is surrounded by thick tropical rainforests on the river banks.
Several of the neighborhoods of Bangui are in low-lying areas and are prone to recurrent urban flooding. For instance, severe rains in June and July 2009 left 11,000 people homeless.
|Climate data for Bangui|
|Average high °C (°F)||32
|Average low °C (°F)||20
|Precipitation mm (inches)||25
|Avg. rainy days||3||5||11||10||15||12||17||19||16||19||11||2||140|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||217||196||186||180||186||180||124||124||150||155||180||217||2,095|
|Source: BBC Weather |
Bangui is an autonomous commune (commune autonome) of the Central African Republic. With an area of 67 square kilometres (26 sq mi), it is by far the smallest high-level administrative division of the CAR in area but the highest in population as of 2003[update]. The city of Bangui consists of 8 urban districts (‘arrondissements’), 16 groups (‘groupements’) and 205 neighborhoods (‘quartiers’). The International Criminal Court opened on office in Bangui in October 2007. The National Assembly of CAR, a multiparty republic, with its headquarters in Bangui, is a unitary legislative body with 105 members. The country's ministries, Civil Services, Labour and Social Security; Communication, National Reconsiliation and Democratic and Civi Culture; Economy, Finance, the Budget, Planning and International Co-operation; Equipment and Transport; Foreign and Francophone Affairs, and Regional Integration; Justice, Human Rights and Good Governance; and Mines, Energy and Hydraulics, are all based in Bangui.
After the Central African Republic attained independence in 1960, developmental activities began, and the urbanization of Bangui ensued. This is evidenced by the population growth from 279,800 in 1975 to 652,000 in 2001. Apart from the ethnic people of the country, the city is also home for a minority group of Greek, Portuguese, Yemeni traders and also a small community of the French people. The Bangui resident community includes diamond traders of western Africa and Chad, traders of many African countries, and refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria.
The official languages of the country are French and Sango; the latter is the language spoken by 90% of its people ( originally a language spoken in the Ubangi River region). Some of the other languages spoken are Baya (Gbaya), Banda, Ngbaka, Sara, Mbum, Kare, and Mandjia. Sango was simplified by Christian missionaries and is widely used now.
Bangui serves as an administrative, trade, and commercial center. The economy of Bangui under the colonial rule was known as an urban backwater, as the policy of the French was to exploit the local people with forced labour by means of an 'economy of plunder'. During the Second World War the country became wealthier as exports of rubber, cotton, coffee, uranium and diamonds increased. After the war, the employment of local people in mainstream administration lead to the development of the country's infrastructure, which increased trade and slowed down the national movement for independence.
During the rule of David Dacko as president, from 1960 to 1966, the production of diamonds increased significantly. This happened because the monopoly of the French concessionary companies was ended and a law to permit any CAR citizen to dig for diamonds was passed. Dacko set up a diamond cutting factory at Bangui, which enabled diamonds to become the country's leading export product: the so-called 'Bangui Diamonds' remain popular. But by the end of his five year's tenure, rampant corruption and financial indiscipline had resulted in workers being left unpaid and civil unrest ensued. Bokassa then seized power in a military coup in 1966.
Concurrently, Bangui also became the key center for social and cultural activity in the region, when new institutions came to be established in the city. However, political turmoil in the country, centered in the city, brought in economic recession since 1970s due to fall of international prices of its major exports, rampant corruption and the dictatorial rule of President Bokassa. This caused impoverishment of the people and severe conflicts. The infrastructure of the city collapsed, which was further compounded by the influx of people migrating as refugees from troubled neighbouring countries.
It received its first bank branch in 1946 when the Bank of West Africa (BAO) established a branch there. Arab sellers dominate the city, and it was an important market place for ivory trading historically. Bangui manufactures include textiles, food products, beer, shoes, and soap. The main exports are cotton, rubber, timber, coffee, and sisal. Because of the ongoing strife, unemployment hovered near 23% in the city as of 2001[update]. Ngaragba Central Prison the national prison for men is located in Bangui. As of 2007, the Ngaragba prison had 476 inmates; prison conditions are reported to be poor. A General Hospital is located in the eastern side of the city. Modern health care facilities exist only in Bangui but the facilities are poor and hence provides for minimal care. The wealthier people of Bangui go to private clinics. The risk of catching AIDS in the city is reportedly high, and many truck drivers stopping in the city for sexual services pose a major risk to the spreading of the disease to other parts of the country. The risk of catching malaria in Bangui and pygmy camps is also much higher than in the rest of the country.
