Chad is Africa's fifth largest nation, landlocked in central Africa by Libya to the north; Sudan to the east; the Central African Republic and Cameroon to the south; and Nigeria and Niger to the west. Once a province of French Equatorial Arica, Chad finally gained independence in 1960 and took its name from Lake Chad, which lies on the Western border. This is one of the oldest places on Earth; with hominid indicators dating back more than seven million years.
French colonial rule certainly set the stage for contemporary Chadian culture by merging the existing kingdoms into one vast territory in the Nineteenth century. Chad remains, to this day, culturally diverse; with more than two hundred ethnic groups, and a sharp divide between the Islamic north and Christian south.
Chad sprawls across 1,284,000 square kilometres; dominated by a low-lying, shallow basin, which rises slowly into mountains and plateaus in the north, east and south. The northern half of the republic lies in the Sahara which gradually gives way to the Sahelien scrub of Central Chad and then to the green tropical lushness of the south. This huge piece of the continent has recently had its first property inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage: the Lakes of Ounianga, a true marvel of nature are now included in the official top wonders of the world. They form part of the immense Ennedi Plateau, which is home to many uncommon sandstone rock formations, that loom over the desert like giant sculptures, after millennia exposed to ferocious desert sandstorms and erosion.
The potential for eco-tourism is vast - ten percent of the country is protected by natural reservations, which are home to some 250 bird and 44 mammal species; the most notable being Zakouma National Park lying just south of the capital N’Djamena. These wild areas are little-visited and ideal for the serious wildlife enthusiast.
Chad is Africa for the 'hardcore' adventurer - long seen as a place to get through rather than visit. However, society and culture are going through a rapid metamorphosis; and for those willing to undertake the 'Chadian challenge' the rewards are infinite - beneath the rough exterior lies a wealth of warmth, culture and undiscovered natural wonders.