COUNTRY DESCRIPTION ^
The Central African Republic (CAR) is a developing African nation that has experienced several periods of political instability since independence from France in 1960. The capital is Bangui. While the country's Dzanga-Sangha National Park, a primeval rain forest in the southwest region of the country, is an attractive site for ecotourism, facilities for tourism are very limited.
SECURITY AND SAFETY ^
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to the Central African Republic. Americans in the Central African Republic are urged to exercise caution and maintain security awareness at all times.
On March 15, 2003, rebel forces operating in the countryside outside Bangui took over the capital and seized power from the government. The leader of the rebel group declared himself the President of CAR and remains in power. There are peacekeeping forces present throughout CAR, mostly concentrated in the capital city, Bangui.
Street crime is uncommon in downtown Bangui, but armed gangs operate in outlying residential areas. Looting has occurred during periods of civil unrest. There continue to be reports of armed highway robbery in rural areas, especially during the December through May dry season. When a crime does occur in Bangui, the victim may have to pay to send a vehicle to pick up police officers due to the shortage of police vehicles; the other option is to use a vehicle to take the police to the scene of the crime.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES ^
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offences. Persons violating CAR laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in CAR are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.
MEDICAL FACILITIES ^
Medical facilities are limited in the CAR, and the quality of acute care is unreliable. Sanitation levels are low. Many medicines are not available; travelers should carry properly labeled prescription drugs and other medications with them.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS ^
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning CAR is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Due to the risk of armed attacks on motorists in the central, eastern and northern regions, overland travel in these areas without a military escort should be avoided. Most remote areas in CAR that are frequented by tourists are accessible only by four-wheel drive vehicles, although some roads are not passable at all during the rainy season, from May through October.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT ^
As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and CAR, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed CAR's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at
PROHIBITIONS ON PHOTOGRAPHY ^
Taking photographs of police or military installations, or any other government buildings, is prohibited. Unauthorized photography may result in the seizure of photographic equipment by CAR authorities. Police or other government authorities can provide information and grant permission for photographing a particular subject or location.
Please also refer to the separate
Travel Warning for
Central African Republic and to the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.
November 1, 2004
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