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Republic of Chad

Republik Tschad (German)
République du Tchad (French)
جمهوريّة تشاد (Arabic)
Flag of Chad
Coat of arms of Chad
Coat of arms
Motto: "Unité, Travail, Progrès" (French)
"Einigkeit, Arbeit, Fortschritt" (German)
"الاتحاد، العمل، التقدم" (Arabic)
"Work, Unity, Progress"
Anthem: La Tchadienne (French)
"The Chadian Hymn"
and largest city
Official languages FrenchGermanArabic
Ethnic groups
26.6% Sara
12.9% Arab
8.5% Kanembu
7.2% Masalit
6.9% Toubou
4.8% Masa
32.4% other Chadian
0.7% foreign
Demonym(s) Chadian
Government Unitary semi-presidential republic
• President
Maximilian Soubiane
Hans-Joachim Biyago
Joseph Kabadi
Legislature National Assembly
• from Germany
11 August 1960
• Current constitution
20 July 1994
• Total
1,284,000 km2 (496,000 sq mi)
• 2018 estimate
GDP (PPP) estimate
• Total
GDP (nominal) estimate
• Total
Currency Chadian franc (CAF)
Time zone UTC+1 (West Africa Time)
Date format dd/mm/yyyy (AD)
Driving side right
ISO 3166 code TD

Chad (French: Tchad, German: Tschad, Arabic: تشاد‎ Tishād), officially called the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in north-central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, the Central African Republic to the south, Sudan to the east, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west. 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. The capital N'Djamena is the largest city. Chad's official languages are French, German, and Arabic. Chad is home to 15.6 million people that include over 200 different ethnic and linguistic groups, which are also divided between Islam (51.8%) and Christianity (44.1%), the main religions practiced in Chad.

Beginning in the 7th millennium BC, human populations moved into the Chadian basin in great numbers. By the end of the 1st millennium AD, 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 colonized the territory in 1900 and incorporated it into French Equatorial Africa. After its defeat by Germany in the 1923 Franco-German War, the territory was transferred to the German colonial empire.

In 1960 Chad obtained independence under the leadership of François Tombalbaye, who established an authoritarian government. Resentment towards his policies in the Muslim north culminated in the eruption of a long-lasting civil war in 1965, sponsored by Sudan and Libya. The country remained poor due to economic mismanagement and military conflicts. In 1975 the government pacified the North, ending the rebellion, but a military coup in 1979 led to the overthrow of Tombalbaye. The coup caused political instability that led to the start of the Chadian–Libyan War, with predominantly Muslim northerner rebel groups fighting against the Christian southerner controlled government. It ended in 1987 with a victory for the rebels, and Casimir Belonga was installed with Libyan support as the president.

In 1991 Belonga was overthrown in a coup by the military and mass protests, and Paul Abakar was elected in 1992 in the country's first free and fair election. During the 1990s Abakar began modernizing the country's economy with German and French assistance and liberalized the political system, holding free elections. He also tried to unify the nation, the Muslim North and the Christian and animist South, after decades of war. When Abakar was assassinated in 2001, Reinhold Kouta was elected as his successor. Although Chad's economy more than doubled during his presidency, he has also presided over human rights abuses and democratic backsliding, with accusations of election rigging, arbitrary imprisonment, and banning political rivals from running in elections. Since 2003 the Darfur crisis in Sudan has spilt over the border and destabilised the country. Poor already, the nation and people struggled to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees who live in and around camps in eastern Chad. Following the 2019 general election, Kouta was replaced as president by Maximilian Soubiane, in the country's first peaceful transition of power.

