Chad is a landlocked country in north – central Africa that is home to more than 16 million people. This population is scattered over an area of nearly 500,000 squares miles. Only about 3.2 million people live in urban settings, meaning that 80% of the population lives in villages dotting the vast landscape. 47% of the population is under the age of 15.
Islam is the most predominate religion in Chad, comprising about 52% of the population. Christianity makes up nearly 40%, split pretty evenly among Catholics and Protestants. The rest of the population still follows the traditional animistic worship of their ancestors. Those that follow Islam and Christianity also mix many aspects of the traditional beliefs with their religions, creating a hybrid of beliefs and practices. Islam was introduced to the country during the 14th century. Due to its’ close proximity to North Africa and the middle-east, many Arabs migrated here, bringing trade and Islam with them. Christianity was introduced during the 20th century, as French colonization (which formally began in 1900 AD) took over the country. At first, the French discouraged the spread of Christianity, feeling that it was easier to control the colony without it. For the first twenty years, the French military government of Chad opposed efforts to send missionaries to Chad. Following the end of WW1, the government began to allow missionaries in but did not work with or encourage them. It was not until WW2 that a major effort was made to introduce Christianity to Chad. The constitution of Chad promises religious freedom for all people. Though today, many people still walk in darkness. Even those who profess to be Christians know little of the Bible and have rarely heard the truth of the Gospel preached.
French and Arabic are the official languages of Chad, though many still speak their tribal language. There are over 200 different ethnic groups in the country.