Chad, officially the Republic of Chad, is a large landlocked country lying between the equator and the Tropic of Cancer in north-central Africa. Chad is home to a dramatic array of landscapes ranging from sublime oases, pristine forests, and remarkable rock formations. A country with a long history, Chad is home to a warm and generous population and possesses a rich cultural heritage. Here are some interesting facts about Chad.
Facts about Chad
1. Chad is the fifth largest country in Africa and the 20th largest country in the world.
Chad has a total area of 1,284,000 km² (496,000 sq mi), which makes it slightly larger than three times the size of the US state of California.
2. Chad is the largest landlocked country in Africa and shares a land border with six countries.
Chad is bordered by Libya (1050/652 mi) to the north, Sudan (1403 km/872 mi) to the east, the Central African Republic (1556 km/967 mi) to the south, Cameroon (1116 km/693 mi) to the south-west, Nigeria (85 km/53 mi) to the southwest (at Lake Chad), and Niger (1196 km/743 mi) to the west.
In addition to being the largest landlocked nation in Africa, Chad is also the third-largest landlocked country in the world (only Kazakhstan and Mongolia are larger).
3. Chad is home to the highest point in the Sahara Desert.
Chad is part-home to the Sahara Desert—the world’s largest hot desert. Mount Koussi, also called Emi Koussi, which lies in the Tibesti Mountains of northwestern Chad is not only the highest summit in Chad but also the highest point in the Sahara that rises to an elevation of 3,415 m (11,204 ft).
Emi Koussi is an extinct volcano with a crater approximately 19 km (12 mi) wide and 1,200 m (4,000 ft) deep. Its landscape is similar to that of the moon.
4. Chad has three very distinct geographic regions.
Chad has three main geographic zones. In the north is the Sahara Desert with a typical desert climate. The central part of Chad is the semi-arid Sahel region which is mostly dry and has a short rainy season. The southern zone or Sudanian Savanna is a broad belt of tropical grassland and deciduous forests.
5. Chad gets its name from Lake Chad.
Chad gets its name from Lake Chad, a shallow freshwater lake in the west of the country, which it shares with Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon. The name Chad itself is derived from the word “tsade” meaning “large expanse of water” or “lake” in several indigenous languages. One of the lesser-known facts about Chad is that it is the only country whose name is composed of a single syllable with a single vowel.
6. Lake Chad has shrunk by over 90% compared to the early 1960s.
Over the last 60 years, Lake Chad’s size has decreased by over 90% as a result of climate change, an increase in the population, and unplanned irrigation. The surface area of the lake has plummeted from 26,000 km² (10,039 sq mi) in 1963 to around 1,500 km² (579 sq mi) today. Lake Chad’s size varies and it has been known to shrink and grow according to weather conditions.
7. Chad is sometimes referred to as the “Dead Heart of Africa”.
Chad has often been called the “Dead Heart of Africa” due to its harsh climatic conditions and isolated landlocked location.
8. Chad is one of the three countries least affected by light pollution.
According to “The New World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness”, Chad is one of the three countries (the Central African Republic and Madagascar are the others) whose natives are least affected by light pollution. The night sky conditions in the country are pristine and the Milky Way can clearly be seen at night.
9. From the 9th century until colonization, Chad was home to several great African empires.
Parts of Chad made up the Kanem-Bornu Empire, the Wadai Sultanate, and the Bagirmi Sultanate. From the 9th to 16th centuries, Kanem-Bornu became the dominant force in the region as a junction for trans-Saharan caravan routes. Islam gradually took over the region, particularly during the 16th and 17th centuries when the sultanates of Wadai and Bagirmi were dominant. Their economies thrived because of the flourishing slave trade.
10. Chad is a former French colony.
In the late-19th century, French expeditions gradually expanded French control of the lands to the south and east of Lake Chad. France fully conquered Chad in 1913 and incorporated it as part of French Equatorial Africa. However, it wasn’t until 1920 that Chad attained separate colonial status.
Chad was one of the most neglected of the French colonies. Almost no investment was made in infrastructure or economic development during the French occupation. The French merely used Chad as a source of raw cotton and untrained labor to be used in their more productive colonies to the south of the country.
11. Chad attained independence in 1960.
In the 1950s, the pan-African momentum for breaking free from the shackles of colonialism was rapidly catching on in Chad. On August 11, 1960, Chad declared independence from France and François Tombalbaye became its first president.
12. Chad has the world’s fifth-highest fertility rate.
According to the CIA World Factbook, Chad has the world’s fifth-highest fertility rate of 5.57 children per woman. Consequently, Chad has one of the world’s fifth-youngest populations with a median age of 16.1 years.
13. Chad is home to over 200 ethnic groups.
One of the fascinating Chad facts is that it is home to a cornucopia of ethnic groups. The country’s population stems from indigenous African groups, whose composition has been altered over the course of centuries through successive invasions from its Arabic neighbors in the north.
The largest ethnic group in Chad is the Sara, representing about 30% of the country’s population. The Sara are mostly engaged in farming and are notable for their body scarring rituals. The Sara have traditionally dominated business and the civil service in the nation.
Chad’s next biggest ethnic groups are the semi-sedentary Arabs (≈10-12% of the population), the Kanembu (≈8-9% of the population), the Toubou (≈7-8% of the population), and the Masalit (≈7-8% of the population). Other ethnic groups in Chad include the Hadjarai, Fulbe, Kotoko, Bagirmi, Boulala, Zaghawa, Ngambaye, Mbaye, Goulaye, Moundang, Moussei, and the Massa.
