At A Glance
Chad is host to large numbers of refugees and displaced Chadians, both competing for scarce resources and vulnerable to attacks by armed groups.
- 328,000 refugees from Sudan and Central African Republic
- 131,000 Chadians displaced in east
- Aid agencies face logistic and security nightmare
President Idriss Deby poured much of the country's oil wealth into the military in a bid to contain the rebel groups in the country's east. He also mended ties with neighbouring Sudan where many of the rebels have been based.
Security improved in the east in 2011. But bandit attacks remain a problem for aid workers, particularly those working in the country's south and the capital N'Djamena.
Hunger levels are high across the country, and in 2010 they reached emergency levels in parts of Chad's western and central regions.
The country experienced its worst floods in 40 years in August and September 2010.
More than 460,000 refugees and displaced Chadians are sheltering in camps in Chad's eastern and southern regions, dependent on international aid for survival. The government has spent much of its oil wealth on bolstering the military to combat rebel groups intent on bringing it down. Deep poverty and high hunger levels affect much of the population.
Chad and neighbouring Sudan accused each other for years of supporting rebel groups to bring down their respective governments, but relations between the two countries have now improved. In 2010 they set up joint patrols to bolster security along the porous Chad-Sudan border, and Sudan expelled several key Chadian rebel leaders using Sudan's Darfur region as a base. Chad too has tightened up on Sudanese rebels based in Chad's east.
Fighting between government forces and rebels has almost stopped since the start of 2010. Most rebel soldiers have defected or been expelled from Sudan, and key rebel leaders are in exile. ;
U.N. peacekeepers provided protection for aid operations and civilians in the east until the U.N. mission withdrew at the end of 2010 - at the request of Chad's government.
The government promised to protect civilians in the region, and security improved in the first half of 2011. However, aid agencies have reported ongoing problems with bandit attacks in the south and the capital N'Djamena.
About 2 million people in the country's western and central regions faced major food shortages in 2010 following poor rains in 2009.
The worst floods in 40 years hit Chad in August and September 2010, affecting much of the country.
Deby seized power in a Libyan and Sudanese-backed coup in 1990 and went on to win the country's first two multi-party presidential elections in 1996 and in 2001, which critics say were rigged.
Deby's opponents say he favours members of his own Zaghawa clan, who account for less than 3 percent of the population.
Deby changed the constitution in 2005 to allow him to stand for a third term, prompting a wave of desertions from the army and key members of the government.
In April 2006, government forces repelled an attack on the capital staged by the rebel group United Front for Change (FUC), under the leadership of Mahamat Nour Abdelkerim.
The following month, Deby held presidential elections which were boycotted by opposition parties. Deby won, but his former supporters in the army continued to switch to rebel factions.
Fighting escalated after the collapse of a short-lived October 2007 peace pact between the government and four rebel factions.
A rebel coalition carried out another assault on the capital, N'Djamena, in February 2008. The attack was swiftly followed by a rebel threat to target the southern oil-producing Doba region unless Deby agreed to talks with his opponents.
The coalition comprised three Chadian rebel groups: the United Force for Democracy and Development (UFDD) led by Mahamat Nouri, the Rally for Forces for Change (RFC) led by Timan Erdimi, and UFDD-Fondamentale, a splinter group of UFDD, led by Abdelwahid Aboud Mackaye.
Columns of Chadian rebels again advanced into Chad from the border area with Sudan in June 2008 and raided several towns. After that, there were several major rebel attacks near the Sudanese border.
Their stated aim is to oust Deby, although local analysts say some wanted to win concessions from the government regarding Chad's oil wealth.
Government exploitation of the country's massive oil reserves began in the southern Doba region in June 2000. Chad has used much of its oil wealth to boost its military forces to try to defeat the rebels.
The rebel groups – which have often splintered and formed new coalitions – are now weak militarily. In 2009, some groups suffered heavy military losses and, when Sudan and Chad signed a peace deal in January 2010, Khartoum began disarming them.
Most rebel soldiers have now defected or been expelled from Sudan, and the key leaders are in exile.
