( , Tshād
), officially known as the
Republic of Chad
, is a landlocked country
in central Africa
. It is bordered by
Libya to the north, Sudan to the east,
the Central African
Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the
southwest, and Niger to the
Due to its distance from the sea and its largely
climate, the country is sometimes
referred to as the "Dead Heart of Africa". Chad is divided into
three major geographical regions: a desert zone in the north, an
belt in the centre and a more
fertile Sudanese savanna
zone in the south. Lake Chad, after which the country is named, is the largest
wetland in Chad and the second largest in
Africa. Chad's highest peak is the Emi Koussi in the Sahara, and N'Djamena, (formerly Fort-Lamy), the capital, is the
Chad is home to over 200 different ethnic
and linguistic groups
. Arabic and French are
the official languages. Islam
are the most widely practiced
Beginning in the 7th millennium BC, human populations moved into
the Chadian basin in great numbers. By the end of the 1st
millennium BC, a series of states and empires rose and fell in
Chad's Sahelian strip, each focused on controlling the trans-Saharan trade
routes that passed
through the region. France conquered the territory by 1920 and
incorporated it as part of French Equatorial Africa
. In 1960
Chad obtained independence under the leadership of François Tombalbaye
towards his policies in the Muslim north culminated in the eruption
of a long-lasting civil war
In 1979 the
conquered the capital and put an end to the south's
hegemony. However, the rebel commanders fought amongst themselves
until Hissène Habré
his rivals. He was overthrown in 1990 by his general Idriss Déby
. Recently, the Darfur crisis
in Sudan has spilt over the
border and destabilised the nation
with hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees living in and
around camps in eastern Chad.
While many political
are active, power lies firmly in the hands of President
Déby and his political party, the Patriotic Salvation Movement
Chad remains plagued by political violence and recurrent attempted
(see Battle of N'Djamena
and Battle of N'Djamena
The country is one of the poorest
in the world; most Chadians live in poverty as subsistence herders and farmers
2003 crude oil
has become the country's
primary source of export earnings, superseding the traditional
In the 7th millennium BC, ecological conditions in the northern
half of Chadian territory favored human settlement, and the region
experienced a strong population increase. Some of the most
important African archaeological
sites are found in Chad, mainly in the Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti Region
some date to earlier than 2,000 BC. For more than 2000 years, the
Chadian Basin has been inhabited by agricultural and sedentary
peoples. The region became a crossroads of civilizations. The
earliest of these were the legendary Sao
, known from artifacts and oral
histories. The Sao fell to the Kanem
, the first and longest-lasting of the empires that
developed in Chad's Sahelian
strip by the end
of the 1st millennium AD. The power of Kanem and its successors was
based on control of the trans-Saharan trade
routes that passed
through the region. These states, at least tacitly Muslim
, never extended their control to the
southern grasslands except to raid for
French colonial expansion
led to the creation of the in 1900. By 1920, France had secured
full control of the colony and incorporated it as part of French Equatorial Africa
. French rule in Chad
was characterised by an
absence of policies to unify the territory and sluggish
modernisation. The French primarily viewed the colony as an
unimportant source of untrained labour and raw cotton; France
introduced large-scale cotton production in 1929. The colonial
administration in Chad was critically understaffed and had to rely
on the dregs of the French civil service. Only the south was
governed effectively; French presence in the north and east was
nominal. The educational system suffered from this neglect. After
World War II
, France granted Chad the
status of overseas
and its inhabitants the right to elect
representatives to the French National Assembly
largest political party was the Chadian Progressive Party
based in the southern half of the colony. Chad was granted
independence on August 11, 1960 with the PPT's leader, François Tombalbaye
, as its first
Two years later, Tombalbaye banned opposition parties and
established a one-party system. Tombalbaye's autocratic rule and
insensitive mismanagement exacerbated interethnic tensions. In 1965
Muslims began a civil war
Tombalbaye was overthrown and
in 1975, but the insurgency continued. In 1979 the rebel
factions conquered the capital, and all central authority in the
country collapsed. Armed factions, many from the north's rebellion,
contended for power. The disintegration of Chad caused the collapse
of France's position in the country. Libya moved to
fill the power vacuum and became involved in Chad's civil war.
Libyia adventure ended in disaster
1987; the French-supported president, Hissène Habré
, evoked a united
response from Chadians of a kind never seen before and forced the
Libyan army off Chadian soil.
Habré consolidated his dictatorship through a power system that
relied on corruption and violence; an estimated 40,000 people were
killed under his rule. The president favoured his own Daza
ethnic group and discriminated against his former
allies, the Zaghawa
. His general, Idriss Déby
, overthrew him in 1990.
