History & Government: The Central African Republic lies in the heart of equatorial Africa. It became self-governing in 1958, and fully independent in 1960, as a member state of the French Community. In 1966 Col. Jean Bedel Bokasa, Chief of Staff of the army ousted President David Dacko and seized control of the government.
Bokasa was made President for life in 1972. In 1976, he set himself up an emperor, after the Napoleonic pattern. In 1979 a popular uprising drove him out. There was another coup in 1981. A civilian government was installed in 1993.
A government of national unity was formed in June, 1996, after an army mutiny of a month earlier was suppressed with the help of French troops. There was another mutiny in January '97, which ended after French intervention.
Food and Economy: Principal agricultural products are cotton, coffee, groundnuts and tobacco. Cotton leads in exports. Diamonds account for half of the countries export earnings. Uranium mining is becoming increasingly important. Industry: Timber, textiles, light manufacturing.