The area that is now the Central African Republic is known to be inhabited for at least 8,000 years. The earliest inhabitants were probably the ancestors of today’s Aka peoples, who live in the southwestern forests of the country. In the late 19th century the various regions of the Central African Republic were brought under French colonial rule. Colonial administrators favored some ethnic groups over others and caused lasting tensions and political conflicts that persisted even after independence in 1960 and despite the signing of a peace agreement in 2019. Until the 19th century, artisans in the region produced many fine handmade items. But, the slave trade depopulated the region and disrupted the expansion of crafts. Only more recently, artists have begun producing unique designs and pictures made from butterfly wings glued to paper and tropical hardwood carvings drawing upon earlier traditions. The Central African Republic is also home to remarkable displays of song and dance: the Aka have recently received international attention for their music and dance.
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