The biggest country you've never heard of?
Bet you a quid you can’t name this country.
It’s more than twice the size of the UK and is home to over 4 million people.
Chances are, you’re down a pound. That might not sound like much, but more than half of its population live on less than that for a whole day.
The Central African Republic is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has one of the lowest life expectancies (47 years) and highest child mortality rates (more than 1 in 6 kids die before their 5th birthday).
It hardly ever makes it onto the news and it has been largely ignored or forgotten by the international community. Away from our TV screens and newspapers, the young people of the Central African Republic have the grace to die quietly.
Its classrooms are empty, its hospitals destroyed, and its people are hungry. Many have fled their homes. The UN described the situation in Central African Republic as ‘the world’s most silent crisis’.
The government is pretty ineffective beyond the capital Bangui, and armed violence is rife throughout the country. The Lord’s Resistance Army terrorise people in the south – close to the porous borders with Congo and southern Sudan. There’s an ongoing conflict between rival rebel groups and with the government in the north.
It is surrounded on all sides by fellow ‘Failed states’: Democratic Republic of Congo, The Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Chad and Sudan.
So why have so few of us heard of it? It’s hard to say. The answer could be one or all of these:
- It’s a very remote and insecure country – it’s hard for tourists, journalists and NGO workers to travel around.
- It’s never had a famous (or infamous) citizen. No Premier League footballers, Presidents, musicians. Nothing.
- The wars in neighbouring countries have perhaps been more bloody and have attracted more international attention.
- NGOs don’t work there much, so you never see them talking about it in their appeals. It’s a hard place to get funding for because it’s not on government/UN/donor priority lists either. That’s maybe because it isn’t very politically significant because it doesn’t export or trade much.
- There’s no oil or valuable mineral resources that have attracted the interest of multi-national companies, foreign governments and warlords.
Read about our new project in Central African Republic below to see how we're helping to put it on the map.