Every year, the inter-tropical front traverses Chad from south to north, bringing a rainy season that lasts from May to October in the south and from June to September in the Sahel.
The country’s geography is made up of wide, dry plains in the center, desert in the north, mountains in the northwest, and lowlands in the south. The lowest point is Djourab Depression (160 m/525 ft). Emi Koussi (3,415 m/11,204 ft) has the highest peak.
The main physical feature is a broad basin bordered to the north, east, and south by mountain ranges, such as the Ennedi Plateau in the north-east. Lake Chad, after which the nation is called, is the remnants of a massive lake that occupied 330,000 km2 (205,000 mi2) of the Chadian Basin 7,000 years ago. Although it spans just 17,806 km2 (11,064 mi2) in the twenty-first century and its surface size is susceptible to significant seasonal variations, the lake is Africa’s second biggest wetland.
Chad is the world’s 21st-largest nation, with 1,284,000 square kilometers (496,000 square miles). It is a little smaller than Peru and a little bigger than South Africa. Chad is located in north central Africa, between latitudes 7° and 24°N and latitudes 13° and 24°E.
Chad is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon to the west, and the Central African Republic to the south. The capital of the nation is 1,060 kilometers (660 miles) from the closest seaport, Douala, Cameroon. Chad is often referred to as the “Dead Heart of Africa” due to its distance from the sea and mainly desert environment.
The Ennedi Plateau and Tibesti Mountains, which contain Emi Koussi, a dormant volcano that rises 3,414 meters (11,201 feet) above sea level, form the main physical structure. Lake Chad, after which the nation is called (and which, in turn, is named from the Kanuri word for “lake”), is the remnants of a massive lake that once covered 330,000 square kilometers (130,000 square miles) of the Chad Basin 7,000 years ago. Although it only spans 17,806 square kilometers (6,875 square miles) in the twenty-first century and its surface size is susceptible to significant seasonal variations, the lake is Africa’s second biggest wetland.
Birds, reptiles, and big animals thrive in the region’s thick grasses and vast wetlands. The Chari, Logone, and their tributaries flow from the southeast across the southern savannas into Lake Chad.
Animal and plant life in Chad correlate to the three climate zones. The only vegetation in the Saharan area is the date-palm plantations of the oasis. The Sahelian area is home to palm and acacia plants. The southern, or Sudanic, zone is made mostly of grazing grasslands or prairies. There were at least 134 species of animals, 509 species of birds (354 species of inhabitants and 155 migratory) and over 1,600 plant species in the nation as of 2002.
Elephants, lions, buffalo, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, giraffes, antelopes, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, and many snake species may be found here, but most big carnivore populations have been severely decreased since the early twentieth century. Elephant poaching is a serious issue, especially in the country’s south, in places like Zakouma National Park. The Ennedi Plateau’s tiny population of surviving West African crocodiles is one of the Sahara’s remaining colonies.
Deforestation has resulted in the extinction of trees such as acacias, baobabs, dates, and palm trees. This has also resulted in the loss of natural habitat for wild animals; one of the major causes for this is the increase of human settlements, which has also resulted in increased hunting and cattle husbandry. Lions, leopards, and rhinoceroses have all been almost wiped off.
The Food and Agricultural Organization has undertaken efforts to strengthen interactions between farmers, agro-pastoralists, and pastoralists in the Zakouma National Park (ZNP), Siniaka-Minia reserve, and Aouk reserve in southeastern Chad in order to promote sustainable development. More than 1.2 million trees have been transplanted as part of the national conservation effort to slow the spread of the desert, which also benefits the local economy via financial returns from acacia trees, which generate gum arabic, and fruit trees.
Poaching is a major issue in the country, especially of elephants for the lucrative ivory trade, and it endangers the lives of rangers even in national parks like Zakouma. Elephants are often slaughtered in herds in and near parks by organized poaching. The issue is exacerbated by the fact that the parks are understaffed, and many wardens have been killed by poachers.
Chad’s national statistics office estimated the country’s 2015 population to be between 13,630,252 and 13,679,203, with 13,670,084 as the median estimate; based on the medium estimate, 3,212,470 people resided in urban areas and 10,457,614 in rural regions. The country’s population is young: an estimated 47.3 percent of the population is under the age of 15. The birth rate is predicted to be 42.35 per 1,000 people, while the death rate is 16.69. The average lifespan is 52 years.
Chad’s population is dispersed unevenly. The Saharan Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti Region has a density of 0.1/km2 (0.26/sq mi), while the Logone Occidental Region has a density of 52.4/km2 (136/sq mi). It is much higher in the capital. The southern fifth of the country is home to about half of the country’s inhabitants, making it the most densely inhabited area.
The capital, whose population is mostly engaged in business, is the epicenter of urban activity. Sarh, Moundou, Abéché, and Doba are the other main towns, which are much smaller but increasing in population and commercial activity. 230,000 Sudanese refugees have migrated to eastern Chad from war-torn Darfur since 2003. With 172,600 Chadians displaced by the civil conflict in the east, tensions have risen among the region’s communities.
Polygamy is widespread, with 39 percent of women in such relationships. This is sanctioned by law, which allows polygamy unless spouses expressly state that it is undesirable at the time of marriage. Domestic violence is widespread, despite the fact that violence against women is illegal. Female genital mutilation is also banned, although the practice is widespread and firmly entrenched in custom; 45 percent of Chadian women undergo the operation, with Arabs, Hadjarai, and Ouaddaians having the highest rates (90 percent or more). Lower percentages were recorded among the Sara (38%) and the Toubou (38%). (2 percent ). Women have unequal educational and training options, making it harder for women to compete for the limited formal-sector employment available. Although property and inheritance rules based on the French code do not discriminate against women, local authorities, according to customary practice, judge the majority of inheritance disputes in favor of males.
