Background: Chad, part of France’s African holdings until 1960, endured three decades of ethnic warfare as well as invasions by Libya before a semblance of peace was finally restored in 1990. The government eventually suppressed or came to terms with most political-military groups, settled a territorial dispute with Libya on terms favorable to Chad, drafted a democratic constitution, and held multiparty presidential and National Assembly elections in 1996 and 1997 respectively. In 1998 a new rebellion broke out in northern Chad, which continued to escalate throughout 2000. Despite movement toward democratic reform, power remains in the hands of a northern ethnic oligarchy.
Government type: republic
Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes
Geography of Chad
Location: Central Africa, south of Libya
Geographic coordinates: 15 00 N, 19 00 E
total: 1.284 million sq. km
land: 1,259,200 sq. km
water: 24,800 sq. km
total: 5,968 km
border countries: Cameroon 1,094 km, Central African Republic 1,197 km, Libya 1,055 km, Niger 1,175 km, Nigeria 87 km, Sudan 1,360 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Climate: tropical in south, desert in north
Terrain: broad, arid plains in center, desert in north, mountains in northwest, lowlands in south
lowest point: Djourab Depression 160 m
highest point: Emi Koussi 3,415 m
Natural resources: petroleum (unexploited but exploration under way), uranium, natron, kaolin, fish (Lake Chad)
arable land: 3%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 36%
forests and woodland: 26%
other: 35% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 140 sq. km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: hot, dry, dusty harmattan winds occur in north; periodic droughts; locust plagues
Environment – current issues: inadequate supplies of potable water; improper waste disposal in rural areas contributes to soil and water pollution; desertification.
Environment – international agreements:
party to:party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping
Geography – note: landlocked; Lake Chad is the most significant water body in the Sahel
Located in north-central Africa, Chad stretches for about 1,800 kilometers from its northernmost point to its southern boundary. Except in the far northwest and south, where its borders converge, Chad’s average width is about 800 kilometers. Its area of 1,284,000 square kilometers is roughly equal to the combined areas of Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. Chad’s neighbors include Libya to the north, Niger and Nigeria to the west, Sudan to the east, Central African Republic to the south, and Cameroon to the southwest.
Chad exhibits two striking geographical characteristics. First, the country is landlocked. N’Djamena, the capital, is located more than 1,100 kilometers northeast of the Atlantic Ocean; Abéché, a major city in the east, lies 2,650 kilometers from the Red Sea; and Faya Largeau, a much smaller but strategically important center in the north, is in the middle of the Sahara Desert, 1,550 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea. These vast distances from the sea have had a profound impact on Chad’s historical and contemporary development. The second noteworthy characteristic is that the country borders on very different parts of the African continent: North Africa, with its Islamic culture and economic orientation toward the Mediterranean Basin; West Africa, with its diverse religions and cultures and its history of highly developed states and regional economies; Northeast Africa, oriented toward the Nile Valley and Red Sea region; and Central or Equatorial Africa, some of whose people have retained classical African religions while others have adopted Christianity, and whose economies were part of the great Zaire River system. Although much of Chad’s distinctiveness comes from this diversity of influences, since independence the diversity has also been an obstacle to the creation of a national identity.
Although Chadian society is economically, socially, and culturally fragmented, the country’s geography is unified by the Lake Chad Basin. Once a huge inland sea (the Pale-Chadian Sea) whose only remnant is shallow Lake Chad, this vast depression extends west into Nigeria and Niger. The larger, northern portion of the basin is bounded within Chad by the Tibesti Mountains in the northwest, the Ennedi Plateau in the northeast, the Ouaddaï Highlands in the east along the border with Sudan, the Guéra Massif in central Chad, and the Mandara Mountains along Chad’s southwestern border with Cameroon. The smaller, southern part of the basin falls almost exclusively in Chad. It is delimited in the north by the Guéra Massif, in the south by highlands 250 kilometers south of the border with Central African Republic, and in the southwest by the Mandara Mountains.
Lake Chad, located in the southwestern part of the basin at an altitude of 282 meters, surprisingly does not mark the basin’s lowest point; instead, this is found in the Bodele and Djourab regions in the north-central and northeastern parts of the country, respectively. This oddity arises because the great stationary dunes (ergs) of the Kanem region create a dam, preventing lake waters from flowing to the basin’s lowest point. At various times in the past, and as late as the 1870s, the Bahr el Ghazal Depression, which extends from the northeastern part of the lake to the Djourab, acted as an overflow canal; since independence, climatic conditions have made overflows impossible.
