1,284,000 sq km (495,800 sq miles).
11.4 million (2014).
8.9 per sq km.
Head of state:
President Idriss Déby since 1990.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Kalzeubé Pahimi Deubet since 2013.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs with two round pins are standard.
From the natural wonders of the Sahara Desert and Lake Chad to the tribal culture and hospitality that flourishes across the country, Chad quietly gets on with creating unforgettable experiences, while the rest of the world looks on unaware.
With a predominantly rural population, urban life is restricted to N’Djamena, the capital. As Chad’s commercial hub it attracts people from over 200 different ethnic groups. The result is a diverse set of social structures rubbing alongside one another and stark contrasts between the capital’s modernist heart and the ancient ways of nomadic tribespeople such as the Tuareg and Toubou.
Ethnicity remains far more important than Chadian identity and tribes hold dear a rich cultural heritage that remains largely unchanged by time or the outside world.
Chad’s prehistoric cave paintings, found amid gnarled rock formations in the Sahara Desert, document the existence of large animals in the region for millennia, so it is therefore unsurprising that even today the country is home to some of Africa’s most iconic species, including elephant, rhino, giraffe, leopard and lion.
Birdsong, made all the sweeter by the desert landscape, is near constant in the hidden palm-fringed oases of the Sahara, while the clear blue waters of Lake Chad form the second largest wetland in Africa and an important source of water for not only birds but reptiles and larger mammals too.
Whether it is to experience the solitude of the Sahara, seek out the hospitality of the Tuareg or witness animals surviving in the one of the most extreme landscapes on Earth, Chad offers hardy travellers an extraordinary experience. It may be nicknamed the “dead heart of Africa,” but as anyone who knows this country will tell you, that moniker couldn’t be further from the truth.
Last updated: 19 October 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Armed robberies, particularly from cars, in residential areas of N’Djamena are common. Foreigners are sometimes targeted.
Be vigilant and take particular care in the capital. Keep doors locked and windows closed. Don’t carry large sums of money, jewellery, or other valuables. Avoid isolated or less developed areas of towns and don’t travel alone at night.
There have been a number of kidnappings in eastern Chad involving Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) workers and business people. You should be vigilant and take care at all times.
The long-standing policy of the British Government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British Government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.
Nearly 350,000 Sudanese and Central African refugees and 100,000 internally displaced persons (IDP) are living in and around camps in eastern and southern Chad. The Joint Border Force between Sudan and Chad has partially stabilised the situation in the east, but banditry and violent crime in eastern Chad still exist. The border between Chad and Central African Republic is heavily restricted with only limited refugee/returnee movement permitted. The border with Sudan is subject to closure at little notice.
The area bordering Libya is heavily land-mined. The northern regions of Borkou, Ennedi and Tibesti remain unsafe.
Road travel can be dangerous due to the state of the roads and quality of driving. Accidents involving motorbikes are particularly common. Crowds can quickly gather around the scene of an accident and, while rarely violent, can be intimidating. Try to make contact with the police or other local authority immediately if you are involved in an accident.
For travel outside the capital, you will need authorisation from the Ministry of the Interior, which is normally granted without difficulty after a few days. Roads are poor and often impassable during the rainy season (July-October), especially in the south. Heavy rains can result in major flooding in many areas, particularly in the south and east.
You should travel in convoy, keep doors locked and carry spare fuel and supplies. Police checkpoints are common: you may be asked to show your passport, driving licence and vehicle registration documents. Don’t travel by road after dark.
You should avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people. If you become aware of any nearby protests leave the area immediately. You should keep yourself informed of developments through local media.
There is no British Embassy in Chad. If you need consular assistance you should contact the British High Commission in Yaoundé, Cameroon.