Déby attempted to reconcile the rebel groups and reintroduced
multiparty politics. Chadians approved a new constitution
, and in
1996, Déby easily won a competitive presidential
. He won a second term
exploitation began in Chad in
2003, bringing with it hopes that Chad would at last have some
chances of peace and prosperity. Instead, internal dissent
worsened, and a new
broke out. Déby unilaterally modified
to remove the two-term limit on the
presidency; this caused an uproar among the civil society and
opposition parties. In 2006 Déby won a third mandate
elections that the opposition boycotted. Ethnic violence in eastern
Chad has increased; the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees
has warned that a genocide
like that in Darfur
may yet occur in Chad.
and in 2008
rebel forces have
attempted to take the capital by force, but have on both
Politics and government
Chad's constitution provides for a strong executive branch headed
by a president who dominates the political system. The president
has the power to appoint the prime minister
and the cabinet, and
exercises considerable influence over appointments of judges,
generals, provincial officials and heads of Chad's para-statal
firms. In cases of grave and immediate threat, the president, in
consultation with the National
, may declare a state of
. The president is directly elected
by popular vote for a
five-year term; in 2005 constitutional term limits were removed.
This removal allows a president to remain in power beyond the
previous two-term limit. Most of Déby's key advisers are members of
the Zaghawa ethnic group, although southern and opposition
personalities are represented in government
. Corruption is rife at all
's Corruption Perceptions Index
for 2005 named Chad the most corrupt country in the world, and it
has fared only slightly better in the following years. In 2007, it
scored 1.8 out of 10 on the Corruption Perceptions Index
(with 10 being the least corrupt). Only Tonga, Uzbekistan, Haiti, Iraq, Myanmar, and
Critics of President Déby have accused him of
cronyism and tribalism.
Chad's legal system is based on French
and Chadian customary law where the latter does not
interfere with public order or constitutional guarantees of
equality. Despite the constitution's guarantee of judicial
independence, the president names most key judicial officials. The
legal system's highest jurisdictions, the Supreme Court
and the Constitutional Council
become fully operational since 2000. The Supreme Court is made up
of a chief justice, named by the president, and 15 councillors,
appointed for life by the president and the National Assembly. The
Constitutional Court is headed by nine judges elected to nine-year
terms. It has the power to review legislation, treaties and
international agreements prior to their adoption.
The National Assembly
makes legislation. The body consists of 155 members elected for
four-year terms who meet three times per year. The Assembly holds
regular sessions twice a year, starting in March and October, and
can hold special sessions when called by the prime minister.
Deputies elect a National Assembly president every two years. The
president must sign or reject newly passed laws within 15 days. The
National Assembly must approve the prime minister's plan of
government and may force the prime minister to resign through a
majority vote of no confidence. However, if the National Assembly
rejects the executive branch's programme twice in one year, the
president may disband the Assembly and call for new legislative
elections. In practice, the president exercises considerable
influence over the National Assembly through his party, the
(MPS), which holds a large majority.
Until the legalisation of opposition parties in 1992, Déby's MPS
was the sole legal party in Chad. Since, 78 registered political
have become active. In 2005, opposition parties and
human rights organisations supported the boycott of the
constitutional referendum that allowed Déby to stand for
re-election for a third term amid reports of widespread
irregularities in voter registration and government censorship of
independent media outlets during the campaign. Correspondents
judged the 2006 presidential elections a mere formality, as the
opposition deemed the polls a farce and boycotted.
Déby faces armed opposition from groups who are deeply divided by
leadership clashes but united in their intention to overthrow him.
These forces stormed the capital
on April 13, 2006, but were ultimately repelled. Chad's greatest
foreign influence is France, which maintains 1,000 troops in the
country. Déby relies on the French to help repel the rebels, and
France gives the Chadian army
logistical and intelligence support for fear of a complete collapse
of regional stability. Nevertheless, Franco-Chadian relations were
soured by the granting of oil drilling rights to the American
company in 1999.
challenges due to the nation's dispersed population and a certain
degree of reluctance on the part of parents to send their children
to school. Although attendance is compulsory, only 68% of boys
attend primary school, and more than half of the population is
illiterate. Higher education is provided at the University of N'Djamena
According to the United Nations
has been affected by a humanitarian
since at least 2001. As of 2008, the country of Chad hosts over
280,000 refugees from the Sudan's Darfur region, over
55,000 from the Central African Republic, as well as over 170,000 internally displaced
In February 2008 in the aftermath of the battle of N'Djamena
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian
Affairs John Holmes
expressed "extreme concern" that the crisis would have a negative
effect on the ability of humanitarians to deliver life-saving
assistance to half a million beneficiaries, most of whom -
according to him - heavily rely on humanitarian aid for their
spokesperson Maurizio Giuliano
stated to The Washington Post
: "If we do not
manage to provide aid at sufficient levels, the humanitarian crisis
might become a humanitarian catastrophe".