North and northeast of Lake Chad, the basin extends for more than 800 kilometers, passing through regions characterized by great rolling dunes separated by very deep depressions. Although vegetation holds the dunes in place in the Kanem region, farther north they are bare and have a fluid, rippling character. From its low point in the Djourab, the basin then rises to the plateaus and peaks of the Tibesti Mountains in the north. The summit of this formation–as well as the highest point in the Sahara Desert–is Emi Koussi, a dormant volcano that reaches 3,414 meters above sea level. The basin’s northeastern limit is the Ennedi Plateau, whose limestone bed rises in steps etched by erosion.
East of the lake, the basin rises gradually to the Ouaddaï Highlands, which mark Chad’s eastern border and also divide the Chad and Nile watersheds. Southeast of Lake Chad, the regular contours of the terrain are broken by the Guéra Massif, which divides the basin into its northern and southern parts.
South of the lake lie the floodplains of the Chari and Logone rivers, much of which are inundated during the rainy season. Farther south, the basin floor slopes upward, forming a series of low sand and clay plateaus, called koros, which eventually climb to 615 meters above sea level. South of the Chadian border, the koros divide the Lake Chad Basin from the Ubangi-Zaire river system.
Permanent streams do not exist in northern or central Chad. Following infrequent rains in the Ennedi Plateau and Ouaddaï Highlands, water may flow through depressions called enneris and wadis. Often the result of flash floods, such streams usually dry out within a few days as the remaining puddles seep into the sandy clay soil. The most important of these streams is the Batha, which in the rainy season carries water west from the Ouaddaï Highlands and the Guéra Massif to Lake Fitri.
Chad’s major rivers are the Chari and the Logone and their tributaries, which flow from the southeast into Lake Chad. Both river systems rise in the highlands of Central African Republic and Cameroon, regions that receive more than 1,250 millimeters of rainfall annually. Fed by rivers of Central African Republic, as well as by the Bahr Salamat, Bahr Aouk, and Bahr Sara rivers of southeastern Chad, the Chari River is about 1,200 kilometers long. From its origins near the city of Sarh, the middle course of the Chari makes its way through swampy terrain; the lower Chari is joined by the Logone River near N’Djamena. The Chari’s volume varies greatly, from 17 cubic meters per second during the dry season to 340 cubic meters per second during the wettest part of the year.
The Logone River is formed by tributaries flowing from Cameroon and Central African Republic. Both shorter and smaller in volume than the Chari, it flows northeast for 960 kilometers; its volume ranges from five to eighty-five cubic meters per second. At N’Djamena the Logone empties into the Chari, and the combined rivers flow together for thirty kilometers through a large delta and into Lake Chad. At the end of the rainy season in the fall, the river overflows its banks and creates a huge floodplain in the delta.
The seventh largest lake in the world (and the fourth largest in Africa), Lake Chad is located in the sahelian zone, a region just south of the Sahara Desert. The Chari River contributes 95 percent of Lake Chad’s water, an average annual volume of 40 billion cubic meters, 95 percent of which is lost to evaporation. The size of the lake is determined by rains in the southern highlands bordering the basin and by temperatures in the Sahel. Fluctuations in both cause the lake to change dramatically in size, from 9,800 square kilometers in the dry season to 25,500 at the end of the rainy season. Lake Chad also changes greatly in size from one year to another. In 1870 its maximum area was 28,000 square kilometers. The measurement dropped to 12,700 in 1908. In the 1940s and 1950s, the lake remained small, but it grew again to 26,000 square kilometers in 1963. The droughts of the late 1960s, early 1970s, and mid-1980s caused Lake Chad to shrink once again, however. The only other lakes of importance in Chad are Lake Fitri, in Batha Prefecture, and Lake Iro, in the marshy southeast.
