The African continent is comprised of 54 nations, each with its own independent government and sovereignty, GDP, culture, natural resources, language(s), military, and religion. The treasure trove of mineral and raw material wealth has scarcely been touched and the continent's largely untapped fertile lands could feed the world. Herewith is Jewel of Africa, an interactive adventure in the cradle of mankind, an exploration of nations from A-Z in alphabetical order.
Chad: Reaching for gold standard; maximize worth
Chad is officially known as the Republic of Chad, and is a country at the crossroads of north-central Africa. Chad is a landlocked country bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon to the south-west, Nigeria to the south- west (at Lake Chad), and Niger to the west. It has a population of 17.7 million, of which an estimated 1 million live in the capital and largest city, N'Djamena.
Chad has several regions: a desert zone in the north, an arid Sahelian belt in the center and a more fertile Sudanian Savanna zone in the south. Lake Chad, after which the country is named, is the second-largest wetland in Africa. Chad's official languages are Arabic and French. It is home to over 200 different ethnic and linguistic groups. Islam (51.8 percent) and Christianity (44.1 percent) are the main religions practiced in Chad.
Chad is a large landlocked country spanning north-central Africa. It covers an area of 496,000 square miles and is the 20th-largest country in the world. Chad is, by size, slightly larger than South Africa. The country's capital is 660 miles from the nearest seaport at Douala, Cameroon. Because of this distance from the sea and the country's largely desert climate, Chad is often referred to as the "Dead Heart of Africa."
The dominant physical structure is a wide basin bounded to the north and east by the Ennedi Plateau and Tibesti Mountains, which include Emi Koussi, a dormant volcano that rises11,201 feet above sea level. Lake Chad, after which the country is named, is the remains of an immense lake that occupied 130,000 square miles of the Chad Basin 7,000 years ago. Although in the 21st century it covers only 6,875 square miles, and its surface area is subject to heavy seasonal fluctuation, the lake is Africa's second largest wetland.
Chad is home to six terrestrial eco-regions: East Sudanese savanna, Sahelian Acacia savanna, Lake Chad-flooded savanna, East Saharan mountain woodlands, South Saharan steppe and woodlands, and Tibesti-Jebel Uweinat mountain woodlands. The region's tall grasses and extensive marshes make it favorable for birds, reptiles, and large mammals. Chad's major rivers—the Chari, Logone and their tributaries—flow through the southern savannas from the southeast into Lake Chad.
Each year a tropical weather system known as the inter-tropical front crosses Chad from south to north, bringing a wet season that lasts from May to October in the south, and from June to September in the Sahel. Variations in local rainfall create three major geographical zones. The Sahara lies in the country's northern third. Yearly precipitations throughout this belt are under 2.0 inches. Only some spontaneous palm groves survive, all of them south of the Tropic of cancer. The Sahara gives way to a Sahelian belt in Chad's center. Precipitation there varies from 11.8 to 23.6 inches per year. In the Sahel, a steppe of thorny bushes (mostly acacias) gradually gives way to the south to East Sudanese savanna in Chad's Sudanese zone. Yearly rainfall in this belt is more than 35.4 inches.
Chad's animal and plant life correspond to the three climatic zones. In the Saharan region, the only flora is the date-palm groves of the oasis. Palms and acacia trees grow in the Sahelian
Chad is painfully trying to divest of its warring ways so that the nation can come of age and concen- trate on mining and culti- vate its vast untapped raw mineral wealth to improve its GDP beyond merely agriculture to reinvest in its infrastruc- ture and the welfare of the Chadian people. Chad has come a long way investing in solar power energy and digital technology, but realizes
it still has far to go. The solar panels to the left will greatly improve the nation's energy self-rel-iance, and growing inter- est among the Chadian people in cyber and digital tech- nology will push the government to
a new-found urgency to catch-up with the global community.
The Chadian government needs foreign investment to tap its reserves of mineral wealth, but only peace will extinguish the fear.
Peace and rugged serenity defines Chad, which has rarely been exposed to the world, upstaged by a wanton mayhem.
region. The southern, or Sudanic, zone consists of broad grasslands or prairies suitable for grazing. As of 2002, there were at least 134 species of mammals, 509 species of birds, and more than 1,600 species of plants throughout the country. Elephant, lion, buffalo, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, giraffe, antelope, leopard, cheetah, hyena, and many species of snakes are found here, although most large carnivore populations have been drastically reduced since the early 20th century. Elephant poaching, particularly in the south of the country in areas such as as Zakouma National Park, is a severe problem. The small group of surviving West African crocodiles in the Ennedi Plateau represents one of the last known influxes of the reptile in the Sahara today.
