N’Djamena ( /ɨndʒəˈmeɪnə/; Arabic: نجامين Nijāmīnā “place of rest”) is the capital and largest city of Chad. In 2009, its population was recorded as 993,492. A port on the Chari River, near the confluence with the Logone River, it directly faces the Cameroonian town of Kousséri, to which the city is connected by a bridge. It is also a special statute region, divided into 10 arrondissements. It is a regional market for livestock, salt, dates, and grains. Meat, fish and cotton processing are the chief industries, and the city continues to serve as the centre of economic activity in Chad, despite the country's violent civil conflicts.
N’Djamena was founded as Fort-Lamy by French commander Émile Gentil on May 29, 1900, and named after Amédée-François Lamy, an army officer who had been killed in the Battle of Kousséri a few days earlier. It was a major trading city and became the capital of the region and nation.
During the Second World War, the French relied heavily upon the airport to move troops and supplies. On 21 January 1942, a lone German He 111 of the Sonderkommando Blaich successfully bombed the airfield at Fort Lamy, destroying oil supplies and ten aircraft. Fort Lamy received its first bank branch in 1950, when the Bank of West Africa (BAO) opened a branch there.
On April 6, 1973, the President François Tombalbaye changed its name to N’Djamena (taken from the Arab name of a nearby village, Niǧāmīnā, meaning “place of rest”) as part of his authenticité program of Africanization. The city was occupied by Libya during the 1980–81 Libyian intervention as part of the Chadian–Libyan conflict, and the associated Transitional Government of National Unity.
The city was partly destroyed during the Chadian Civil War, in 1979 and again in 1980. In these years, almost all of the population fled the town, searching for refuge on the opposite bank of the Chari River, in Cameroon next to the city of Kousseri. The residents did not return until 1981–82, after the end of the clashes. Until 1984, facilities and services were subject to strict rationing, and schools remained closed.
The period of turmoil in the city was started by the abortive coup attempted by the northerner Prime Minister Hissène Habré against the southerner President General Félix Malloum: while Malloum and the national army loyal to him were defeated, the intervention in the battle of other northern factions rival to that of Habré complicated the situation. A temporary truce was reached in 1979 through international mediation, establishing the warlord Goukouni Oueddei as head of a government of national unity with his rival Habré as Defense Minister. The intense rivalry between Goukouni and Habré caused the eruption of new clashes in the city in 1980; N’Djamena found itself divided in sectors controlled by the various warlords. The tug-of-war reached a conclusion after many months only when Goukouni asked for the intervention of the Libyans, whose tanks overwhelmed Habré’s defenses in the capital.
Following differences between Goukouni and Muammar Gaddafi and international disapproval of Libyan intervention, the Libyan troops left the capital and Chad in 1981. This opened the door to Habré, who marched on N’Djamena, occupying with little resistance the city in 1982 and placing himself as new president. He was eventually dislodged in a similar fashion in 1990 by a former general of his, Idriss Déby, as of 2012 the head of state of Chad.
The city had only 9,976 inhabitants in 1937, but a decade later, in 1947, the population had almost doubled at 18,435. In 1968, after independence, the population reached 126,483. In 1993, it surpassed half a million with 529,555. A good deal of this growth has been due to refugees fleeing into N’Djamena for security, although many people fled N’Djamena also, depending on the political situation.
On April 13, 2006, a rebel United Front for Democratic Change attack on the city was defeated in the Battle of N’Djamena.
The city was once again attacked on February 2, 2008, by UFDD and RFC rebels. (See Battle of N'Djamena (2008))
The population growth is shown below:-
- 1937: 9,976
- 1940: 12,552
- 1947: 18,375
- 1958: 53,000
- 1960: 60,000
- 1970: 130,000
- 1993: 529,555
- 2000: 728,000
- 2005: 721,000
- 2008: 860,000 (est)
- 2009: 993,492
A variety of religions are practised in the city, but with a clear Islamic predominance. The main ethnic groups are: Ngambaye (16.41%), Chadian Arabs (11.08%), Hadjerai (9.15%), Daza (6.97%), Bilala (5.83%), Kanembu (5.80%), Maba (4.84%), Kanuri (4.39%), Gor (3.32%), Kuka (3.20%), Sara (2.24%), and Barma (2.10%).
N’Djamena is located at 12°6'47" N, 15°2'57" E, on the confluence of the Chari and Logone rivers.
While primarily an administrative center, the city includes the Nassara Strip commercial centre and residential areas, such as Mbololo, Chagoua, Paris Congo and Moursal. The main commercial avenue of the city is the Avenue Charles de Gaulle.
N’Djamena features a semi-arid climate with a short wet season and a lengthy dry season. Despite the fact that the city receives on average approximately 750 mm of rain annually, due to the area’s very high evapotranspiration, N'Djamena still falls under the semi-arid climate category. The wet season covers from June to September, with the heaviest precipitation occurring in August. The dry season essentially covers the remaining eight months. Based on annual temperatures, N'Djamena is one of the hottest major cities on the planet. Only one month of the year (August) do average monthly high temperatures fail to cross the 32°C (90°F) mark. The city's highest temperatures are usually seen between March and June, just before the onset of the heavier rains. However outside of the warmest months of the year, nights in N'Djamena are generally tolerable.
|Climate data for N'Djamena (1961-1990)|
|Average high °C (°F)||32.4 |
|Average low °C (°F)||14.3 |
|Precipitation mm (inches)||0.0 |
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)||0||0||1||3||6||9||13||15||9||3||1||0||60|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||297.6||277.2||282.1||273.0||285.2||258.0||213.9||201.5||228.0||285.2||300.0||303.8||3,205.5|
|Source #1: WMO|
|Source #2: CMA|
Tourism and culture
Attractions in the city include the Chad National Museum, a cathedral and several mosques. Views of sunset across the Chari River can also be spectacular. N’Djamena was named Capital of Islamic Culture for 2009.
N’Djamena has two universities: University of N’Djamena with French as the language of instruction built in 1971 and King Faisal University - Chad with Arabic as the language of instruction built 1991, a number of secondary schools (including the long established Lycée Félix Éboué and Lycée technique commercial), and the American International School of N’Djamena.
N’Djamena is the home of the National Assembly of Chad, along with many political organisations and parties, and every national ministry. The Supreme Court and Court of Appeal are also in N’Djamena, along with every major embassy in Chad, including the French and US. It is sometimes considered within the region of Chari-Baguirmi, although separate.
The city is the eastern terminus of the Trans-Sahelian Highway, and is linked to East Africa by the N’Djamena–Djibouti Highway. The Tripoli-Cape Town Highway also passes through N’Djamena, making it a key Central African location in the Trans-African Highway network. N’Djamena is linked by road bridge to Kousseri in Cameroon.
N’Djamena International Airport (IATA code NDJ) is located on the outskirts of the city.
Historically, N’Djamenas main link to the exterior was by river boat up the Chari and Logone rivers but these now carry little trade.
The city has no railway links, however railways are proposed in the AfricaRail project.
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