The University of Iowa University of Iowa






15,833,116 (July 2018 est.)


Tropical to Arid


605.3 XAF = 1 USD (2017 est.)

Important Cities

Sahr, Faya Largeau






Major Peoples

Fulani , Laka


Muslim 52.1%, Protestant 23.9%, Catholic 20%, animist 0.3%, other Christian 0.5%, none 2.8%, unspecified 0.7% (2014-15 est.)


22.3% (2016 est.)

Principal Language

Chadian Arabic, Fulfulde, Kotoko, Kanembou

Official Language

French, Arabic


Head Of State

Idriss Deby Itno (since December 4 1990)

Type of Government

Presidential Republic

Date of Independence

August 11, 1960

Major Exports

Oil, Livestock, Cotton, Gum Arabic, Sesame, Shea Butter

Precolonial History

The oldest known humanoid skull—over seven million years old—was discovered in the Borkou region of Chad, indicating that the country has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The north central basin, now part of the Sahara Desert, supported human settlements and farming in the 7th millennium BCE and was traversed by traders and geographers in the late Middle Ages. Chad became a crossroads for both Muslim peoples of the desert and savanna regions and Bantu peoples of the tropical forests. Powerful kingdoms emerged: the Kanem-Bornu Empire in the 9th century CE, and the Baguirmi and Ouaddai kingdoms in the 16th century CE. Arab slave raids were widespread from the 1500s and continued into the 1920s, although child slave trafficking remains a significant problem in Chad today. In 1891, the French began establishing their authority through military expeditions against the dominant kingdoms, culminating in the Battle of Kousséri in 1900. Chad was absorbed into French Equatorial Africa and became a separate colony in 1920.

Postcolonial History

In 1960, the country gained its independence under the leadership of its authoritarian first president, François Tombalbaye, followed by decades of civil war. After Tombalbaye was assassinated in a 1975 military coup, General Félix Malloum served as head of state until ousted by his prime minister, Hissène Habré, in 1979. The Gouvernement d'Union Nationale de Transition (GUNT) was established, with Goukouni Oueddei as president and Habré as Minister of Defense. Rivalry between ethnic groups escalated until Idriss Déby, one of Habré’s generals, defected to Sudan and led a series of attacks against Habré. In 1990, Déby’s forces marched upon the capital city of N’Djamena. His party, the Patriotic Salvation Movement (Mouvement Patriotique du Salut, MPS), soon chartered a new government under his presidency. In 2005, new rebel groups infiltrated the eastern border from Sudan. Nearly 300,000 Sudanese refugees have fled into Chad. Déby, having successfully eliminated the two-term constitutional limit, was re-elected in 2011 and remains in power.

Recommended Sources:

John Middleton and Joseph C. Miller, eds., New Encyclopedia of Africa, Vol. 1 (Detroit, New York, San Francisco, New Haven, Waterville, and London: 2008), 363.

Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook (