Bangui

Bangui

[Fr. bahn-gee]
Bangui, city (1994 est. pop. 560,000), capital of the Central African Republic, a port on the Ubangi River, near the Congo (Kinshasa) border. Bangui is an administrative, trade, and communications center. Its manufactures include textiles, food products, beer, shoes, and soap. Bangui's port handles most of the country's international trade; the chief exports are cotton, timber, coffee, and sisal. Bangui is at the hub of the nation's road network, which connects the city with Cameroon, Chad, and Sudan. The city was founded in 1889. The Univ. of Bangui is located here.

City (pop., 2003: 622,771), capital of the Central African Republic. A major port on the Ubangi River, it is connected by an extended 1,100-mi (1,800-km) river and rail transport system with the Congolese cities of Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville. Chiefly a commercial and administrative centre, Bangui is also the site of a university and research institutes.

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Bangui is the capital of and the largest city in the Central African Republic. The majority of the population of the Central African Republic lives in the western parts of the country, near Bangui. Though located within Ombella-M'Poko prefecture, it is an independent commune, and thus politically independent of the surrounding prefecture.

History

The city was founded in 1889 in what was then the French colony Haut-Oubangui ('Upper Ubangi'), later renamed Oubangui-Chari and made part of French Equatorial Africa. Named for local rapids, the city grew around the French military post on the Ubangi river. Bangui served as an administration center in the colonial era and continues to be the administrative center of the CAR.

Widespread violence in Bangui followed the March 1981 elections, which took place following a French operation to depose Jean-Bedel Bokassa in 1979 and replace him with David Dacko. Opponents of unpopular Dacko laid siege to Bangui and compelled his flight to exile. Andre Kolingba then formed the Comité Militaire pour le Redressement National (See History of the Central African Republic).

In October 1985, a conference of public health officials including representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organisation met in Bangui and defined AIDS in Africa as, "prolonged fevers for a month or more, weight loss of over 10% and prolonged diarrhoea". About half the AIDS cases in Africa based on the Bangui definition are HIV positive.

A French Jaguar aircraft crashed in Bangui in March 1986, killing 35 and leading to a resurgence in anti-French sentiment. Andre Kolingba, however, continued to allow the French to maintain military bases in the Central African Republic.

Some 200 Central African Republic soldiers mutinied in Bangui in May 1996, demanding back pay and the abdication of dictator Patassé. French troops stationed in the country quelled the mutiny and reestablished dictatorial power. The renegades, however, heavily looted Bangui and killed more than 50 people.

After elected president Ange-Félix Patassé announced a national unity government in early 1997, mutinous troops refused to relinquish a military base in Bangui. New fighting erupted in June.

Mercer Human Resources Consulting named Bangui as the 214th worst city out of 215 in a 2003 survey. Brazzaville was the only city to be ranked lower than Bangui. Bangui was named the most dangerous city in a related survey, partially due to the frequency of coup attempts and rebel attacks.

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. 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. The river marks the border between the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Congolese town of Zongo sits opposite the river from Bangui.

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.

The Central African Republic is situated just north of the Equator and consequently throughout the year daily high temperatures rarely fall below the high 80s Fahrenheit. 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.

Law and government

Bangui is an autonomous commune (commune autonome) of the Central African Republic. With an area of 67 km², it is by far the smallest high-level administrative division of the CAR in area but the highest in population as of 2003.

Bangui is home to a police force.

Economy

Bangui serves as an administrative, trade, and commercial center. Bangui manufactures include textiles, food products, beer, shoes, and soap. The main exports are cotton, timber, coffee, and sisal. Because of the ongoing strife, unemployment hovered near 23% in the city as of 2001.

Transport

Bangui hosts a river port and is served by Bangui M'Poko International Airport (IATA airport code BGF); the former handles the overwhelming majority of the country's international trade. River ferries sail to Brazzaville and Zongo. Roads connect the city to Cameroon, Chad, and Sudan.

Telecommunications

Two GSM-900 mobile telecommunications companies, Telecel CAR and Nationlink Telecom RCA, operate out of Bangui. State-owned Socatel is the principal telecom in CAR and Bangui, and is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the communications infrastructure.

Restaurants

There are three types of restaurants in Bangui.

First, those with French orientation, although they may have African ambiance and/or some African food. These include "Relais des Chasses", "L'Equateur", "Tropicana", and "L'Escale".

Second, there are restaurants focusing on foreign cuisine, such as the Lebanese "Ali Baba" and "Beyrouth", and a Chinese restaurant simply known as "Chinese Restaurant".

Third, there are numerous African restaurants very popular especially among locals, which include the celebrated "Madame M'boka".

A number of bars and street food stalls also complement Bangui's culinary scene.

Culture

Several periodicals and three daily newspapers publish in Bangui. Other attractions in Bangui include Boganda Museum and Bokassa Palace. The Cathédrale Notre-Dame in Bangui is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bangui.

Education

Bangui is home to the University of Bangui, founded in 1970. A public institution, the University of Bangui monopolizes non-agricultural college education in the Central African Republic.

External links

Notes and references


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