What is the terrain and geography like in Chad?
Chad is a land-locked country in north-central Africa measuring 496,000 square miles (1,284,000 square km), roughly the size of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico combined. Most of its ethnically and linguistically diverse population of about 7.6 million to 8 million lives in the south, with densities ranging from 54 persons per square km. 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’Djamena, 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 inches) of rainfall annually. Its sparse human population is largely nomadic, with cattle, small ruminants, and camels. The central Sahelian Zone receives between 200mm and 600 mm (24 inches) of rainfall and has vegetation ranging from grass/shrub-steppe to thorny, open savannah. Livestock production is the most important economic activity there, but with significant agriculture that is high risk due to irregular rainfall. The Southern Zone, often referred to as the Sudanian Zone, receives between 600 mm and 1,000 mm (39 inches), with woodland savannah and deciduous forests for vegetation. A surplus of coarse grains, cassava, cotton, and fruits are produced here. Rainfall in the Guinea Zone, located in Chad’s southwestern tip, ranges between 1,000 mm and 1,200 mm (47 inches).
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 3,400 meters (11,200 feet) 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 toward Lake Chad. There are also central highlands in the Guera region rising to 1,500 meters (4,900 feet).
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 4 decades due to increased water use and low rainfall. Bordered by Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon, Lake Chad currently covers only 1,350 square km. down from 25,000 square km. 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.
Geography - note
Note 1: Chad is the largest of Africa's 16 landlocked countries
Note 2: not long ago - geologically speaking - what is today the Sahara was green savannah teeming with wildlife; during the African Humid Period, roughly 11,000 to 5,000 years ago, a vibrant animal community, including elephants, giraffes, hippos, and antelope lived there; the last remnant of the "Green Sahara" exists in the Lakes of Ounianga (oo-nee-ahn-ga) in northern Chad, a series of 18 interconnected freshwater, saline, and hypersaline lakes now protected as a World Heritage site
Note 3: Lake Chad, the most significant water body in the Sahel, is a remnant of a former inland sea, paleolake Mega-Chad; at its greatest extent, sometime before 5000 B.C., Lake Mega-Chad was the largest of four Saharan paleolakes that existed during the African Humid Period; it covered an area of about 400,000 sq km (150,000 sq mi), i.e., roughly the size of today's the Caspian Sea
The capital, N'Djamena, which is located in the Sahelian Zone, has a rainy season extending from June to October, characterized by sporadic, heavy rains and increased humidity with high temperatures in excess of 90°F. The remaining 8 months of the year are dry and generally hot, with a brief respite from November to February when daytime temperatures seldom exceed 90°F and lows at night descend to the 60s. Northeasterly winds off the desert, called the "harmattan," blow regularly during the dry season and envelop the town in a shroud of thick dust. April/May temperatures regularly exceed 110°F.