Chad (Arabic: تشاد, French: Tchad) is one of the poorest and most corruptly mis-governed countries in the world, with most of its inhabitants living in poverty as subsistence herders and farmers.
Due to its distance from the sea and desert climate, Chad is sometimes described as the "Dead Heart of Africa".
For more than 2000 years, the Chadian Basin has been inhabited by agricultural and sedentary peoples. The earliest of these were the legendary Sao, known from artefacts and oral histories. The Sao fell to the Kanem Empire, the first and longest-lasting of the empires that developed in Chad's Sahelian strip by the end of the 1st millennium AD. The power of Kanem and its successors was based on control of the trans-Saharan trade routes that passed through the region.
French colonial expansion led to the creation of the Territoire Militaire des Pays et Protectorats du Tchad in 1900. By 1920, France had secured full control of the colony and incorporated it as part of French Equatorial Africa. The French primarily viewed the colony as an unimportant source of untrained labour and raw cotton. The colonial administration in Chad was critically understaffed and had to rely on the dregs of the French civil service.
Fifteen thousand Chadian soldiers fought for Free France during WWII and after the war ended, France granted Chad the status of overseas territory and its inhabitants the right to elect representatives to both the French National Assembly, and to a Chadian assembly. Chad was granted independence on 11 August 1960 with the PPT's leader, François Tombalbaye, as its first president. Two years later, Tombalbaye banned opposition parties and established a one-party system. In 1965 Muslims began a civil war. Tombalbaye was overthrown and killed in 1975, but the insurgency continued. In 1979 the rebel factions conquered the capital, and all central authority in the country collapsed. The disintegration of Chad caused the collapse of France's position in the country, and a civil war in which the Libyans (unsuccessfully) became involved.
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. In 1998, a rebellion broke out in northern Chad, which sporadically flares up despite several peace agreements between the government and the rebels. In 2005 new rebel groups emerged in western Sudan and have made probing attacks into eastern Chad. Power remains in the hands of an ethnic minority. In June 2005, President Idriss Deby won a referendum to remove constitutional term limits. In February 2008, an attempted coup rocked the capital.
Each year a tropical weather system known as the inter-tropical front crosses Chad from south to north, bringing a wet season that lasts from May to October in the south, and from June to September in the Sahel.
The country's landscape comprises broad, arid plains in the centre, desert in the north, mountains in the northwest, and lowlands in the south. Lowest point: Djourab Depression (160 m/525 ft). Highest point: Emi Koussi (3,415 m/11,204 ft).
The dominant physical structure is a wide basin bounded to the north, east and south by mountain ranges such as the Ennedi Plateau in the north-east. Lake Chad, after which the country is named, is the remains of an immense lake that occupied 330,000 km2 (205,000 mi2) of the Chadian Basin 7,000 years ago. Although in the 21st century it covers only 17,806 km2 (11,064 mi2), and its surface area is subject to heavy seasonal fluctuations, the lake is Africa's second largest wetland.
For all others, a visa is necessary. A single-entry visa costs US$100 for 1 month and multiple-entry visas cost US$150 (3 months) or US$200 (6 months). A letter of invitation is required.
Air France has daily flights from Paris to N'Djaména. Ethiopia Airlines flies to Addis Ababa, Turkish airlines to Istanbul, Royal Air Maroc to Casablanca, Sudan Airways to Khartoum, Egypt Air to Cairo, and Camair-co to Douala.
There are no usable rail links.
Roads are in disrepair and are typically unpaved - there is only one paved road, which currently runs from Massakory in the north through N'Djamena on to Guelendeng, Bongor, Kelo and Moundou. It is the best road in the country but still has numerous potholes and as it runs through the centre of a number of small villages, drivers should exercise caution and moderate speeds even while on the main road.
There are several border crossings with Cameroon, most notably via Kousseri near N'Djamena and near the towns of Bongor and Lere. Be very careful, drive defensively, and don't stop unless absolutely necessary. Do not drive at night, as coupeurs de route (road bandits) are common. They are a particular concern along the two roads leading out of Guelendeng, towards Ba-Illi (where expats were attacked in two separate incidents in 2005, resulting in the death of one Catholic nun) and towards Bongor.
It is impossible to reach Chad by boat unless crossing illegally through Lake Chad.
The main languages of Chad are Arabic and French. Few Chadians other than the educated and well-travelled speak literary Arabic, however; a dialect of Arabic known as "Chadian Arabic" is much more widely spoken and is the closest thing the country has to a trade language. Chadian Arabic is significantly different from Literary Arabic, but similar to the dialects of Sudan and Egypt. Literary Arabic speakers can typically understand Chadian Arabic but the reverse is not true. Over one hundred indigenous languages are also spoken.
Parc National de Zakouma
The currency of the country is the Central African CFA franc, denoted FCFA (ISO currency code: XAF). It's also used by five other Central African countries. It is interchangeable at par with the West African CFA franc (XOF), which is used by six countries. Both currencies are fixed at a rate of 1 euro = 655.957 CFA francs.
