Country Description: The Central African Republic is a developing African country. Facilities for tourism are limited.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: Current information on entry requirements may be obtained from the Embassy of the Central African Republic, 1618 22nd St., N.W.,Washington, D.C. 20008. The Central African Republic Embassy in Washington does not have an operating public telephone number at this time. Travelers should correspond by mail at the above address. Overseas inquiries should be made to the nearest Central African Republic's embassy or consulate.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Political demonstrations in the capital city of Bangui have led to violence and looting. Recent military mutinies exacerbated the security climate in the capital and in outlying areas. Although no specific threats have been directed against U.S. citizens, visitors to the Central African Republic should exercise caution due to recent military and civil unrest and avoid areas with large crowd gatherings.

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities in the Central African Republic are limited and acute care is unpredictable. Health practitioners and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States. Travelers have found that supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage and medical evacuation coverage has proven useful. For additional health information, travelers can contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline, telephone (404) 332-4559. Internet: http://www.cdc.gov.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Crime is a growing problem in the Central African Republic following the recent periods of military and civil unrest. The threat from armed gangs of robbers has been added to the common threat of petty crime. Crime is made worse by the general lack of host government security protection. Security forces are poorly paid and often lack adequate equipment to perform their jobs. Because of this, armed gangs are able to operate in and around the capital with almost total impunity. Armed highway robbery in rural areas is a major problem.

Street crime is prevalent in the capital, where groups of youths have attacked travelers in broad daylight, even in heavily-congested downtown areas. Activity by armed gangs in the capital is increasing in wealthy as well as poor neighborhoods. A heightened state of security awareness should be practiced by U.S. citizens when traveling in rural areas, in Bangui, or when moving to and from their place of residence.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The pamphlets "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa" provide useful information on personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Laws against possession, use of or trafficking in illegal drugs are strictly enforced. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Road Safety and In-Country Travel: Due to the increase of armed attacks on motorists in the central and northern region, overland travel in these areas, without military escort, should be avoided. Most remote areas in the country which are frequented by tourists and hunters are accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles, although some roads are not passable during the rainy season (May through October).

Travelers should be aware that there have been some recent accidents of small chartered or hired aircraft, including fatalities, attributed to poor maintenance and pilot error.

Border Crossings: There are three ferry crossing points for overland traffic between the Central African Republic and Zaire. They are located at Bangui, Mobaye and Bangassou. Beginning in the summer of 1993, the crossing points at Bangui and Mobaye have been closed to overland tourist traffic on the order of President Mobutu of Zaire for security reasons. The ferry crossing point at Bangassou is not affected and remains open. The ferry serving this crossing point has, however, a history of infrequent service and can be out of commission for weeks at a time. In the event it is not functioning, overland groups may be stranded on either side of the border. Local citizens are not affected by these disruptions, but may also be temporarily stranded at times.

Prohibition on Photography: Taking photographs of police or military installations, and government buildings, is prohibited. These official buildings and installations are often unmarked. Unauthorized photography may result in seizure of photographic equipment by Central African Republic authorities. Police or other government authorities can provide information and grant permission for photographing a particular subject or location.

Embassy Location/Registration: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Bangui at Avenue David Dacko, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Central African Republic. The mailing address for the U.S. Embassy in Bangui is B.P. 924; the telephone numbers are (236) 61-02-00, the fax number is (236) 61-44-94. Until further notice, the U.S. Embassy is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Outside of these hours, U.S. citizens may call (236) 61-34-56, 50-12-06 or 61-69-14.

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