Chad has the following regions: a desert region in the north, an arid Sahelian belt in the middle, and a Sudanian Savanna region in the south that is more fertile. The country's name comes from Lake Chad, which is Africa's second-largest wetland. Arabic and French are the official languages of Chad. Over 200 distinct ethnic and linguistic groups call it home. Chad's predominant religions are Christianity (41.1 percent) and Islam (55.1 percent).
Humans began arriving in large numbers in the Chadian basin in the seventh millennium BC. A number of states and empires had risen and fallen in Chad's Sahelian strip by the end of the first millennium AD, each focused on controlling the trans-Saharan trade routes that passed through the area. By 1920, France had taken control of the land and included it in its French Equatorial Africa. Chad gained independence in 1960 under François Tombalbaye's direction. In 1965, a long-lasting civil war broke out as a result of anger at his policies in the Muslim north. The rebels took control of the capital in 1979, ending the South's rule. The rebel commanders then engaged in internal combat until Hissène Habr prevailed. The Libyan invasion that started the Chadian–Libyan conflict in 1978 ended in 1987 with a French military intervention. Hissèn Habr's general, Idriss Déby, overthrew him in 1990. The Chad National Army began modernizing in 1991 with French assistance. The Darfur crisis in Sudan spread across the border in 2003 and destabilized the country. The country and people struggled to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees who live in and around camps in eastern Chad. The country was already struggling with poverty.