The Republic of Chad is a landlocked country, part of France's African holdings until 1960. With 1'284'000 km², it is one of the largest countries in Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the North, Sudan to the East, Central African Republic to the Southeast, Cameroon and Nigeria to the Southwest, and Niger to the Northwest. Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world.
The climate is tropical in the South, sahelian in Chad's center and desertic in the northern third. From May to October, the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) crosses Chad from South to North, bringing a rainy season. The vegetation coincides to climatic zoning (savana in the South and steppe in Sahel). It is very sensitive to seasonal variations.
The country's topography is generally flat. In center Chad, Djourab and Bodélé depressions (the lowest point, 160 m) are bounded by the Tibesti Mountains in the Northwest (the highest point in the Sahara Desert is Emi Koussi, a dormant volcano that reaches 3'414 m), the Ennedi Plateau in the Northeast, the Ouaddaï Highlands in the East along the border with Sudan, the Guéra Massif in central Chad, and the Mandara Mountains along Chad's Southwestern border with Cameroon.
Chad's major rivers are the Chari and the Logone and their tributaries, which flow from the southeast into Lake Chad. This is the second largest lake in West Africa. Permanent streams do not exist in northern or central Chad. Following rains, water may flow through depressions called wadis.
The United Nations' Human Development Index (HDI) ranks Chad as the eighth poorest country in the world. Traditional chadian economy is based on subsistence farming (mix of cereal and root crops in the South and pastoral activities in the North). The only commercial cultures are cotton and rice (mainly in the southwest).
Since 2003, Chad economy has changed and the country's GNP is mainly based on oil revenues (see petroleum resources).
The road network is not well-developped and is in very bad condition (even for main roads): less than 1% is paved. The country has only one international airport. There is no railway. Logistics is always complex. During the dry favorable season a container arriving in Africa at the port of Douala will take more than a month (by rail and road) to reach N'Djamena. During the rainy season, those durations might easily double. Oil revenues welth has led to a lot of construction work ovr the past 3 years, including roads and bridges.
In June 2009, the second General Census of Population and Housing counted 11'175'915 inhabitants in Chad. About half of the nation's population lives in the southern fifth of its territory. N'Djamena (formerly Fort-Lamy), the capital, is the largest city (760'000 people). It is located near the confluent between Chari and Logone rivers and directly connected by a bridge with Cameroon and the town of Kousseri. It is growing rapidly and investments in new areas are clearly visible, even on satellite images.
Chad has more than 200 distinct ethnic groups. Arabic and French are the official languages and Islam is the dominant religion.
Due to several international wars (with the lybians from the 70's to the 90's), civil wars (since the first president in 1960, all presidents have been ousted violently) and others violent events since Chad independance in 1960, large areas are contaminated by Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) or UneXploded Ordnance (UXO). Significant levels of contamination have been detected especially in nothern Chad, but also in central and eastern parts of the country (Landmine Impact Survey in Chad).
When Chad became an independant country in 1960, the first president elected was François Tombalbaye. He was assassinated during a coup on April 13th, 1975. After a brief interim, his successor was General Felix Malloum who left power (and Chad) in 1979 and stayed away from the country until 2002. From 1979, the power shifted to various former northern rebels, the prominent figures beeing President Goukouni Oueddei and Hissene Habre. Both left the country after beeing ousted. Hissene Habre still faces charges in the International Court of Justice.
President Idriss Deby Itno came to power in 1992 by ousting his predecessor President Hissene Habre. He has remained in power since but faced many rebellions. Following the tentative coups of 2006 and 2008, and using the economic power of oil revenues, President Deby has led a large program of investments in the road network and in infrastructures.
Deby was re-elected in the 25 April 2011 poll, winning a new five-year term in the first round with 88% of vote. The outcome was rejected by the opposition as illegitimate after they called for boycott of the presidential elections. But an African Union observer mission said "the April elections had conformed to internal standards despite the boycott".
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 05 March 2013 )