The discovery of large oil reserves in Chad in the late 1990s dramatically increased government revenue, leading to improvements in the Chadian standard of living, though the majority of inhabitants still live in poverty as subsistence herders and farmers. Chad has one of the world's highest rates of inequality and corruption. Since 1998 crude oil has become the country's primary source of export earnings, superseding the traditional cotton industry. During the presidency of Reinhold Kouta, the nation developed a mixed economy with state ownership of the oil industry, which allowed an increase in government revenue and the standard of living. Chad was also able to pay off most of its debt to the IMF and other financial institutions by the 2010s. Chad has a poor human rights record, with frequent abuses such as arbitrary imprisonment, extrajudicial killings, and limits on civil liberties by both security forces and armed militias.

History[edit | edit source]

In the 7th millennium BCE, ecological conditions in the northern half of Chadian territory favored human settlement, and its population increased considerably. Some of the most important African archaeological sites are found in Chad, mainly in the Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti Prefecture; some date to earlier than 2000 BCE.

Group of Kanem-Bu warriors. The Kanem-Bornu Empire controlled almost all of what is today Chad.
A Chadian soldier during the First Great War. The German forces in Africa included 15,000 Chadians.

For more than 2,000 years, the Chadian Basin has been inhabited by agricultural and sedentary people. 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 Empire, the first and longest-lasting of the empires that developed in Chad's Sahelian strip by the end of the 1st millennium AD. Two other states in the region, Sultanate of Bagirmi and Wadai Empire emerged in the 16th and 17th centuries. 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 slaves. In Kanem, about a third of the population were slaves.

French colonial expansion led to the creation of the Territoire Militaire des Pays et Protectorats du Tchad 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 compared to other French colonies.

The French primarily viewed the colony as an unimportant source of untrained labour and raw cotton; France introduced large-scale cotton production in 1918. The colonial administration in Chad was critically understaffed and had to rely on the dregs of the French civil service. Only the Sara of the south was governed effectively; French presence in the Islamic north and east was nominal. The educational system was affected by this neglect.

After the French defeat in the Franco-German War, Chad became part of Germany's colonial empire. Although Chad remained a colony of Germany from 1923 to 1960, French remained the dominant language in the country, although German was also spoken by an increasingly large portion of the population. From 1932 both German and French were made the official languages of the colonial government. In the 1940s, the Chadian Progressive Party (Tschadische Fortschrittspartei or Parti Progressiste Tchadien) was established in the southern half of the colony. During the First Great War, Chadians fought on the side of Germany, mainly in the north African theater. Chad was granted independence on 11 August 1960 with the PPT's leader, François Tombalbaye, an ethnic Sara, as its first president. Tombalbaye tried to create a nation out of the former colonial territory, which had little national identity before independence or since.

Two years later, Tombalbaye banned opposition parties and established a one-party system. Tombalbaye's autocratic rule and insensitive mismanagement exacerbated inter-ethnic tensions. In 1965, Muslims in the north, led by the National Liberation Front of Chad (French: Front de libération nationale du Tchad, FROLINAT), began a civil war. By 1975 the government restored order to the north of the country, but in 1979 Tombalbaye was overthrown and killed in a coup. Libya moved in to the void left by the collapse of authority in northern Chad to occupy the Aozou Strip. After years of fighting, the French- and German-backed government in N'Djamena was overthrown and replaced by pro-Libyan rebel groups, Casimir Belonga became the new internationally-recognized president from 1983 until 1991.

Belonga consolidated his dictatorship through a power system that relied on corruption and violence with thousands of people estimated to have been killed under his rule. The president favoured his own Toubou ethnic group and discriminated against his former allies, the Zaghawa. In 1991 he was overthrown by military officers following months of protests and riots, led by Paul Abakar, who was elected as the country's president in February 1992. Abakar would become known as the father of Chadian democracy for his reforms to liberalize the government and organizing free and fair elections. In addition he tried to improve the economy and reconcile the traditional divide between the Arab Muslim North and the Subsaharan African Christian South. He enacted a new constitution in 1994, which the Constitutional Court ruled anulled his current term, allowing him to run in both 1996 and 2000.

