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Chad: Poorest of the Poor

Landlocked in central Africa with a population of about 7 million, Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world. In the latter half of the 1990s its GDP per capita averaged $215.

 Source: World Development Indicators
Desert covers much of the country, and only about 3 percent of the land is fit for growing crops.  With virtually no other natural resources, the country generates about 40 percent of its GDP from agriculture (cotton cultivation, subsistence farming and cattle herding) which provides a meager livelihood for over 80 percent of the population.

The economy also suffers from the disadvantages of a landlocked country: the nearest port is about 1000 kilometers away to the south and, with a vast and seasonally flooded territory, transport costs are extremely high.

When significant oil reserves were discovered in the country in the mid-nineties, Chad’s social standards were some of the lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa: life expectancy at birth was 48 years (compared to a regional average of 51), only 34 percent of adults could read and about one-fourth of the population had access to safe water.  Decades of internal conflict and political instability had taken their toll.

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