The Lake Chad Basin embraces a great range of tropical climates from north to south, although most of these climates tend to be dry. Apart from the far north, most regions are characterized by a cycle of alternating rainy and dry seasons. In any given year, the duration of each season is determined largely by the positions of two great air masses–a maritime mass over the Atlantic Ocean to the southwest and a much drier continental mass. During the rainy season, winds from the southwest push the moister maritime system north over the African continent where it meets and slips under the continental mass along a front called the “intertropical convergence zone”. At the height of the rainy season, the front may reach as far as Kanem Prefecture. By the middle of the dry season, the intertropical convergence zone moves south of Chad, taking the rain with it. This weather system contributes to the formation of three major regions of climate and vegetation.
The Saharan region covers roughly the northern third of the country, including Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti Prefecture along with the northern parts of Kanem, Batha, and Biltine prefectures. Much of this area receives only traces of rain during the entire year; at Faya Largeau, for example, annual rainfall averages less than three centimeters. Scattered small oases and occasional wells provide water for a few date palms or small plots of millet and garden crops. In much of the north, the average daily maximum temperature is about 32° C during January, the coolest month of the year, and about 45° C during May, the hottest month. On occasion, strong winds from the northeast produce violent sandstorms. In northern Biltine Prefecture, a region called the Mortcha plays a major role in animal husbandry. Dry for nine months of the year, it receives 350 millimeters or more of rain, mostly during July and August. A carpet of green springs from the desert during this brief wet season, attracting herders from throughout the region who come to pasture their cattle and camels. Because very few wells and springs have water throughout the year, the herders leave with the end of the rains, turning over the land to the antelopes, gazelles, and ostriches that can survive with little groundwater.
The semiarid sahelian zone, or Sahel, forms a belt about 500 kilometers wide that runs from Lac and Chari-Baguirmi prefectures eastward through Guéra, Ouaddaï, and northern Salamat prefectures to the Sudanese frontier. The climate in this transition zone between the desert and the southern soudanian zone is divided into a rainy season (from June to early September) and a dry period (from October to May). In the northern Sahel, thorny shrubs and acacia trees grow wild, while date palms, cereals, and garden crops are raised in scattered oases. Outside these settlements, nomads tend their flocks during the rainy season, moving southward as forage and surface water disappear with the onset of the dry part of the year. The central Sahel is characterized by drought-resistant grasses and small woods. Rainfall is more abundant there than in the Saharan region. For example, N’Djamena records a maximum annual average rainfall of 580 millimeters, while Ouaddaï Prefecture receives just a bit less. During the hot season, in April and May, maximum temperatures frequently rise above 40°C. In the southern part of the Sahel, rainfall is sufficient to permit crop production on unirrigated land, and millet and sorghum are grown. Agriculture is also common in the marshlands east of Lake Chad and near swamps or wells. Many farmers in the region combine subsistence agriculture with the raising of cattle, sheep, goats, and poultry.
The humid soudanian zone includes the southern prefectures of Mayo-Kebbi, Tandjilé, Logone Occidental, Logone Oriental, Moyen-Chari, and southern Salamat. Between April and October, the rainy season brings between 750 and 1,250 millimeters of precipitation. Temperatures are high throughout the year. Daytime readings in Moundou, the major city in the southwest, range from 27°C in the middle of the cool season in January to about 40°C in the hot months of March, April, and May.
The soudanian region is predominantly savanna, or plains covered with a mixture of tropical or subtropical grasses and woodlands. The growth is lush during the rainy season but turns brown and dormant during the five-month dry season between November and March. Over a large part of the region, however, natural vegetation has yielded to agriculture.
People of Chad
There are more than 200 ethnic groups in Chad. Those in the north and east are generally Muslim; most southerners are Christians or animists. Through their long religious and commercial relationships with Sudan and Egypt, many of the peoples in Chad’s eastern and central regions have become more or less Arabized, speaking Arabic and engaging in many other Arab cultural practices as well. More than three-quarters of the Chadian population is rural.
Population: 9,826,419 (July 2005 est.)
