Geography Now! Chad

Alright, let’s dissect the flag.The flag is just a simple vertical tricolor of blue, yellow, and red.The blue represents the sky and water and hope.Yellow represents the sun and the desert to the north of the country.And red represents progress, unity, and sacrifice. And red also represents “The blood shed of those who fought for the country.”

See, originally they wanted green, but they choose blue because they didn’t want any confusion with Mali,and also, keep in mind; this flag is exactly the same as Romania. They even have the same dimensions.The only difference is that the Chadian flag has about half a shade darker of blue.Nonetheless, they are virtually indistinguishable from each other.Alright, let’s get our hands even stickier in:

POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY:

Location wise, Chad has a nickname:The Dead Heart of Africa.And here’s why:

As a central African country, it contains some of the harshest portions of the Sahara Desert in the north,making it the “dead heart” of Africa.Chad is a landlocked country located in the central African region,bordered by 6 other countries and the capital N’djamena located in the southwest corner on the Chari River by the border of Cameroon.

The country is split up into 23 regions, the most heavily populated ones being in the south;and you can probably guess why.Then you get to this area in the northernmost part of Chad, the Aouzou Strip.Originally, Libya wanted this border to look like this,cutting off a huge portion of the Tibesti Mountains and Libyan desert from Chad.

Chad did not like that and fought for control over it, and eventually, in the 90’s, got it back.The funny thing is, despite a few rumored mineral deposits,the entire strip has virtually no resources and is just a vast, empty open desert.Which just goes to show how far people will go to own nothing.

Otherwise, the country’s location has a lot of history behind it.Historically, it used to be right in the middle of the Trans-Saharan trade route.For thousands of years, people would come all the way from places like Ethiopia and Egypt,and cross over the harsh Sahara all the way to places like Timbuktu and Itigil (?).

You can still see a few historical sites from the Kanem-Bornu Empire that took over the region during the times that the trade routes were used.But they do have the smallest, barely-noticeable road into Libya at the military base at the Aouzou Strip.AKA, one of the world’s worst places to be stationed.

Of course, Chad also owns the largest portion of Lake Chad, where the country gets its name from.By the way, interesting side note:the word “chad” is just a local word that means expanse of water or lake.So, essentially, this country is called “Lake”, even though it’s one of the most un-lake-like countries on the planet.It wasn’t always like that, though.Let’s explain in:

PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY:

If you look at Chad from a satellite image, you’ll notice something very strange.The north almost looks like a geological battle zone that lost to the sand a long time ago,leaving hints and clues as to what it used to look like.

First of all, the country has four main bioclimatic zones:The sparsely populated Sahara in the north,the scrubby light-grassy Sahel under that,the Sudanian zone with woodland savana,and the Guinea zone in the furthest south region, that gets the most rain and has the dense green forests.Chad lies on the Chad Basin, the largest endorheic drainage basin in all of Africa,centered around Lake Chad.

If you look closely, you can see dry riverbeds that extend outwards from the Bodélé depression all the way to Lake Chad.

And especially on the road from Salal to Nethalay (?) you can see these dark spots along the roadside.Some of these spots are rocks, however, a lot of them are terrainian water sources, ponds, and oases.This is one the reasons why even though Chad is a relatively dry nation on the surface,water still lingers abundantly underground in many of the Sahel regions, allowing them to grow cropseven in the seemingly arid landscape.

Okay, this is probably one of the coolest things about Chad.The Bodélé depression.One thing you have to understand is that this place was possibly part of a mega lake a long time ago connected to Lake Chad.We know this because of the minuscule diatom particles that coat the entire depression surface.Small Paul: Hey guys, just for future reference,A “diatom” is a type of algae. Okay? Cool? Got it? Alright.

Regular Paul: Now look at the map again.If you look to the northeast of the depression,you’ll notice an hourglass convergence point blasting out from the Libyan desert towards the depression.That’s because that’s exactly what it is.The harmattan winds from the desert squeeze through the narrow funnel of the Tibesti Mountains and the Ennedi Plateauthat creates dust storms 100 days a year.

This effectively blasts the dust and diatom particles high into the atmosphere for weeks and sometimes even months,all the way across the Atlantic until they eventually hit the landing spot in the Amazon rainforest.The diatom particles in the sand, in addition to phosphorus and other minerals,are some of the most important sources of nutrients that nourishes the plants halfway across the world.

Enough about the desert, though. Chad has more than just sand and dust.The south has the greenest areas in the country, where you can still find your typical African wildlife.Such as elephants, hippos, lions, buffalos, giraffes, zebras, and leopards.

However, poaching has been a huge problem in recent years, especially against elephants in the ivory trade.National parks are typically understaffed, and wardens have been threatened or killed.