The key rebel leaders include:
Timan Erdimi: Deby's former chief of staff and cousin from his Zaghawa clan, he joined the rebels in 2005. A leadership dispute between him and Mahamat Nouri was one of the main reasons why the February 2008 coup failed, according to Ketil Fred Hansen, associate professor at Oslo University College. In August 2008 a Chadian court sentenced Erdimi to death in absentia. In May 2009 he launched another attack on Deby, but suffered heavy losses and moved his rebels to north Darfur, supported by Sudan. In July 2010 he was expelled from Sudan and now lives in Qatar. Most of his soldiers have defected or been disarmed by Sudan.
Mahamat Nouri: A former member of Deby's government who was working as ambassador to Saudi Arabia when he defected in 2006. His forces are largely drawn from Nouri's Gorane ethnic group – the same clan as Chad's former President Hissene Habre, whom Deby ousted. In January 2009, his power began to wane when Sudan insisted that Erdimi was appointed leader of a new rebel alliance. When Chad and Sudan signed the January 2010 peace deal, Sudan ended its support for the rebels, and expelled Nouri. He now lives in Qatar. Most of his forces were captured in Sudan and flown to N'Djamena, but a few remain in the border area between Chad, Central African Republic and Sudan.
Aboud Mackaye: A former sub-prefect under Deby, he joined the rebels in 2003. He signed a peace deal with Deby in October 2007, but clashes with the Chadian army continued. He led the smallest of the three rebel movements that carried out the February 2008 coup attempt, and after that he joined Nouri's National Alliance (AN). Mackaye is currently in Khartoum and is acting head of the remaining rebels.
Mahamat Nour Abdelkerim: Nour left Deby's government in 1994, disillusioned with what he called Deby's "autocratic and corrupt ways." He led the attempted coup against Deby in April 2006. After this, he sought refuge in Qatar. His father, head of a powerful eastern Chad tribe, helped launch both the coup that brought Deby to power and that of his predecessor Habre.
For years, Sudan and Chad accused each other of supporting rebel groups bent on ousting their respective governments, and each denied any involvement with the rebels.
Tensions between Chad and Sudan grew when Darfur rebels began organising on a large scale in 2002. Many of their fighters were from Deby's Zaghawa clan, and he came under increasing pressure to support them. Sudan responded by backing Chadian rebels in 2005. Many Chadian insurgents based themselves in Darfur, and Darfur insurgents in Chad.
Regional expert Alex De Waal said Darfuri rebel group Justice and Equality Movement helped Deby repel Chad rebel attacks on the capital.
Arabs of Chadian origin joined Janjaweed militia - armed Arab groups accused of atrocities in Darfur - and were thought to exercise significant influence on Janjaweed cross-border raids into eastern Chad. Some Janjaweed attacks seemed to be coordinated with those of Chadian rebels. Human Rights Watch says others were backed by Sudan with helicopter gunships and Sudanese soldiers.
Chad carried out several airstrikes on rebel bases in Darfur. Sudan in 2009 called these an act of war and made a formal complaint to the U.N. Security Council.
But relations between the two countries have improved since then. In January 2010, they signed a peace deal and agreed to crack down on rebel groups and improve security along their shared, porous border.
Sudan expelled several key rebels who used its western Darfur region as their base to attack Chad, and Chad cracked down on Darfur rebels using Chad as a base.
U.N. agencies and international relief groups are providing aid to around 264,000 refugees from Sudan's Darfur region and 131,000 displaced Chadians in the east, close to the Sudanese border.
Another 64,000 refugees who have fled insurgency and lawlessness in northwest Central African Republic are sheltering in camps in southern Chad.
Agencies delivering aid have to contend with extremely poor infrastructure, including roads that become impassable during rainy seasons. The World Food Programme (WFP) says it takes months to deliver food to those who need it. When war broke out in Libya in 2011, WFP was forced to close its Libyan supply route supplying Chad's east. WFP set up a supply route through Sudan using Port Sudan to import aid.