Chad has about 200 different ethnic groupings, resulting in a variety of societal systems. Although the colonial administration and independent administrations tried to establish a national society, for most Chadians, local or regional society remains the most significant influence outside of the close family. Nonetheless, Chadians may be categorized based on the geographical area in which they reside.
Sedentary people, such as the Sara, the nation’s primary ethnic group, reside in the south, where the lineage is the fundamental social unit. Sedentary and nomadic peoples coexist throughout the Sahel, including the country’s second largest ethnic group, the Arabs. Nomads, mainly Toubous, live in the north.
Chad is a nation with a wide range of religious beliefs. According to the 1993 census, 54 percent of Chadians were Muslims (of these, according to a Pew report 48 percent professed to be Sunni, 21 percent Shia, 4 percent Ahmadi and 23 percent just Muslim). Approximately 20% of Chadians are Roman Catholic, 14% Protestant, 10% Animist, and 3% do not practice any religion. None of these religious traditions are one-size-fits-all. Animism encompasses a wide range of ancestor and location-based faiths, each with its own distinct expression. Islam manifests itself in a variety of forms; for example, according to the previously cited Pew study, 55 percent of Muslim Chadians belong to Sufiorders. Christianity came in Chad with French and American missionaries, and it, like Chadian Islam, combines elements of pre-Christian religious traditions. Muslims are mainly prevalent in northern and eastern Chad, whereas animists and Christians are mostly concentrated in southern and eastern Chad and Guéra. The constitution establishes a secular state and protects religious freedom; various religious groups coexist peacefully in most cases.
The vast majority of Muslims in the nation follow a moderate form of mystical Islam (Sufism). Its most prevalent manifestation is the Tijaniyah, a religious organization followed by 35% of Chadian Muslims that includes certain indigenous African religious components. A tiny percentage of the country’s Muslims follow more extreme beliefs, which may be linked with Saudi-oriented Salafi groups in certain instances.
Roman Catholics are the country’s biggest Christian denomination. Most Protestants, notably the Nigeria-based “Winners’ Chapel,” are members of different evangelical Christian denominations. There are also members of the Bahá’ and Jehovah’s Witnesses religious groups in the nation. Both faiths were established after the nation’s independence in 1960 and are therefore regarded “new” religions in the country.
Foreign missionaries from both Christian and Islamic faiths live in Chad. Itinerant Muslim preachers, mainly from Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, also make appearances. Saudi Arabian money is often used to finance social and educational initiatives, as well as large mosque building projects.
According to the United Nations Human Development Index, Chad is the world’s sixth poorest nation, with 80 percent of the people living below the poverty line. In 2009, the GDP (Purchasing Power Parity) per capita was projected to be $1,651. Chad is a member of the Bank of Central African States, the Central African Customs and Economic Union (UDEAC), and the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).
The CFA franc is Chad’s currency. Chad’s mining sector produced sodium carbonate, or natron, in the 1960s. In the Biltine Prefecture, there have also been reports of gold-bearing quartz. Years of civil conflict, on the other hand, have frightened away international investors; many who fled Chad between 1979 and 1982 have only lately started to restore faith in the country’s future. Major direct foreign investment in the oil industry started in 2000, improving the country’s economic prospects.
Subsistence farming and livestock rearing provide a living for more than 80% of Chad’s people. The local climate influences the crops produced and the placement of herds. The nation’s most productive farmland, with high yields of sorghum and millet, is located in the southernmost 10% of the territory. Only hardier millet cultivars grow in the Sahel, with considerably lower yields than in the south. The Sahel, on the other hand, provides excellent pastureland for huge herds of commercial cattle, as well as goats, sheep, donkeys, and horses. Only dates and legumes grow in the isolated oasis of the Sahara. Chad’s cities have severe municipal infrastructure challenges; just 48% of urban inhabitants have access to drinkable water, and only 2% have access to basic sanitation.
Prior to the advent of the oil sector, cotton dominated the industry and the labor market, accounting for roughly 80% of export profits. Cotton is still a major export, but precise statistics are unavailable. France, the Netherlands, the European Union, and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development have all contributed to the rehabilitation of Cotontchad, a significant cotton business affected by a drop in global cotton prices (IBRD). It is currently anticipated that the parastatal will be privatized. Cotton is not the only dominating material; Cattle and Gum Arabic are as well.
Foreign investments will return if Chad can maintain a sense of peace, but even 24 years after the last successful coup that brought President Idris Deby to office, investors are still cautious of investing in Chad.
Chad has been in the grip of a humanitarian catastrophe since at least 2001, according to the UN. As of 2008, Chad was hosting approximately 280,000 refugees from Sudan’s Darfur area, over 55,000 from Central African Republic, and over 170,000 internally displaced people.
In the aftermath of the battle of N’Djamena in February 2008, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes expressed “extreme concern” that the crisis would hamper humanitarians’ ability to provide life-saving assistance to half a million beneficiaries, the majority of whom, according to him, rely heavily on humanitarian aid for survival. According to UN spokesman Maurizio Giuliano, “if we do not manage to deliver enough amounts of assistance, the humanitarian crisis may turn into a humanitarian catastrophe.” Furthermore, as a result of the murders of humanitarian workers, groups such as Save the Children have stopped operations.