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Chad

french lake central republic

Chad (Republic of), landlocked state in north-central Africa bordered by 6 states, including Libya to the north and the Central African Republic to the south. N'Djamena is the capital.

Land and Climate

Its northern part extends into the Sahara desert, where the Tibesti highlands rise to 11,000 ft (3,353 m). The southern part consists largely of semiarid steppe with wooded grasslands (savannas) near Lake Chad, watered by the Shari and Logone rivers.

People

Northern and central Chad are inhabited chiefly by nomadic Arab-influenced tribes, who are predominantly Muslim; many speak Arabic as well as their tribal language. In the savanna regions the black population speaks tribal languages and includes chiefly animists, although small groups have adopted Islam. Fewer than 5,000 Europeans, mainly French, live in Chad. French is the official language.

Economy

Chad's economy is very poorly developed. The great majority of the population is engaged in subsistence farming. The chief export crop is cotton; some rice, peanuts, meat, hides, and smoked fish are also exported. A major obstacle to economic development is the lack of adequate roads, along with the absence of railroads. Chad depends on air and river transport, but the Shari River is navigable only 4 months of the year from Fort Lamy to Fort Archambault, and other rivers are even less reliable in the dry season.

History

Chad was penetrated by Arab traders and Berbers from the Sahara in the 7th century. The black kingdoms of Wadai and Baguirmi suffered from these incursions, but later became powerful sultanates. The Muslim empire of Kanem controlled most of the area around Lake Chad in the 16th century. The Chad area, lying in the heart of Africa, was not affected by the slave trade. Lake Chad was reached by British explorers in 1823. In 1850 the first German explorer mapped the area between Lake Chad and the Nile. By 1890 the French were arriving in considerable numbers, and by 1900 the French conquest of the whole area was completed. When French Equatorial Africa was formed in 1910, Chad was part of Ubangi-Shari-Chad and, 10 years later became the separate territory of Chad. In Aug. 1960 Chad became an independent republic within the French Community, with François Tombalbaye as the first president. Tombalbaye was killed in a coup in 1975. A new coalition government took power in 1979, but civil war soon broke out between rebels backed by Libya's Muammar Qadhaffi and government forces supported by France. The conflict has continued, in various forms. In the late 1990s the conflict focused on the exploitation of the oil fields.

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