There are no restrictions on bringing foreign currencies into Chad. US dollars and euros are often directly accepted in payment.
There are Ecobank ATMs in Chad where you can get a cash withdrawal with a Master Card and Visa card. Look at the Ecobank website for a full list of locations.
Meat dishes are very popular in Chad, and foreign travellers speak highly of the meat (such as lamb). Food is usually eaten without utensils, and hand sanitizer may be a good precaution. Muslims find it offensive to eat with the left hand. If eating with or being served by Muslims in Chad, be sure to eat with your right hand only.
Follow common health travel guidelines concerning raw fruit and cooking requirements to avoid disease. The US State Department website has resources concerning safety while eating abroad.
Because the colonial occupier of Chad (or Tchad) was France, you can easily use euros, too. But for most, Chad is an expensive place compared to the rest of Africa.
Years ago few hotels existed in Chad, but now N'Djamena hosts a myriad of affordable options.
Chad is consistently engulfed in political turmoil and attacks from rebels will probably not happen, but are certainly possible. The situation has stagnated, but it remains a threat. Violence from the Darfur conflict overspills into Eastern Chad from Sudan, a country which shares hostilities with Chad. Any activity outside of N'Djamena is done with difficulty at best. Northern Chad is barren, scorching desert and guides (good luck) and meticulous planning are required. In 2013, Boko Haram jihadists were spotted in Chad.
N'Djamena is RELATIVELY safe, although one should be wary of petty street crime and corrupt police/officials. Most border crossings are extremely difficult (Sudan and Libya not being a viable option) although the border crossings with Niger and Cameroon are relatively painless.
Don't accept water from any stores unless you know the brand. Eat only your own food that you buy in grocery stores. Avoid restaurants whenever possible. Stay away from people that look sick; there are many diseases in Chad to be aware of. If you are in Chad for a while, go to a doctor once a month if you can afford it.
There are 200 distinct ethnic groups. In the north and center: Arabs, Gorane (Toubou, Daza, Kreda), Zaghawa, Kanembou, Ouaddai, Baguirmi, Hadjerai, Fulbe, Kotoko, Hausa, Boulala, and Maba, most of whom are Muslim; in the south: Sara (Ngambaye, Mbaye, Goulaye), Moundang, Moussei, Massa, most of whom are Christian or animist; about 1,000 French citizens live in Chad.
The Chadian-Libyan conflict is something to be avoided at all times; Chadians known to be living in Libya have been tortured and murdered on previous occasions.
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Double-sided, indexed and very detailed map of Chad. Formerly the northern portion of French Equatorial Africa, Chad is famous among history buffs as being the jump-off point of General LeClerc's masterful march across the Sahara to Tunisia with Free French units loyal to the Allies, during WW1. In more modern terms, Chad is the site of Lake Chad, once a massive interior African lake, but now sadly depleted in size. The map distinguishes roads ranging from divided paced highways to tracks/foot-paths. Legend includes places of interest, mosques, lodges/rest houses, churches, pagodas/temples, clinics, hotels, airfields, national/domestic airports, nature reserves. and includes an inset of the capital N'Djamena.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
Despite a strong military presence in Chad, there is a possibility of clashes between rebels and government troops. Tensions are especially high in the eastern provinces, where armed rebel groups are attempting to control the area. If you are contemplating travel to Chad despite the warning, you should check with local authorities or with the Embassy of Canada in Khartoum (Sudan) for the latest security and safety information before finalizing any travel plans.
Civil unrest and violent incidents can occur throughout the country. Carry all necessary travel documents, including valid passports and visas, at all times. Monitor local news, avoid large crowds and demonstrations where political violence may occur and follow the advice of local authorities.
In 2013, the French military assisted the Malian government in efforts to repel armed rebels. Terrorist groups in the region declared their intention to increase attacks and kidnappings targeting Westerners. While the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali has been supporting the transitional authorities in stabilizing the region since July 2013, citizens of countries supporting the intervention are still at particular risk, but all travellers should exercise increased vigilance in the region.
Travel in northern Chad, especially in the Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti region, is considered dangerous. The presence of landmines has been reported along the border with Libya. Attempting to cross the border would be hazardous. Border closure can occur without notice.
Contraband from Cameroon is frequently smuggled across the Chari River, which can result in armed intervention by Chadian customs and river police. Rural areas around Lake Chad are also subject to periodic violence.
A state of emergency is in effect in the Nigerian state of Borno, which borders Chad. Instability in this province could spill over into Chad.
In the border areas with Sudan and the Central African Republic, rebel groups are active and create an extremely insecure situation. Attacks have occurred in these areas and there is a serious threat of kidnapping against foreigners. The humanitarian situation in eastern Chad (including the regions of Biltine and Ouaddaï) is serious, given the ongoing potential for trans-border clashes and the presence of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees who have fled the conflict in Darfur. Targeted attacks on humanitarian workers by bandits and armed militias have increased, and several local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have suspended or reduced operations. You should exercise extreme caution in and around the city of Abéché, where violent incidents have been reported. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR ) recommends travelling in convoys of at least two vehicles and avoiding all movements in the region after 6:00 p.m. There are live minefields in this region. Crossing the border anywhere in this area is extremely dangerous.
