A nation long on history but short on development, Chad has faced serious difficulties over the centuries since ancient settlements were supplanted by the kingdoms of Kanem-Bornu, Baguirmi, and Ouaddai. For three hundred years beginning in 1500, the slave trade was active in the area, with Arab raiders providing slaves for European traders. In the lat 19th century, the French penetrated into the area and fought the Arab Muslim local leaders until the region became a French governorship in 1905. Control was not easy for the French to establish, and it took nearly another decade until French dominance was complete. It became a colony within French Equatorial Africa in 1920. After the dissolution of FEA in 1950, Chad became a member of the French Community, with full independence achieved in 1960. Five years later, a civil war began pitting the Muslim north and east against the southern-led government. French assistance was unsuccessful in preventing the hostilities. A military coup in 1975 was an attempt to bring the dispute to a close but it filed and despite some transient governmental compromises, civil war flared again in 1980. Libya was asked to help restore the peace, which it did, briefly before civil war broke out again in 1982. It was not until 1988 that the war was declared over. Stability was still not in sight as the 1990s dawned with another attempt to change the system by force: General Idriss Deby ousted the ruling government, with the idea of instituting a multiparty democracy. Deby won elections that were held in 1996. The country remains desperately poor and underdeveloped industrially.


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