Ethnic groups in Chad
The population of Chad is divided into numerous ethnic groups. SIL Ethnologue reports more than 130 distinct languages spoken in Chad. The CIA Factbook based on the 1993 census reports on the largest ethnic groups:
- Sara 27.7%, Arab 12.3%, Mayo-Kebbi 11.5%, Kanem-Bornou 9%, Ouaddai 8.7%, Hadjarai 6.7%, Tandjile 6.5%, Gorane 6.3%, Fitri-Batha 4.7%, other 6.4%, unknown 0.3% (1993 census)
The population can be broadly divided between those who follow the Islamic faith and the peoples of the south, by which is meant the five southernmost prefectures, who are mostly Christian or animist.
Ethno-linguistically, the groups may be divided into:
- Arabized groups, mostly Arabized Berber
- Chadic: Marba, numerous minor groups
Islamization began as early as the 8th century and was mostly complete by the 11th, when Islam became the official religion of the Kanem-Bornu Empire. The Arab invaders established an economy of slave trade across the Sudan region, and in Chad there was a tradition of slave raids (ghazw) under the Ouaddai and Baguirmi which persisted well into the 20th century.
The Arabs of Chad form a relatively homogeneous group, localized in the regions of Chari Baguirmi and Ouaddai, but mostly seminomadic. Other Muslim groups include the Toubou, Hadjerai, Fulbe/Fulani, Kotoko, Kanembou, Baguirmi, Boulala, Zaghawa, and Maba. Some indigenous groups, such as the Salamat and the Taundjor, were largely Arabized by intermarriage over the years.
Among the non-Muslim indigenous peoples, the most important (and the largest single group in Chad) are the Sara, about 30 percent of the population. They live in the valleys of the Chari and Logone rivers and are farmers of considerable skill. Others include the Ngambaye, Mbaye, Goulaye, Moundang, Moussei, and Massa.