The Republic of Chad celebrated its 62nd Independence Day on 11 August after 60 years of French colonial rule (1900-1960). In celebration of the 17.5 million great people of Chad, we put together a few interesting facts about the country:
- Chad, named after Lake Chad, is one of the largest countries in Africa. To put it in perspective, at 1,284,000 sq km, Chad is bigger than France, Spain and Portugal put together.
- Lake Chad, one of the largest wetlands in the world (among the top ten), has actually shrunk by a whopping 95% since the 1960s. The wetland covers about a third of the country’s southern region.
- The Sahara Desert, which covers a third of the land area in the north of the country, is one of the most interesting landscapes formations. It is the largest tropical desert in the world. See the Fennec fox walking across the Sahara Desert
- In the heart of the vast Sahara Desert are a series of eighteen (18) interconnected Lakes of Ounianga which were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012. Fascinatingly, these exceptionally beautiful freshwater lakes, which receive less than 2mm of rainfall per year and experience high evaporation rates in this hyper-arid desert, have yet to dry up. This is because of the complex underground aquifer and unique hydrological systems in and around the Ounianga lakes. The lakes, due to their different chemical composition vary in coloration and size.
- In the same Sahara Desert is the Bodélé Depression which is the lowest point in Chad and is about 500 km long and 150 km wide. Amazingly, this closed drainage basin, is a key source of fertile, nutrient-rich and mineral-packed dust, which is blown hundreds of miles away, and has profound impact on the ecosystems of faraway places including the Amazon rainforest.
- Chad is home to some of the most well-preserved ancient rock art in the Tibesti Mountains. The painted and carved art, which dates back more than 7,000 years, is etched on the rock surfaces of the mountains and caves in the area
- Chad is often referred to as the modern-day ‘Tower of Babel’ with over 200 languages and ethnic groups
- The Toubou people, who live near the Tibesti Mountains, in the north of the country, are world-renowned as the best in the sport of camel racing.
- The Wodaabe people of Chad celebrate the unique annual Gerewol Festival at the end of the rainy season. This week-long festival, which is a display of strength, resilience and power, is staged by men who, after painting the faces with red and white ochre and adorning themselves with ornate beads and colourful feathers, dance for hours in the heat of the midday sun in order to impress the womenfolk, and possibly, find mates.
- Chad and Romania’s flag look almost the same – a vertical tricolour of blue-yellow-red – to an untrained eye. Also, Chad’s flag is nearly identical to the flags of Andorra and Moldova (except the flags of the latter two have a coat of arms on the yellow stripe in the middle)
- Chad is the home of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Lakes of Ounianga, referred to above, and the Ennedi Massif. The massif, which is about the size of Switzerland, is a spectacular natural landscape of sandstone peaks punctuated by a series of great arches, deep valleys, impressive canyons and caves and alcoves. It is estimated that 75% of the massif has yet to be explored due to its remoteness. Beyond the stunning beauty of these stunning rock formations, they also serve as a gallery of thousands of the rock paintings and carvings of wildlife and people which document human history and culture from hundreds of years ago
Bouet, C; Cautenet, G; Tegen, I.; & Washington, R (2009). Dust as a tipping element: The Bodélé Depression, Chad. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0711850106
Kumakonda (2022). Gerewol Festival, Ennedi, and Ounianga. Retrieved from https://kumakonda.com/trip/gerewol-and-ennedi-trip-to-chad/
Mónica (2022). Ounianga Lakes, chronicles of a tour to Chad I. Retrieved from https://kumakonda.com/ounianga-lakes-chad/
Nag, O. S. (2018). What Animals Live in The Sahara Desert? Retrieved from https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-animals-live-in-the-sahara-desert.html
Ross, W.; (2018). Lake Chad: Can the vanishing lake be saved? Retrieved from BBC. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-43500314
The Slitty Eye (2014). Funny Trivia About Flags. Retrieved from https://theslittyeye.wordpress.com