Regions, departments, and sub-prefectures
Chad is divided since February 2008 in 22 regions
. The subdivision of Chad in
regions came about in 2003 as part of the decentralisation process,
when the government abolished the previous 14 prefectures
. Each region is headed by
a presidentially appointed governor. Prefects administer the
regions. The departments are divided into 200 sub-prefectures
, which are in
turn composed of 446 cantons. The cantons are scheduled to be
replaced by communautés rurales
, but the legal and
regulatory framework has not yet been completed. The constitution
provides for decentralised government to compel local populations
to play an active role in their own development. To this end, the
constitution declares that each administrative subdivisions be
governed by elected local assemblies, but no local elections have
taken place, and communal elections scheduled for 2005 have been
The regions are:
Chad is divided into three distinct
zones, from the Sudanese savanna in the south to the Sahara Desert
in the north.
At , Chad is the world's 21st-largest
. It is slightly smaller than Peru and slightly
larger than South Africa.
Chad is in north central Africa,
lying between 8° and 24° north and between 14° and 24° east. Chad
is bounded to the north by Libya, to the east by Sudan, to the west
by Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon, and to the south by the Central
African Republic. The country's capital is from the nearest seaport
Douala (Cameroon). Due to this distance from the sea and the
country's largely desert
climate, Chad is
sometimes referred to as the "Dead Heart of Africa".
A heritage of the colonial era, Chad's borders do not coincide
wholly with natural boundaries. The dominant physical structure is
a wide basin bounded to the north, east and south by mountain
Chad, after which the country is named, is the remains
of an immense lake that occupied of the Chadian Basin 7,000 years
Although in the 21st century it covers only , and its surface area is subject to heavy seasonal fluctuations, the lake is Africa's second largest wetland. The Emi Koussi, a dormant volcano in the Tibesti Mountains that reaches above sea level, is the highest point in Chad and the Sahara.
Each year a tropical weather system known as the intertropical front
Chad from south to north, bringing a wet
that lasts from May to October in the south, and from
June to September in the Sahel. Variations in local rainfall create
three major geographical zones. The Sahara lies in the country's
northern third. Yearly precipitations there are under
throughout this belt is scarce; only the occasional spontaneous
palm grove survives, the only ones to do so south of the Tropic of
The Sahara gives way to a Sahelian
belt in Chad's centre; precipitation there
varies from per year. In the Sahel a steppe of thorny bushes
) gradually gives way to the
south to East Sudanian savanna
in Chad's Sudan
zone. Yearly rainfall
in this belt is over . The region's tall grasses and extensive
marshes make it favourable for birds, reptiles, and large mammals.
Chad's major rivers—the Chari
and their tributaries—flow through the
southern savannas from the southeast into Lake Chad.
Economy and infrastructure
A Chadian maternity ward.
Although improving, Chad's infrastructure remains far less
developed than that of its northern neighbours.
The United Nations' Human
ranks Chad as the fifth poorest country in
the world, with 80% of the population living below the poverty
line. The GDP
) per capita was estimated as
1,500 in 2005. Chad is part
of the Bank of Central
, the Customs and
Economic Union of Central Africa
(UDEAC) and the Organization
for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa
).. Its currency is the CFA franc
. Years of civil war have
scared away foreign investors; those who left Chad between 1979 and
1982 have only recently begun to regain confidence in the country's
future. In 2000 major direct foreign investment in the oil sector
began, boosting the country's economic prospects.
Over 80% of Chad's population relies on subsistence farming and
livestock raising for its livelihood. The crops grown and the
locations of herds are determined by the local climate. In the
southernmost 10 percent of the territory lies the nation's most
fertile cropland, with rich yields of sorghum
. In the
Sahel only the hardier varieties of millet grow, and these with
much lower yields than in the south. On the other hand, the Sahel
is ideal pastureland for large herds of commercial cattle and for
goats, sheep, donkeys and horses. The Sahara's scattered oases
support only some dates and legumes. Before the
development of oil industry, cotton dominated industry and the
labour market and accounted for approximately 80% of export
earnings. Cotton remains a primary export, although exact figures
are not available. Rehabilitation of Cotontchad
, a major cotton company that suffered
from a decline in world cotton prices, has been financed by France,
the Netherlands, the European Union, and the International
Bank for Reconstruction and Development
(IBRD). The parastatal
is now expected to be
leads a consortium of Chevron
that has invested $3.7 billion to develop
oil reserves estimated at one billion barrels in southern Chad.
production began in 2003 with the completion of a pipeline (financed in part by the World Bank) that links the southern oilfields to
terminals on the Atlantic coast of Cameroon.
