28 interesting facts about Chad

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One of the world’s least developed countries and home to a fierce beauty pageant for men, these are the most interesting facts about Chad.

Interesting facts about Chad include its unique geography
Interesting facts about Chad include its unique geography (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of Chad
Population: 16,877,357
Area: 1.284 million sq km
Capital city: N’Djamena
Major languages: French, Arabic, Sara
Major religions: Muslim, Christian
Time zone: UTC+1 (West Africa Time)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about Chad

1. Chad is located in Central Africa and is bordered by Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Libya, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

2. Chad and the surrounding region has been inhabited for approximately 9,000 years, since around 7000 BC.
– Source: Collelo et al. (1990) Chad: A Country Study. Library of Congress: Washington DC

3. Chad is a landlocked country: a country surrounded by land with no access to the sea. There are currently 45 such countries and five partially recognised states. Generally, landlocked countries suffer economically due to the drawbacks caused by a lack of access to the sea.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book, The Economist

Map of Chad
Chad is a landlocked country (Shutterstock)

4. Chad is the largest of Africa’s 16 landlocked countries.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

5. By total surface area, Chad is Africa’s fifth-largest country and the world’s 20th largest.
– Source: World Bank

6. Chad was colonised by France during the early 20th century and became a colony within French Equatorial Africa in 1913.
– Source: BBC News

7. Chad gained independence from France in 1960 with Francois (later Ngarta) Tombalbaye as president.
– Source: BBC News

A soldier in Chad
A soldier in Chad (Shutterstock)

8. Since independence, Chad has been plagued by instability and war, which principally stems from tensions between the largely Arab-Muslim north and the predominantly Christian and animist south.
– Source: BBC News

9. Chad is rich in gold and uranium and is an oil-exporting country, but suffers from poor infrastructure, bouts of internal conflict and severe poverty.
– Source: BBC News

10. As such, Chad is one of the world’s least developed countries. In 2020, it was ranked as the third-least developed nation in the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI).
– Source: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Farm houses in Chad
Chad is one of the world’s least developed countries (Shutterstock)

11. Chad has one of the world’s lowest life expectancies. As of 2020, it had the third-lowest life expectancy at just 54.0 years.
– Source: World Bank

12. Parts of Chad made up the Kanem Empire (c.700-1380) and its successor the Bornu Empire (1380s-1893).
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

13. More than 100 different languages and dialects are spoken in Chad. Additionally, one of its official languages, Arabic, is also spoken in various forms.
– Source: Britannica

14. Zakouma National Park in Chad is home to the “Big Five” game animals of rhino, lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo. Rhinos were introduced to the park in 2018, making Zakouma the closest “Big Five” destination to Europe.
– Source: The Telegraph

Elephants in Zakouma National Park
Zakouma National Park (Shutterstock)

15. In 2002, French scientists discovered a human skull thought to be 6-7 million years old. Named Toumaï, it is believed to be the oldest fossil from a member of the human family.
– Source: Nature

16. In 2020, Chad was named the world’s hungriest country, one of three countries suffering from alarming levels of hunger.
– Source: Global Hunger Index

17. Chad’s flag is vertically striped with the colours blue, yellow and red. The blue stripe is said to stand for hope and the sky, yellow is for the sun and red is for the unity of the nation.
– Source: Britannica

18. Chad’s flag is almost identical to that of Romania’s. The only difference is that Romania’s has a darker shade of blue. Chad’s is also similar to Andorra’s and Moldova’s, both of which have a national coat of arms centred in the yellow stripe.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

The flag of Chad
The flag of Chad (Shutterstock)

19. Chad has one of the world’s highest fertility rates. In 2020, Chad had the fifth-highest fertility rate of 5.7 children per woman.
– Source: World Bank

20. Chad takes its name from Lake Chad, which lies along the country’s western border. The word “tsade” means “large body of water” or “lake” in several local native languages.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

21. Lake Chad has shrunk by 90% since the 1960s, due to climate change, an increase in the population and unplanned irrigation. It is a vital source of water for 20 to 30 million people in the region.
– Source: BBC News

Lake Chad from above
Lake Chad (Shutterstock)

22. Chad is the only country in the world whose name is composed of a single syllable with a single vowel.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

23. The UNESCO-listed Ennedi Massif: Natural and Cultural Landscape is a mountainous region home to unique natural sandstone formations and rock art dating back 7,000 years.
– Source: UNESCO, African Parks

24. The site is also home to a population of desert-adapted West African crocodiles, herds of Barbary sheep, as many as 525 plant species and at least 180 bird species.
– Source: UNESCO, African Parks

Camels in the Ennedi Massif
Ennedi Massif (Shutterstock)

25. According to the UK Foreign Office, Chad is one of 17 countries deemed to be entirely unsafe for tourists to visit.
– Source: The Telegraph

26. Chad is part-home to the world’s largest hot desert (excluding the Arctic and Antarctic deserts). The Sahara Desert, with a total area of 8,600,000sq km (3,320,000sq mi), covers much of North Africa.
– Source: Britannica

27. The UNESCO-listed Lakes of Ounianga are a series of 18 lakes in the Sahara Desert of Chad that survive despite receiving less than 2mm rainfall per year.
– Source: UNESCO

One of the Lakes of Ounianga
Lakes of Ounianga (Shutterstock)

28. Chad is home to the Gerewol festival, a beauty pageant where the men of a polygamous tribe called the Wodaabe battle it out to be selected as partners by unmarried women.
– Source: National Geographic


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