Tensions in the semi-desert east rose with the arrival of the refugees and international aid agencies in 2003. The refugees compete with locals for scarce water supplies and firewood and they receive resources the local population lack - food, health care and education.
Bandit attacks grew with the influx of aid agencies' vehicles, money and equipment. This, combined with clashes between the army and Chadian rebels in the east, forced some agencies to temporarily suspend operations or remove their international staff from the region.
Aid agencies depended on U.N. peacekeepers for protection until December 2010 (see 'International peacekeepers' section below for more).
Security improved in the east in 2011, but bandit attacks remain a problem in the south and the capital N'Djamena.
Throughout Chad, access to health care is minimal and hunger levels are high. Around a fifth of children die before they reach the age of five, according to the U.N. Children's Fund.
In 2010, an estimated 2 million Chadians in the centre and west of the country experienced severe food shortages. Aid agencies based in the south and east had to suddenly switch focus and expand their operations to other parts of the country. Hunger levels rose above emergency levels in some areas.
Emergency food aid had to be brought through Libya across the desert or shipped through Cameroon's busy port of Douala, in competition with aid for the displaced in Chad's south and east. In September 2010, the United Nations Children's Fund said up to a quarter of children in some areas were acutely malnourished - well above U.N. hunger emergency levels.
The worst floods in 40 years hit much of Chad in August and September 2010, affecting both refugees and those suffering the effects of the hunger crisis. The floods destroyed crops and homes.
International aid agencies found their reputation knocked by a 2007 adoption scandal, in which a small French charity called Zoe's Ark was intercepted and accused of trying to kidnap 103 children from Chad. Zoe's Ark said it wanted to place orphaned Darfuri children in foster care with French families, but many of the children were found to be from Chad and had parents who were still alive.
The case caused a diplomatic wrangle with France, where a court sentenced six of the charity's workers to eight years in prison. And it sparked widespread anger in Chad, with hundreds staging protests in the eastern town of Abeche. Deby pardoned the six in March 2008.
Until December 2010, U.N. peacekeepers provided armed escorts for aid convoys in the lawless east, and aimed to protect local civilians and displacement camps.
However, bowing to demands from Chad, MINURCAT (U.N. Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad) pulled out at the end of 2010.
Chad promised to assume full responsibility for the protection of civilians in eastern Chad including refugees, internally displaced people and host communities, as well as international aid operations.
Some humanitarian officials said the withdrawal of the U.N. force could create a security vacuum in the east.
But in April 2011, a U.N. report said that security had improved, and Chadian security forces had been able to address the criminal networks behind the region's bandit attacks.
And improved relations between Sudan and Chad, the defection and expulsion of rebel soldiers from Sudan, and a joint Chad-Sudan border force improved security in the area. There had been no clashes between Chadian forces and rebel groups since April 2010, the report said.
International peacekeepers had been in the region since September 2007 when the U.N. Security Council authorised a protection force for Chad and Central African Republic aimed at stemming the violence and preventing the possible spread of the Darfur conflict.
The European force (EUFOR) numbered over 3,000 troops in eastern Chad and northern Central African Republic. It was the European bloc's largest mission in Africa.
Former colonial power France initially proposed the mission and promised to provide roughly half the troops needed. Prior to EUFOR, France had installed a small force of 1,200 troops and six Mirage fighter jets under a bilateral defence accord to assist Deby.
Just days before EUFOR's deployment in early 2008, rebels attacked the capital. Some analysts say this is partly because they viewed the force as military protection for Deby because of its French links.
EUFOR handed over its operations to U.N. peacekeepers in March 2009.
AllAfrica.com ;provides a daily compilation of news sources on Chad, drawn from U.N. sites, human rights organisations and African newspapers.
Africatime ;lists national and international news sources in French.
One Chadian newspaper available online in French is Al-wihda.
Blogs on Justice Africa's website by regional expert Alex De Waal ;and colleagues give helpful analysis and explain a lot of the international and ethnic ties.
International Crisis Group ;think tank produces analytical reports.
