There are more than 200 ethnic groups in Chad; with only basic attempts at unification, these groups continue to perceive themselves as largely autonomous in regards to the greater nation. The major cultural groups are divided primarily along geographic lines.
The southern fifth of the country--which contains half of the nation’s population--is primarily settled by the Sara people, who live sedentary lifestyles and are predominantly Christian. The northern region of the country is inhabited primarily by nomadic tribal groups, who are mostly Muslim. The center of the country--the Sahel region--is a blending of nomadic and sedentary peoples.
Religion and Language
The majority of the population in Chad identifies as Muslim, although Islam in Chad draws heavily from pre-Islamic indigenous religion. Likewise, roughly 35 percent of Chadian Christians integrate aspects of animism and other indigenous beliefs in their practice. A full 10 percent of the population continues to practice their indigenous religion exclusively, primarily in the southern part of the country. Both French and Arabic are national languages of Chad, although there are more than 100 local dialects and languages spoken. In the rural regions of the country, French is not widely spoken, and Chadian Arabic is used as a trade language between different cultural groups.
The diversity of cultures and lifestyles in Chad is reflected in the national diet. Unlike neighboring African countries, Chad has no uniform national cuisine. Millet porridge is widely eaten, although in the north it is less common. Southern Chadians tend to eat more agricultural products, with rice, potatoes, millet, red beans, spices, and fruits found alongside domesticated meats. In the north, where the majority of people live a nomadic lifestyle, the diet consists primarily of milk, meat and fish, with grain dishes only occasionally used.