The ancient land called Chad was inhabited over one million years ago, at a time when much of it was only water. In modern Chad, precious water is often difficult to find, while famine and war seem everywhere.
Over the centuries it served as the stomping-ground of sorts for a litany of cultures and kingdoms, beginning with the Saos in the 6th century BC. The Kanem Empire became the longest-lasting in the region, gaining control in the first millennium AD, and surviving until internal struggles aided in their collapse towards the end of the 14th century.
The French arrived in 1891, and established complete control of the region. France governed until Chad gained its independence in 1960, and Chadian Progressive Party (PPT) leader, Francois Tombalbaye, we appointed the country’s first president.
Decades of ethnic warfare followed, in addition to invasions from Libya, its most powerful neighbor. A certain level of peace was restored in 1990, but local power struggles continue, and the future of this unstable land is uncertain.
On December 23, 2005, Chad declared a state of war against Sudan, due to the Sudanese government’s attempt at overthrowing Chadian president, Idriss Deby. Failed attempts at overrunning the capital city of N’Djamena were orchestrated by rebel forces in 2006 and 2008, both of which were blamed on Sudan.
A peace agreement was finally reached and signed on January 15, 2010, bringing the five-year war to an end, and opening the borders between both countries.
Despite the peace treaty, Chad’s foreseeable future remains unstable, and organized gangs have begun to terrorize the region.
Much of the country is positioned within the hot and dry (and mostly unproductive) Sahara Desert, covering Chad with sand and barren scrub land. In the far south and southwest, surrounding Lake Chad, conditions improve to support an abundance of wildlife, as well as agricultural ventures.
Chad’s economy has recently benefited from a series of major oil field and pipeline projects, while cattle, cotton and gum arabic have long been the traditional economic mainstays.
Long term weaknesses include its landlocked position, oppressive poverty, the shrinking of Lake Chad, and the ever increasing expansion of the Sahara Desert.