Attractions in Bangui include Boganda Museum and the Presidential Palace, formerly the Bokassa Palace. The red brick Cathédrale Notre-Dame in Bangui is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bangui. The Boganda Museum is known as the Musee de Boganda. Though it is not well maintained but has some good collection of bark cloth, material used to cover Emperor Bokasa's bed. The old town of Bangui has retained the colonial design of town planning with wide boulevards oriented towrds central market square. The museum has displays of traditional musical instruments, war weapons, architectural features of villages, ancient tools used in hunting, pottery, and also many religious antiques. Also of note is the Bangui Zoo. Though subject to intense political strife, the city is known for its "vibrant nightlife and a diverse musical culture". Bangui has several hotels, all of them small by developed world standards. The Ledger Plaza Bangui on the outskirts claims to be a five-star hotel, and has an outdoor swimming pool and tennis court. The National Hotel was established in 1970 and has 30 rooms. Also of note is the Golf Palace Hotel, Hotel du Centre with 72 rooms, JM Residence, Oubangui Hotel, established in 1985, and Hotel Somba, which has 23 rooms.
In addition to the landmarks within Bangui, some important places within 100 kilometres (62 mi) range from the city are the Chutse de Baali or Waterfall (fall of about 25 metres (82 ft) spread over 250 metres (820 ft) length) which comes alive only during rainy season, the Lac des Crocodile (Crocodile Lake) where villagers lure crocodiles are lured to the shore with chicken, Berengo on the National Highway 8, about 80 kilometres (50 mi) from Bangui where Bokassa’s ruined palace retreat, his huge statue, and also his grave are located, and Babangi, which contains the memorial tomb of the hero of the country's independence movement, Barthélemy Boganda. Boganda and Bokassa were born in this village. Bokassa's statue has been described as an"enormous coronation throne, fashioned in the image of a rampant eagle and once swathed with twenty-four-karat gold." The statue is now rusting and was kept in an open basement in an abandoned stadium.
The visit of the Pope to Bangui is an important national event when national holiday is declared, in addition to the other holidays. On this occasion the factory workers who also enjoy the holiday) weave special cloth. Victory of the National Football team is also celebrated as a national holiday. Most of the holidays are festivals related to the Christian and Muslim faiths and are the same as observed in other parts of the world. National holidays include independence day and the birthdays of Boganda and several other national heroes.
Polygamy is an accepted practice among men but not encouraged among women. When a person dies in Bangui, a representative from his/her village always attends the funeral to show to the dead soul the way to his/her village to retain the bond to the day. Representative also carries a little dust from the grave to the village, and gives it to the village holy Medicine man so that he could ascertain the reasons for his death.
The staple diet of the people is cassava, rice, squash, pumpkins and plantains served with a sauce and grilled meat. Okra or gombo is a popular vegetable. Peanuts and peanut butter are widely used. Game is popular, as are the fish-based dishes maboké and soussou. Alcoholic beverages served are locally brewed beer, palm wine and banana wine. Non-alcoholic beverages that are drunk include ginger beer. The staple food of local people in Bangui is manioc flour, which is used for preparing fufu. Heat and dried fish are also consumed. There are three types of restaurant in Bangui. Some focus on foreign cuisine, such as 'Relais des Chasses', 'La Tentation' and 'L'Escale', which are orientated towards French food, and 'Ali Baba' and 'Beyrouth', which serve Lebanese food. There are a large number of African restaurants, such as the celebrated "Madame M'boka", which are especially popular among locals. A number of bars and street food stalls compliment Bangui's culinary scene.
Bangui’s artisans’ market has traditional wares representing the art products from the different regions of the country. Some of the important handicraft items found are: Woven mats and baskets, wooden utensils of simple design, carved stools, pottery, and musical instruments; particular mention could be made of the balafon, similar to a xylophone, but made out horns of animals, tanned skins, and wood products. Some innovative arts designed and pictured are of butterfly wings stuck with gum on paper and also some ebony and hardwood carvings from wood of the tropical region. Artwork also covers carvings of animals and people. The crafts center in Bangui provides training to about 100 students in artistic crafting in leather, ivory and ebony wares.
The rich music tradition of the country is showcased in Bangui and also musicians also perform in many countries abroad. The Bangui band groups have been largely influenced by Zokela in the 1980s. The innovative music based dance bands with their adaptation of Congolese music with electronic medium are rhythmic and they blend the rumba, cha-cha, and merengue. The popular Central African music groups or dance bands who perform in the city are Musiki, Zokela, Makembe, Cool Stars, Cannon Stars, and Super Stars. Bokassa, during his tenure as President, established a music recording studio in Bangui and employed musicians to sing his praise through songs extolling his qualities as an Emperor and to develop his cult image among his people.