The U.N. refugee agency's ;Chad emergency page is good for facts and figures about refugees.
For information about the country's internally displaced, go to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre's ;Chad page.
Parts of Chad are very short of food and the country is prone to drought, floods and locust invasions, which can all have a major impact on food supplies. Information from the Famine Early Warning System.
The World Bank ;has some useful information about health, education and the economy, including the country's fledgling oil industry.
The Eldis ;academic search engine has a list of academic papers on Chad, with in-depth information about health, education, poverty, economic development and human rights.
1913 - France colonises Chad, absorbing it into French Equatorial Africa
1960 - Independence. Francois Tombalbaye, a Christian southerner, becomes president
1963 - Political parties banned, triggering an Islamic insurgency in the north under Frolinat, the Chadian National Liberation Front
1966 - Insurgency develops into a guerrilla war
1973 - France begins military aid to Tombalbye's forces while a severe drought hits Chad
1970s/1980s - Libya and France back opposing sides in a protracted civil war
1975 - Another Christian southerner, Felix Malloum, takes power after Tombalbaye is killed in a coup
1975 - Libya invades northern Chad, occupying the Aouzou strip
1979 - Libyan-backed Muslim northerner Goukouni Oueddei takes power in a coalition government
1980 - Libya supports Oueddei in his fight against an insurgency led by Hissan Habre, another Muslim northerner
1982 - Successful Hissan Habre coup launched from a rebel base in Darfur
1987 - Libyan troops retreat to the Aouzou strip after pressure from Habre and rebel groups
1990 - Habre overthrown by Idriss Deby, also using a rebel base in Darfur
1996 - Deby wins Chad's first multi-party elections
1998 - Deby's former defence chief Youssouf Togoimi begins insurgency in the north
2001 - Deby wins a second election but a quarter of ballots are cancelled due to "irregularities"
2003 - Chad begins exporting oil from large reserves in the south
2004 - Hundreds of thousands for refugees arrive in eastern Chad from Sudan's Darfur region
Arab militias from Darfur, backed by Sudan, clash with Chadian soldiers
Deby survives a coup attempt as dissent mounts over his Darfur non-interference policy
Dec - Deby lobbies African Union to condemn Khartoum for supporting rebels trying to overthrow him. Sudan accuses Chad of backing Darfur rebels. Anti-Deby Chad rebels announce a military alliance, the United Front for Democratic Change (FUC)
Feb - Chad and Sudan agree to end stand-off at the end of a mini-summit hosted by Libya
Mar - Chad says it has foiled a coup attempt by soldiers who planned to shoot down Deby's plane. Government troops launch a military offensive against rebels in the east
Apr - Government forces fight off rebels who reach the capital N'Djamena, about 100 people killed and 200 wounded in the attack
Deby breaks diplomatic relations with Sudan. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warns fighting in Chad could have a domino effect in the region
May - Presidential elections, opposition parties boycott it, Deby wins
Nov - Government imposes state of emergency in the capital and north, east and southern regions. International aid agencies evacuate non-essential staff from the eastern town of Abeche, following an escalation of rebel activity
Dec - Heavy fighting breaks out between the army and rebels in the east. FUC rebel leader Mahamat Nour Abdelkerim signs peace deal with Deby
Feb - A coalition of four rebel groups claims to have taken the eastern border town of Adre
The U.N. refugee agency warns the violence in Chad could turn into a genocide similar to 1994 Rwanda
Chad rejects a plan for U.N. troops along its eastern border
Sep - The U.N. Security Council authorises a protection force in Chad and Central African Republic, comprising up to 3,700 troops from European Union countries and 300 U.N. police
Oct - Rebel groups including the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD) sign a peace agreement with the government at talks in Libya
Dec - Rebel groups abandon ceasefire and resume fighting in east
Feb - Two-day rebel assault on N'Djamena, kills about 700 and forces thousands of civilians to flee into Cameroon. Violence delays deployment of EU force (EUFOR)