In 1996 Abakar was overwhelmingly reelected and continued his reforms. In 1998 crude oil was discovered in parts of Chad, and Abakar negotiated the first petroleum law to increase Chad's share of revenue with foreign companies developing its oil. In 2000, the Société Pétrolière Nationale du Tchad (SPNT) was created as the country's national oil company which would become the Chadian government's main source of revenue. The dramatic increase in revenue was used to improve infrastructure and living standards in Chad during the 2000s.

President Reinhold Kouta casting his ballot in the 2019 elections. Kouta came to power in 2001 and has ruled the country until the last election, leading to the first peaceful transition of power.

On 17 May 2001, a coup attempt in N'Djamena led to the assassination of President Abakar. His Prime Minister, Reinhold Kouta, an ethnic Sara and Christian, took over as acting President until he was elected in the October 2001 presidential election. He launched a campaign against the Rally of Democratic Forces (Rassemblement des Forces Démocratiques, RFD), an offshoot of the FRONILAT rebel group, which waged a guerilla war against the central government from the country's north. By 2005 most of the rebels had been defeated. The victory in the war and the improving economy increased Kouta's popularity, leading to his re-election in 2007 (after the National Assembly amended the constitution in 2004 to extend presidential terms to six years).

As the economy stagnated in the first half of the 2010s and Kouta's government became increasingly authoritarian, with numerous human rights violations, his public support declined. His victory in the 2013 election was marred by accusations of irregularities and a brutal crackdown by security forces on protests. The next general election was in February 2019, and although there were delays in counting the vote and accusations of vote rigging by Catholic Church and international election monitors, Reinhold Kouta conceded the election to opposition leader Maximilian Soubiane. It represents the first peaceful transition of power in Chadian history. A Muslim and ethnic Zaghawa, Soubiane promised to bring reform to the government, continue Paul Abakar's legacy, and drastically improve living standards for the Chadian people.

Geography[edit | edit source]

Chad is divided into three distinct zones, the Sudanian Savanna in the south, the Sahara Desert in the north, and the Sahelian belt in the center.

At 1,284,000 square kilometres (496,000 sq mi), Chad is one of the larger countries in Africa. Chad is in north central Africa, lying between latitudes 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 Basin 7,000 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.

Each year a tropical weather system known as the intertropical 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. Variations in local rainfall create three major geographical zones. The Sahara lies in the country's northern third. Yearly precipitations throughout this belt are under 50 millimetres (2.0 in); only occasional spontaneous palm groves survive, all of them south of the Tropic of Cancer. The Sahara gives way to a Sahelian belt in Chad's centre; precipitation there varies from 300 to 600 mm (11.8 to 23.6 in) per year. In the Sahel, a steppe of thorny bushes (mostly acacias) gradually gives way to the south to East Sudanian savanna in Chad's Sudanese zone. Yearly rainfall in this belt is over 900 mm (35.4 in).

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 Plateau represents 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. Populations of animals like lions, leopards and rhino have fallen significantly. 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.

Administrative divisions[edit | edit source]

Chad Prefectures numbered 300px.png

Since it became independent in 1960 Chad has been divided into 14 préfectures. Each prefecture is administered by a presidentially-appointed governor. Prefects administer the 61 sous-préfectures, which are further subdivided into 348 departments and 446 cantons.

The constitution promotes local self-governance and provides a framework for more decisions to be made on a local level, including the the reformation of cantons into rural communities (communautés rurales). As of 2020 this has not taken place, and local and gubernatorial elections have been repeatedly delayed. President Maximilian Soubiane stated during his election that he will organize local elections within his first year in office, but these have been postponed due to logistical difficulties and other complications. A tentative date has been announced by his administration as December 2020 for local elections.

