Chad is a landlocked country in northern Central Africa. Its official name is the Republic of Chad. It is bounded to the north by Libya, to the east by Sudan, to the south by the Central African Republic, to the southwest by Cameroon and Nigeria, and to the west by Niger. In terms of land area, it is Africa’s sixth biggest country.
Chad is divided into three regions: the desert in the north, the dry Sahelian belt in the center, and the more fertile Sudanian Savanna zone in the south. Lake Chad, after which the nation is named, is Chad’s biggest wetland and Africa’s second-largest. The capital, N’Djamena, is the biggest city. Chad is home to more than 200 ethnic and linguistic groups. The official languages are Arabic and French. The most frequently practiced religions are Islam and Christianity.
Human populations migrated into the Chadian basin in large numbers beginning in the 7th millennium BC. By the end of the first millennium BC, Chad’s Sahelian strip had seen the birth and fall of a number of kingdoms and empires, each vying for control of the trans-Saharan trade routes that ran through the region. By 1920, France had captured the territory and integrated it into French Equatorial Africa.
Chad gained independence in 1960 under the leadership of François Tombalbaye. Resentment of his actions resulted in the outbreak of a long-running civil war in the Muslim north in 1965. The rebels took control of the capital in 1979, thus ending the south’s dominion. The rebel commanders, however, battled amongst themselves until Hissène Habré overcame his opponents. Idriss Déby, his general, deposed him in 1990. Sudan’s Darfur conflict has spilled over the border and destabilized the country since 2003, with hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees living in and near camps in eastern Chad.
While several political parties are active, President Déby and his political party, the Patriotic Salvation Movement, have absolute authority. Chad continues to be plagued by political violence and attempted coups. Chad is one of the world’s poorest and most corrupt countries, with the majority of its people living in poverty as subsistence herders and farmers. Since 2003, crude oil has surpassed the traditional cotton sector as the country’s major source of export revenues.