In the middle of Africa is the landlocked nation of the Central African Republic. There have been people living in the region that is now the Central African Republic for at least 8,000 years. The country's western and southern forested parts are home to the Aka (Pygmy) people, who are likely the country's first occupants. Up until the Central African Republic's various areas were brought under French colonial administration in the latter part of the 19th century, the slave state of Dar al-Kuti occupied the northern territories. Political rivalries lingered after independence in 1960 due to the colonial officials' preference for some ethnic groups over others.
Bangui's capital city stretches out on the banks of the Ubangi River, established in 1889 as a French commercial town. Renowned during colonial times, Bangui, one of the friendliest cities in equatorial Africa, is a mix of wooded hills and verdant meadows, densely crowded shantytowns, charming but now somewhat run-down city centre, and contemporary residential areas.
The people of the Central African Republic include state-forming tribes like the Zande and Nzakara and the Aka, who hunt and gather as forest pygmies. Before European settlers arrived in the late 19th century, boundaries between various communities were very flexible. Many people identified more with their own clan than with a larger ethnic group.
Many languages are spoken in Central Africa, including Baya (Gbaya), Banda, Ngbaka, Sara, Mbum, Kare, and Mandia. The official languages are French and Sango. Sango is a common language used by approximately nine out of ten people. The Ubangi River region's natives spoke it at first, but in the 1940s and 1950s, Christian missionaries adopted, streamlined, and spread it to their followers across the nation.
Approximately four out of every five claim to be Christians; the remaining people are Roman Catholics, Protestants, and independents, with a small minority of unaffiliated Christians.