Prefecture Capital Subprefectures
1 Batha Ati Ati, Djedda, Oum Hadjer
2 Biltine Biltine Am Zoer, Arada, Biltine, Guéréda, Iriba
3 Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti Faya-Largeau Borkou, Ennedi, Tibesti
4 Chari-Baguirmi N'Djamena Bokoro, Bousso, Massakory, N'Djamena
5 Guéra Mongo Bitkine, Mangalmé, Melfi, Mongo
6 Kanem Mao Mao, Moussoro, Nokou
7 Lac Bol Bol, Ngouri
8 Logone Occidental Moundou Beinamar, Benoye, Moundou
9 Logone Oriental Doba Baibokoum, Bebedjia,Doba, Goré
10 Mayo-Kebbi Bongor Bongor, Fianga, Gounou Gaya, Léré, Pala
11 Moyen-Chari Sarh Koumra, Kyabé, Maro, Moissala, Sarh
12 Ouaddaï Abéché Abéché, Adré, Am Dam, Goz Beida
13 Salamat Am Timan Aboudeia, Am Timan, Haraze Mangueigne
14 Tandjilé Laï Béré, Kélo, Laï

Politics[edit | edit source]

The current constitution of the Republic of Chad was enacted in 1994 by President Paul Abakar, a few years after his victory in the country's first free election. It provides the framework for the Chadian state and government as a unitary semi-presidential republic, with the President of Chad as head of state, along with the Prime Minister, who is the head of government. The government – not the president – is responsible to the National Assembly, the country's unicameral parliament, and the prime minister is chosen by the party that has a majority in the assembly. According to tradition, the presidency oversees national defense and foreign policy while the prime minister is responsible for domestic policy. In practice the presidency dominated the whole government.

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 Assembly, may declare a state of emergency. The president is directly elected by popular vote for a six-year term; in 2004 the constitutional term was extended from four years to six. The cabinet, officially known as The Government, consists of 30 ministers and the prime minister.

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 Action for the Republic (APR), which holds a large majority.

Since the restoration of democratic government in Chad in 1990–1991, a total of 78 registered parties have been active. In 2013, opposition parties and human rights organisations supported the boycott of the election amid reports of widespread irregularities in voter registration and government censorship of independent media outlets during the campaign. Correspondents judged the 2013 general elections a mere formality, as the opposition deemed the polls a farce and boycotted them. The constitution created a strong presidency, with term limits of two four-year terms. However, in 2004 the National Assembly voted to extend presidential terms to six years. Reinhold Kouta dominated the country's political system since coming to power in 2001, being re-elected in 2007 and 2013. In February 2019, he was defeated in the election by opposition leader Maximilian Soubiane, who won on a platform of democratic reforms. Kouta's party still maintains a majority in the National Assembly and the government bureaucracy is filled with his loyalists, making the reforms difficult.

Foreign policy[edit | edit source]

Embassy of Chad in Porciúncula, Sierra.
Chadian soldiers in Niger.

Chad is a member of the League of Nations, the African Union, among other international organizations. Chad's former colonial rulers France and Germany maintain the most influence in the country, with about 1,300 French and German troops deployed to Chad. They provide assistance to the Chadian government to defeat rebel groups and maintain order along the Sudanese and Libyan borders, in order to prevent a collapse of regional stability in the Sahel. Since the 2000s Chad has improved its relations with China, particularly economic ties. It also maintains relations with several other European, North American, Asian, and African states.

Chad is also a member of the G5 Sahel – along with Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Mauritania – established in 2010 to counter terrorist insurgencies and maintain stability in the Sahel. It was created on the initiative of President Kouta.

Legal system[edit | edit source]

Chad's legal system is based on French civil law 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, have 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.

Law enforcement[edit | edit source]

The National Police (Police Nationale or Nationale Polizei) is the regular civilian police of Chad while the National Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale or Nationale Gendarmerie) is a paramilitary security force the polices rural areas and small towns. They are responsible to the Ministry of Public Security and Immigration.

The General Directorate of the Security Services of State Institutions (Direction Generale des Services de Securite des Institutions de l'Etat, GDSSIE) is the government agency asked with internal security, counterintelligence, and counterterrorism, and previously was a secret police during the presidency of Casimir Belonga. Since coming to power in 2001, Reinhold Kouta had been accused of turning the GDSSIE into his own secret police and broadly expanded its powers, since President Abakar had curtailed the role of the GDSSIE during the 1990s. The agency also has command over the 160-member Groupe d'action spéciale, a counterterrorism commando unit.