Avoid all non-essential travel to the capital city of N’Djamena. There is a risk of violence, kidnapping and serious crime in N’Djamena. Travellers entering or exiting the capital must go through security check points. If travel outside N'Djamena is necessary, a permit issued by the Ministry of Interior is required. The permit may take several days to be issued. Outside N’Djamena, telecommunication systems are very unreliable. Travellers with Thuraya satellite phones should register the phones with the Chadian authorities. You are advised to hire a local driver to avoid being the victim of mob justice in response to a road accident.
Pickpockets and purse snatchers are active in market and commercial areas. Do not show signs of affluence and leave valuables and personal belongings, including cash and airline tickets, in a hotel safe or other secure place. Dress conservatively and avoid walking alone, especially after dark. Burglary and vehicle theft increase during periods of political instability. Banditry is common. Foreigners are increasingly targeted, particularly at night.
Road conditions are dangerous. Roads are poorly maintained and mostly unpaved, even in N’Djamena. Streets are poorly lit and road signs are often missing. Excessive speeds, erratic driving habits, lack of vehicle maintenance, roaming wildlife and livestock, cyclists, and pedestrians pose risks. You are advised not to travel between cities at night due to poor road infrastructure.
Emergency services do not exist.
Fuel is not always available in major cities and is very scarce in rural areas.
You should travel in convoy outside N'Djamena, during daylight hours only and carry additional fuel, a spare tire and provisions.
Keep windows closed and doors locked at all times. You should stop and cooperate at all police or military roadblocks. Proper identification should be readily available.
There is no operational train or bus network in Chad. Trucks and minibuses are not properly maintained and are often dangerous. They are not recommended for any intercity travel.
Consult our Transportation FAQ in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.
Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease (meningitis) is a serious and sometimes fatal infection of the tissue around the brain and the spinal cord. Travellers who may be at high risk should consider getting vaccinated. High-risk travellers include those living or working with the local population (e.g., health care workers), those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings, or those travelling for a longer period of time.
There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.
Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.
Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Central Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Central Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
There have been cases of cholera reported in this country in the last year. Cholera is a bacterial disease that typically causes diarrhea. In severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are generally at low risk. Humanitarian workers and those visiting areas with limited access to safe food and water are at higher risk. Practise safe food and water precautions. Travellers at high risk should get vaccinated.
Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
In some areas in Central Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a tsetse fly. Tsetse fly bites are painful and if the disease is left untreated it is eventually fatal. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from bites especially in game parks and rural areas during the day. Avoid wearing bright or dark-coloured clothing as these colours attract tsetse flies. There is no vaccine available for this disease.
Onchocerciasis (river blindness) is an eye and skin disease caused by a parasite spread through the bite of an infected female blackfly. Onchocerciasis often leads to blindness if left untreated. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from blackfly bites, which are most common during the daytime and close to running water. There is no vaccine available for onchocerciasis although drug treatments exist.
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in Central Africa, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.
Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.
Criminal convictions for possession or trafficking of drugs can result in strict penalties and often lengthy prison sentences. Persons violating Chad's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Convicted offenders may expect jail sentences and fines.
Homosexuality is not widely accepted and some homosexual activity is illegal.
You are required to have a government permit for all photography. It is prohibited to photograph airports, military establishments and government buildings. Film and cameras may be confiscated without notice.
An International Driving Permit is required.
Dual-nationality Chadian/Canadian citizens should be aware that they will be treated as Chadian if arrested, and access to a Canadian consular official may be extremely difficult. Consult our publication entitled Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know for more information.
The majority of the population is Muslim. Common sense and discretion should be exercised in dress and behaviour. Respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
The currency is the Central African Franc (CFA) which is also used in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. There are no import restrictions on local or foreign currencies, provided they are declared upon arrival. The export of local currency is prohibited and the export of foreign currency is limited to the amount declared upon arrival. Proof of entry of money must be processed through one of the local commercial banks.
There are currently no automated banking machines (ABMs) in Chad. Credit cards are accepted only at the two major hotels in N'Djamena and at Air France, the major airline. Due to the potential for fraud and other criminal activity, use credit cards with caution. Small amounts of local currency can be negotiated on major credit cards from several banks. Canadian currency and Canadian dollar traveller's cheques are not widely accepted worldwide. It is recommended that traveller’s cheques be issued in euros, although U.S. dollars are accepted. Please ensure that you bring your receipt for the purchase of the traveller’s cheques, as it is required when you cash them.
The rainy season in the south lasts from May to October .The rains in central Chad occur from June to September. Many roads become impassable during the rainy season. The north receives little rain. You should keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly, as rain barriers are closed during rainstorms and for three hours afterwards.