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Brief History

Chad, officially known as the Republic of Chad, was part of France's African holdings until 1960, when it was granted its independence on August 11 of the same year. It endured three decades of civil warfare as well as invasions by Libya before a semblance of peace was finally restored in 1990. The government eventually drafted a democratic constitution and held flawed presidential elections in 1996 and 2001. Chad underwent a series of rebellious acts despite several peace agreements between the government and the rebels. Power remained in the hands of an ethnic minority. In June 2005, President Idriss Deby held a referendum successfully removing constitutional term limits. In 2006 and in 2008 rebel forces have attempted to take the capital by force, but have on both circumstances failed.

Geography

Chad, capital N'djamena, is located in Central Africa, South of Libya, covering an area of 1.284 million square kilometers. 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. Due to its distance from the sea and its largely desert climate, the country is sometimes referred to as the "Dead Heart of Africa". Chad is divided into three major geographical regions: a desert zone in the north, an arid Sahelian belt in the centre and a more fertile Sudanese savanna zone in the south. Lake Chad, after which the country is named, is the largest wetland in Chad and the second largest in Africa. Chad is rich in natural resources such as petroleum, uranium, natron, kaolin, fish (Lake Chad), gold, limestone, sand and gravel, salt.

People

Chad has a population of 10,543,464 (July 2010), with over 200 ethnic groups which create diverse social structures that speak French and Arabic, which are the official languages, and other Chadian languages such as Sara (in the south)and Sango, as well as more than 100 languages and dialects. The literacy rate is 25.7%. Its religions are distributed among 53.1% Muslim, 20.1%Catholic, 14.2% Protestant, 7.3% animist, 0.5% other, 1.7% unknown, 3.1% atheist (1993 census).

Government

The government of Chad is subject to a republic system. Its legal system is based on French civil law system and Chadian customary law. It has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. The chief of state is President Lt. Gen. Idriss Deby Itno (since 4 December 1990), with Prime Minister Emmanuel Nadingar as head of government (since 5 March 2010). Its official currency is The Central African CFA franc, where 534 francs are equivalent to US$1.

Economy

The United Nations' Human Development Index ranks Chad as the fifth poorest country in the world, with 80% of the population living below the poverty line, with GDP per capita was estimated as US$1,600. At least 80% of Chad's population relies on subsistence farming and livestock raising for its livelihood. Chad's economy has long been handicapped by its landlocked position, high energy costs, and a history of instability. Years of civil war have scared away foreign investors, knowing that Chad relies on foreign assistance and foreign capital for most public and private sector investment projects.

Before the development of oil industry, cotton dominated industry and the labor market and accounted for approximately 80% of export earnings. However, with the inauguration of the Chad-Cameroon pipeline in 2003, oil looked set to become the country’s main foreign currency earner. The government has undertaken efforts to ensure proper use of the oil revenue and to avoid the experience of other oil-rich countries whose people still live in poverty. On this basis, the World Bank and Chad signed a memorandum of understanding under which the Government of Chad commits 70% of its spending to priority poverty reduction programs on July 14, 2006.

Its main industries comprise oil, cotton textiles, meatpacking, brewing, natron (sodium carbonate), soap, cigarettes, and construction materials. As for its agricultural products, they include cotton, sorghum, millet, peanuts, rice, potatoes, manioc (tapioca), cattle, sheep, goats, and camels.

Civil war crippled the development of transport infrastructure. With no railways of its own, Chad depends heavily on Cameroon's rail system for the transport of Chadian exports and imports to and from the seaport of Douala.

Chad has an inflation rate of 6% (2009), and its gross national income per capita is US$ 534.55 (2010).


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