Chad (Arabic: تشاد, French: Tchad) is a landlocked country situated in the centre of Africa. Due to its distance from the sea and its harsh, desert climate, Chad is sometimes described as the "Dead Heart of Africa".
It is one of the poorest, most corrupt, and most unstable countries in the world; the political situation is volatile and much of the population lives in poverty. Negative facts aside, Chad is home to more than 200 different ethnic groups (making it one of the most diverse countries in the world) and there are a few opportunities (national parks, lakes, mountains) that will interest the daring and adventurous.
|Saharan Chad |
The northern part of the country, which is also the driest.
|Sahelian Chad |
The location of the capital, this region is the central part of Chad.
|Soudanian Chad |
In the south (Soudanian) part of Chad, the climate is wetter.
- 1 N'Djamena — the national capital and largest city
- 2 Moundou — the country's second-largest city
- 3 Abéché — capital of Ouaddai province and historical capital of the Wadai Empire
- 4 Faya — largest city in the north of the country
For more than 2,000 years, the Chadian Basin has been inhabited by agricultural and sedentary peoples. The earliest of these were the legendary Sao, known from artefacts and oral histories. The Sao fell to the Kanem Empire, the first and longest-lasting of the empires that developed in Chad's Sahelian strip by the end of the 1st millennium AD. The power of Kanem and its successors was based on control of the trans-Saharan trade routes that passed through the region.
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. The French primarily viewed the colony as an unimportant source of untrained labour and raw cotton. The colonial administration in Chad was critically understaffed and had to rely on the dregs of the French civil service.
|Currency||Central African CFA franc (XAF)|
|Population||15.4 million (2018)|
|Electricity||220 volt / 50 hertz (AC power plugs and sockets: British and related types, Type E, Schuko, Europlug)|
|Time zone||UTC+01:00, Africa/Ndjamena|
|Emergencies||17 (police), 18 (emergency medical services), +235-22-51-42-42 (fire department)|
|edit on Wikidata|
Fifteen thousand Chadian soldiers fought for Free France during World War II and after the war ended, France granted Chad the status of overseas territory and its inhabitants the right to elect representatives to both the French National Assembly and a Chadian assembly. Chad was granted independence on 11 August 1960 with François Tombalbaye, as its first president. Two years later, Tombalbaye banned opposition parties and established a one-party system. In 1965 Muslims began a civil war. Tombalbaye was overthrown and killed in 1975, but the insurgency continued. In 1979 the rebel factions conquered the capital, and all central authority in the country collapsed. The disintegration of Chad caused the collapse of France's position in the country, and a civil war in which the Libyans (unsuccessfully) became involved.
A semblance of peace was finally restored in 1990. The government eventually drafted a democratic constitution, and held flawed presidential elections in 1996 and 2001. In 1998, a rebellion broke out in northern Chad, which sporadically flares up despite several peace agreements between the government and the rebels. In 2005 new rebel groups emerged in western Sudan and have made probing attacks into eastern Chad. In 2005, President Idriss Deby won a referendum to remove constitutional term limits. In 2008, an attempted coup rocked the capital. Another coup attempt occurred in 2013. Debt died in April 2021, the nation's National Assembly and government were dissolved and national leadership was replaced with a transitional military council.
Although the country is wealthy in natural resources, widespread corruption and political instability mean that only a small segment of the population receives the wealth. Since the 2000s, oil has become the country's largest industry, even superseding the traditional cotton industry. It is believed that the country has one of the largest oil deposits in the world.
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.
The country's landscape comprises broad, arid plains in the centre, desert in the north, mountains in the northwest, and lowlands in the south. Lowest point: Djourab Depression (160 m/525 ft). Highest point: Emi Koussi (3,415 m/11,204 ft).
The dominant physical structure is a wide basin bounded to the north, east and south by mountain ranges such as the Ennedi Plateau in the north-east. Lake Chad, after which the country is named, is the remains of an immense lake that occupied 330,000 km2 (205,000 mi2) of the Chadian Basin 7,000 years ago. Although in the 21st century it covers only 17,806 km2 (11,064 mi2), and its surface area is subject to heavy seasonal fluctuations, the lake is Africa's second largest wetland.
The main languages of Chad are Arabic and French. Few Chadians other than the educated and well-travelled speak literary Arabic; however, a dialect of Arabic known as "Chadian Arabic" is much more widely spoken and is the closest thing the country has to a trade language. Chadian Arabic is significantly different from literary Arabic, but similar to the dialects of Sudan and Egypt. Literary Arabic speakers can typically understand Chadian Arabic but the reverse is not true. Over one hundred indigenous languages are also spoken.
As is the case with many African countries, almost everyone requires a visa to visit Chad. A single-entry visa costs US$100 for 1 month and multiple-entry visas cost US$150 (3 months) or US$200 (6 months). A letter of invitation is required.
Air France has daily flights from Paris to N'Djaména. Ethiopia Airlines flies to Addis Ababa, Turkish airlines to Istanbul, Royal Air Maroc to Casablanca, Sudan Airways to Khartoum, Egypt Air to Cairo, and Camair-co to Douala.
There are no usable rail links.
