Chad , officially the Republic of Chad , is a landlocked country in northern 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 west. It is the fifth largest country in Africa in terms of area.
Chad has several regions: a desert zone in the north, an arid Sahelian belt in the centre and a more fertile Sudanian 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. N'Djamena, the capital, is the largest city. Chad is home to over 200 different ethnic and linguistic groups. Arabic and French are the official languages. Islam and Christianity are the most widely practiced religions.
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 had risen and fallen 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. Resentment towards his policies in the Muslim north culminated in the eruption of a long-lasting civil war in 1965. In 1979 the rebels conquered the capital and put an end to the south's hegemony. However, the rebel commanders fought amongst themselves until Hissène Habré defeated his rivals. He was overthrown in 1990 by his general Idriss Déby. Since 2003 the Darfur crisis in Sudan has spilt over the border and destabilised the nation, with hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugeesliving in and around camps in eastern Chad.
While many political parties 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 coups d'état. Chad is one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the world; most inhabitants live in poverty as subsistence herders and farmers. Since 2003 crude oil has become the country's primary source of export earnings, superseding the traditional cotton industry.
Each year a tropical weather system known as the inter-tropical front crosses Chad from south to north, bringing a wet season that lasts from May to October in the south, and from June to September in the Sahel.
The country's landscape comprises broad, arid plains in the centre, desert in the north, mountains in the northwest, and lowlands in the south. Lowest point: Djourab Depression (160 m/525 ft). Highest point: Emi Koussi (3,415 m/11,204 ft).
The dominant physical structure is a wide basin bounded to the north, east and south by mountain ranges such as the Ennedi Plateau in the north-east. Lake Chad, after which the country is named, is the remains of an immense lake that occupied 330,000 km2 (205,000 mi2) of the Chadian Basin 7,000 years ago. Although in the 21st century it covers only 17,806 km2 (11,064 mi2), and its surface area is subject to heavy seasonal fluctuations, the lake is Africa's second largest wetland.
At 1,284,000 square kilometres (496,000 sq mi), Chad is the world's 21st-largest country. It is slightly smaller than Peru and slightly larger than South Africa. Chad is in north central Africa, lying between latitudes 7° and 24°N, and 13° and 24°E.
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 1,060 kilometres (660 mi) from the nearest seaport, Douala, Cameroon. Because of this distance from the sea and the country's largely desert climate, Chad is sometimes referred to as the "Dead Heart of Africa".
The dominant physical structure is a wide basin bounded to the north and east by the Ennedi Plateau and Tibesti Mountains, which include Emi Koussi, a dormant volcano that reaches 3,414 metres (11,201 ft) above sea level. Lake Chad, after which the country is named (and which in turn takes its name from the Kanuri word for "lake"), is the remains of an immense lake that occupied 330,000 square kilometres (130,000 sq mi) of the Chad Basin7,000 years ago. Although in the 21st century it covers only 17,806 square kilometres (6,875 sq mi), and its surface area is subject to heavy seasonal fluctuations, the lake is Africa's second largest wetland.
The region's tall grasses and extensive marshes make it favourable for birds, reptiles, and large mammals. Chad's major rivers—the Chari, Logone and their tributaries—flow through the southern savannas from the southeast into Lake Chad.
Chad's animal and plant life correspond to the three climatic zones. In the Saharan region, the only flora is the date-palm groves of the oasis. Palms and acacia trees grow in the Sahelian region. The southern, or Sudanic, zone consists of broad grasslands or prairies suitable for grazing. As of 2002, there were at least 134 species of mammals, 509 species of birds (354 species of residents and 155 migrants), and over 1,600 species of plants throughout the country.
Elephants, lions, buffalo, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, giraffes, antelopes, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, and many species of snakes are found here, although most large carnivore populations have been drastically reduced since the early 20th century. Elephant poaching, particularly in the south of the country in areas such as Zakouma National Park, is a severe problem. The small group of surviving West African crocodiles in the Ennedi Plateaurepresents one of the last colonies known in the Sahara today.
Extensive deforestation has resulted in loss of trees such as acacias, baobab, dates and palm trees. This has also caused loss of natural habitat for wild animals; one of the main reasons for this is also hunting and livestock farming by increasing human settlements. Animals like lions, leopards and rhino have been almost decimated.
