Regional Background

Why Central Africa?

Logging in northern Cameroon

Central Africa is home to one of the largest rainforests in the world, second only to the Amazon. Known as the world’s “second lung,” the Congo Basin forests are filled with richly diverse ecosystems and beautiful flora and fauna. However, the region has faced serious degradation and deforestation over the past several decades due to political and economic turmoil. Nonetheless, the Congo Basin and its inhabitants hold enormous potential to improve conservation and resource management. These practices will not only make a positive impact on crucial ecosystems, but can also improve the livelihoods of local residents.

CAI Co-Directors Aliko Songolo and Don Waller with Cameroonian colleagues in 2012.

CAI seeks to support the work of educators, researchers, and students within the Congo Basin region through our own research, as well as our network of international partnerships. Although we work primarily in Central Africa, we also partner with researchers in countries bordering the region, including Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya. Many of our projects are also regionally-focused, allowing us to combat conservation issues at a macro level. Check out some of our regional projects or our partners’ regional projects.

We believe that capacity-building through mutually enhancing research collaboration between African, North American, and European institutions is one of the most effective ways to combat some of the Congo Basin’s pressing environmental, economic, and social problems. Read on to learn more about the specific countries and regions that we work in.

Country Facts
Where do we work?

Cameroon

Total area: 475,440 km2
Forest area: 196,390 km2
Estimated deforestation rate: 0.2% per year
Protected land area: 7.0% of the country
Official languages: French and English
Population: 23,130,708 (estimated 2014)
Capital: Yaoundé
GDP (PPP): $53.16 billion (estimated 2013)
GDP per capita (PPP): $2,400

Check our projects in Cameroon, including “Conflict Mitigation in Pipeline Parks” and “Anticipating Change and Resilience in Southern Cameroon” or our partners’ projects, including UCLA‘s CBI

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Total area: 2,344,858 km2
Forest area: 1,083,390 km2
Estimated deforestation rate: 0.4% per year
Protected land area: 7.8% of the country
Official language: French
Population: 77,433,744 (estimated 2014)
Capital: Kinshasa
GDP (PPP): $29.39 billion (estimated 2013)
GDP per capita (PPP): $400

Check out our projects in the DRC, including “Academic Collaboration with CRSN”

Gabon

Total area: 267,667 km2
Forest area: 220,690 km2
Estimated deforestation rate: 0.12% per year
Protected land area: 11.3% of the country
Official language: French
Population: 1,672,597 (estimated 2014)
Capital: Libreville
GDP (PPP): $30.06 billion (estimated 2013)
GDP per capita (PPP): $19,200

Check out our projects in Gabon, including “Student Research and the Smithsonian Gabon Biodiversity Program

Other Central African countries

Burundi

Total area: 27,830 km2
Forest area: 1,860 km2
Estimated deforestation rate: 9% per year
Protected land area: 4.6% of the country
Official languages: Kirundi and French
Population: 10,395,931 (estimated 2014)
Capital: Bujumbura
GDP (PPP): $5.75 billion (estimated 2013)
GDP per capita (PPP): $600

Central African Republic

Total area: 622,984 km2
Forest area: 62,500 km2
Estimated deforestation rate: 0.07% per year
Protected land area: 11.0% of the country
Official languages: Sangho and French
Population: 5,277,959 (estimated 2014)
Capital: Bangui
GDP (PPP): $3.336 billion (estimated 2013)
GDP per capita (PPP): $700

Chad

Total area: 1.284 million km2
Forest area: 126,900 km2
Estimated deforestation rate: 0.6% per year
Protected land area: 10.9% of the country
Official languages: French and Arabic
Population: 11,412,107 (estimated 2014)
Capital: N’Djamena
GDP (PPP): $28 billion (estimated 2013)
GDP per capita (PPP): $2,500

Equatorial Guinea

Total area: 28,051 km2
Forest area: 19,000 km2
Estimated deforestation rate: 0.4% per year
Protected land area: 20.8% of the country
Official languages: Spanish and French
Population: 722,254 (estimated 2014)
Capital: Malabo
GDP (PPP): $19.68 billion (estimated 2013)
GDP per capita (PPP): $25,700

Republic of the Congo

Total area: 342,000 km2
Forest area: 22,630 km2
Estimated deforestation rate: 0.03% per year
Protected land area: 10.7% of the country
Official language: French
Population: 4,662,446 (estimated 2014)
Capital: Brazzaville
GDP (PPP): $20.26 billion (estimated 2013)
GDP per capita (PPP): $4,800

Rwanda

Total area: 26,338 km2
Forest area: 3,070 km2
Estimated deforestation rate: 3.9% per year
Protected land area: 12.4% of the country
Official languages: Kinyarwanda, French, and English
Population: 12,337,138 (estimated 2014)
Capital: Kigali
GDP (PPP): $16.37 billion (estimated 2013)
GDP per capita (PPP): $1,500

São Tomé and Príncipe

Total area: 964 km2
Forest area:
Estimated deforestation rate:
Protected land area:
Official language: Portuguese
Population: 190,428 (estimated 2014)
Capital: São Tomé
GDP (PPP): $421 million (estimated 2013)
GDP per capita (PPP): $2,200

Sources:

The World Factbook 2013-14. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2013 .
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html

RIFFEAC report and fact sheets
Des Métiers et des Hommes

More information about the Congo Basin region at:
http://www.envirosecurity.org/espa/congobasin/