The Central African Republic (CAR) has been unstable since its independence from France in 1960 and is one of the least-developed countries in the world.
Illegal weapons proliferate across the CAR, the legacy of years of unrest. The unrest has displaced tens of thousands of Central Africans; many of them have crossed the border into Chad.
Some progress towards ending the conflict was made between 2008 and 2012, but another threat appeared in the form of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels of neighbouring Uganda. Their insurgency spread to the wider region, including CAR. In 2009, LRA activities forced the populations of several towns and villages to flee, while government forces struggled to contain the gunmen.
The CAR possesses considerable agricultural, water and mineral resources. But corruption is rife, according to the IMF, and affects the timber and diamond industries.
The country is endowed with virgin rainforests and has some of the highest densities of lowland gorillas and forest elephants in Africa.