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Chad is divided into three major geographical regions: a desert zone in the north, an arid Sahelian belt in the centre and a more fertile Sudanese 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. Chad's highest peak is the Emi Koussi in the Sahara, and N'Djamena, (formerly Fort-Lamy), the capital, is the largest city. Chad is home to over 200 different ethnic and linguistic groups. Arabic and French are the official languages. Islam and Christianity are the most widely practiced religions.
Beginning in the 7th millennium BC, human populations moved into the Chadian basin in great numbers. By the end of the 1st millennium BC, a series of states and empires rose and fell in Chad's Sahelian strip, each focused on controlling the trans-Saharan trade routes that passed through the region. France conquered the territory by 1920 and incorporated it as part of French Equatorial Africa.
In 1960 Chad obtained independence under the leadership of François Tombalbaye. Resentment towards his policies in the Muslim north culminated in the eruption of a long-lasting civil war in 1965. In 1979 the rebels conquered the capital and put an end to the south's hegemony. However, the rebel commanders fought amongst themselves until Hissène Habré defeated his rivals. He was overthrown in 1990 by his general Idriss Déby. Recently, the Darfur crisis in Sudan has spilt over the border and destabilised the nation, with hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees living in and around camps in eastern Chad.
While many political parties are active, power lies firmly in the hands of President Déby and his political party, the Patriotic Salvation Movement. Chad remains plagued by political violence and recurrent attempted coups d'état (see Battle of N'Djamena (2006) and Battle of N'Djamena (2008)).
The country is one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the world; most Chadians live in poverty as subsistence herders and farmers. Since 2003 crude oil has become the country's primary source of export earnings, superseding the traditional cotton industry.
In the 7th millennium BC, ecological conditions in the northern half of Chadian territory favored human settlement, and the region experienced a strong population increase. Some of the most important African archaeological sites are found in Chad, mainly in the Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti Region; some date to earlier than 2,000 BC.
For more than 2000 years, the Chadian Basin has been inhabited by agricultural and sedentary peoples. 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. 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.
By defeating and killing Rabih az-Zubayr on April 22, 1900, at the Battle of Kousséri, France removed a major obstacle to its colonisation of Chad.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. The French primarily viewed the colony as an unimportant source of untrained labour and raw cotton; France introduced large-scale cotton production in 1929. The colonial administration in Chad was critically understaffed and had to rely on the dregs of the French civil service. Only the south was governed effectively; French presence in the north and east was nominal. The educational system suffered from this neglect.
After World War II, France granted Chad the status of overseas territory and its inhabitants the right to elect representatives to the French National Assembly and a Chadian assembly. The largest political party was the Chadian Progressive Party (PPT), based in the southern half of the colony. Chad was granted independence on August 11, 1960 with the PPT's leader, François Tombalbaye, as its first president.
15,000 Chadian soldiers fought for Free France during WWII. Two years later, Tombalbaye banned opposition parties and established a one-party system. Tombalbaye's autocratic rule and insensitive mismanagement exacerbated interethnic tensions. In 1965 Muslims began a civil war. Tombalbaye was overthrown and killed in 1975, but the insurgency continued. In 1979 the rebel factions conquered the capital, and all central authority in the country collapsed. Armed factions, many from the north's rebellion, contended for power.
The disintegration of Chad caused the collapse of France's position in the country. Libya moved to fill the power vacuum and became involved in Chad's civil war. Libyia adventure ended in disaster in 1987; the French-supported president, Hissène Habré, evoked a united response from Chadians of a kind never seen before and forced the Libyan army off Chadian soil.
Habré consolidated his dictatorship through a power system that relied on corruption and violence; an estimated 40,000 people were killed under his rule. The president favoured his own Daza ethnic group and discriminated against his former allies, the Zaghawa. His general, Idriss Déby, overthrew him in 1990.
