The country's topography is diverse. It can roughly be divided into three major areas: the Sahara in the north, the arid Sahelian savanna in the middle, and the tree-covered savanna of Sudan (not to be confused with the country of Sudan) in the south. N'Djamena, the capital, is located in the Sahel, on the border with Cameroon and just a few hundred kilometers from Lake Chad, which gave the country its name. There are important cultural and religious differences between the people of these regions: the Sahara and Sahel are both mainly Muslim, while the Sudan is mainly Christian. This is because the north has been witnessing the rise and fall of organized states since the 8th century, while the south was uniformly tribal land until the 19th century, when Christian Europeans arrived and started proselyting among the pagans.
The Kanem state appeared in the 8th century around the Lake Chad region, assimilating and displacing the Sao, the oldest civilization in the region. Originally, it revolved around nomadic tribes who escaped the continued desertification of the Sahara, but eventually a settled society revolving around the Kanuri people emerged in the 11th century. The Kanuri are Muslims and largely responsible for the Islamization of central and northern Chad. During its largest extent, it extended into parts of Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, and even all the way north to the Fezzan region of Libya. The empire mainly engaged in salt and slave trading with the established powers of North Africa. During the Late Middle Ages, a fragmentation occurred after the arrival of eastern peoples, which pushed the Kanem beyond Lake Chad into northeastern Nigeria, where it renamed itself the Bornu Empire. Although it eventually managed to retake its old dominion, the Bornu centered itself in Nigeria for the rest of its life. Meanwhile, the weakening of the Kanem allowed others to fill the void, including the Baguirmi, which occupied the Kanem's former lands, and Wadai, originally an offshoot of the Darfur kingdoms in Sudan and centered on the eastern city of Abéché.
In the late 19th century, Central Africa was the site of the campaign of Rabih az-Zubayr, an ex-Egyptian soldier from Khartoum. He conquered Darfur, Chad, Bornu, and the basin of Ubangui River (present-day Central African Republic) before being defeated by France at the turn of the century. Except for Bornu, which went to Britain, France absorbed all of his lands into its empire, extending the French Equatorial Africa colony, which was headquartered in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo. Unlike the southern colonies, Chad was governed in a completely unorganized way, since it was seen only as a source of slaves and cotton, and was almost ignored by the administration. Among the French military and bureaucracy, being sent to govern Chad was seen as a punishment. The tribal land of the south was the only region where French presence was visible and underwent major modernization compared to the center or the north and produced many French-educated upper class. This factors in to the internal divide that characterizes the politics of post-independence Chad. France also indirectly set a precedent for a conflict when, as reward for its participation in World War I, it gave Italian Libya the Aozou Strip, a piece of Saharan land said to contain uranium deposits. Though both colonial powers never ratified the treaty, it became the basis for Libya's claim to the land years after independence. During World War II, Chad was one of the few French colonies whose government supported the rebels after the fall of Paris, making it an important Allies headquarters for the North African campaign.
The country achieved independence in 1960, only to see decades of wars after that. The French mandate had unified ethnic groups who had little in common with each other, resulting in continual disputes among themselves. From independence until the 1990s, there was literally no let-up of conflict between the various factions; each time one of the groups managed to hold control of the capital (and, de facto, the country), the other groups started revolting to try to topple the actual group in power. This is not helped by the fact that the leaders in power were power-hungry and prioritized themselves, resulting in discontentment even among the ordinary people. The war also saw the involvement of foreign countries, including France and Libya, who, as mentioned above, wanted to claim the Aozou Strip. Libya's dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, supported the FROLINATnote , the main Chadian rebel group, which later split into a Libyan-supported faction and a Western-supported faction. Gaddafi's relentless meddling, however, eventually led to both factions, as well as the Chadian government to band together and eject him. The matter was finally solved when the International Court of Justice decided in 1994 that the Strip belongs to Chad. During this period, the balance of power shifted from the south to north, with the presidents being all Muslim since 1979.
The ascendancy of Idriss Déby as a president backed by most of the country's factions as well as the West in 1990 brought a semblance of peace to the war-torn country. Déby still occupies the post today. His regime saw the spillover of the War in Darfur, bringing Darfur refugees and causing ethnic conflict from 2005 to 2010. Chad accused Sudan of backing rebels to try to undermine the government, while Sudan in turn also accused Chad of flaming the Darfur war. Peace was restored after both countries agreed to cease supporting the rebels, although the issues of refugees still linger. Another problem came in the The New '10s with the rise of the Boko Haram, a jihadist group based in Nigeria's Borno state. During its height of power, Chad lost a small portion of the Lac region to the militants, who by then had occupied a cross-border area the size of Belgium. This prompted the creation of a multinational task force which conducted a massive operation in Lake Chad throughout 2015, ending with the militants being forced to retreat to Nigeria's Sambisa Forest. Sporadic attacks still haunt the country, especially since late 2018, when Boko Haram and its splinter group, an affiliate of Islamic State, made a resurgence in Borno.
Chad has a substantial amount of crude oil, which is the country's main export. Unfortunately, because of decades of mismanagement, neglect, and pervasive corruption, virtually nobody except for the upper echelons enjoy these riches (unlike, say, Libya, which despite all things considered is fairly prosperous). It is among the poorest countries in the world and its HDI is near the world's bottom according to the United Nations. The economy is overwhelmingly dominated by agriculture and a half of the population live below the poverty line.
Lake Chad, a vital source of water for the region not only of Chad, but also its neighbors Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger, is known for its many size fluctuations throughout history. Unfortunately, between 1963 to 1998, it had been shrinking at an alarmingly fast rate (nowadays the water is only present in Chad and Cameroon). It has been declared an ecological catastrophe by the Food and Agriculture Organization, since its not only worsening the drought that seems to threaten the region, but also putting in danger the flora and fauna of the place. However, according to satellite images taken in 2007, the lake's regular period of nadir seems to have ended and it is slowly growing in size again.
The country doesnt receive much publicity and not many people are aware of the critical conditions going on in it; neighboring countries like Sudan or Libya tend to focus all the international attention. In fact, two of the only western mentions of the country are a throwaway gag in Cats & Dogs, and the origin and getaway location of some serial killers in a series of episodes of Criminal Minds. As for the video games, the situation is only marginally better, as Chad appears several times in the Delta Force series (as a campaign in 1, 2 and Xtreme). The country itself has a slow film industry as a result of the war and the lack of cinemas (turns out theres only one). Some Chadian films, however, managed to reach the western audience - for example, Daratt.
Chad in Fiction
- Professional Wrestler Jaka, known for his work in CHIKARA, is billed from Chad. In contrast to past "African" wrestlers such as "The Madman From The Sudan" Abdullah The Butchernote and Kamala The Ugandan Giantnote , he's actually talkative.
- Delta Force 1 and 2 along with Xtreme have several missions in Chad.
The Chadian flag
- Unitary presidential constitutional republic
- President: Idriss Déby
- President of Parliament: Haroun Kabadi