Chad: Travel/Tourist Information Guide

Chad, officially the Republic of Chad, is the fifth largest in Africa. It is ranked as the seventh poorest country in the world, and access to clean water is often a problem. Since the Darfur crisis, there are many thousands of refugees in eastern Chad. The climate is in three distinct zones: desert in the north, a dry Sahelian belt in the centre and a more fertile Sudanese-savannah zone in the south. The largest body of water, Lake Chad, is the second largest in Africa. The tropical weather system brings a wet season in the south from May to October and from June to September in the central region.

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The official languages are French and Arabic and the Arab merchant influence means that Chadian Arabic has become the lingua franca. Chad has only 19 miles (30 km) of paved roads and the international airport in the capital N'Djamena runs flights to Paris and several African cities. There are rail links with Libya and Sudan.

For all of its problems, there are good reasons to visit and although tourism is in its infancy, efforts are being made. There is a huge range of African wildlife including elephants, lions, buffalo, giraffes and leopards but poaching, particularly of elephants, is a problem. The Zakouma National Park is the main stronghold for wildlife, rich with lion, buffalo and antelope. There is a variety of spectacular bird species, including bustards, black-rumped waxbills and niam niam parrots.

Besides the wildlife, other attractions are the rich culture, like the colorful camel trains of the Arab-descended nomads in the Sahelian belt. Their markets, weddings and horse races are fascinating. Lake Chad too is well worth visiting. Every year after the rains, the nomadic Bororo shepherds hold elaborate feasts and rituals on its shores.