Officially known as the Republic of Chad, 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. At 1,284,000 square kilometres (496,000 sq mi), Chad is the world's 21st-largest country. N'Djamena, formerly Fort-Lamy, the capital, is the largest city. Chad is home to over 200 different ethnic and linguistic groups. In 2005 Chad's population was estimated at 10,146,000; 25.8% live in urban areas and 74.8% in rural ones. The country's population is young: an estimated 47.3% is under 15. Arabic and French are the official languages. Its currency is the CFA franc. Islam is the most widely practiced religion. The constitution provides for a secular state and guarantees religious freedom; different religious communities generally co-exist without problems.
In 1960 Chad obtained its independence under the leadership of François Tombalbaye
. Resentment towards his policies in the Muslim north culminated in the eruption of a long-lasting civil war
in 1965. In 1979 the rebels
conquered the capital and put an end to the south's hegemony. However, the rebel commanders fought amongst themselves until Hissène Habré
defeated his rivals. He was overthrown in 1990 by his general Idriss Déby
. Recently, the Darfur crisis
in Sudan has spilt over the border and destabilised the nation
, with hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees living in and around camps in eastern Chad. Chad remains plagued by political violence. In 2006
and in 2008
rebel forces have attempted to take the capital by force, but have on both circumstances failed.
The country is one of the poorest; most Chadians live in poverty as subsistence herders and farmers. Since 2003 crude oil has become the country's primary source of export earnings, superseding the traditional cotton industry. However, cotton remains a primary export. Over 80% of Chad's population relies on subsistence farming and raising livestock for its livelihood. Chad also exports large numbers of cattle.
Since 2003, nearly 240,000 Sudanese refugees have fled to eastern Chad from war-ridden Darfur, joined by approximately 45,000 refugees from the Central African Republic. With the 180,000 Chadians displaced by the civil war in the East, this has generated increased tensions among the region's communities.