0-14 years: 47.73%
15-64 years: 49.46%
65 years and over: 2.81%
Population growth rate: 3.29%
Birth rate: 48.28 births/1,000 population
Death rate: 15.4 deaths/1,000 population
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population
Infant mortality rate: 95.06 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 50.88 years
male: 48.86 years
female: 52.98 years
Total fertility rate: 6.56 children born/woman
Ethnic groups: Muslims, commonly referred to as “northerners” or “gorane” (Arabs, Toubou, Hadjerai, Fulbe, Kotoko, Kanembou, Baguirmi, Boulala, Zaghawa, and Maba); non-Muslims, commonly referred to as “southerners” (Sara, Ngambaye, Mbaye, Goulaye, Moundang, Moussei, Massa) including nonindigenous 150,000 (of whom 1,000 are French)
note: ethnicity and regional background more commonly used to identify Chadians than religious affiliation
Religions: Muslim 50%, Christian 25%, indigenous beliefs (mostly animism) 25%
Languages: French (official), Arabic (official), Sara and Sango (in south), more than 100 different languages and dialects
definition: age 15 and over can read and write French or Arabic
total population: 48.1%
female: 34.7% (1995 est.)
History of Chad
AN ARRAY OF MISFORTUNES have visited African states since the beginnings of the independence movement in the late 1950s. Of the many political ills, a few of the most traumatic have been neocolonialism, coups d’état, civil wars, governmental instability, and large-scale armed invasions. Some of the most egregious social afflictions have been poverty, illiteracy, ethnic and regional animosities, high mortality rates, and imbalanced population distribution. Dominant economic woes have included famine, drought, economic dependency, and overreliance on a single crop. Many African nations have experienced more than one of these troubles periodically. Few countries, however, have undergone all of them as extensively or as often as has Chad. In spite of its misfortunes, by the late 1980s Chad was exhibiting signs of stability that provided hope for some form of political, social, and economic recovery.
Landlocked in Africa’s center, Chad has been simultaneously at the core of the region’s evolution and in a zone dividing two geographic areas and cultural heritages. On the one hand, a great inland sea, of which Lake Chad is but a remnant, once supported a diversity of animal life and vegetation. In ancient times, people speaking three of Africa’s four major language groups lived near its shores; some migrated to other regions of the continent while others remained. In more recent times, Chad has become a transition zone dividing the arid north from the tropical south. This geographic division coincides with social and cultural dichotomies.
As a result of years of voluntary or forced migrations, the people of Chad speak more than 100 distinct languages and comprise many different ethnic groups. Such diversity has enriched Chad’s culture, permitting the admixture of traditions and life-styles. At the same time, it has promoted inter- and intraethnic strife, resulting in levels of violence ranging from clan feuds to full- scale civil war. Factionalism has become a keynote of Chad’s recent history and has unquestionably impeded nation building.
Because of the area’s centrality, Chad’s history has been heavily influenced by the influx of foreigners. Some came for economic reasons, for example, to travel the trans-Saharan trade routes or to search for natural resources. Others came teaching the religion of Muhammad or of Christ. But some had more nefarious goals and invaded the region to capture slaves or to plunder weaker states.
Little is known about Chad before the beginning of the second millennium A.D. At about that time, the region gave birth to one of the great societies of Central Africa–the Kanem Empire, formed from a confederation of nomadic peoples. During the tenth century, Islam penetrated the empire, and later the king, or mai, became a Muslim. Kanem benefited from the rule of several effective mais. The most significant of these was Mai Dunama Dabbalemi, who reigned from about 1221 to 1259. By the end of the fourteenth century, internal struggles and external attacks had weakened the empire and forced it to uproot and move to Borno, an area to the southwest. The combined Kanem-Borno Empire peaked during the reign of Mai Idris Aluma, who ruled from about 1571 to 1603 and who is noted for his diplomatic, military, and administrative skills. By the early nineteenth century, unable to defend against Fulani invaders, Kanem-Borno was in decline, and by the end of the century it was overtaken by Arab invaders.
Another great empire was the kingdom of Bagirmi, which arose to the southeast of Kanem-Borno in the sixteenth century. This Islamic kingdom experienced periods of strength and weakness; when strong it aggressively expanded its territory, but when weak it was subjugated temporarily by neighboring states.
Wadai was a non-Muslim sultanate (or kingdom) that emerged to the northeast of Bagirmi in the sixteenth century as an offshoot of Darfur (Darfur Province in present-day Sudan). By the seventeenth century, it had converted to Islam, and around 1800 it began to expand under its sultan, Sabun. A later ruler, Muhammad Sharif, attacked Borno and eventually established Wadai’s hegemony over Bagirmi. By the end of the nineteenth century, most of the great empires had been destroyed or were in eclipse.
