The Central African Republic (CAR) has been unstable since gaining independence from France in 1960.
It is rich in diamonds, gold, oil and uranium but has one of the poorest populations in the world.
It was thrown into turmoil in 2013 when Muslim rebels from the Seleka governing body seized power. A band of mostly Christian militias, the so-called Anti-Balaka, rose to confront the Seleka.
Seleka handed power to an interim government in 2014 under international pressure, but months of violence followed and the country remains in turmoil as Russian mercenaries back the government against rebel groups.
President: Faustin-Archange Touadera
Faustin-Archange Touadera, former prime minister and mathematics professor, was declared the winner of a presidential election in February 2016.
He fought as a peacemaker who could bridge the religious divide and won re-election in 2020, but his government controls only part of the country and rebel groups question his authority.
Radio is the most popular medium. The media consists largely of low-circulation newspapers and “often siled” radio stations, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says.
Persistent conflicts have hampered the development of the media. Officials and armed groups have targeted journalists and media outlets.
Some important dates in the history of Central African Republic:
1880s – France annexes the area and divides it among commercial concessionaires.
1960 – The Central African Republic becomes independent with David Dacko as President. He turns it into a one-party state.
1965 – Dacko is ousted by army commander Jean-Bedel Bokassa, who eventually proclaims himself emperor.
1979 – Bokassa was ousted in a coup supported by French troops.
1993 – Ange-Felix Patasse wins presidential elections, ending 12 years of military rule.
2003 – Rebel leader and former army commander Francois Bozize takes power.
2012 November – The new Seleka rebel coalition quickly overruns the north and center of the country and eventually the capital.
2015 – Referendum on constitutional changes leads to presidential elections.