Country Profiles:
Chad

Chad is a landlocked state located in Central Africa. Chad is nicknamed “the dead heart of Africa” because of its distance from the sea and the fact that the country has some of the harshest portions of the Sahara desert, as well as a relatively harsh climate (in the north) due to its geography. Only the southernmost parts of Chad are green and suitable for agriculture. The rest is the Sahel/Sahara belt. Chad 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. It is the fifth largest country in Africa in terms of area. A largely semi-desert country, the   desert zone in the north, an arid Sahelian belt in the center and a more fertile Sudanian Savanna zone in the south. The name Chad is derived from a local word which means Lake. Lake Chad, after which the country is named,  is the largest wetland in Chad and the second-largest in Africa. The capital N’Djamena (formerly Fort-Lamy) is the largest city.

UNESCO Heritage sites in Chad include:

1. Lakes of Ounianga.

The Lakes of Ounianga are a series of 18 lakes located in the Sahara desert, in North-Eastern Chad. They exhibit a variety of sizes, depths, chemical compositions and colorations, and some of them are home to aquatic fauna.

2. Ennedi Massif: Natural and Cultural Landscape

The Ennedi Plateau, located in the northeast of Chad, in the regions of Ennedi-Ouest and Ennedi-Est, is a sandstone bulwark in the middle of the Sahara. It covers an area of approximately 60,000 km2 (23,000 sq mi), and its highest point is approximately 1,450 m (4,760 ft) above sea level. The landscape has geological structures like towers, pillars, bridges and arches, which are big tourist attractions. The plateau also has a rich collection of fauna, including examples of the West African crocodile , that once existed throughout the Sahara at a time of more abundant rainfall (see Neolithic Subpluvial). A striking characteristic of this population of crocodiles is dwarfism developed due to their isolation, which make them unusual (other such remnant populations are or were found in Mauritania and Algeria).

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.

For thousands of years, this route was a major route for people coming from Egypt and Ethiopia to Timbuktu  and Niger for trading. France conquered the territory in 1920 and incorporated it as part of French Equatorial Africa. The country gained its independence on August 11th 1960. According to the BBC, “Chad’s post-independence history has been marked by instability and violence, stemming mostly from tension between the mainly Arab-Muslim north and the predominantly Christian and animist south;” resulting to a civil war in 1965. The current president Idriss Deby, a general at the time under President Hissene Habre came to power in 1990 by overthrowing president Hissene Habre – with the help of the French secret service. Mr. Deby, as President Habre’s chief-of-staff, lead a series of victories over rebel forces in the 1980s and earned a reputation for courage and military prowess.

One of the most interesting facts about Chad is the Bodélé Depression. According to researchers from the Royal Holloway, Birkbeck and Kings College, University of London, some 6,000 years ago, a lake called Mega-Chad was the largest body of fresh water on the planet, with an area of 360,000 square km. A few hundred years later it’s reduced to Lake Chad at only 355 square km, and an air of faded grandeur left. Part of the Mega-Chad that has drained entirely is the Bodélé Depression. It’s the world’s single greatest source of atmospheric dust, according to Science Daily. In winter, the Bodélé valley produces an average of 700,000 tons of dust per day, New Scientist reported. The Bodélé dust has been credited with helping to keep the Brazilian rainforest soils fertile. The Hamaton winds blasts the dust and Diatom (a type of algae) particles into the atmosphere for weeks and months to their landing spot, the Amazon rainforest. The Diatom particles along with numerous other minerals are few of the most important sources of nutrients that nourish plants in most parts of the world.

Chad joined the ranks of oil-producing countries in 2003 after the completion of the pipeline connecting Chad to the Atlantic Ocean via Cameroon. Its daily production capacity is approximately 115,000 barrels per day, and it has about 1.5 billion barrels of oil reserves. Chad is also rich in gold and uranium both of which has yet to be fully tapped into. Historically, Chad’s principal mineral resource was natron (a complex sodium carbonate), which is dug up in the Lake Chad and Borkou areas and is used as salt and in the preparation of soap and medicines. There are deposits of gold located in various parts of Chad. Other mineral deposits include uranium, titanium, and bauxite. Cotton is one of Chad’s important agricultural products and serves as an  export crop. The processing of raw cotton provides employment for a majority of those in industry and accounts for some of Chad’s export earnings.

There are over two hundred distinct ethnic groups in the country that speak over hundred languages and dialects. The largest ethnic groups are the Sara, the Arabs, Moyo-Kebi, Kanem bornou etc. The official languages are French and Arabic, however, the Sara language is also widely spoken.

Chadian cuisine is multifaceted and its form different delicious recipes and mix of dairy products and millet. Chad is made up of over 140 different ethnic groups, whose diets are as diverse as their cultural traditions. The Arabs of northern Chad–who are nomadic and  live in the capital of N’Djamena–eat staples of dairy and meat, while groups in the agricultural south have a plant-based diet. However, there are certain national dishes that all Chadians share. 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. Jarret de boeuf  (traditional beef stew cooked by boiling meats with chili powder, garlic, cloves, salt, and pepper, with the addition of chopped sweet potatoes, leek, carrots, and eggplants). Qissar, Mula sharmoot, Fungasoo, Karkanji ( is a refreshing, must-try non-alcoholic beverage made using hibiscus flowers, clove, cinnamon, and ginger root).

The music of Chad includes a number of unusual 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. The music group Chari Jazz formed in 1964 and initiated Chad’s modern music scene.

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