The arrival of the French in the late 1800s had benefits and disadvantages for the indigenous population. By the early twentieth century, France had stopped northern groups from slave raiding in the south, established a few schools, and initiated some development projects. The colonial administration, however, also dislocated villages and instituted mandatory cotton production quotas for farmers. Moreover, the French administration of Chad was conducted from faraway Brazzaville (in present-day Congo), and its efforts were concentrated in the south; throughout the colonial period, France’s control of the central and northern areas was nominal.
This north-south distinction created a preindependence political system dominated by southerners, who were exposed more to French education and culture than were northerners. Following independence in 1960, this dominance persisted and created considerable resentment among central and northern groups, who felt that their interests were not adequately represented by the new government.
In the late 1980s, social differences based on region persisted. The sparsely populated, desert north was peopled mainly by Toubou, many of whom were nomadic. Semisedentary groups, several of which were of Arab descent, inhabited the semiarid central areas called the Sahel. Islam was the major religion in these areas. The tropical south, also called the soudanian zone, was the most densely populated region and was home to darker skinned peoples, especially the Sara ethnic group. Here, agriculture was the principal means of livelihood, particularly the cultivation of cotton, although there was also some small-scale industry. Traditional African religions were prevalent in the south, but, because of earlier missionary efforts, so too were several Christian denominations. Termed Le Tchad Utile (Useful Chad) by the French, the south contained a disproportionate share of the educational and health facilities, as well as the majority of the development projects.
Throughout the colonial era and after independence, the Chadian economy has been based on agriculture. As such, it has been driven by the south, the only region with a climate suitable for the wide- scale production of cotton and foodstuffs (although livestock raising in the Sahel has also had some importance). At independence France left the colony with an economy retarded by exploitative policies. It was marked by insufficient development of infrastructure, overreliance on cotton and the whims of the international markets, and dependence on imports for industrial and consumer goods. By the late 1980s, warfare, drought, and famine had combined to keep the economy depressed, and international development organizations generally maintained that Chad was one of the poorest nations in the world. Indicative of this impoverishment was the fact that in 1988 Chad had a gross national product per capita of only US$160 and no paved roads. According to some observers, Chad had become a ward of the international donor community.
The nation has been subjected to the machinations of a vast number of groups and organizations. Politically, Chadians have endured a series of authoritarian regimes, none of which has successfully limited factionalism. From 1960 until 1975, François Tombalbaye, a civilian, led the nation. His regime was characterized by southern domination of the administrative structure, although he made modest attempts at placating northern and central interests. As disaffection in these regions increased, in the late 1960s dissident groups formed an antigovernment coalition, the National Liberation Front of Chad (Front de Libération Nationale du Tchad–FROLINAT). Although never fully unified, this group or associated elements of it led the fight for greater northern and central representation in government.
By the early 1970s, Tombalbaye had alienated not only these groups but also even much of the south. Although he was wary of a French military presence after independence, the president readily embraced France’s support in stemming violent discontent. Nonetheless, opposition grew, and in 1975 Tombalaye was killed in a military coup d’état. Another southerner, Félix Malloum, assumed power, but he had no more success than his predecessor in suppressing the burgeoning insurgencies and demands for greater regional participation. International intervention resulted in a peace accord between the government and the rebels and the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity (Gouvernement d’Union Nationale de Transition–GUNT). For many observers, the establishment of GUNT was a watershed, marking the end of southern political domination. It did not, however, bring an end to strife.
The traditional north-and-central versus south split was transformed into an internecine argument among former opposition factions. GUNT’s most important leaders were northerners Goukouni Oueddei and Hissein Habré, erstwhile allies in FROLINAT’s Second Liberation Army. In command of separate factions, they battled one another for control of the capital, N’Djamena. With Libyan armed support, Goukouni evicted Habré’s forces at the end of 1980. Under pressure from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and other nations, in 1981 Goukouni asked the Libyan troops to leave; in their place, security was to be maintained by an OAU peacekeeping unit, the Inter-African Force (IAF). Seizing the initiative, Habré’s regrouped and resupplied forces attacked from the northeast, and by 1982 his Armed Forces of the North (Forces Armées du Nord–FAN) had entered the capital, without any IAF interference, and sent Goukouni into exile.