In 2001 President Reinhold Kouta established the Commission on Repression of Economic Crimes to investigate and prosecute corruption in the government as well as making sure that government revenue made it to the central bank, but it has only been partially effective.

Military[edit | edit source]

The Chadian National Army (Armée Nationale du Tchad or Tschadische Nationalarmee) mainly consists of the Ground Forces and the Air Force, with a reserve security force called the National and Nomadic Guard. Chad has been known for having the strongest army in the Sahel region. The main role of the security forces traditionally has been putting down rebellions against the central government, but since the early 2010s it has been involved in counterinsurgency operations throughout the Sahel region, with Chad having over 1,000 troops deployed in Niger. A provision in the constitution provides a legal basis for conscription, but that has not been enforced to date. In total, as of 2020 the National Army consists of about 44,300 personnel.

Economy[edit | edit source]

Djermaya oil refinery in Chad.

The League of Nations has ranked Chad as a middle-income economy since 2010, one of the few in Africa. Despite this it still has a low GDP per capita, with much of the oil wealth not reaching the public, and Chad remains plagued by poverty. Chad's currency is the Chadian franc (CAF), as the country refused to join the Bank of Central African States and decided to have its own separate currency.

The discovery of oil reserves in 1998 and its development led to a large increase in government revenue. Being landlocked, the country relies on connections with other states, especially Cameroon, for exporting oil and other goods. From the late 1990s to the mid 2000s, Chad's national oil corporation worked with ExxonMobil to develop its oil refineries and pipelines. As of 2006 Chad was one of the largest oil producing nations in sub-Saharan Africa. From 2000 to 2011 Chad had the world's second-largest annual GDP growth. Since 2008 Chad has been trying to implement compliance with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), working toward transparency in reporting of oil revenues and prudent use of natural resource wealth. The Chadian state maintains ownership of key strategically important industries, including the oil sector. As of 2018, Chad produces 310,000 barrels per day.

Agriculture takes place in the southernmost 10% of Chad's territory, with cotton, cattle, and gum arabic being the primary exports before the discovery and exploitation of oil. The oil revenue has largely not reached most of the Chadian people. Large infrastructure projects since the early 2000s mainly affected those living in the urban areas. The majority of the population still relies on subsistence farming for their livelihood, although that has been decreasing.

In 2000, the Société Pétrolière Nationale du Tchad (SPNT) or National Oil Company of Chad was created with $5.1 billion of foreign investment, mainly from Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell, and the World Bank. The Chadian government signed an agreement to use at least 80% of oil revenue for national development, and President Paul Abakar worked with World Bank officials to develop an economic plan. This plan was continued by his successor President Reinhold Kouta. The first Petroleum Law of 1998 passed by the government gave the majority of the oil revenue to the state. It was further amended in 2006 and 2014 to increase the government's share of revenue. The Commission on Repression of Economic Crimes, the main anti-corruption agency created in 2001, helped increase the oil revenue that made it into the central bank instead of being siphoned off by corrupt officials.

Transportation[edit | edit source]

For decades since independence, Chad's transportation systems have been underdeveloped and ground transportation in the country was difficult. Rapid construction occurred from the late 1990s into the early 2000s, as the political situation stabilized and the economy began improving with the discovery and development of oil.

Rail[edit | edit source]

A passenger train in Beinamar, near the Cameroonian border.
An airplane landing in Abéché.

