After centuries of domination by several autonomous and constantly warring kingdoms, the land that would eventually make up the nation of Chad was subjugated by France in the 1890s. The French colonized Chad only half-heartedly, using it primarily as a source of raw materials and unskilled labor, never bothering to institute any unifying or modernizing policies. Chad gained its independence from France in 1960 but immediately became ensnared in a morass of ethnic warfare. Like so many other post-independence African nations, internal strife—sporadically punctuated by outside incursions—delayed all national development programs for decades. In Chad, a 1975 military coup and several invasions by Libya retarded progress until 1990, when a tentative and unstable peace was finally achieved. Since then, the government has come to terms with most rebel groups, settled the Libyan border dispute, drafted a new, democratic constitution and held presidential and National Assembly elections. Unfortunately, most power remains in the hands of a northern ethnic oligarchy whose followers instigated a new rebellion in 1998, damaging any hopes for the national development and improved living conditions that only lasting peace can bring.



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