Hot, dry, dusty harmattan winds affect northern areas. Floods are common.
Police manning checkpoints will demand bribes, expect no less than US$5; there are many reports that a trip from the Cameroon border to Bangui will cost hundreds of US dollars or Euros in bribes. Police will often confiscate an item passport, camera, watch and demand money for it. Armed robberies on roads in the country are common. Violent crime in the capital is common even in daylight, particularly around the "kilometre 5" bus station. Alcoholism is a major problem with city-dwellers, so be wary of drunks and do not even think about drinking with locals you will be out-drunk.
In March 2003, rebel forces took over the government of the Central African Republic, and the group's leader named himself president. He remains in power today, and despite peaceful elections in March 2005, tourists could be at risk, particularly during public gatherings. The Islamist group Seleka still operates in the country. There have been reports of them cooperating with other jihadist groups.
Nonetheless, South West Central African Republic is a relatively stable and popular tourist destination. No incidents of crime involving tourists have been reported on the road from Bangui to Dzanga Sangha and many diplomats frequent the region on holiday.
Some areas of Bangui have clean and filtered drinking water, so it is safe to drink water served at some restaurants and bars. However, the purity of the water is not reliable and thus it is safer to buy bottled water or boil/filter water. Outside the capital there is no guarantee of water purity. All food should be cooked or peeled prior to being served, particularly food purchased at local markets, where hygiene is a concern. If illness should arise, it is better to seek counsel with one of the doctors at an embassy the French embassy and US embassy both have fine doctors or at a clinic at an organisation like Institut Pasteur. The local clinics and hospitals sometimes have a limited supply of necessary resources such as syringes, medicine, etc.
The main language is French with a dialect called Central African French, which is easily understood by speakers of French. There are a lot of indigenous languages also. While French is the official language of the Central African Republic, only a few people in the country know more than a few words of it.
Sängö also referred to as Sangro or Sangho is the lingua franca and is spoken by most of the people in the Central African Republic some 2000 have it as a mother tongue whilst 80% of the country have it as a second language. To find out if someone speaks Sängö, simply say Balâo which means Hello, if they respond back with Balâo mïngï then you have found yourself a sango speaker.
English is spoken by almost no one, even in the capital.