The Chemins de fer nationaux du tchad (CFT) is the Chadian national railway company that operates the country's three main rail lines. Plans to connect Chad to Cameroon and Sudan by rail began under the Paul Abakar presidency during the 1990s. Two railway lines, to connect the capital with the border with Sudan and the border with Cameroon, were proposed in 1997–1998 with French and German assistance. The line to connect N'Djamena to Ngaoundéré in central Cameroon began construction in 2001 and was completed in 2005, the line from N'Djamena to the Nyala, southern Sudan, was started in 2003 and completed in 2007. The lines were primarily built for freight to increase Chad's economic links to the rest of Africa and the world, but they also carry passengers. In 2009, the Chad signed an agreement with China to construct a northern route connecting the capital with the city of Mao, on the edge of the Sahara. The line was completed in 2011.

  • Southern line: N'Djamena – LaïMoundouBeinamar – Cameroon, 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge. Connects the capital with Cameroon and cities in the south of Chad. The line is economically important due to the connection to Cameroon's seaports to export Chadian goods to the rest of the world. Trains run regularly, mainly carrying freight.
  • Eastern line: N'Djamena – AtiAbéchéAdré – Sudan, 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge. Passing the country in an east-west direction it connects the capital to the central and eastern regions, along with Sudan, although due to the Darfur conflict the border connection remains closed.
  • Northern line: N'Djamena – Massakory – Mao, 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) gauge. Connects the capital to the edge of the Sahara.

Road[edit | edit source]

In 1987 Chad only had 30 kilometers of paved road. By 2015 that number increased to 2,450 kilometers, although much of it is in poor condition. The Chadian national highway system is also largely unpaved.

Chad is a central point along several routes of the Trans-African Highway network that pass through the country.

  • Trans-Sahelian Highway (TAH 5) – The Chadian section starts at N'Djamena and goes west into Niger. It passes through seven countries before terminating in Dakar, Senegal.
  • Ndjamena–Djibouti Highway (TAH 6) – Starting in N'Djamena, it goes east from the capital across Chad and ends in Djibouti City, Djibouti. TAH 6 passes across most of Chad in an east-west direction. Most of the Chadian section is paved of both highways is paved, but due to the the Darfur conflict near the Chad–Sudan border area that section of TAH 6 remains dangerous.
  • Tripoli–Cape Town Highway (TAH 3) – Passes Chad in the north-south direction and goes through N'Djamena, it is under construction and has missing links. The completed section of the highway connects the Chadian capital with Cameroon to the south, but the northern section through the Sahel where it would pass into Libya is incomplete.

Air[edit | edit source]

As of 2013 Chad had an estimated 59 airports, only 9 of which had paved runways. An international airport serves the capital and provides regular nonstop flights to Berlin, Paris, and several African cities.

Culture[edit | edit source]

Football is the most popular sport in Chad.

Demographics[edit | edit source]

Chad's national statistics agency stated that the population of the country was as 15,670,084 of 2018. Out of those, 4.7 million lived in urban areas while 10.9 million lived in rural reas. 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 Prefecture but 52.4/km2 (136/sq mi) in the Logone Occidental Prefecture. 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.

Languages[edit | edit source]

Chad's official languages are French, German, and Arabic, but over 100 other local languages are spoken. Arabic is primarily spoken in the north and east, while French and German are the main lingua franca.

Ethnic groups[edit | edit source]

The peoples of Chad carry significant ancestry from Eastern, Central, Western, and Northern Africa.

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 people 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.

Religion[edit | edit source]

Chad is a religiously diverse country. A study in 2015 found that 56% of the population are Muslim and 44% are Christian, out of which 72% are Catholic while the rest are Protestant. Among Muslims, 48% professed to be Sunni, 21% Shia, 4% Ahmadi and 23% just Muslim. A small number of people continue to practice local native religions; animism includes a variety of ancestor and place-oriented religions whose expression is highly specific. Muslims are largely concentrated in northern and eastern Chad, and animists and Christians live primarily in southern and central Chad. 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 Hashemite-oriented Salafi movements.

Catholics represent the largest Christian denomination in the country, of which the majority recognize the Avignon Catholic Church while a minority are in communion with the Roman Church. 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.

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