Stamps issued: 1979-PRESENT
A landlocked nation in central Africa, surrounded by Chad, Cameroon, Congo, Zaire and the Sudan. Formerly the French colony of Ubangi-Shari, the Central African Republic was established Dec. 1, 1958, and became fully independent Aug. 13, 1960. Although possessed of substantial mineral resources, the country has been unable to develop economically and has been politically unstable since independence. During 1960-65, the CAR was a center of Chinese influence in Africa. In 1965 the pro-Chinese regime was overthrown, and Jean-Bedel Bokassa came to power. On Dec. 4, 1976, Bokassa proclaimed the country the Central African Empire, with himself as Emperor Bokassa I. Bokassa's rule was marked by almost unrelenting cruelty and barbarism, characterized by rumors that the emperor himself practiced cannibalism. On Sept. 20, 1979, Bokassa was overthrown in a bloodless coup supported by French troops, flown in from bases in Gabon and Chad. In the years since, Central Africa's political turbulence has continued, with periodic French intervention to restore or to maintain order.