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Geography of Chad

Chad is a land-locked country in north central Africa measuring 1,284,000 square kilometers (496,000 sq. mi.), roughly three times the size of Texas. Most of its ethnically and linguistically diverse population lives in the south, with densities ranging from 54 persons per square kilometers in the Logone River basin to 0.1 persons in the northern B.E.T. desert region, which is larger than France. The capital city of N’Djaména[?], situated at the confluence of the Chari[?] and Logone Rivers[?], is cosmopolitan in nature, with a current population in excess of 700,000 persons.

Chad has four bioclimatic zones. The northernmost Saharan zone averages less than 200 mm (8”) of rainfall annually. The sparse human population is largely nomadic, with some livestock, mostly small ruminants and camels. The central Sahelian zone receives between 200 and 600 mm (24”) rainfall and has vegetation ranging from grass/shrub steppe to thorny, open savanna. The southern zone, often referred to as the Sudanian zone, receives between 600 and 1,000 mm (39”), with woodland savanna and deciduous forests for vegetation. Rainfall in the Guinea zone, located in Chad’s southwestern tip, ranges between 1,000 and 1,200 mm (47”).

The country’s topography is generally flat, with the elevation gradually rising as one moves north and east away from Lake Chad. The highest point in Chad is Emi Koussi, a mountain that rises 3,100 meters (10,200 ft.) in the northern Tibesti Mountains[?]. The Ennedi Plateau[?] and the Ouaddaï highlands[?] in the east complete the image of a gradually sloping basin, which descends towards Lake Chad. There are also central highlands in the Guera region rising to 1,500 meters (4,900 ft.).

Lake Chad is the second-largest lake in west Africa and is one of the most important wetlands on the continent. Home to 120 species of fish and at least that many species of birds, the lake has shrunk dramatically in the last four decades due to the increased water use and low rainfall. Bordered by Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon, Lake Chad currently covers only 1,350 square kilometers, down from 25,000 square kilometers in 1963. The Chari and Logone Rivers, both of which originate in the Central African Republic and flow northward, provide most of the water entering Lake Chad.

Location: Central Africa, south of Libya

Geographic coordinates: 15 00 N, 19 00 E

Map references: Africa

total: 1.284 million sq km
land: 1,259,200 sq km
water: 24,800 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly more than three times the size of California

Land boundaries:
total: 5,968 km
border countries: Cameroon 1,094 km, Central African Republic 1,197 km, Libya 1,055 km, Niger 1,175 km, Nigeria 87 km, Sudan 1,360 km

Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims: none (landlocked)

Climate: tropical in south, desert in north

Terrain: broad, arid plains in center, desert in north, mountains in northwest, lowlands in south

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Djourab Depression 160 m
highest point: Emi Koussi 3,415 m

Natural resources: petroleum (unexploited but exploration under way), uranium, natron, kaolin, fish (Lake Chad)

Land use:
arable land: 3%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 36%
forests and woodland: 26%
other: 35% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 140 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: hot, dry, dusty harmattan winds occur in north; periodic droughts; locust plagues

Environment - current issues: inadequate supplies of potable water; improper waste disposal in rural areas contributes to soil and water pollution; desertification

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping

Geography - note: landlocked; Lake Chad is the most significant water body in the Sahel

See also : Chad

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