Chad had a 2018 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 6.18/10, ranking it 83rd globally out of 172 countries. Extensive deforestation has resulted in loss of trees such as acacias, baobab, date, and palm trees. This has also caused loss of natural habitat for wild animals. One of the main reasons for this is also hunting and livestock farming by increasing settlements of people. Populations of animals like lions, leopards, and rhino have fallen significantly.
Efforts have been made by the Food and Agriculture Organization to improve relations between farmers, agri-pastoralists, and pastoralists in the Zakouma National Park (ZNP), Siniaka-Minia, and Aouk reserve in southeastern Chad to promote sustainable development. As part of the national conservation effort, more than 1.2 million trees have been replanted to check the advancement of the desert, which incidentally also helps the local economy by way of financial return from acacia trees, which produce gum arabic, and also from fruit trees.
Poaching is a serious problem in the country, particularly of elephants for the profitable ivory industry and a threat to lives of rangers even in the national parks such as Zakouma. Elephants are often massacred in herds in and around the parks by organized poaching. The problem is worsened by the fact that the parks are understaffed and that a number of wardens have been murdered by poachers.
People of Chad
The country's population of more than 17 million is young. An estimated 47 percent is under the age of 15. The birth rate is estimated at 42.35 births per 1,000 people, and the mortality rate at 16.69. The life expectancy is 52 years. Chad's population is unevenly distributed. Density is 0.26 per square mile in the Saharan Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti Region but 136 per square mile in the Logone Occidental Region. In the capital, it is even higher. About half of the nation's population lives in the southern fifth of its territory, making this the most densely populated region.
Urban life is concentrated in the capital, whose population is mostly engaged in commerce. The other major towns are Sarh, Moundou, Abéché, and Doba, which are considerably smaller but growing rapidly in population and economic activity. Since 2003, 230,000 Sudanese refugees refugees have fled to eastern Chad from war-ridden Darfur. With the 172,600 Chadians displaced by the civil war in the east, this has generated increased tensions among the region's communities.
Polygamy is common, with 39 percent of women living in such unions. This is sanctioned by law, which auto- matically permits polygamy unless spouses specify that this is unacceptable upon marriage. Although violence against women is prohibited, domestic violence is common. Women lack equal opportunities in education and training, making it difficult for them to compete for the relatively few formal-sector jobs. Although property and inheritance laws based on the French code do not discriminate against women, local leaders adjudicate most inheritance cases in favor of men, according to traditional practice.
Largest cities, towns, and municipalities
Chad has more than 200 distinct ethnic groups, which create diverse social structures. The colonial administration and independent governments have attempted to impose a national society, but for most Chadians the local or regional society remains the most important influence outside the immediate family. Nevertheless, Chad's people may be classified according to the geographical region in which they live. In the south live sedentary people such as the Sara, the nation's main ethnic group, whose essential social unit is the lineage. In the Sahel sedentary peoples live alongside nomadic ones, such as Arabs, the country's second major ethnic group. The north is inhabited mostly by Toubous nomads.
Language and religion
Chad's official languages are Arabic and French, but more than 100 languages and dialects are spoken. Due to the important role played by itinerant Arab traders and settled merchants in local communities, Chadian Arabic has become a lingua franca.
Chad is a religiously diverse country. Various estimates, including from Pew Research Center in 2022, found that 52-58 percent of the population was Muslim, while 39-44 percent were Christian. Another 22 percent were Catholic and a 17 percent, Protestant. Among Muslims, 48 percent professed to be Sunni, 21 percent, Shia; 4 percent, Almadi; and 23 percent non-denominational Muslims. A small proportion of the population continues to practice indigenous religions. Animism includes a variety of ancestor and region-oriented religions whose expression is highly specific. Islam is expressed in diverse ways; for example, 55 percent of Chadians embracing Islam belong to Sufi orders.
Christianity arrived in Chad with French and American missionaries. As with Chadian Islam, it syncretises aspects of pre-Christian religious beliefs. Muslims are largely concentrated in northern and eastern Chad, and animists and Christians live primarily in southern Chad and Guéra. The constitution provides for a secular state and guarantees religious freedom; different religious communities generally co-exist without problems. The majority of Muslims in the country are adherents of a moderate branch of mystical Islam called Sufism. Its most common expression is the Tijaniyah, an order followed by the 35 percent of Chadian Muslims which incorporates some local African religious elements. A small minority of the country's Muslims hold more fundamentalist practices, which, in some cases, may be associated with Saudi-oriented Salafi movements.
