Since the 8th century, the fertile region of Lake Chad has served as a settlement for various ethnic groups, with the Sara group forming the majority, while the northern Sahara Desert region has historically hosted semi-nomadic and nomadic peoples. This contrasting relationship with Chad’s topography resulted in tension between the two groups, as the northerners—who along with the rest of North Africa’s nomadic groups became known as “Berbers,”—captured and enslaved people from the South.
From the 9th century onwards, the Berbers continued to penetrate the rest of Chad and eventually formed the Kanem-Bornu Kingdom, which transitioned into an Islamic kingdom in the 11th century. Chad’s imperial chapter begins with the arrival of the French in 1900, who embarked upon their takeover of the country and officially declared Chad a French colony in 1913. Chadians lived under French rule before attaining their independence in 1960.
In 2003, Chad began to produce oil after the completion of the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline Project, which cost approximately 4 billion dollars to construct. The magnitude of this project, one of the largest of its kind in Africa, caused concern amongst human and environmental rights organizations, who cited the risk a pipeline of this caliber poses to local people and ecosystems. Despite this large-scale development, Chad retains distinct natural landscapes such as the lakes and gueltas of the Ennedi region, and the elephants and giraffe that now roam protected in Zakouma National Park to the southeast.