A small, poor, little-known nation, the Central African Republic has had a troubled history, from the days of slave raids by Arab-speaking peoples from the north, through the bizarre rule of Jean-Bedel Bokassa, to the present military regime. Landlocked and possessing few resources beyond its famed diamonds, it is one of the least developed nations in Africa. Since its independence from France in 1959, it has of necessity continued to depend on its former colonial ruler. In this introduction to the Central African Republic, Dr. O'Toole examines the country's tumultuous past and current difficulties, the nature of the present political situation, and the roots of that situation in the colonial and precolonial periods. He also focuses on the roles of ethnicity, emerging urban problems, class formation, education, and religion in the social and cultural changes that the nation is currently undergoing. Finally, he realistically assesses the viability of the present government as a vehicle for economic development, stability, and reform.
The Physical Setting -- The Historical Context -- The Central African Polity -- Society and Change -- Economic and Political Dependence -- The Central African Republic and the World -- Central Africa and the Future