Roman Catholics represent the largest Christian denomination in the country. Most Protestants, including the Nigeria-based "Winners' Chapel,” are affiliated with various evangelical Christian groups. Chad is home to foreign
missionaries representing both Christian and Islamic groups. Itinerant Muslim preachers, primarily from Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, also visit. Saudi Arabian funding generally supports social and educational projects and extensive mosque construction.
Government and politics
Chad's constitution provides for a strong executive branch headed by a president who dominates the political system. The president has the power to appoint the prime minister and the cabinet, and exercises considerable influence over appointments of judges, generals, provincial officials, and heads of Chad's para-statal firms. In cases of grave and immediate threat, the president, in consultation with the National Assembly, may declare a state of emergency. The president is directly elected by popular vote for a five-year term. In 2005 constitutional term limits were removed, allowing a president to remain in power beyond the previous two-term limit. Most of the current head of state, President, Déby's key advisers are members of the Zaghawa ethnic group, although southern and opposition personalities are represented in government.
Chad's legal system is based on French civil law and Chadian customary law where the latter does not interfere with public order or constitutional guarantees of equality. Despite the constitution's guarantee of judicial independence, the president names most key judicial officials. The legal system's highest jurisdictions, the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Council, have become fully operational since 2000. The Supreme Court is made up of a chief justice, named by the president, and 15 counselors, appointed for life by the president and the National Assembly.
The Constitutional Court is headed by nine judges elected to nine-year terms. It has the power to review legislation, treaties and international agreements prior to their adoption. The National Assembly makes legislation. The body consists of 155 members elected for four-year terms who meet three times per year. The Assembly holds regular sessions twice a year, starting in March and October, and can hold special sessions when called by the prime minister. Deputies elect a National Assembly president every two years. The president must sign or reject newly passed laws within 15 days. The Assembly must approve the prime minister's plan of government and may force the prime minister to resign through a majority vote of no confidence.
However, if the National Assembly rejects the executive branch's program twice in one year, the president may disband the Assembly and call for new legislative elections. In practice, the president exercises considerable influence over the National Assembly through his party, the Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS), which holds a large majority. Until the legalization of opposition parties in 1992, President Déby's MPS was the sole legal party in Chad. Since then, 78 registered political parties have become active. In 2005, opposition parties and human rights organizations supported the boycott of the constitutional referendum that allowed Déby to stand for re-election for a third term inspite of reports of widespread irregularities in voter registration and government censorship of independent media outlets during the campaign. Correspondents judged the 2006 presidential elections a mere formality, as the opposition deemed the polls a farce and boycotted them.
Internal opposition and foreign relations Déby faces armed opposition from groups who are deeply divided by leadership clashes but united in their intention to overthrow him. These forces stormed the capital on April 13, 2006, but were ultimately repelled. Chad's greatest foreign influence is France, which maintains 1,000 soldiers in
A Chadian man rides a majestic single-hump white camel, while several of his countrymen (below) climb a steep ridge of the Tibesti Mountains, a range in the central Sahara, primarily located in the extreme north of Chad, with a small portion located in southern Libya. The highest peak in the range, Emi Koussi, lies to the south at a height of 11,204 feet, the highest point in both Chad and the Sahara. Below that, a dizzy- ing array of millions of red-billed quelea flying to roost at a watershed in Zakouma Nat- ional Park in south- eastern Chad, straddling the border of Guéra Region and Salamat Region. Zak- ouma is the nation's oldest national park, declared a national park in 1963 by presidential decree.
Chad is home to two of the biggest animals in Africa: the black rhino and the "beachmaster, the hippopotamus. Poachers killed many animals over the years, but they are making a comeback.
country. Déby relies on the French to help repel the rebels, and France gives the Chadian army logistical and intelligence support for fear of a complete collapse of regional stability. Nevertheless, Franco-Chadian relations were soured by the granting of oil drilling rights to the American Exxon company in 1999.
The CIA World Factbook estimates the military budget of Chad to be 4.2 percent of GDP as of 2006. Given the then GDP ($7.095 billion) of the country, military spending was estimated to be about $300 million. This estimate however dropped after the end of the Civil war in Chad (2005-2010) to 2.0 percent as estimated by the World Bank for the year 2011.
