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Chad is a landlocked country in northern Africa. With an area of 1,284,000 km², it is the fifth largest country on the African continent and about three and a half times the size of Germany. The country stretches from the central Sahara in the north via the Sahel zone to tropical regions in the south (north-south extension 1 750 km). Chad borders Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic and Cameroon to the south, Nigeria and Niger to the west.
In the north of the country lies the Tibesti mountains with the highest elevation of the country, the Emi Koussi with 3 415 m (at the same time the highest mountain of the Sahara). In the northeast lies the Ennedi mountain range, which reaches heights of up to 1,450 m and belongs to the Ouadaï threshold, which runs from north to south. The western and central parts of the country belong to the Chad Basin, which lies at an altitude of 200 to 500 metres.
In the west of the country lies Lake Chad, whose surface area is between 10,000 and 25,000 km², depending on the water level. About half of the lake belongs to the state territory of Chad, further the neighbouring countries Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria have share. Due to the droughts of the last decades, the water level of the lake is constantly decreasing. Important rivers in the country are the Logone and the Chari, which flow from the south to Lake Chad. The floodplains of the rivers are important cultivated areas. The capital N’Djamena lies in the southwest at the border to Cameroon.
Chad is a presidential republic under the 1996 Constitution. The head of state is the president (since 1990 Idriss Déby), who is elected by the people for a term of five years. He appoints the Prime Minister as head of government (since January 2013 Djimrangar Dadnadji).
The legislature consists of one chamber, the National Assembly, whose 188 members are elected by the people for a term of four years. The dominant political force is the presidential party Patriotic Welfare Movement (MPS).
The Republic of Chad is divided into 22 regions. The legal system is based on French law, Islamic Sharia law and traditional tribal jurisdiction.
The Republic of Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world. 80% of the population live below the poverty line. Long periods of drought, civil wars, corruption and mismanagement have stagnated the country’s moderately developed economy, which cannot survive without international financial aid. In 2000, the World Bank again approved a sum of around 200 million US dollars for the construction of a pipeline. Oil exports, which only began in 2003, brought with them enormous economic growth. However, despite the World Bank’s efforts to ensure a fair distribution of revenues, this did not reduce poverty.
In addition to oil, the Tibesti Mountains in the north of the country have uranium, bauxite and gold deposits that have not yet been mined. Sodium is extracted from Lake Chad. The industry is hardly developed and is limited to small enterprises producing food, textiles and tobacco. However, thanks to crude oil, industry has a large and rising share of the gross domestic product (GDP).
Agriculture employs about three-quarters of the working population. Millet, rice, cassava, beans, rice, potatoes and sugar cane are the main crops cultivated for the country’s own needs, mainly in the south of the country for shifting fields or for permanent crops. The cultivation of cotton and peanuts is important for exports. In the northern part of the country, livestock farming predominates, with overgrazing and the construction of ever deeper wells (lowering of the groundwater level) further advancing the process of desertification. Fishing in Lake Chad and in the country’s rivers makes a major contribution to meeting the population’s own needs. Nevertheless, food must also be imported. Cotton is the country’s most important agricultural export, and peanuts and livestock are also exported.
Chad’s infrastructure is poorly developed. Only about 1% of the total 33,000 km of roads are asphalted; in the south of the country, a large proportion of the roads cannot be used at all during the flooding period. An international airport is located near the capital N’Djamena.