14. Islam is the most popular religion in Chad.
Just a little over half of Chad’s population is Muslim. Muslims are largely concentrated in northern and eastern Chad. Christianity is the second biggest religion in Chad and is followed by 40-45% of the country’s population. Christians in Chad are mostly concentrated in the south of the country.
15. French and Arabic are the official languages of Chad.
Being a former French colony, it’s quite natural that the French language has carried over into Chadian society and is widely used in higher education and administration. French is mostly spoken in southern Chad. Arabic dominates in northern Chad and serves as a lingua franca among the various ethnic groups. Besides French and Arabic, over 100 indigenous languages are spoken throughout the country.
16. Chad is home to the Gerewol Festival, a male beauty pageant more fiercely competed than Miss Universe.
At the Gerewol Festival, the Wodaabe, a tribe of nomadic cattle herders, meet to celebrate the end of the rainy season and enter a one-of-a-kind beauty contest in which the men rather than the women are on display. The Wodaabe males spend hours preening, coating their faces with red ochre, daubing on white dots in floral formations, and applying black lipstick. They then perform a teeth-gnashing, eye-rolling dance for hours in the stifling sun in an attempt to attract a mate.
The Gerewol Festival takes place over a week and each day the Wodaabe males follow the same ritual. The criteria for judging beauty are well-defined: height, very white teeth, eyes, an elongated narrow nose, and a symmetrical face. On the final night of the festival, three winners are chosen by three marriageable women, who simply choose the winners by tapping their favorite man. If the chosen men like the girls, they will follow.
17. The capital of Chad is N’Djamena.
Located in the southwest of Chad, N’Djamena is the largest city in the country and its cultural and financial hub. It is also home to Chad’s only university and the country’s main international airport. N’Djamena was known as Fort Lamy until 1973 when it was renamed N’Djamena by the country’s president. N’Djamena’s name derives from a nearby village Niǧāmīnā, meaning “place of rest” in Arabic.
18. The currency of Chad is the Central African franc (CFA).
The currency of Chad is the Central African franc (CFA), which is pegged to both the West African franc and the Euro. The CFA franc was introduced in Chad in 1945, replacing the French Equatorial African franc.
19. Chad’s national flag is almost identical to that of Romania’s.
Chad national flag is a vertical tricolor that consists of three equal stripes of blue, yellow, and red. The flag’s design is almost identical to that of Romania’s; the blue color in Chad’s flag is darker than that used in Romania’s version. The national flag of Chad was adopted in 1959.
The blue band represents hope, water, and the sky that stretches out over the nation. The red band represents the sacrifices that Chadians have made as well as the nation’s ongoing progress towards a brighter future. The yellow band represents both the sun and the desert that covers part of the country.
20. Since independence, Chad has been plagued by instability and war.
Chad comprises radically different cultures and livelihood systems polarized along a north-south axis. Uneven patterns of impoverishment, a crippling economy, crumbling state services, ecological stress, and military intervention by foreign powers have contributed to ethnic antagonisms between the largely Arab-Muslim north and the predominantly Christian south.
21. Chad has never won a medal at the Olympics.
Chad has been sending athletes to the Summer Olympics since 1964 but has failed to win any medal. The nation has never participated in the Winter Olympic Games.
22. Football is the most popular sport in Chad.
Like in most of Africa, football is undoubtedly the most popular sport in Chad. Unfortunately, the country’s men’s national football team has tasted very little success at the international level and has never even qualified for the FIFA World Cup.
23. Chad holds vast reserves of oil, uranium, titanium, and gold.
One of the most tragic facts about Chad is that despite all its natural wealth, it often ranks as one of the ten poorest nations in the world. Endemic corruption, poor governance, and political instability have kept the profits from benefiting the people. Inadequate infrastructure and a shoddy business climate have turned away potential investors.
24. Crude oil drives the Chadian economy.
Chad is a leading producer of crude oil in Central Africa and crude oil has been the primary source of the country’s economy since 2003. Oil accounts for over 95% of Chad’s export earnings. Before the development of the oil industry, cotton dominated the Chadian economy.
25. The lion and the goat are the national symbols of Chad.
The lion and the goat are the national symbols of Chad. The goat represents the northern part of the country while the lion represents the south. Featured on the nation’s coat of arms. The lion and the goat stand on opposite sides, separated by a yellow and blue shield with a red sun rising above it.
26. There are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Chad.
The UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Chad are the Lakes of Ounianga and the Natural and Cultural Landscape of the Ennedi Massif.
27. Chad is not at all LGBT-friendly.
Given Chad’s conservative society, homosexuality is illegal in Chad. Homosexual acts carry up to 3 years imprisonment with fines.
28. Chad faces severe environmental issues.
With the onset of climate change, the environmental situation in Chad is likely to get worse – less water and creeping desertification in the semi-arid terrain. The country suffers from insufficient rainfall and periodic droughts. Other natural hazards include hot, dry winds (harmattan) in the north and locust plagues that cause crop damage.
29. Capital punishment is illegal in Chad.
Chad abolished the death penalty for all crimes in 2020.
30. Chad doesn’t observe daylight-saving time.
Daylight saving has never been observed in Chad.