Déby attempted to reconcile the rebel groups and reintroduced multiparty politics. Chadians approved a new constitution by referendum, and in 1996, Déby easily won a competitive presidential election. He won a second term five years later. Oil exploitation began in Chad in 2003, bringing with it hopes that Chad would at last have some chances of peace and prosperity. Instead, internal dissent worsened, and a new civil war broke out. Déby unilaterally modified the constitution to remove the two-term limit on the presidency; this caused an uproar among the civil society and opposition parties. In 2006 Déby won a third mandate in elections that the opposition boycotted. Ethnic violence in eastern Chad has increased; the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has warned that a genocide like that in Darfur may yet occur in Chad.
In 2006 and in 2008 rebel forces have attempted to take the capital by force, but have on both circumstances failed.
Politics and government
Chad's constitution provides for a strong executive branch headed by a president who dominates the political system. 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 five-year term; in 2005 constitutional term limits were removed.
This removal allows a president to remain in power beyond the previous two-term limit. Most of Déby's key advisers are members of the Zaghawa ethnic group, although southern and opposition personalities are represented in government.
Corruption is rife at all levels; Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index for 2005 named Chad the most corrupt country in the world, and it has fared only slightly better in the following years. In 2007, it scored 1.8 out of 10 on the Corruption Perceptions Index (with 10 being the least corrupt). Only Tonga, Uzbekistan, Haiti, Iraq, Myanmar, and Somalia scored lower. Critics of President Déby have accused him of cronyism and tribalism.
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.
Embassy of Chad in Washington, D.C.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 Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS), which holds a large majority.
Until the legalisation of opposition parties in 1992, Déby's MPS was the sole legal party in Chad. Since, 78 registered political parties have become active. In 2005, opposition parties and human rights organisations supported the boycott of the constitutional referendum that allowed Déby to stand for re-election for a third term amid reports of widespread irregularities in voter registration and government censorship of independent media outlets during the campaign. Correspondents judged the 2006 presidential elections a mere formality, as the opposition deemed the polls a farce and boycotted.
Déby faces armed opposition from groups who are deeply divided by leadership clashes but united in their intention to overthrow him. These forces stormed the capital on April 13, 2006, but were ultimately repelled. Chad's greatest foreign influence is France, which maintains 1,000 troops in the country. Déby relies on the French to help repel the rebels, and France gives the Chadian army logistical and intelligence support for fear of a complete collapse of regional stability. Nevertheless, Franco-Chadian relations were soured by the granting of oil drilling rights to the American Exxon company in 1999.
Educators face considerable challenges due to the nation's dispersed population and a certain degree of reluctance on the part of parents to send their children to school. Although attendance is compulsory, only 68% of boys attend primary school, and more than half of the population is illiterate. Higher education is provided at the University of N'Djamena.
According to the United Nations, Chad has been affected by a humanitarian crisis since at least 2001. As of 2008, the country of Chad hosts over 280,000 refugees from the Sudan's Darfur region, over 55,000 from the Central African Republic, as well as over 170,000 internally displaced persons.
In February 2008 in the aftermath of the battle of N'Djamena, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes expressed "extreme concern" that the crisis would have a negative effect on the ability of humanitarians to deliver life-saving assistance to half a million beneficiaries, most of whom - according to him - heavily rely on humanitarian aid for their survival UN spokesperson Maurizio Giuliano stated to The Washington Post: "If we do not manage to provide aid at sufficient levels, the humanitarian crisis might become a humanitarian catastrophe
Regions, departments, and sub-prefectures
Regions of Chad, Departments of Chad, and Sub-prefectures of Chad
Chad is divided since February 2008 in 22 regions. The subdivision of Chad in regions came about in 2003 as part of the decentralisation process, when the government abolished the previous 14 prefectures. Each region is headed by a presidentially appointed governor. Prefects administer the 61 departments within the regions. The departments are divided into 200 sub-prefectures, which are in turn composed of 446 cantons.
The cantons are scheduled to be replaced by communautés rurales, but the legal and regulatory framework has not yet been completed. The constitution provides for decentralised government to compel local populations to play an active role in their own development. To this end, the constitution declares that each administrative subdivisions be governed by elected local assemblies, but no local elections have taken place, and communal elections scheduled for 2005 have been repeatedly postponed.
