ASSESSMENTS

At the Heart of the Central African Republic's Struggles

MIN READJan 6, 2017 | 09:15 GMT

France withdrew its forces -- shown patrolling the Muslim district of Bangui -- from the Central African Republic in October 2016, following three of the bloodiest years in the country's history since it gained independence in 1960. The Central African Republic's geographic challenges and political instability bode ill for its development.
France withdrew its forces -- shown patrolling the Muslim district of Bangui -- from the Central African Republic in October 2016, following three of the bloodiest years in the country's history since it gained independence in 1960. The Central African Republic's geographic challenges and political instability bode ill for its development.

(ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)

Africa's geography presents several challenges to development. Huge swaths of remote and sometimes impenetrable inland territory, combined with a relative lack of waterways, drive up the costs of moving goods in and out of the continent's more isolated areas. On top of this, many African countries must contend with the inherent constraints of being landlocked, along with a shortage of fertile soil and an abundance of political and security problems. Taken together, these factors can severely limit their prospects. The Central African Republic -- wedged, as its name suggests, in the middle of the continent between the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Cameroon, Sudan and South Sudan -- embodies these dilemmas at their most extreme. In fact, the country, a nation slightly smaller than the state of Texas, often falls short of satisfying the formal definition of a state. It has little means to control the violence...

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