Central African Republic
• Location: Central Africa
• Capital: Bangui
• Language: French, Sango
• Population: 4,436,567
• Total Area: 622,984 sq km
• Currency: CFA Franc
• Curious Alcohol Fact: Unlike some other nations of the world, the most popular alcoholic drinks in the Central African Republic are not expensive beers but palm wine and banana wine.
• Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 3.35 liters
• Most Popular Drink: Palm wine and banana wine
Central African Republic Video:
Just as its name implies, this nation is located at the very heart of Africa and it is landlocked. Towards the end of the 19th century, the region fell under French control and that was to be the status quo until the country became independent in 1960. At a time, the country was renamed the Central African Empire during the time of the self-styled dictator, Jean Bedel Bokassa. The capital city is Bangui and is located on the west bank of the Ubangi River. In the northern part of the country, there is a savanna climate while the south can be described as an equatorial region and there are dense rainforests. The nation is also humorously referred to as the CAR.
The number of ethnic groups in the country is mind-boggling –over 80! The most surprising thing is that each group has its own distinct language. The Baya, Banda, Manjia and Sara are the predominant ethnic groups. More than three-quarters are Christians and the remaining are adherents of Islam and African Traditional Religions. Close to the major rivers are tribes such as the Mbaka (Ngbaka), Ubangi and theYakoma. Most Central Africans are farmers, pastoralists, nomads or anglers and are always pleased to have visitors in their midst. When I visited a Sara village, the reception was incredible, even without prior notice.
Central African Food-Scrumptious!
If you want to enjoy Western foods, then you will have to restrict your movement to the capital city of Bangui where there are high-class restaurants. However, I did not do this but headed to the rural areas for the real deal –exotic, traditional dishes. My search was not fruitless as I enjoyed muamba de Galinha at a rural settlement on the banks of theChari River. Muamba de Galinha is made from chicken coated with palm oil and okra. That was my first time of tasting okra (called gombo) and it tasted delicious! In a village in Lobaye, I was served sweet potatoes and shrimps and it was so tasty that I tried to prepare it when I went back to the capital. I tried but I did not get the original taste.
Drinking in the CAR:
To get something to drink in this nation is not a big deal at all. The most popular drinks are banana wine and palm wine. When fresh you will surely ask for more. However, if your palate longs for more exquisite drinks, you can get expensive French wines at many of the bars and hotels in the capital city of Bangui. Truly, this is the centre of Africa – especially when it comes to filling empty bellies.
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Special thanks to our contributors:
Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria)
Daniel Krasnopolsky (Woodmere, NY, USA)
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