As a condition
of its assistance, the World Bank insisted that 80% of oil revenues
be spent on development projects. In January 2006 the World Bank
suspended its loan programme when the Chadian government passed
laws reducing this amount. On July 14, 2006, the World Bank and
Chad signed a memorandum of understanding under which the
Government of Chad commits 70% of its spending to priority poverty
Civil war crippled the development of transport infrastructure
; in 1987, Chad
had only of paved roads. Successive road rehabilitation projects
improved the network to by 2004. Nevertheless, the road network is
limited; roads are often unusable for several months of the year.
railways of its own, Chad depends heavily on Cameroon's rail system
for the transport of Chadian exports and imports to and from the
seaport of Douala.
international airport serves the capital and provides regular direct
flights to Paris and several African cities.
The telecommunication system
is basic and
expensive, with fixed telephone services provided by the state
telephone company SotelTchad
. Only 14,000
fixed telephone lines serve all of Chad, one of the lowest
telephone density rates in the world. Chad's energy sector has
suffered from years of mismanagement by the parastatal Chad Water
and Electric Society (STEE), which provides power for 15% of the
capital's citizens and covers only 1.5% of the national population.
Most Chadians burn biomass fuels such as wood and animal manure for
power. Chad's cities face serious difficulties of municipal
infrastructure; only 48% of urban residents have access to potable
water and only 2% to basic sanitation.
The country's television audience is limited to N'Djamena. The only
television station is the state-owned TeleTchad. Radio has a far
greater reach, with 13 private radio stations. Newspapers are
limited in quantity and distribution, and circulation figures are
small due to transportation costs, low literacy rates, and poverty.
While the constitution defends liberty of expression, the
government has regularly restricted this right, and at the end of
2006 began to enact a system of prior censorship on the
2005 estimates place Chad's population at 10,146,000; 25.8% live in
urban areas and 74.8% in rural ones. The country's population is
young: an estimated 47.3% is under 15. The birth rate is estimated
at 42.35 births per 1,000 people, the mortality rate at 16.69. The
life expectancy is 47.2 years.
Chad's population is unevenly distributed. Density is in the
Saharan Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti Region
but in the Logone Occidental
. In the capital, it is even higher. About half of the
nation's population lives in the southern fifth of its territory,
making this the most densely populated region. Urban life is
virtually restricted to the capital, whose population is mostly
engaged in commerce. The other major towns are Sarh, Moundou, Abéché and Doba, which are
less urbanised but are growing rapidly and joining the capital as
decisive factors in economic growth.
Since 2003, 230,000
Sudanese refugees have fled to eastern Chad from war-ridden Darfur.
With the 172,000 Chadians displaced by the civil war in the east,
this has generated increased tensions among the region's
is common, with 39% of women
living in such unions. This is sanctioned by law, which
automatically permits polygamy
spouses specify that this is unacceptable upon marriage. Although
violence against women is prohibited, domestic violence is common.
Female genital mutilation
prohibited, but the practice is widespread and deeply rooted in
tradition; 45% of Chadian women undergo the procedure, with the
highest rates among Arabs
, and Ouaddaians (90% or more). Lower
percentages were reported among the Sara
(38%) and the Toubou
(2%). Women lack equal
opportunities in education and training, making it difficult for
them to compete for the relatively few formal-sector jobs. Although
property and inheritance laws based on the French code do not
discriminate against women, local leaders adjudicate most
inheritance cases in favour of men, according to traditional
A tribal delegation
Chad has more than 200 distinct ethnic groups, which create diverse
social structures. The colonial administration and independent
governments have attempted to impose a national society, but for
most Chadians the local or regional society remains the most
important influence outside the immediate family. Nevertheless,
Chad's peoples may be classified according to the geographical
region in which they live. In the south live sedentary people such
as the Sara, the nation's main ethnic group, whose essential
is the lineage. In the Sahel
sedentary peoples live side-by-side with nomadic ones, such as the
Arabs, the country's second major ethnic group. The north is
inhabited by nomads, mostly Toubous. The nation's official business
languages are French
, but over 100 languages and dialects
are spoken. Due to the important role played by itinerant Arab
traders and settled merchants in local communities, Chadian Arabic
has become a lingua franca
Chad is a religiously diverse country. The 1993 census found that
54% of Chadians were Muslim
, 10% animist
, and 3% atheist. None of these religious
traditions is monolithic. Animism includes a variety of ancestor
and place-oriented religions whose expression is highly specific.
