Located in Central Africa, Chad borders Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Niger, Libya and Nigeria. At 1,284,000 sq. km (797,840 sq. miles), it’s around 2.5 times the size of Spain or roughly three times the size of California. It’s been inhabited for at least 9,000 years since 7000 BC, but how much do you know about this Central African nation? We’re here to put the record straight with some of the most interesting facts about Chad.
Interesting Facts About Chad
1. It’s home to a legendary national park… but you’re not supposed to visit
The Zakouma National Park, situated south of the Sahara Desert, is legendary for its abundant wildlife. It’s the closest place to Europe where you can see the Big Five – lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and African buffalo. For decades French colonials came here for trophy hunting, then following the Civil War poaching really kicked in. In the 1970s there were 20,000 elephants, but by 2010 there were just 450. But while the park is still fragile, it’s made an extraordinary recovery.
You can only visit the park with a registered specialist guide.
2. Chad is home to the oldest fossil from a member of the human family
In 2002, Michel Brunet discovered a human skull dating back 6-7 million years ago. The French scientist named it Toumaï, which is catchier than his scientific name – Sahelanthropus tchadensis. This pushes back the date when the ancestral line of humans diverged from the great apes by at least a million years. Toumaï is three million years older than any other skull found.
3. Chad has one of the world’s highest fertility rates
According to the latest data from the World Bank, Chad has the fifth-highest fertility rate in the world with 5.7 children per woman. It also has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Around 1,100 mothers die per 100,000 births. there is only one Chadian doctor available for every 23,600 people.
Since gaining independence, Chad has been plagued by war and instability primarily from tensions between the mostly Arab-Muslim communities north and the predominantly Christian south. As a result, it’s also one of the world’s least developed countries, ranked the third-least developed nation in the UN’s Human Development Index in 2020.
4. Camel racing is a popular sport
In the Tibesti Mountains, you can find some of the world’s best camel racing. The Toubou Tribe (mountain people), distant relatives of the Western Sahar’s Tuareg, hold the races regularly. Head to the region’s highest peak, Emi Koussi, for the best views of the spectacle. Or, you could give it a go yourself.
5. It takes its name from Lake Chad… which is shrinking
Chad is named after Lake Chad, located on the country’s western border. In numerous local languages, the word ‘tsade’ mean’s ‘large body of water’. Interestingly, it’s the only country in the world with a name composed of a single syllable and vowel.
Sadly, since the 1960s, Lake Chad has shrunk by 90%. This is largely due to climate change, unplanned irrigation and an increase in population.
6. It’s home to an epic UNESCO World Heritage Site
Located in the northeast of the country, the Ennedi Massif: Natural and Cultural Landscape is home to unique natural sandstone formations sculpted by water and wind erosion over time. The dramatic canyons and valleys play an important role in the ecosystem, sustaining diverse flora and fauna. It also features thousands of images dating back 7,000 years and is one of the largest collections of rock art in the Sahara.
7. Its climate is quite confusing
Chad features three climatic regions. It’s home to the Sahara, the world’s largest hot desert, which covers around a third of the country. In contrast, the southern region has a tropical climate that supports most of the country’s farming. It’s the most densely populated region in the country. Then, there’s the Sahel Belt, from Senegal to Egypt, which covers the central region of Chad. This features a transitional climate, where the desert and tropical climates meet.