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Background Information

Chad -- Basic Indicators

Population 6.2 million
Pop. growth 2.88% p.a.
Land Area 1,259,200 sq km
Life Expectancy 47 yrs
GNP per capita $US 180


The northern part of Chad is desert, and 40% of its territory is part of the Sahara Desert, with the great Tibesti volcanic highlands. The central region, the Sahel, which stretches to the banks of Lake Chad, is a transition plain where nomadic pastoralism is common. The lake, only half of which lies within Chads borders, is shallow and mostly covered with swamps. Thought to be the remnant of an ancient inland sea, its waters are fed by two rivers, the Logane and the Chari, which descend from the plateau that separates this basin from that of the Congo River. The banks of these rivers in southern Chad, fertilized by flooding, contain the countrys richest agricultural lands and are the most densely populated areas. In colonial times, economic activity was concentrated there. Cotton is the main export product but subsistence agriculture, though hampered by droughts, still predominates. In recent years, mineral reserves of uranium, tungsten and oil have attracted the attention of the transnationals. Desertification and drought are endemic to the region and affect all aspects of daily life.


Peoples: Northern Chadians are basically nomadic shepherds of Berber and Tuareg origin; Tubu, Quadainee, while southerners; Sara, Massa, Mundani, Hakka, are mainly traditional farmers. Famines have periodically driven people from the Sahel, in the north to the fertile southern regions.

Religions: More than 44% of all Chadians are Muslim, 23% practice traditional African religions and 33% are Christian.

Languages: Arabic and French are the official languages. There are many local languages, the most widely spoken being Sara.

Political Parties: Patriotic Salvation Movement; National Union for Democracy and Socialism; Chad National Liberation Front (FROLINAT); National Front of Chad (FNT); Movement for Democracy and Development (MDD).

Social Organizations: Chad Federation of Labor Unions.


Official Name: République du Tchad.
Administrative Divisions:
14 Prefectures.
NDjamena, 530,000 inhab. (1993).
Other cities: Sarh 198,000 inhab., Moundou 281,000 inhab., Abéché 187,000 inhab .(1993).
President Idriss Deby.
Armed Forces:
25,200 Paramilitaries: 4,500 Gendarmes.

Source: World Guide 1997-98, courtesy of New Internationalist

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