Goukouni’s defeat was only temporary. With massive Libyan military aid, by mid-1983 he was attacking from northern strongholds Habré’s newly formed Chadian National Armed Forces (Forces Armées Nationales Tchadiennes–FANT). Concerned about Libyan leader Muammar al Qadhaafi’s intentions, France responded by dispatching a large force of troops and advisers. It also began a round-the-clock airlift of military supplies and established forward positions roughly along 16° north latitude. As a result of negotiations with Libya that required a mutual withdrawal of forces, French units were recalled in November 1984. Libya, however, failed to comply with these terms and reinforced its presence, especially in the Aozou Strip.
In 1986 the French redeployed to Chad. Habré’s forces, which had also benefited since 1983 from weaponry provided by the United States, launched an offensive against the Libyan positions in late 1986 and early 1987 that resulted in the routing of Libyan troops and the capture of large amounts of Libyan military equipment.
By late 1988, a measure of calm had been restored to Chadian political life. Habré was attempting to consolidate his authority, but at the same time, he was mending some of the divisiveness that has hampered nation building. He weathered a rebellion in the south in the late 1980s and brought many former opponents into high-ranking governmental positions. He sought to extend his regime through the National Union for Independence and Revolution (Union Nationale pour l’Indépendance et la Révolution–UNIR) and hoped to mobilize Chadians in rural areas.
These good intentions notwithstanding, the overwhelming majority of Chadians did not participate in the political process. The Fundamental Law of 1982, an interim constitution, vested paramount power in the president, who ruled almost without challenge. Although a committee was appointed to draft a permanent constitution, as of late 1988 there were no elected bodies, nor were any elections planned.
The evolution of Chad’s armed forces mirrors the country’s political transformation. Like the governmental structure of the 1960s, the army that was created after independence was dominated by southern groups. This fledgling force relied heavily on French matériel and–until Tombalbaye reconsidered this dependence–French military advisers. But neither the southern-dominated Chadian Armed Forces (Forces Armées Tchadiennes–FAT) nor the French units could deter the determined insurgents from the northern and central regions, most of whom fought under the FROLINAT banner. By 1978 FAT was in disarray, and it eventually splintered into minor factions.
Habré’s FANT, formed in 1983, continued to provide national security in 1988, along with several French units. FANT was a conglomeration of FAN and smaller rebel armies that rallied to Habré’s side in the 1980s. Many former opposition leaders held positions of authority in the FANT organizational structure. In addition to 3 operational battalions and 127 infantry companies, FANT had a small air force.
Chad’s internal security requirements were provided by the well-trained Presidential Guard and by several national and territorial police forces. Following the defection of many of Goukouni’s followers to FANT in the late 1980s, the group that presented the most serious threat to Chad’s security was the Democratic Revolutionary Council (Conseil Démocratique Révolutionnaire–CDR), which, under Libyan patronage, was active in the north. But Qadhaafi’s stated desire to normalize relations with Chad, enunciated in April 1988, inspired hopes that a period of genuine peace–a circumstance that the nation had not enjoyed during the previous two decades–might finally ensue.
In 2000, Chad’s nominal GDP was estimated at just over $1.43 billion with per capita income at approximately $188. Cotton, cattle and gum arabic are Chad’s major exports. More than 80% of the work force is involved in agriculture (subsistence farming, herding, and fishing). Like many other developing countries, Chad has a small formal sector and a large, thriving informal sector. Government statistics indicate the following distribution: Agriculture–38% (farming–23%, livestock–12%, fishing–3%); industry–13%; and services–45%. Chad is highly dependent on foreign assistance. Its principal donors include the European Union, France, and the multilateral lending agencies.
Primary markets for Chadian exports include neighboring Cameroon and Nigeria and France, Germany, and Portugal. At present, cotton plays the dominant role, accounting for 40% of total exports in 1999. Rehabilitation of CotonTchad, the major cotton company that suffered from a decline in world cotton prices, has been financed by France, the Netherlands, the European Economic Community (EC), and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). The parastatal is now being privatized.
The other major export is livestock, herded to neighboring countries. Herdsmen in the Sudanic and Sahelian zones raise cattle, sheep, goats, and, among the non-Muslims, a few pigs. In the Saharan region, only camels and a few hardy goats can survive. Chad also sells smoked and dried fish to its neighbors and exports several million dollars worth of gum arabic to Europe and the U.S. each year. Other food crops include millet, sorghum, peanuts, rice, sweet potatoes, manioc, cassava, and yams.