Since 2012 Chad has been divided into 23 regions. The subdivision of the country in regions came about in 2003 as part of the decentralization process, when the government abolished the previous 14 prefectures. Each region is headed by a presidentially appointed governor. Prefects administer the 61 departments within the regions. The departments are divided into 200 sub-prefectures, which in turn are comprised of 446 cantons. The constitution
provides for decentralized government to compel local populations to play an active role in their own development. To this end, the constitution declares that each administrative subdivision be governed by elected local assemblies.
The United Nations' Human Development Index ranks Chad as the seventh poorest country in the world, with 80 percent of the population living below the poverty line. Chad is part of the Bank of Central African States, the Customs and Economic Union of Central Africa (UDEAC), and the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).
Chad's currency is the CFA franc. In the 1960s, the mining industry of Chad produced sodium carbonate, or natron. There have also been reports of gold-bearing quartz in the Biltine Prefecture. However, years of civil war have scared away foreign investors; those who left Chad between 1979 and 1982 have only recently begun to regain confidence in the country's future. In 2000 major direct foreign investment in the oil sector began, boosting the country's economic prospects.
Uneven inclusion in the global political economy as a site for colonial resource extraction (primarily cotton and crude oil), a global economic system that does not promote nor encourage the development of Chadian industrialization, and the failure to support local agricultural production has meant that the majority of Chadians live in daily uncertainty and hunger. Motr than 80 percent of Chad's population relies on subsistence farming and raising livestock for its livelihood. The crops grown and the locations of herds are determined by the local climate. In the southernmost 10 percent of the territory lies the nation's most fertile cropland, with healthy yields of sorghum and millet. In the Sahel only the hardier varieties of millet grow, and with much lower yields than in the south. The Sahara's scattered oases support only some dates and legumes. On the other hand, the Sahel is ideal pastureland for large grazing herds such as cattle, flocks of sheep and goats, donkeys, and horses.
Chad's cities face serious difficulties of municipal infrastructure; only 48 percent of urban residents have access to potable water and only two percent to basic sanitation use. Before the development of the oil industry, cotton dominated Chad's industry and the labor market accounted for approximately 80 percent of export earnings. Cotton remains a primary export, although exact figures are not available. Rehabilitation of Cotontchad, a major cotton company weakened by a decline in world cotton prices, has been financed by France, the Netherlands, the European Union, and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). The parastatal is now expected privatize. Other than cotton, cattle and gum arabic are dominant.
According to the United Nations, Chad has been affected by a humanitarian crisis since at least 2001. As of 2008, the country hosts more than 280,000 refugees from the Sudan's Darfur region, over 55,000 from the Central African Republic, and well over 170,000 internally displaced persons. In February 2008 in the aftermath of the Battle of N'Djamena, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes expressed "extreme concern" that the crisis would have a negative effect on the ability of humanitarians to deliver life-saving assistance to half a million beneficiaries, most of whom, he said rely heavily on humanitarian aid for their survival.
Infrastructure and transport
Civil war crippled the development of transport infrastructure. In 1987, Chad had only 19 miles of paved roads. Successive road rehabilitation projects improved the network to 340 miles by 2004. Nevertheless, the road network is limited and roads are often impassable for several months of the year. With no railways of its own, Chad depends heavily on Cameroon's rail system for the transport of Chadian exports and imports to and from the seaport of Douala.
As of 2013 Chad had an estimated 59 airports, only nine of which had paved runways. An international air- port serves the capital and provides regular nonstop flights to Paris and several African cities.
Energy and oil
Chad's energy sector has had years of mismanagement by the parastatal Chad Water and Electric Society (STEE), which provides power for 15 percent of the capital's citizens and covers only 1.5 percent of the national population. Most Chadians burn biomass fuels such as wood and animal manure for power. ExxonMobil leads a consortium of Chevron and Petronas that has invested $3.7 billion to develop oil reserves estimated at one billion barrels in southern Chad.
Oil production began in 2003 with the completion of a pipeline financed in part by the World Bank that links the southern oilfields to terminals on the Atlantic coast of Cameroon. As a condition of its financial help, the World Bank insisted that 80 percent of oil revenues be spent on development projects. In January 2006 the World Bank suspended its loan program when the Chadian government passed laws reducing this amount. In July 2006, the World Bank and Chad signed a memorandum of understanding under which the Government of Chad commits 70 percent of its spending to priority poverty reduction program.
In October 2021, Chad's production of crude oil was 69,000 barrels per day.