The biggest physical feature that this country’s exploiting, though, would have to be the oil fields by Doba.First drilled in 2003, these oil fields were what were presumably a godsend for the economy,since the majority of Chad’s industry was centralized around agriculture and subsistence farming.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t gone exactly how the majority of citizens had hoped it would have gone.It all kind of had to do with politics…Let’s talk more about that in:

DEMOGRAPHICS:

Okay, so Chad is kind of enigmatic in its populous.Even if you don’t know the world pretty well, you can kind of probably get a stereotypical feel for the regions of Africa.Like, South Africans are the partiers.Nigerians are the busy guys.Kenyans are good at cardio.And don’t mess with an Ethiopian.

However, what is a Chadian person like?Well first of all, there really is no single type of Chadian person.The country is actually made up of about 200 distinct ethnic people groups and tribes.With about 100 different languages and dialects spoken amongst them.Where they all unite, though, is under the official languages French and Arabic, and to some extent, the Sara language.

Nonetheless, the country has about 10.5 million people, about 75% of whom are rural.The largest people groups are the Sara at around 30%, Arabs at about 12%,the Mayo-Kebi at 11%, the Kanem-Bornu at 9%and the rest are a bunch of other tribes and people groups that I don’t have time to pronounce.

Cultural wise, it really depends on where you are and who you’re talking to in Chad.The north has more nomadic and semi-nomadic people groups, like the Fulani, Toubou, Maba, and Dzagwa peoplethat practice pastoralism, or the act of moving around so your animal herds can graze off of whatever little vegetation and water that they can find.

Southern tribes and people groups live lifes that are heavily agrarian and commercial-based,since most of the urban areas are located in this area.

Polygamy is also commonly practiced and about 2/3 of women will have been married before the age of 18.Faithwise, about half of the country identifies with Islam,with about half of the Muslims being Sunni, and a quarter Shia, and the rest are non-denominational.

Whereas Christians make up about a third of the country,divided almost equally amongst Catholics and Protestants.The rest of the country typically follows a form of indigenous beliefs.Basically, like many other African countries, as a former colony,Chad had drama after independence from France in 1960.They had leaders that suppressed opposition forces, and then there was a huge civil war.

Then the general of the previous leader overthrew him, which was kind offoreseeable,considering that the president was actively persecuting the general’s tribe right before his own eyes.And to this day, IdrisDéby has been in power since 1990.He pulled the one move that everyone hates.He unilaterally modified the constitution to remove the 2 year term limit, giving him unlimited terms.

People were angry, multiple unsuccessful coups have been attempted, his plane almost got shot down,and his own son was found dead in a parking garage in Paris.This especially caused an uproar considering the recent oil boom.Déby promised oil wealth would trickle down to the average Chadian person,however, people were super angry when they found out that a large portion of it actually went to the military.

Nonetheless, some of the oil money did go down into the social welfare department,and the average quality of life for Chad has actually really increased since the oil boom.Life expectancy has increased by about 5 to 10 years per person, infant mortality has dropped,education and medical facilities are more readily available and affordable.The per-capita income has also increased from about $300 to about $1,000 in about 10 years since the oil boom.

Nonetheless, with the shady politics and regulations,many countries are a little weary of stepping into the foreign investor market with Chad.Let’s find out why in:

FRIEND ZONE:

Chad has some issues in the Sahara.The strange thing is that even though Chad has centuries of ties to the Arab world,they’re kind of reluctant to maintain significant relations with them.When it comes to their neighbors,pretty much everything north, east, and west has some kind of past drama with Chad.Libya with the border disputes and civil wars, Sudan with the presidential protests and darfur disputes,and even Nigeria with the economic austerity measures in the 80’s that expelled Chadian expats.

Whereas Niger is kind of like a “no-comment” zone.Nonetheless, all these countries still have embassies and missions in and out of Chad and cooperate,but almost exclusively out of a cold, platonic business mindset and nothing else.Outside of Africa, France, Germany, and the US are probably the closest allies.

These countries are the most important foreign donors and investors of Chad’s international development sector.Each country also gives Chad a slight boost in tourism, even though travel advisories have been issued multiple times during all the conflicts,which gives all the countries a headache.

In terms of their best friends, however, you have to head south.Cameroon and the Central African Republic are probably their closest friends,however, Cameroon is, like, a little closer.Considering what we just talked about in the previous episode,Cameroonians not only share a similar culture and economic ties to Chad,but also agree and comply with a lot of their immediate geographical needs.

Cameroon gives some access to the ocean,and they’ve even built an oil pipeline all the way from Doba to the Atlantic,allowing them to gain revenue and capital through expedited export and shipment.

In conclusion, Chad is a world all of its own.It’s African, yet kind of Arab, yet a little French, yet we know how much they secretly want to dance with Brazil.

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