Situated at the African juncture, Chad’s population is made up by people from West-and North Africa, between the Sahara and the subequatorial forests. The country has thus seen various civilizations develop throughout its history. Three African linguistic families (Niger-Congo, Nilo-Saharan and Afro-Asian) are represented by many hundreds of ethnic ensembles constantly in transformation. Some have assimilated, other change language, religion, some endorse their identity, and others are rather indifferent. Based on linguistic facts we can distinguish a dozen of population groups with different lifestyles.
North of the Massakory-Biltine line, the native languages from the east-Saharan region (Nilo-Saharan family), are spoken by nomads and resident population. The nomadic population of the Sahara, named “Goranes”, spread between the Toubou and the Daza de Borkou.
The Arabo-phones are Arabs nomads coming from Arabia who settled between the 17th and 19th century, and Arab influenced people, who became Muslim, like the Yalnass du Guera and the Haddad of Bartha have assimilated to the Arabs long time ago. Heir of the Sao civilization, the Boudouma and the Kouri inhabit the north river side of Lake Chad. While the Peuls, named Foulbe, established resident population villages, others, like the Wodaabe are nomads that face a rapid phase of islamization. The two largest ethnic groups are the Arbas and the Ngambaye. French and Arabic are the two official languages. French is mostly spoken by people in urban agglomerations and by elites. Arabic serves as everyday speech, whereas the Sara is spoken in the outskirts of the country.
The Toubou: dominant in the Bet and in parts of Kanem, Kreda, Kecherda and Zaghawa.
The Arabs: dominant in a part of the centre; Batha, Chari-Baguirmi and Salamat. Composed of Missiries, Ouled Rachid, Salamat, Mahamit, Djaatne and Khozam, Hemad and some Charafa.
In the centre: multicultural predominance.
In the west: Kanembous, Kouris and Boudoumas. At the coast of the Chari towards the east and the south: Bilalas, Kouka, Medogo and Baguirmiens.
In the Guéra: the Hadjaraï, splitt into Kenga and Arab Dangaléat, Djonkor and Moubi. In Batha, the Rattanimé, and Massalat. In the east, the Ouaddaien (Maba), Dadjo, Bidio Massalat and Tama.
The Sara: dominant in the Moyen-Chari, the west and oriental Logone. They allot in a dozen of sub-groups, like the SaraKaba, Sara-Mandjingaye, Nar, Goulaye, Mbaye, Gor, Mongo, Mouroum, Kaba de Goré. Ngambaye, Daye and Mboum, Toumak.
Mayo Kebbi: Massa, Mousseye, Toupouri, Moudang, Kado.
Tandjilé: Nantchéré, Gabri, Kabalaye, Lélé, Marba, Toumak, Ndamet Soumraye, Mesmé, Mouroum.
Chad’s population speaks about 110 local and national languages. These languages can be divided into five groups:
- the group of west Saharan languages
- Chadian languages
- Sara-Bongo-Baguirmien languages
- Massa, Moundang languages
- Toupouri and Mboum languages.
The three main big religions of Chad are Christianity, Islam, and Animism.
Islam introduced around the 11th century via Kanem, in Baguirimi in the 16th century and in Quaddai in the 17th century, Islam is practiced today by a little over 54 per cent of Chadian, predominantly among the populations of the north. Chad’s capital was in ancient centuries a pilgrim point for people on their way to Mecca. Today, N’Djamena harbours one of the largest mosques in Africa.
Catholics and Protestants represent 35 per cent of the population. The mass celebrations in N’Djamena integrate the use of traditional sonorities.
Largely based on the belief of the existence of God the Creator, invisible to people and the master of destiny of all people and his earthly representatives (trees, streams, rain, animals, etc.) the animist religion is the oldest, however, statistically loosing its validity: only seven per cent of the population practices the animism.