Chad is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west. Chad is divided into multiple regions: a desert zone in the north, an arid Sahelian belt in the centre and a more fertile Sudanese savanna.
Two religions predominate in Chad: Christianity and Islam. About half of the population, and particularly in the northern and eastern parts of the nation, follow Islam, while some 30 percent are Christians, who are concentrated in the south and among formally educated people. A further 20 percent, mainly in the south, adhere to traditional religions, most of them not well known.
Agriculture dominates the economy. More than 80% of the workforce is engaged in farming, mainly at subsistence level. Groundnuts, millet, rice and sorghum are major crops in the wetter south and the most valuable crop is cotton.
Chad is a source, transit, and destination country for children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. The majority of children are trafficked within Chad for involuntary domestic servitude, forced cattle herding, forced begging, involuntary agricultural labor, or for commercial sexual exploitation. To a lesser extent, Chadian children are also trafficked to Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and Nigeria for cattle herding.
Chad achieved independence from France in 1960. The independent republic has experienced several ethnic and regional conflicts, particularly in northern regions. In 1990 the Mouvement patriotique du salut (MPS) overthrew President Hissène Habré, and Idriss Deby (later Idriss Deby Itno) was installed as Head of State.
The second National Poverty Reduction Strategy adopted for the 2008-2010 period stresses the importance of establishing a business climate conducive to private-sector growth and setting up rural development programs and investment projects in education. Implementation of the reforms has been impeded, however, by the climate of insecurity, a lack of political commitment and deficient governance. The security situation in Chad continues to suffer from the instability prevailing in Central African Republic and in the Darfur region, in north-western Sudan, which has triggered large inflows of immigration.
Chad’s wide range in latitudes (that extend southward from the Tropic of Cancer for more than 15°) is matched by a climatic range that varies from wet and dry tropical to hot arid. In the central semiarid tropical (Sahel) zone, where N’Djamena is situated, between 12 and 32 inches (300 and 800 mm) of rain falls between June and September. In the north rains are infrequent, with an annual average of less than one inch being recorded at Largeau.
The population of Chad consists of some 200 distinct ethnic groups. Arab peoples are predominant in the N and East, and black African peoples in the South. The official languages of Chad are French and Arabic, but numerous AFRICAN languages are spoken.
In the early 2000s the adult literacy rate was about 48% (56% for males, 39% for females). Yearly school attendance in the late 1990s was estimated at about 680,000 in elementary schools and 100,000 in secondary and vocational schools. In the same period Chad had eight higher education institutions, including one university, the University of N’Djamena (1971); total higher education enrollment was about 3300.
Relations between the United States and Chad are good. The American embassy in N'Djamena was established at Chadian independence in 1960. U.S. interests in Chad include continued provision of humanitarian assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons in eastern Chad and Central African Republic refugees in southern Chad; continued Chadian commitment to efforts to reinforce regional stability and security, especially in regard to the Darfur crisis; continued Chadian progress toward a democratic transition, including promotion of human rights and the rule of law; more responsible public-revenue management to fuel sustainable socio-economic development; and continued U.S.-Chadian cooperation on regional and international counterterrorism efforts.
The average life expectancy in 2000 was estimated at 48 years and the overall death rate was estimated at 15 per 1000 as of 2002. The most common diseases are schistosomiasis, leprosy, malaria, spinal meningitis, tuberculosis, and yaws, as well as malnutrition.
According to the latest available figures, the total housing stock numbered 700,000 with 7.2 people per dwelling. In 2000, about 27% of the population had access to improved water systems and only 29% had access to improved sanitation systems.