The regions are:
Barh El Gazel
View of Chari River
Chad is divided into three distinct zones, from the Sudanese savanna in the south to the Sahara Desert in the north.At 1,284,000 square kilometres (496,000 sq mi), Chad is the world's 21st-largest country. It is slightly smaller than Peru and slightly larger than South Africa. Chad is in north central Africa, lying between 8° and 24° north and between 14° and 24° east. 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 km (660 mi) from the nearest seaport Douala (Cameroon). Due to this distance from the sea and the country's largely desert climate, Chad is sometimes referred to as the "Dead Heart of Africa".
A heritage of the colonial era, Chad's borders do not coincide wholly with natural boundaries. The dominant physical structure is a wide basin bounded to the north, east and south by mountain ranges such as the Ennedi Plateau in the north-east. Lake Chad, after which the country is named, is the remains of an immense lake that occupied 330,000 km2 (130,000 sq mi) of the Chadian Basin 7,000 years ago.
Lake Chad in a 2001 satellite image. On the top, the changes from 1973 to 1997 are shown.Although in the 21st century it covers only 17,806 km2 (6,875 sq mi), and its surface area is subject to heavy seasonal fluctuations, the lake is Africa's second largest wetland. The Emi Koussi, a dormant volcano in the Tibesti Mountains that reaches 3,414 metres (11,201 ft) above sea level, is the highest point in Chad and the Sahara.
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 there are under 50 millimetres (2.0 in) throughout this belt is scarce; only the occasional spontaneous palm grove survives, the only ones to do so 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). 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.
Economy and infrastructure
A Chadian maternity ward. Although improving, Chad's infrastructure remains far less developed than that of its northern neighbours.The United Nations' Human Development Index ranks Chad as the fifth poorest country in the world, with 80% of the population living below the poverty line. The GDP (PPP) per capita was estimated as US$1,500 in 2005. Chad is part of the Bank of Central African States, the Customs and Economic Union of Central Africa (UDEAC) and the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA). Its currency is the CFA franc. Years of civil war have scared away foreign investors; those who left Chad between 1979 and 1982 have only recently begun to regain confidence in the country's future. In 2000 major direct foreign investment in the oil sector began, boosting the country's economic prospects.
Women in Mao, where water is provided by a water tower. Access to clean water is often a problem in Chad.Over 80% of Chad's population relies on subsistence farming and livestock raising for its livelihood. The crops grown and the locations of herds are determined by the local climate. In the southernmost 10 percent of the territory lies the nation's most fertile cropland, with rich yields of sorghum and millet. In the Sahel only the hardier varieties of millet grow, and these with much lower yields than in the south. On the other hand, the Sahel is ideal pastureland for large herds of commercial cattle and for goats, sheep, donkeys and horses. The Sahara's scattered oases support only some dates and legumes.
Before the development of oil industry, cotton dominated industry and the labour market and accounted for approximately 80% of export earnings. Cotton remains a primary export, although exact figures are not available. Rehabilitation of Cotontchad, a major cotton company that suffered from a decline in world cotton prices, has been financed by France, the Netherlands, the European Union, and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). The parastatal is now expected to be privatised.
ExxonMobil leads a consortium of Chevron and Petronas that has invested $3.7 billion to develop oil reserves estimated at one billion barrels in southern Chad. Oil production began in 2003 with the completion of a pipeline (financed in part by the World Bank) that links the southern oilfields to terminals on the Atlantic coast of Cameroon. As a condition of its assistance, the World Bank insisted that 80% of oil revenues be spent on development projects. In January 2006 the World Bank suspended its loan programme when the Chadian government passed laws reducing this amount. On July 14, 2006, the World Bank and Chad signed a memorandum of understanding under which the Government of Chad commits 70% of its spending to priority poverty reduction programmes.
