AFRICA: Lord High Everything

"Compared with this place," complained an African diplomat recently, "Russia is a roaring democracy." He was referring to the Central African Republic, a Texas-size country of some 2 million people, most of whom are illiterate. With no railroads, no direct access to the sea and only 120 miles of paved highway, the C.A.R. (formerly the French colony of Ubangi-Shari) has long been one of Africa's most benighted backwaters, and shows every sign of remaining just that for a long time to come. Aside from its one lucrative industry, diamond mining, the country's...

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