Chad's army says it repulsed an attack on Adre by Sudanese army troops and rebels
A non-binding U.N. Security Council statement urges the international community to support Chad's president
Deby threatens to expel Darfuri refugees from Chad
Mar - EUFOR mission, still only partially deployed, clashes with Sudanese troops after inadvertently crossing over border
Chad and Sudan sign peace accord in Senegal
May - Tensions with Sudan grow over N'djamena's alleged backing of 10-11 May Darfur rebel attack on Khartoum. Chad denies involvement and closes border
Jun - Chadian rebels advance into Chad from border area with Sudan and raid several towns in east. U.N. refugee agency UNHCR temporarily suspends operations in 12 camps on Sudanese border
Jul - Oxfam and Medecins Sans Frontieres suspend operations in Kerfi, eastern Chad, after attacks on personnel and facilities. International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies temporarily withdraw aid workers from N'djamena after security threats
Aug - Chad court sentences exiled former President Hissan Habre and leaders of an eastern rebellion to death in absentia
Floods in south displace 10,000 people and kill three
Sep - Chad and Sudan agree to establish joint peacekeeping force on the border
Oxfam says U.N. and EU peacekeepers failing to protect civilians in eastern Chad
World Bank pulls out of Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline operated by Exxon Mobil, saying Chad government had failed its promises to set aside oil revenues for local communities, health and education
Nov - Sudan and Chad restore diplomatic ties
Dec - U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes says aid supplies in eastern camps threatened by worsening banditry and recruitment by Darfur rebel groups
Jan - Sudan and Chad accuse each other of backing new attacks on their respective rebel groups
Mar - EU peacekeepers hand over operations to U.N. force, MINURCAT
May - Violence worsens along Chad-Sudan border. Chad forces attack Darfur-based Chadian UFR rebels who have crossed the border, threatening to take capital, and carry out air strikes on Darfur rebel bases. Khartoum says the strikes are an act of war
Jun - Chad says 84 child soldiers used by UFR rebels have been handed over to UNICEF
Jul - Three rebel groups sign peace deal with Chad. Sudan complains to U.N. Security Council after Chad carries out further airstrikes in Darfur
Aug - Attacks on aid workers in east worsen following reduction in army patrols
Sep - Chad says integrating rebel National Movement into national army
Oct - United Nations reports 51 attacks on aid workers in Chad's east in 2009
Nov - Insecurity forces ICRC and five other aid agencies to suspend work in east
Jan - Deby and Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir sign an agreement to deny rebel groups the use of their territories
Mar - Chad and Sudan deploy joint border patrols
Apr - Chad-Sudan border reopens for first time in 7 years. United Nations and Chad agree on extension of MINURCAT mandate until October
May - United Nations says will withdraw all MINURCAT troops by Dec. 31, after Deby requested they leave before 2011 polls. Rebel leader Mahamat Nouri creates new rebel coalition
Jun - Voter registration closes ahead of Nov. parliamentary elections and Apr. 2011 presidential elections
Jul - MINURCAT pulls out 1,400 troops. Sudan expels Chad rebel leaders, and Chad defies International Criminal Court arrest warrant for Bashir and welcomes him to a regional summit
Aug - Rebel group signs ceasefire with government. Chadian rebel groups Union of Resistance Forces (UFR) and United Front for Democratic Change (UFDC) return from Darfur, following Chad-Sudan Jan. agreement. Election commission postpones elections
Sep - Chad rebel groups leave Darfur and return to Chad as part of Chad-Sudan agreement
Election commission delays parliamentary elections until Feb. 2011, and presidential elections until May 2011
Much of the country hit by floods
Dec - MINURCAT hands over to Chadian security force
Jan - Deby grants amnesty for crimes committed by rebel groups
Feb - Deby's Patriotic Salvation Movement wins majority of seats in parliamentary elections
Mar – Chad and Sudan agree to extend joint border patrols for another 12 months. Deby says al Qaeda may be smuggling arms to Chad-Niger border areas
Apr – Deby wins presidential polls. Opposition leaders boycott the elections and reject the result
United Nations says security has improved since Dec 2010