A bridge on the Bragoto RiverCivil war crippled the development of transport infrastructure; in 1987, Chad had only 30 kilometres (19 mi) of paved roads. Successive road rehabilitation projects improved the network to 550 kilometres (342 mi) by 2004. Nevertheless, the road network is limited roads are often unusable for several months of the year. With no railways of its own, Chad depends heavily on Cameroon's rail system for the transport of Chadian exports and imports to and from the seaport of Douala.
An international airport serves the capital and provides regular direct flights to Paris and several African cities. The telecommunication system is basic and expensive, with fixed telephone services provided by the state telephone company SotelTchad. Only 14,000 fixed telephone lines serve all of Chad, one of the lowest telephone density rates in the world. Chad's energy sector has suffered from years of mismanagement by the parastatal Chad Water and Electric Society (STEE), which provides power for 15% of the capital's citizens and covers only 1.5% of the national population. Most Chadians burn biomass fuels such as wood and animal manure for power. Chad's cities face serious difficulties of municipal infrastructure; only 48% of urban residents have access to potable water and only 2% to basic sanitation.
The country's television audience is limited to N'Djamena. The only television station is the state-owned TeleTchad. Radio has a far greater reach, with 13 private radio stations. Newspapers are limited in quantity and distribution, and circulation figures are small due to transportation costs, low literacy rates, and poverty. While the constitution defends liberty of expression, the government has regularly restricted this right, and at the end of 2006 began to enact a system of prior censorship on the media.
2005 estimates place Chad's population at 10,146,000; 25.8% live in urban areas and 74.8% in rural ones. 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 47.2 years.
A Ouaddaian girlChad's population is unevenly distributed. Density is 0.1 /km2 (0.3/sq mi) in the Saharan Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti Region but 52.4 /km2 (135.7/sq mi) in the Logone Occidental Region. 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 virtually restricted to the capital, whose population is mostly engaged in commerce. The other major towns are Sarh, Moundou, Abéché and Doba, which are less urbanised but are growing rapidly and joining the capital as decisive factors in economic growth. Since 2003, 230,000 Sudanese refugees have fled to eastern Chad from war-ridden Darfur. With the 172,000 Chadians displaced by the civil war in the east, this has generated increased tensions among the region's communities.
Polygamy is common, with 39% of women living in such unions. This is sanctioned by law, which automatically permits polygamy unless spouses specify that this is unacceptable upon marriage. Although violence against women is prohibited, domestic violence is common. Female genital mutilation is prohibited, but the practice is widespread and deeply rooted in tradition; 45% of Chadian women undergo the procedure, with the highest rates among Arabs, Hadjarai, and Ouaddaians (90% or more). Lower percentages were reported among the Sara (38%) and the Toubou (2%). Women lack equal opportunities in education and training, making it difficult for them to compete for the relatively few formal-sector jobs. Although property and inheritance laws based on the French code do not discriminate against women, local leaders adjudicate most inheritance cases in favour of men, according to traditional practice.
A tribal delegationChad 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 peoples 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. The nation's official business languages are French and Arabic, but over 100 languages and dialects are spoken. Due to the important role played by itinerant Arab traders and settled merchants in local communities, Chadian Arabic has become a lingua franca.
Chad is a religiously diverse country. The 1993 census found that 54% of Chadians were Muslim, 20% Roman Catholic, 14% Protestant, 10% animist, and 3% atheist. None of these religious traditions is monolithic. Animism includes a variety of ancestor and place-oriented religions whose expression is highly specific. Islam, though characterised by an orthodox set of beliefs and observances, is expressed in diverse ways. Christianity arrived in Chad only with the French; as with Chadian Islam, it syncretises aspects of pre-Christian religious beliefs. Muslims are largely concentrated in northern and eastern Chad, and animists and Christians live primarily in southern Chad and Guéra. The constitution provides for a secular state and guarantees religious freedom; different religious communities generally co-exist without problems.
Religion in Chad
Muslim ? 54%
Catholic ? 20%
Protestant ? 14%
Animist ? 10%
Atheist ? 3%
The vast majority of Muslims in the country are adherents of a moderate branch of mystical Islam (Sufism) known locally as Tijaniyah, 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 Saudi-oriented belief systems such as Wahhabism or Salafism.