Islam, though characterised by an orthodox set of beliefs and
observances, is expressed in diverse ways. Christianity
arrived in Chad only
with the French; as with Chadian Islam, it syncretises
aspects of pre-Christian religious
beliefs. Muslims are largely concentrated in northern and eastern
Chad, and animists and Christians live primarily in southern Chad
. The constitution
provides for a secular state and guarantees religious freedom;
different religious communities generally co-exist without
The vast majority of Muslims in the country are adherents of a moderate branch of mystical Islam (Sufism) known locally as Tijaniyah, which incorporates some local African religious elements. A small minority of the country's Muslims hold more fundamentalist practices, which, in some cases, may be associated with Saudi-oriented belief systems such as Wahhabism or Salafism.
Roman Catholics represent the largest Christian denomination in the
country. Most Protestants, including the Nigeria-based "Winners
Chapel," are affiliated with various evangelical Christian groups.
Members of the Baha'i and Jehovah's Witnesses religious communities
also are present in the country. Both faiths were introduced after
independence in 1960 and therefore are considered to be "new"
religions in the country.
Chad is home to foreign missionaries representing both Christian
and Islamic groups. Itinerant Muslim preachers primarily from
Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, also visit. Saudi Arabian
funding generally supports social and educational projects and
extensive mosque construction.
Due to its great variety of peoples and languages, Chad possesses a
rich cultural heritage. The Chadian government have actively
promoted Chadian culture and national traditions by opening the
Chad National Museum
Chad Cultural Centre
observed throughout the year, and movable holidays include the
Christian holiday of Easter Monday
the Muslim holidays of Eid ul-Fitr
, and Eid
Regarding music, Chadians play instruments such as the
, a type of bow harp; the kakaki
, a long tin horn; and the hu hu
a stringed instrument that uses calabashes
as loudspeakers. Other instruments and their combinations are more
linked to specific ethic groups: the Sara prefer whistles, balafones
, harps and kodjo
drums; and the
combine the sounds of drums
with those of flute-like instruments.
A Chadian tailor sells traditional
The music group Chari Jazz
formed in 1964
and initiated Chad's modern music scene. Later, more renowned
groups such as African Melody and International Challal attempted
to mix modernity and tradition. Popular groups such as Tibesti have
clung faster to their heritage by drawing on sai
traditional style of music from southern Chad. The people of Chad
have customarily disdained modern music. However, in 1995 greater
interest has developed and fostered the distribution of CDs and
audio cassettes featuring Chadian artists. Piracy and a lack of
legal protections for artists' rights remain problems to further
development of the Chadian music industry.
Millet is the staple food throughout Chad. It is used to make balls
of paste that are dipped in sauces. In the north this dish is known
; in the south, as biya
. Fish is popular,
which is generally prepared and sold either as salanga
(sun-dried and lightly smoked Alestes
) or as banda
larger fish). Carcaje
is a popular sweet drink extracted
from hibiscus leaves. Alcoholic beverages, though absent in the
north, are popular in the south, where people drink millet beer
, known as billi-billi
brewed from red millet and as coshate
when from white millet
As in other Sahelian countries, literature in Chad has suffered
from an economic, political and spiritual drought that has affected
its best known writers. Chadian authors have been forced to write
from exile or expatriate status and have generated literature
dominated by themes of political oppression and historical
discourse. Since 1962, 20 Chadian authors have written some 60
works of fiction. Among the most internationally renowned writers
are Joseph Brahim Seïd
, Antoine Bangui
and Koulsy Lamko
. In 2003 Chad's sole literary
critic, Ahmat Taboye
, published his to
further knowledge of Chad's literature internationally and among
youth and to make up for Chad's lack of publishing houses and
The development of a Chadian film industry has suffered from the
devastations of civil war and from the lack of cinemas
, of which there is only one in the
whole country. The first Chadian feature
, the docudrama Bye Bye Africa
, was made in 1999 by
Mahamat Saleh Haroun
. His later
acclaimed, and his Daratt
Grand Special Jury Prize at the 63rd Venice
International Film Festival
directed Chad's two other films, Daresalam
and DP75: Tartina City
is Chad's most popular
. The country's national team
followed during international competitions, and Chadian footballers
have played for French teams. Basketball
and freestyle wrestling are widely practiced, the latter in a form
in which the wrestlers don traditional animal hides and cover
themselves with dust.
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