The Republic of Chad (تشاد) is a land-locked nation in central Africa. It borders 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. Due to its distance from the sea and its largely desert climate, the country is sometimes refered to as the 'dead heart of Africa.' In the north, it contains the Tibesti Mountains, the largest mountain chain in the Sahara desert. Formerly part of the Federation of French Equatorial Africa, the country is named after Lake Chad.
Main article: History of Chad
Like most of the world, the area that today is Chad started out as a disconnected group of tribes. Humanoid skulls and cave paintings have been found there. Eventually, these tribes were overtaken by kingdoms. Chad was controlled by some weak local kingdoms until it was overtaken by the larger, but still completely African Kanem-Bornu Empire.
Later, foreigners started having a bigger influence on Chad. Starting in the Middle Ages, Chad became a crossroads between the Muslim traders and the native tribes. In 1891 Chad became a French colony. In WWII, Chad was the first French colony to join the Allies. In 1960, Chad peacefully became an independent country.
In 1965, a civil war began as tax revolt from the Muslim north. This was a long and painful war. It lasted until 1996, at which time a constitution was written and Idriss Déby was elected president.
Main article: Politics of Chad
A strong executive branch headed by President Deby of the Patriotic Salvation Movement dominates the Chadian political system. Deby was elected constitutionally in 1996 and 2001, but international observers noted irregularites in the election process. Deby has been president since 1990, but a constitution wasn't written until 1996. The president of Chad is limited to two terms (not counting before the constitution was written), however a change in the constitution may allow Idriss Deby to run for office again in 2006. The president is elected by universal suffrage for those over 18. The president has the power to appoint the prime minister and the Council of State (or cabinet), and exercises considerable influence over appointments of judges, generals, provincial officials and heads of Chad’s parastatal firms. Chad's legislative branch consists of a unicameral National Assembly. Its judicial branch consists of a Supreme Court, a Court of Appeal, criminal courts, and magistrate courts.
Main article: Prefectures of Chad
Chad has 14 prefectures:
Main article: Geography of Chad
Chad is a land-locked country in north central Africa measuring 1,284,000 square kilometers (496,000 sq. mi.), roughly three times the size of Texas. Chad is in central Africa, south of Libya. Chad has 5,968 km of border against Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Niger, Nigeria, and Sudan. Chad has four climactic zones: it has broad, arid plains in center, desert in north, dry mountains in northwest, and tropical lowlands in south. Only 3% of Chad is arable land and none of it has permanent crops. Environmental hazards in Chad include hot, dry, dusty harmattan winds occur in north, periodic droughts, and locust plagues. Lake Chad, which is in Chad and Cameroon, was once the second-largest lake in Africa but has shrunk dramatically during the last few decades and is now down to less than 10% of its former size.
Main article: Economy of Chad
Chad's primarily agricultural economy will continue to be boosted by major oilfield and pipeline projects that began in 2000. Over 80% of Chad's population relies on subsistence farming and stock raising for its livelihood. Cotton, cattle, and gum arabic provide the bulk of Chad's export earnings, but Chad will begin to export oil in 2004. Chad's economy has long been handicapped by its landlocked position, high energy costs, and a history of instability. Chad relies on foreign assistance and foreign capital for most public and private sector investment projects. A consortium led by two US companies has been investing $3.7 billion to develop oil reserves estimated at 1 billion barrels (0.2 km³) in southern Chad. Oil production is scheduled to come on stream in late 2003.
Main article: Demographics of Chad
There are more than 200 ethnic groups in Chad. Those in the north and east are generally Muslim; most southerners are Christians or animists. Through their long religious and commercial relationships with Sudan and Egypt, many of the peoples in Chad's eastern and central regions have become more or less Arabized, speaking Arabic and engaging in many other Arab cultural practices as well. More than three-quarters of the Chadian population is rural.
Main article: Culture of Chad
Chad is a very culturally diverse nation. Among the manifestations of this diversity is the extremely large number of languges spoken there. Although the only official languages in Chad are Arabic and French, there are also more than 100 tribal languages spoken. The largest ethnic group in Chad, the Christian/animist Sara peoples living in the south, only makes up 20% of the population. In central Chad, people are mostly nomadic and pastoralist. The mountainous north has a sparse, mostly Muslim population of mixed backgrounds. Each society in Chad (smaller than the groups described above) has developed their own religion, music, and folklore.
See also: music of Chad, List of writers from Chad