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A landlocked country in north-Central Africa surrounded by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, and Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon to the west.


Out of the Sahara in its northern half rise the volcanic Tibesti Mountains, with reserves of tungsten, while in the east is the great depression surrounding Lake Chad, with deposits of natron (hydrated sodium carbonate).


Chad is one of the poorest countries in Africa, with a mainly agricultural economy which is vulnerable to drought. Major exports include cotton and livestock products. The industrial sector is small, mostly comprising textiles and food processing.


Northern Chad has been inhabited for about 10,000 years and southern Chad since about 500 bc. During the 8th century Berber peoples moved into the area and founded the empire of Kanem. This empire expanded and in the 13th century merged with the kingdom of Bornu. The neighbouring kingdoms of Baguirmi and Ouaddaï grew more powerful during the 16th century. The three kingdoms fought during the 17th century until in the early 1890s all fell under the control of the Sudanese conqueror, Rabeh. French expeditions advanced into the region, and French sovereignty was recognized by the European powers. After confrontation with the British at Fashoda (1898) France declared a protectorate, and in 1908 Chad became part of French Equatorial Africa, though control was complete only in 1912. In 1920 Chad became a colony under French administration, its rich mineral deposits being rapidly exploited. In 1940 Chad was the first colony to declare for the Free French. It became autonomous within the French Community in 1958, and a fully independent republic in 1960, with François Tombalbaye as the first President. Since then the country has struggled to maintain unity between the Arabic-speaking Muslim peoples of the north and the more economically developed south and west. In 1980 Libya invaded, proposing union between the two countries. Civil war lasted until 1987, when French and US intervention led to Libya's withdrawal and the installation of Hissène Habré as President. Habré was deposed in 1990 by his one-time military commander Idriss Déby. A democratization process was agreed upon, and a transitional legislature was installed in 1993. In 1994 Libya agreed to hand back to Chad the Aouzou Strip, an area rich in minerals occupied by Libya since 1973. Armed rebels, based in the south of the country, agreed to a ceasefire in 1996 and a constitutional referendum, which had been postponed several times, was held. A new constitution was approved, establishing Chad as a unitary state. Déby and his supporters were victorious in elections in 1996, 1997, 2001, 2002, and 2006. A civil war was fought against northern rebels from 1999–2002. In 2004 unrest in the Darfur region of Sudan spread to eastern Chad, and in 2006 Chad accused Sudan of supporting a rebellion that almost toppled the Déby regime.




1,284,000 sq km (495,755 sq miles)


9,657,000 (2005)


1 CFA franc = 100 centimes


Subjects: History — African Studies.

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