The popular sports are Football (soccer), not only in Bangui but also in most towns and villages in the country, and basketball. Both men and women from Bangui and the country have participated in the Olympic Games since 1968 and also in many international competitions. The locals also organize boat races with hundreds of participants on the river which is a significant attraction.
The French system of education is the norm and French is the language of teaching. However, Sango language is being promoted in schools. Substantial percentage of the population is literate. Schooling is compulsory for children in the age group of 6 to 14. Bangui is home to the University of Bangui, founded in 1969 and started functioning from 1970; by President Jean-Bédel Bokassa who had named it after himself. A public institution, the University of Bangui monopolizes non-agricultural college education in the Central African Republic. The other educational institutions are the National School of Arts and the Central School of Agriculture, in addition to many religious and technical schools. Since 1981, the University Library has been located in a separate building that houses its science, literature, and law collections. The medical school of the university has its own library. The Universite Palais des Sports complex is the largest sports complex in the city. A school in the eastern part of the city, Lycee Charles de Gaulle, was established by the French and is named after President Charles de Gaulle. Several notable Africans, including writers such as Calixthe Beyala, have studied in the city. Beyala studied at the Lycee des Rapides.
There is no state-prescribed religion in the country. The religious groups in the urban center of Bangui, in the order of their population representation, are the Christians (Roman Catholics and Protestants of equal number), Animists following ancient beliefs, and Muslims. However, majority of the population of Bangui are of Christian faith. The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception under the Roman Catholic Metropolitan Archdiocese of Bangui is located in Bangui. The Metropolitan Archdiocese of Bangui controls the churches in Eastern and Central Africa. The archdiocese was established as the Apostolic Prefecture of Oubangui Chari on 8 May 1909. Pope Paul II visited Bangui in August 1985. The seat of the archbishop is the Cathédrale Notre-Dame in Bangui. Islam is the last in the order of religious beliefs followed by about 20,000 Muslims in Bangui. The late president Bokassa converted to Islam as a political compulsion under the guidance of the then Libyan President Gaddafi. He also assumed the Muslim name of Sala Eddine Ahmed Bou Kassa, but it was short-lived as he wanted a cathedral to be built in Bangui. The Church of Fatima and Notre Dame D'Afrique are located in KM 5.
Bangui is the transport hub of the Central African Republic. As of 1999, eight roads connected the city to other main towns in the country, Cameroon, Chad and South Sudan: of these, only the toll roads are paved. During the rainy season from July to October, some roads are unpassable. The road network in the city emanates from the Palace de la Republique.
River ferries sail from the river port at Bangui to Brazzaville and Zongo. The river can be navigated most of the year between Bangui and Brazzaville. From Brazzaville, goods are transported by rail to Pointe-Noire, Congo's Atlantic port. The river port handles the overwhelming majority of the country's international trade and has a cargo handling capacity of 350,000 tons: it has 350 metres (1,150 ft) length of wharfs and 24,000 square metres (260,000 sq ft) of warehousing space.
The first airstrip in Bangui was built between 1920-25. Bangui M'Poko International Airport (IATA airport code BGF) is located 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) to the north of the old town, on the Avenue of Martyrs between the Koudoukou Avenue and the University of Bangui, in 600 hectares (1,500 acres) of decorested land. There are plans to connect Bangui by rail with the Transcameroon Railway.ion and maintenance of the communications infrastructure.
Several periodicals and three daily newspapers are published in Bangui: E le Songo, the country's first newspaper, began publication in 1982. The other main newspapers are Le Novateur, Le Citoyen and L’Echo de Centrafrique. Most of the country's institutions have offices in Bangui, including French ones such as Électricité de France (EDF).
Radio stations received in Bangui include Radio centrafrique, Radio Nehemie, Radio Naotre-Dame, Radio Voix de la paix, Radio Ndeke Luka, RFI, Radio Voik de la grace, Radio Linga FM, Africa no.1, and Tropic FM. BBC World Service is the only English broadcasting station that is heard in the city on 90.2 FM, as all other local channels broadcast in either French and or Sango. For reliable news, the channel of UN run Radio Ndeke Luka is on 100.8 FM.
Notable people 
- Élie Doté, politician and prime minister
- André Kolingba, state president
- Anicet Lavodrama, basketball player
- Nathalie Tauziat, French tennis player
- Joachim N'Dayen, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bangui
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