Bangui is the capital of and the largest city in the Central African Republic. The majority of the population of the Central African Republic lives in the western parts of the country, near Bangui. Though surrounded by Ombella-M'Poko prefecture, it is an independent commune, thus administratively a part of no prefecture.
The city was founded in 1889 in what was then the French colony Haut-Oubangui ('Upper Ubangi'), later renamed Oubangui-Chari and made part of French Equatorial Africa. Named for local rapids, the city grew around the French military post on the Ubangi river. Bangui served as an administration center in the colonial era and continues to be the administrative center of the CAR.
Widespread violence in Bangui followed the March 1981 elections, which took place following a French operation to depose Jean-Bédel Bokassa in 1979 and replace him with David Dacko. Opponents of unpopular Dacko laid siege to Bangui and compelled his flight to exile. Andre Kolingba then formed the Comité Militaire pour le Redressement National (See History of the Central African Republic).
In October 1985, a conference of public health officials including representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organisation met in Bangui and defined AIDS in Africa as, "prolonged fevers for a month or more, weight loss of over 10% and prolonged diarrhoea". About half the AIDS cases in Africa based on the Bangui definition are HIV positive.
A French Jaguar aircraft crashed in Bangui in March 1986, killing 35 and leading to a resurgence in anti-French sentiment. Andre Kolingba, however, continued to allow the French to maintain military bases in the Central African Republic.
Some 200 Central African Republic soldiers mutinied in Bangui in May 1996, demanding back pay and the resignation of President Ange-Félix Patassé. French troops stationed in the country quelled the mutiny. The renegades, however, heavily looted Bangui and killed more than 50 people.
After President Patassé announced a national unity government in early 1997, mutinous troops refused to relinquish a military base in Bangui. New fighting erupted in June.
Rebel leader François Bozizé took power by seizing Bangui in March 2003, ousting Patasse. The situation in the town is now improving, but regular instability is being noticed.
Mercer Human Resources Consulting named Bangui as the second worst city out of 221 in their 2010 quality of living survey. Baghdad was the only city to be ranked lower than Bangui.