Country Profile: Central African Republic (CAR)

This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the Central African Republic/CAR (Republique Centrafricaine), based on research produced by the Library of Congress. Under the CAR's Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) has no legal status. 

Country Background

The CAR is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bounded by Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of the Congo. The capital of the CAR is Bangui. The official language is French. However, the lingua franca and national language is Sangho. The country's population in 2017 was approximately 5.6 million. The CAR is a predominantly Christian country, with about 50% of the population Christian, 35% holding indigenous beliefs, and 15% Muslim. The CAR is an observer state of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and it requested full membership in 2002. The CAR is also one of the poorest countries in the world and is estimated to have the worst health outcomes for young people. 

Constitution & Legal Structure

The CAR is referred to as a presidential republic, in which sovereignty belongs to the people and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The current Constitution of the CAR was adopted in 2013. The system of government is based on principles of separation and checks and balances and has three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The legal system of the CAR is a civil law system based on the French model. 

Constitutional Status of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no constitutional status in the CAR. 

Jurisdiction(s) of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no official jurisdiction of operation in the CAR. 

Dominant School of Islamic Law

The CAR has no official school of Islamic law. The vast majority of the Muslim population in the country is Sunnī (adhering to the Mālikī school). 

Sources of Law for Legal Research

Official Publications

Unofficial Databases


For an extended list of legal resources for this country, see the Library of Congress’s Research Guide. The Constitution is available in the LOC Guide in its original language and at Constitute in English translation. For full versions of past constitutions, amendments, and related legislation, see HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated or Oxford Constitutions of the World [subscription required for each].