Efforts have been made by the Food and Agricultural Organization to improve relations between farmers, agro-pastoralists and pastoralists in the Zakouma National Park (ZNP), Siniaka-Minia, and Aouk reserve in southeastern Chad to promote sustainable development. As part of the national conservation effort, more than 1.2 million trees have been replanted to check the advancement of the desert, which incidentally also helps the local economy by way of financial return from acacia trees, which produce gum arabic, and also from fruit trees.
Poaching is a serious problem in the country, particularly of elephants for the profitable ivory industry and a threat to lives of rangers even in the national parks such as Zakouma. Elephants are often massacred in herds in and around the parks by organized poaching. The problem is worsened by the fact that the parks are understaffed and that a number of wardens have been murdered by poachers.
Chad's national statistical agency projected the country's 2015 population between 13,630,252 and 13,679,203, with 13,670,084 as its medium projection; based on the medium projection, 3,212,470 people lived in urban areas and 10,457,614 people lived in rural areas. 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 52 years.
Chad's population is unevenly distributed. Density is 0.1/km2(0.26/sq mi) in the Saharan Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti Regionbut 52.4/km2 (136/sq mi) in the Logone Occidental Region. 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 concentrated in the capital, whose population is mostly engaged in commerce. The other major towns are Sarh, Moundou, Abéché and Doba, which are considerably smaller but growing rapidly in population and economic activity. Since 2003, 230,000 Sudanese refugees have fled to eastern Chad from war-ridden Darfur. With the 172,600 Chadians displaced by the civil war in the east, this has generated increased tensions among the region's communities.
Polygamy is common, with 39% of women living in such unions. This is sanctioned by law, which automatically permits polygamy unless spouses specify that this is unacceptable upon marriage. Although violence against women is prohibited, domestic violence is common. Female genital mutilation is also prohibited, but the practice is widespread and deeply rooted in tradition; 45% of Chadian women undergo the procedure, with the highest rates among Arabs, Hadjarai, 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 practice.
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 social unit 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.
Chad is a religiously diverse country. The 1993 census found that 54% of Chadians were Muslim (of these, according to a Pew report 48% professed to be Sunni, 21% Shia, 4% Ahmadi and 23% just Muslim). Roughly 20% of Chadians are Roman Catholic, 14% Protestant, 10% animist, while 3% did not profess any religion. None of these religious traditions are monolithic. Animism includes a variety of ancestor and place-oriented religions whose expression is highly specific. Islam is expressed in diverse ways; for example, according to the Pew report mentioned earlier 55% of Muslim Chadians belong to Sufiorders. Christianity arrived in Chad with the French and American missionaries; 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 and Guéra. The constitution provides for a secular state and guarantees religious freedom; different religious communities generally co-exist without problems.
The majority of Muslims in the country are adherents of a moderate branch of mystical Islam (Sufism). Its most common expression is the Tijaniyah, an order followed by the 35% of Chadian Muslims 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 Salafi movements.
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 Bahá'í 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.
The United Nations' Human Development Index ranks Chad as the seventh poorest country in the world, with 80% of the population living below the poverty line. The GDP(Purchasing power parity) per capita was estimated as US$1,651 in 2009. Chad is part of the Bank of Central African States, the Customs and Economic Union of Central Africa(UDEAC) and the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).
Chad's currency is the CFA franc. In the 1960s, the Mining industry of Chad produced sodium carbonate, or natron. There have also been reports of gold-bearing quartz in the Biltine Prefecture. However, 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% of the territory lies the nation's most fertile cropland, with rich yields of sorghum and millet. 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. 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.
Before the development of oil industry, cotton dominated industry and the labour market had 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 weakened by 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 privatised. Other than Cotton, Cattle and Gum Arabic are dominant.
If Chad can maintain a semblance of stability foreign investments will eventually return, but even 24 years after the last successful coup that brought President Idris Deby to power, investors are still wary of investing in Chad.
According to the United Nations, Chad has been affected by a humanitarian crisis 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 persons.
In February 2008 in the aftermath of the battle of N'Djamena, UN 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 survival. UN 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". In addition, organizations such as Save the Children have suspended activities due to killings of aid workers.