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Sahara Territory



:: CHAD ETHNOGRAPHY ::

Chad map.

Total population: +/- 10,8 millions.
Saharan population: +/- 1 million (9,25%).
Total population density: 8,4 hab/km2.
Saharan population density: 1,43 hab/km2.
Ethnics: A majority of saras in the south and a minority of arabs and toubous in the north.
Languages: French and arabic.
Religions: 54% islamic, 34% christian and 12% animist.
Life expectancy: 48 years.

Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world, where around 80% of the population lives under the poverty threshold. Rural population still reaches around 75% of total population. Poligamy in Chad is allowed and quite extended. Women rights are crippled because of the application of tribal laws that still prevail over the modern laws. They commonly suffer violence and discrimination.

War has been present since some years after the french gave independence to this country in 1960. Ethnical tensions grew and eventually the muslim groups started a civil war, which was later interfered by Libya during long years to take control on Chad territory. The president Hissène Habré managed to unify during a time the diverse ethnicities that finally drove out the libyans from Chad in a decisive battle in Fada. However, Hissène Habré was a tyrant that assasinated dozens of thousands people during his rule. He favored his own ethnical group, the minoritary toubou. In 1990 his general, Idriss Déby, bring down Hissène Habré power and tried to start a better future in the country, trying to reconcile the rebels, promoting new politics and a new constitution, and starting the exploitation of oilfields in addition to the cotton industry traditionally present in the country. But in the last years, the conflict started again. The rebels tried to capture the capital two times without success and the situation now has a very bad forecast, since ethnical violence has increased in the eastern region, being this conflict now involved with the sudanese Darfur conflict.


The toubou people inhabit all the northern part of Chad. It has been traditionally a nomadic people similarly to the touareg or bedouin peoples, although many of them settle in oases. This people is one of uncertain origin and it is said that they are the most ancient dwellers of the Sahara. They are usually quite dark-skinned and their facial features are often caucasian instead of negroid.

The toubou are individualist peoples, being their integration in modern life lesser than in other saharan nomad groups as the touareg or bedouin. But to be objective, this should be just because they live in underdeveloped countries and remote places. They are said to be agressive; when they start a fight, it has to finish necessarily with the death of one of the fighters. Their traditional laws are harsh, cruel; but in fact, they are similar to the bedouin laws, since the toubou have been greatly influenced by arabization since probably thousand years ago.

Traditionally the toubou men wear a white turban and white robes, and also a black vest can be seen on their dress. Women wear colorful dresses with printed motifs and their bodies are usually slender. In past times, both men and women were proud of carrying daggers and swords.

The images below show toubou women operating camel caravans. The toubou women enjoy more independence and respect than the average chadian woman and usually are left alone with the task of making long travels through the desert to gather water, dates or go trade.

A toubou girl leading a small camel caravan. Toubou women frequently operate camel caravans.

A toubou girl from Bardai.This photo taken around 1960 shows a toubou girl from Bardai, a small and remote oasis village enclosed within the Tibesti massif. A ring in the right nasal fin is traditionally present in a toubou woman.









Faya-Largeau, with a population around 15000, is a main town in northern Chad. It is located north-east of the Bodélé depression, in the middle of the flow path of the harmattan wind. In the past this town was an important point in the transaharan trade. From Faya-Largeau departed two routes to the north, one going towards the Fezzan across the Tibesti mountains and another going towards the oasis of al-Kufrah. There are important underground water deposits in the area and agriculture is the main industry.

Central Market in Faya-Largeau. An unpaved sandy street in Faya-Largeau.

Market scene in Faya-Largeau. Market scene in Faya-Largeau.

A street in Faya-Largeau. Saharan trucks are often saturated with cargo.

Chad Geography



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