The telecommunication system is basic and expensive, with fixed telephone services provided by the state telephone company SotelTchad. In 2000, there were only 14 fixed telephone lines per 10,000 inhabitants in the country, one of the lowest telephone densities in the world. Gateway Communications, a Pan-African wholesale connectivity and telecommunications provider also has a presence in Chad. In September 2013, Chad's Ministry for Posts and Information & Communication Technologies (PNTIC) announced that the country will be seeking a partner for fiber optic technology.
Educators face considerable challenges due to the nation's dispersed population and a certain degree of reluctance on the part of parents to send their children to school. Although attendance is compulsory, only 68 percent of boys attend primary school, and more than half of the population is illiterate. Higher education is provided at the University of N'Djamena. At 33 percent, Chad has one of the lowest literacy rates in Africa.
In 2013, the US Department of Labor's Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Chad reported that school attendance of children aged 5-14 was as low as 39 percent. This can also be related to the issue of child labor as the report also stated that 53 percent of children aged 5-14 were working children, and that 30 percent of children aged 7-14 combined work and school.
Because of its great variety of peoples and languages, Chad possesses a rich cultural heritage. The Chadian government has actively promoted Chadian culture and national traditions by opening the Chad National Museum and the Chad Cultural Centre. Six national holidays are observed throughout the year, and movable holidays include the Christian holiday and the Muslim holidays of Eid ul-Fitr, Eid ul-Adha, and Eid Milad Nnabi.
The music of Chad includes a number of 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. Other instruments and their combinations are more linked to specific ethnic groups. The Sara prefer whistles, balafones, harps, and kodjo drums. The Kanembu combine the sounds of drums with those of flute-like instruments.
The music group Chari Jazz formed in 1964 and initiated Chad's modern music scene. Later, more renowned groups such as African Melody and International Challal attempted to mix modernity and tradition. Popular groups such as Tibesti have clung faster to their heritage by drawing on sai, a traditional style of music from southern Chad. The people of Chad have customarily disdained modern music. However, in 1995 greater interest developed and fostered the distribution of CDs and audio cassettes featuring Chadian artists.
As in other Sahelian countries, literature in Chad has seen an economic, political and spiritual drought that has affected its best known writers. Chadian authors have been forced to write from exile or expatriate status and have generated literature dominated by themes of political oppression and historical discourse. Since 1962, 20 Chadian authors have written some 60 works of fiction. Among the most internationally renowned writers are Joseph Brahim Seïd, Baba Moustapha, Antoine Bangui and Koulsy Lamko. In 2003 Chad's sole literary critic, Ahmat Taboye, published his Anthologie de la littérature tchadienne to further knowledge of Chad's literature internationally and among youth and to make up for Chad's lack of publishing houses and promotional structure.
The development of a Chadian film industry, which began with the short films of Edouard Sailly in the 1960s, was hampered by the devastation of civil war. The Chadian feature film industry began growing again in the 1990s, with the work of directors Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Issa Serge Coelo and Abakar Chene Massar. Haroun's film Abouna was critically acclaimed, and his Daratt won the Grand Special Jury Prize at the 63rd Venice International Film Festival. The 2010 feature film A Screaming Man won the Jury Prize at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, making Haroun the first Chadian director to enter, as well as win, an award in the main Cannes competition. Issa Serge Coelo directed the films, Daresalam and DP75: Tartina City.
Chad's television audience is limited to N'Djamena. The only television station is the state-owned Télé Tchad. Radio has a far greater reach, with 13 private radio stations. Newspapers are limited in quantity and distribution, and circulation figures are small due to transportation costs, low literacy rates, and poverty. While the constitution defends liberty of expression, the government has regularly restricted this right, and at the end of 2006 began to enact a system of prior censorship on the media.
Millet is the staple food of Chadian cuisine. It is used to make balls of paste that are dipped in sauces. In the north this dish is known as alysh; and in the south as biya. Fish is popular, which is generally prepared and sold either as salanga (sun-dried and lightly smoked Alestes and Hydrocynus) or as banda (smoked large fish).
Carcaje is a popular sweet red tea extracted from hibiscus leaves. Alcoholic beverages, though absent in the north, are popular in the south, where people drink millet beer, known as billi-billi when brewed from red millet, and as coshate when brewed from white millet.
Football is Chad's most popular sport. The country's national team is closely followed during international competitions and Chadian footballers have played for French teams. Basketball and freestyle wrestling are widely practiced, the latter in a form in which the wrestlers put on traditional animal hides and cover themselves with dust.
Jarrette Fellows, Jr. / Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License