Roads are in disrepair and are typically unpaved: there is only one paved road, which runs from Massakory in the north through N'Djamena on to Guelendeng, Bongor, Kelo, Moundou, Doba, Koumra, Sarh, and Kyabe. It is the best road in the country but still has numerous potholes and as it runs through the centre of a number of small villages, drivers should exercise caution and moderate speeds even while on the main road. The newest section of road (from Moundou to Kyabe) is still in reasonably good condition as of 2019.
There are several border crossings with Cameroon, most notably via Kousseri near N'Djamena and near the towns of Bongor and Lere. Be very careful, drive defensively, and don't stop unless absolutely necessary. Do not drive at night, as coupeurs de route (road bandits) are common. They are a particular concern along the two roads leading out of Guelendeng, towards Ba-Illi (where expats were attacked in two separate incidents in 2005, resulting in the death of one Catholic nun) and towards Bongor.
In N'Djamena there are vehicle taxis. In some major towns, such as Moundou and Sarh, there are "clandos" - motorcycle taxis - for getting around town.
In October 2018, a domestic Chadian airline was launched, Tchadia Air. It is based in N'Djamena, with regular flights to Abeche, Bangui, Douala, Faya-Largeau, Kano, Khartoum, Moundou, Niamey, and Sarh.
- Oasis of Faya.
- Lake Chad.
- Ennedi Plateau.
Exchange rates for CFA francs
As of January 2022:
Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE.com
The currency of the country is the Central African CFA franc, denoted FCFA (ISO currency code: XAF). It's also used by five other Central African countries. It is interchangeable at par with the West African CFA franc (XOF), which is used by six countries. Both currencies are fixed at a rate of €1 = 655.957 CFA francs.
There are no restrictions on bringing foreign currencies into Chad. Euros and US dollars are often accepted in payment. Chad is an expensive place compared to much of Africa.
There are Ecobank ATMs in Chad where you can withdraw cash with a Mastercard or Visa card.
Meat dishes are very popular in Chad, and foreigners speak highly of the meat. Lamb and camel meat are common and tasty. Food is usually eaten without utensils, and hand sanitizer may be a good precaution. Muslims find it offensive to eat with the left hand. If eating with or being served by Muslims in Chad, eat with your right hand only.
Follow common health travel guidelines concerning raw fruit and cooking requirements to avoid disease. The US State Department website has resources concerning safety while eating abroad.
In general, do not drink unfiltered water in Chad. Typhoid and other disease carriers are often present in unfiltered water. Bottled water should be safe, but make sure the bottle is properly sealed, as some street vendors will take old bottles and refill them with unfiltered water.
Soft drinks are popular in Chad and are generally safe to drink. Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta and Top (a fruit-flavored soft drink) are the most popular.
Hot drinks should usually be safe to drink since the water has been boiled. Tea, coffee, and hot milk are very popular.
Years ago few hotels existed in Chad, but now N'Djamena hosts a myriad of affordable options.
Chad is consistently engulfed in political turmoil and attacks from rebels will probably not happen, but are certainly possible. The situation has stagnated, but it remains a threat. Violence from the Darfur conflict overspills into Eastern Chad from Sudan, a country which shares hostilities with Chad. Any activity outside of N'Djamena is done with difficulty at best. Northern Chad is barren, scorching desert and guides (good luck) and meticulous planning are required. In 2013, Boko Haram jihadists were spotted in Chad.
N'Djamena is relatively safe, although one should be wary of petty street crime and corrupt police/officials. Most border crossings are extremely difficult (Sudan and Libya not being viable options) although the border crossings with Niger and Cameroon are relatively painless.
Drink water brands you recognize from stores. Eat at restaurants recommended to you by friends and locals you trust. Eat food that has been freshly prepared and cooked well. If you are eating local dishes, make sure the food was freshly prepared, cooked well, and still warm from the grill or cooking pot. Wash your hands often.
Ensure your vaccinations are up to date before visiting Chad. The country is in the African Meningitis Belt.
Ramadan is the 9th and holiest month in the Islamic calendar and lasts 29–30 days. Muslims fast every day for its duration and most restaurants will be closed until the fast breaks at dusk. Nothing (including water and cigarettes) is supposed to pass through the lips from dawn to sunset. Non-Muslims are exempt from this, but should still refrain from eating or drinking in public as this is considered very impolite. Working hours are decreased as well in the corporate world. Exact dates of Ramadan depend on local astronomical observations and may vary somewhat from country to country. Ramadan concludes with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, which may last several days, usually three in most countries.
If you're planning to travel to Chad during Ramadan, consider reading Travelling during Ramadan.
There are 200 distinct ethnic groups. In the north and center: Arabs, Gorane (Toubou, Daza, Kreda), Zaghawa, Kanembou, Ouaddai, Baguirmi, Hadjerai, Fulbe, Kotoko, Hausa, Boulala, and Maba, most of whom are Muslim; in the south: Sara (Ngambaye, Mbaye, Goulaye), Moundang, Moussei, Massa, most of whom are Christian or animist; about 1,000 French citizens live in Chad.
The Chadian-Libyan conflict is something to be avoided at all times; Chadians known to be living in Libya have been tortured and murdered on previous occasions.
The rate of internet use is low – 5% of the population as of 2017.
Social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp have been blocked since March 2018 and are only accessible via VPN. The sites remain blocked as of April 2019 with no end in sight.