Chad

Republic of Chad

République du Tchad (French)
جمهورية تشاد‎ (Arabic)
Jumhūriyyat Tshād
Motto: 
  • "Unité, Travail, Progrès" (French)
  • "Unity, Work, Progress"
  • "الاتحاد، العمل، التقدم" (Arabic)
Anthem: 
  • La Tchadienne  (French)
  • نشيد تشاد الوطني  (Arabic)
  • The Chadian Hymn
Location of Chad
Capital
and largest city
N'Djamena
12°06′N 16°02′E / 12°06′N 16°02′E / 12.100; 16.033
Official languages
Ethnic groups
(2014–15)
Demonym(s)Chadian
GovernmentUnitary dominant-party presidential republic (de jure) under an authoritarian dictatorship (de facto)[1][2]
• President
Idriss Deby
Haroun Kabadi
LegislatureNational Assembly
Independence
• from France
11 August 1960
Area
• Total
1,284,000 km2 (496,000 sq mi)[3] (20th)
• Water (%)
1.9
Population
• 2015 estimate
13,670,084[4]
• 2009 census
11,039,873[5]
• Density
8.6/km2 (22.3/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)2018 estimate
• Total
$30 billion[6] (123rd)
• Per capita
$2,428[6] (168th)
GDP (nominal)2018 estimate
• Total
$11 billion[6] (130th)
• Per capita
$890[6] (151st)
Gini (2011)43.3[7]
medium
HDI (2017)Decrease 0.404[8]
low · 186th
CurrencyCentral African CFA franc (XAF)
Time zoneUTC+1 (WAT)
Driving sideright
Calling code+235
ISO 3166 codeTD
Internet TLD.td

Chad (d/ (About this soundlisten); Arabic: تشادTshād, Arabic pronunciation: [ˈtʃaːd]; French: Tchad, pronounced [tʃa(d)]), officially known as the Republic of Chad (Arabic: جمهورية تشادJumhūriyyat Tshād; French: République du Tchad lit. "Republic of the Chad"), is a landlocked country in north-central Africa. It is bordered by 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.

Chad has several regions: a desert zone in the north, an arid Sahelian belt in the centre and a more fertile Sudanian 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. The capital N'Djamena is the largest city. Chad's official languages are Arabic and French. Chad is home to over 200 different ethnic and linguistic groups. The most popular religion of Chad is Islam (at 55%), followed by Christianity (at 40%).

Beginning in the 7th millennium BC, human populations moved into the Chadian basin in great numbers. By the end of the 1st millennium AD, a series of states and empires had risen and fallen 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. But, the rebel commanders fought amongst themselves until Hissène Habré defeated his rivals. He was overthrown in turn in 1990 by his general Idriss Déby. Since 2003 the Darfur crisis in Sudan has spilt over the border and destabilised the nation. Poor already, the nation and people struggled to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees who live 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. Chad is one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the world; most inhabitants 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.

History

In the 7th millennium BCE, 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 2000 BCE.[9][10]

Group of Kanem-Bu warriors. The Kanem-Bornu Empire controlled almost all of what is today Chad.

For more than 2,000 years, the Chadian Basin has been inhabited by agricultural and sedentary people. 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,[11][12] the first and longest-lasting of the empires that developed in Chad's Sahelian strip by the end of the 1st millennium AD. Two other states in the region, Sultanate of Bagirmi and Wadai Empire emerged in the 16th and 17th centuries. The power of Kanem and its successors was based on control of the trans-Saharan trade routes that passed through the region.[10] These states, at least tacitly Muslim, never extended their control to the southern grasslands except to raid for slaves.[13] In Kanem, about a third of the population were slaves.[14]

A Chadian soldier fighting for Free France during World War II. The Free French Forces included 15,000 soldiers from Chad.[15]

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.[16] French rule in Chad was characterised by an absence of policies to unify the territory and sluggish modernisation compared to other French colonies.[17]

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 Sara of the south was governed effectively; French presence in the Islamic north and east was nominal. The educational system was affected by this neglect.[10][17]

After World War II, France granted Chad the status of overseas territory and its inhabitants the right to elect representatives to the 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 11 August 1960 with the PPT's leader, Sara François Tombalbaye, as its first president.[10][18][19]

Two years later, Tombalbaye banned opposition parties and established a one-party system. Tombalbaye's autocratic rule and insensitive mismanagement exacerbated inter-ethnic tensions. In 1965, Muslims in the north, led by the National Liberation Front of Chad (FROLINAT), began a civil war. Tombalbaye was overthrown and killed in 1975,[20] but the insurgency continued. In 1979 the rebel factions led by Hissène Habré took the capital, and all central authority in the country collapsed. Armed factions, many from the north's rebellion, contended for power.[21][22]

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.[23] Libya's adventure ended in disaster in 1987; the French-supported president, Hissène Habré, evoked a united response from Chadians of a kind never seen before[24] and forced the Libyan army off Chadian soil.[25]

Habré consolidated his dictatorship through a power system that relied on corruption and violence with thousands of people estimated to have been killed under his rule.[26][27] The president favoured his own Toubou ethnic group and discriminated against his former allies, the Zaghawa. His general, Idriss Déby, overthrew him in 1990.[28] Attempts to prosecute Habré led to his placement under house arrest in Senegal in 2005; in 2013, Habré was formally charged with war crimes committed during his rule.[29] In May 2016, he was found guilty of human-rights abuses, including rape, sexual slavery, and ordering the killing of 40,000 people, and sentenced to life in prison.[30]

Despite internal political opposition, coup attempts, and a civil war, Idriss Déby has continuously ruled Chad since 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.[31] 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.[32]

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.[33] In 2006 and in 2008 rebel forces attempted to take the capital by force, but on both occasions failed.[34] An agreement for the restoration of harmony between Chad and Sudan, signed 15 January 2010, marked the end of a five-year war.[35] The fix in relations led to the Chadian rebels from Sudan returning home, the opening of the border between the two countries after seven years of closure, and the deployment of a joint force to secure the border. In May 2013, security forces in Chad foiled a coup against President Idriss Deby that had been in preparation for several months.[36]

Chad is currently one of the leading partners in a West African coalition in the fight against Boko Haram. Chad has also been included on Presidential Proclamation 9645, the expanded version of United States president Donald Trump's Executive Order 13780, which restricts entry by nationals from 8 countries, including Chad, into the US. This move has angered the Chadian government.[37]