Chad’s economic performance continues to depend on fluctuations in rainfall and in prices of its principal export commodities, especially cotton. Between 1996 and 1998, the Chadian economy averaged 4.7% growth from. However, unfavorable weather conditions contributed to disappointing harvests in 1999-2000, and GDP grew only by 1% and 0.6% respectively. Inflation was estimated 3.7% in 2000 after prices fell by 8% in 1999.
Since 1995, the Government of Chad (GOC) has made incremental progress in implementing structural reforms and improving government finances under two successive structural adjustment programs. Most state enterprises have been partially or completely privatized, nonpriority public spending has been lessened and the government has gradually liberalized some key sectors of the economy. Liberalization of the telecommunications, cotton and energy sectors is expected to proceed over the next several years. In May 2001, the IMF announced that Chad would qualify for the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief initiative.
The effects on foreign investment of years of civil war are still felt today, as investors who left Chad between 1979-82 have only recently begun to regain confidence in the country’s future. By early 1983, the return of internal security and a successful Geneva donors’ conference had prompted a number of international business representatives to make exploratory visits to Chad. By far the most important venture to date is the oil extraction project in southern Chad.
Beginning in late 2000, the Doba Basin oil project has stimulated major investments into Chad and it is expected to double government tax revenues by 2004. It is hoped that this project will serve as a catalyst for the entire economy by helping to reduce energy costs and attract additional trade and investment in other sectors. The question remains whether Chad will continue to consolidate its economic reforms and invest its oil revenues wisely in order to encourage a wider range of economic initiatives. Recent political controversy surrounding the contested 2001 presidential election and a continuing rebellion in northern Chad have continued to dampen Chad’s economic prospects by exposing the weaknesses in Chad’s political institutions.
The IMF has projected high growth rates during the next 3 years, as the Doba basin oil project in southern Chad accelerates. The Exxon Mobil-led project will pump oil from reserves in Chad through an underground pipeline to coastal Cameroon, where it will be loaded onto tankers. Following a crucial World Bank financing decision in June 2000, the Doba project officially began its construction phase in October 2000. Between 2000 and 2003, an American-led consortium will invest $3.7 billion into the project, approximately $2 billion of which will be invested in Chad. By the year 2003-04 the consortium plans to produce between 150,000 to 250,000 barrels of oil a day from three fields in southern Chad. The project is expected to provide between $80 and $100 million in annual government revenues during the 25-year production phase.
GDP: purchasing power parity – $8.1 billion (2000 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 0.6% (1999 est.), 4% (2000 est.)
GDP – per capita: purchasing power parity – $1,000 (2000 est.)
GDP – composition by sector:
services: 48% (1998)
Population below poverty line: 64% (1995 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 12% (1998 est.), 3% (2000 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture 85% (subsistence farming, herding, and fishing)
revenues: $198 million
expenditures: $218 million, including capital expenditures of $146 million (1998 est.)
Industries: cotton textiles, meat packing, beer brewing, natron (sodium carbonate), soap, cigarettes, construction materials
Industrial production growth rate: 5% (1995)
Electricity – production: 90 million kWh (1999)
Electricity – production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
other: 0% (1999)
Agriculture – products: cotton, sorghum, millet, peanuts, rice, potatoes, manioc (tapioca); cattle, sheep, goats, camels
Exports: $288 million (f.o.b., 1999 est.), $172 million (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Exports – commodities: cotton, cattle, textiles
Exports – partners: Portugal 38%, Germany 12%, Thailand, Costa Rica, South Africa, France (1999)
Imports: $359 million (f.o.b., 1999 est.), $223 million (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Imports – commodities: machinery and transportation equipment, industrial goods, petroleum products, foodstuffs, textiles
Imports – partners: France 40%, Nigeria 13%, Cameroon 12%, India 5% (1999)
Debt – external: $1 billion (1999 est.)
Economic aid – recipient: $238.3 million (1995); note – $125 million committed by Taiwan (August 1997); $30 million committed by African Development Bank.
Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF); note – responsible authority is the Bank of the Central African States.