Roman Catholics represent the largest Christian denomination in the country. Most Protestants, including the Nigeria-based "Winners Chapel," are affiliated with various evangelical Christian groups. Members of the Baha'i 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.
Chad is home to foreign missionaries representing both Christian and Islamic groups. Itinerant Muslim preachers primarily from Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, also visit. Saudi Arabian funding generally supports social and educational projects and extensive mosque construction.
Holidays Date English Name
January 1 New Year's Day
May 1 Labour Day
May 25 African Liberation Day
August 11 Independence Day
November 1 All Saints' Day
November 28 Republic Day
December 1 Freedom and Democracy Day
December 25 Christmas
Due to its great variety of peoples and languages, Chad possesses a rich cultural heritage. The Chadian government have actively promoted Chadian culture and national traditions by opening the Chad National Museum and the Chad Cultural Centre. Six national holidays are observed throughout the year, and movable holidays include the Christian holiday of Easter Monday and the Muslim holidays of Eid ul-Fitr, Eid ul-Adha, and Eid Milad Nnabi.
Regarding music, Chadians play instruments such as the kinde, a type of bow harp; the kakaki, a long tin horn; and the hu hu, a stringed instrument that uses calabashes as loudspeakers. Other instruments and their combinations are more linked to specific ethic groups: the Sara prefer whistles, balafones, harps and kodjo drums; and the Kanembu combine the sounds of drums with those of flute-like instruments.
A Chadian tailor sells traditional dresses.The music group Chari Jazz formed in 1964 and initiated Chad's modern music scene. Later, more renowned groups such as African Melody and International Challal attempted to mix modernity and tradition. Popular groups such as Tibesti have clung faster to their heritage by drawing on sai, a traditional style of music from southern Chad. The people of Chad have customarily disdained modern music. However, in 1995 greater interest has developed and fostered the distribution of CDs and audio cassettes featuring Chadian artists. Piracy and a lack of legal protections for artists' rights remain problems to further development of the Chadian music industry.
Millet is the staple food throughout Chad. It is used to make balls of paste that are dipped in sauces. In the north this dish is known as alysh; in the south, as biya. Fish is popular, which is generally prepared and sold either as salanga (sun-dried and lightly smoked Alestes and Hydrocynus) or as banda (smoked larger fish). Carcaje is a popular sweet drink extracted from hibiscus leaves. Alcoholic beverages, though absent in the north, are popular in the south, where people drink millet beer, known as billi-billi when brewed from red millet and as coshate when from white millet.
As in other Sahelian countries, literature in Chad has suffered from an economic, political and spiritual drought that has affected its best known writers. Chadian authors have been forced to write from exile or expatriate status and have generated literature dominated by themes of political oppression and historical discourse. Since 1962, 20 Chadian authors have written some 60 works of fiction. Among the most internationally renowned writers are Joseph Brahim Seïd, Baba Moustapha, Antoine Bangui and Koulsy Lamko. In 2003 Chad's sole literary critic, Ahmat Taboye, published his Anthologie de la littérature tchadienne to further knowledge of Chad's literature internationally and among youth and to make up for Chad's lack of publishing houses and promotional structure.
The development of a Chadian film industry has suffered from the devastations of civil war and from the lack of cinemas, of which there is only one in the whole country. The first Chadian feature film, the docudrama Bye Bye Africa, was made in 1999 by Mahamat Saleh Haroun. His later film Abouna was critically acclaimed, and his Daratt won the Grand Special Jury Prize at the 63rd Venice International Film Festival. Issa Serge Coelo directed Chad's two other films, Daresalam and DP75: Tartina City.
Football is Chad's most popular sport. The country's national team is closely followed during international competitions, and Chadian footballers have played for French teams. Basketball and freestyle wrestling are widely practiced, the latter in a form in which the wrestlers don traditional animal hides and cover themselves with dust.
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