Demographics of Chad

Demographics of Chad
Demographics of Chad, Data of FAO, year 2005 ; Number of inhabitants in thousands.

The people of Chad speak more than 100 different languages and divide themselves into many ethnic groups. However, language and ethnicity are not the same. Moreover, neither element can be tied to a particular physical type. In Chad, European conquest and administration intensified feelings of ethnic separateness by drawing local boundaries along perceived ethnic lines. The Europeans also appointed chiefs and other local African authorities who had little legitimacy over the groups they were to lead. In general, the French favored southerners over northerners and settled populations over nomads. This bias continued after independence and has been an important element in internecine conflict.

Although the possession of a common language shows that its speakers have lived together and have a common history, peoples also change languages. This is particularly so in Chad, where the openness of the terrain, marginal rainfall, frequent drought and famine, and low population densities have encouraged physical and linguistic mobility. Slave raids among{specify} non-Muslim peoples, internal slave trade, and exports of captives northward from the ninth to the twentieth centuries also have resulted in language changes.

Anthropologists view ethnicity as being more than genetics. Like language, ethnicity implies a shared heritage, partly economic, where people of the same ethnic group may share a livelihood, and partly social, taking the form of shared ways of doing things and organizing relations among individuals and groups. Ethnicity also involves a cultural component made up of shared values and a common worldview. Like language, ethnicity is not immutable. Shared ways of doing things change over time and alter a group's perception of its own identity.

Not only do the social aspects of ethnic identity change but the biological composition (or gene pool) also may change over time. Although most ethnic groups emphasize intermarriage, people are often proscribed from seeking partners among close relatives—a prohibition that promotes biological variation. In all groups, the departure of some individuals or groups and the integration of others also changes the biological component.

The Chadian government has avoided official recognition of ethnicity. With the exception of a few surveys conducted shortly after independence, little data were available on this important aspect of Chadian society. Nonetheless, ethnic identity was a significant component of life in Chad.

Chad's languages fall into ten major groups, each of which belongs to either the Nilo-Saharan, Afro-Asiatic, or Niger–Congo language family. These represent three of the four major language families in Africa; only the Khoisan languages of southern Africa are not represented. The presence of such different languages suggests that the Lake Chad Basin may have been an important point of dispersal in ancient times.



The separation of religion from social structure in Chad represents a false dichotomy, for they are perceived as two sides of the same coin. Three religious traditions coexist in Chad—classical African religions, Islam (see Islam in Chad), and Christianity. None is monolithic. The first tradition includes a variety of ancestor and/or place-oriented religions whose expression is highly specific. Islam, although characterized by an orthodox set of beliefs and observances, also is expressed in diverse ways. Christianity arrived in Chad much more recently with the arrival of Europeans. Its followers are divided into Roman Catholics and Protestants (including several denominations); as with Chadian Islam, Chadian Christianity retains aspects of pre-Christian religious belief.

The number of followers of each tradition in Chad is unknown. Estimates made in 1962 suggested that 35 percent of Chadians practiced classical African religions, 55 percent were Muslims, and 10 percent were Christians. In the 1970s and 1980s, this distribution undoubtedly changed. Observers report that Islam has spread among the Hajerai and among other non-Muslim populations of the Saharan and sahelian zones. However, the proportion of Muslims may have fallen because the birthrate among the followers of traditional religions and Christians in southern Chad is thought to be higher than that among Muslims. In addition, the upheavals since the mid-1970s have resulted in the departure of some missionaries; whether or not Chadian Christians have been numerous enough and organized enough to have attracted more converts since that time is unknown.

CIA World Factbook demographic statistics

The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.


10,543 thousand (2010, According to the U.S. Census Bureau, International Data Base: Demographics of Chad

Age structure

0-14 years: 46% (male 2,510,656/female 2,441,780)
15-64 years: 51% (male 2,531,896/female 2,960,406)
65 years and over: 2.9% (male 131,805/female 182,402) (2011 est.)

Median age

Total: 16.8 years
Male: 15.6 years
Female: 17.9 years (2011 est.)

Population growth rate

2.009% (2011 est.)

Birth rate

39.4 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death rate

15.47 deaths/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Net migration rate

-3.84 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Sex ratio

At birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/female
Total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate

Total: 95.31 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 101.18 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 89.22 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

Total population: 48.33 years
Male: 47.28 years
Female: 49.43 years (2011 est.)

Total fertility rate

5.05 children born/woman (2011 est.)


Adult prevalence rate: 4.8% (2003 est.)
People living with HIV/AIDS: 200,000(2003 est.)
Deaths: 18,000 (2003 est.)

Major infectious diseases

Degree of risk: very high
Food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
Vectorborne disease: malaria
Water contact disease: schistosomiasis
Respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis (2005)


Noun: Chadian(s)
Adjective: Chadian

Ethnic groups

200 distinct groups
  • In the north and center: Arabs, Toubou (Daza, Teda), Zaghawa, Kanembou, Ouaddai, Baguirmi, Hadjerai, Fulbe, Kotoko, Hausa, Boulala, and Maba, most of whom are Muslim
  • In the south: Sara (Ngambaye, Mbaye, Goulaye), Moundang, Moussei, Massa, most of whom are Christian or animist

About 5,000 French citizens live in Chad.


Muslim 54%, Christian 34%, animist 7%, other 5%


French (official), Arabic (official), Sara (in south), more than 120 different languages and dialects


Definition: age 15 and over can read and write French or Arabic
Total population: 47.5%
Male: 56%
Female: 39.3% (2003 est.)


 This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook document "2006 edition".

"U.S. Census Bureau." Census Bureau Home Page. Web. 29 Jan. 2010. <>.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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