With a population of about 16 million, Chad is an African country that most people know little about. N’Djamena is the country’s capital and biggest city, a home to over 1.6 million people. It was under French colonization at some point before gaining independence under the stewardship of Francois Tombalbaye. Although the country has been marred by civilian wars for the better parts of its history, it also has some positive aspects. Keep reading to find out the lesser-known Chad facts.
1. Chad Is One of the Biggest Countries in Africa
Gauging by land mass, Chad is the fifth largest country in Africa. It ranks only behind Algeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and Libya. Unfortunately, most of the country’s land mass (the northern part) lies in the Sahara, making it unsuitable for human habitation.
2. The Infamous Chadian-Libyan Battle Was Known as the “Toyota War”
The war between Libya and Chad in the 1980s is famous for all the wrong reasons. It was branded the “Toyota War” because Chad used many Toyota 4 X 4 vehicles to fight Libyan troops and other perceived enemies. Toyota is the only car brand that is named after a war.
3. Chad and Romania Flags Are Very Similar
The current Chad flag design has been in place since 1959. Interestingly, it has almost the same color sheds as its Romanian counterpart, which has existed since 1866. The only difference is Romania’s Flag uses cobalt blue instead of Chad’s Indigo. However, it is difficult to differentiate the two at first glance; this has been subject to international debate.
4. About 4,000 Elephants Were Killed in Chad in the 2000s
Estimates show that about 4,000 elephants were killed in the period between 2002 and 2010 in Chad. This constituted about 95% of the animals’ total population in the country’s Zakouma National Park. Chad sought help from a non-profit organization that helped restore and manage the situation; elephants and other wildlife are now thriving.
5. The Rhinos at the Zakouma National Park in Chad Are Dehorned to Deter Poachers
At one time, poachers in Chad hunted down most of the wildlife at Zakouma National Park in Chad. As a restoration measure, the authorities flew six rhinos from South Africa. They then dehorned and electronically tagged them to deter poachers. By the way, The Zakouma National Park is the closest “big five destination” to Europe.
6. It Is Among the Poorest Countries
Although Chad is one of the biggest countries, it is among the poorest. The Human Development Index ranks it the seventh poorest nation in the world, with an astonishing 80% of its people living below the poverty line. Some factors that contributed to this include endless civil wars, corruption, and political interference.
7. The Southern Part of Chad Is Suitable for Agriculture
While the Sahara Desert eats up most of Chad’s northern part, the southern territory is fertile enough to accommodate agriculture. Natives cultivate millet, sorghum, and cotton, the country’s primary export.
8. Chad Helped The USA Steal A Soviet Helicopter from Libya
In 1988, the CIA, with the aid of Chad, managed to still an advanced Soviet attack helicopter from Libya undetected. Reports claim the USA paid Chad $2 million so its two MH-47 Chinook transport helicopters could fly in the cover of night and complete the mission.
9. Chad Impressively Won the Chadian-Libyan War
When the Chadian-Libyan war started, Libya thought it was an easy land grab mission. Chad didn’t have a substantial military budget (compared to Libya), so Libya thought it was an easy in-and-out assignment. To Libya’s dismay, Chad had invested in Toyota pickups and anti-tank missile launchers; Libyan troops were thoroughly beaten. In the end, Chad had captured about $2 billion worth of Libyan military equipment. The then Libyan president, Muammar Gaddafi, withdrew its military and never tried that move again.
10. Chad Is Known As the “Babel Tower of the World” Because of its Ethnic Diversity
Even though Arabic and French are Chad’s national languages, the country is home to over 200 ethnic and linguistic groups. It is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse nations, earning it the moniker “Babel Tower of the World,” a Biblical allusion.
11. It Is Home to Many Refugees
Currently, Chad hosts about 500,000 refugees from within and outside the country. Most of the migrants are from the neighboring Sudan and the Central African Republic, which are often marred by violence. The internally displaced persons (IDPs) are also a result of the insecurity, especially in the country’s eastern parts. It has the second-highest number of refugees per capita in Africa.
12. Lake Chad Is Badly Affected By Climate Change
Lake Chad is the country’s most prominent and reliable natural physical feature. For the longest time, people have relied on it for fishing and farming, and it is a water source for their animals. However, climate change has seen to it that about 90% of the lake has been lost, with the situation bound to worsen. Historical documents show that during the Holocene Epoch, possibly through to as recent as 7,000 years ago, Lake Chad stood at about 1,100 feet (335 meters) above sea level.
13. Chad Means Lake
“Chad” comes from the Kanuri language, meaning “lake.” Basically, the country Chad means lake, while Lake Chad translates to “lake lake.” Ironically, the majority of the country is covered by desert.