Chad is a landlocked country, and by definition has no sea-going force. But it does have a large coastline on Lake Chad, and during the 1960s and up to the end of the Malloum regime, Chad's armed forces included a tiny Navy stationed on Lake Chad. However, the 2015 edition of Combat Fleets of the World has not entry for Chad.
Landlocked in Africa's center, Chad has been simultaneously at the core of the region's evolution and in a zone dividing two geographic areas and cultural heritages. On the one hand, a great inland sea, of which Lake Chad is but a remnant, once supported a diversity of animal life and vegetation. In ancient times, people speaking three of Africa's four major language groups lived near its shores; some migrated to other regions of the continent while others remained. In more recent times, Chad has become a transition zone dividing the arid north from the tropical south.
The seventh largest lake in the world (and the fourth largest in Africa), Lake Chad is located in the sahelian zone, a region just south of the Sahara Desert. Once a huge inland sea (the Paleochadian Sea) whose only remnant is shallow Lake Chad, this vast depression extends west into Nigeria and Niger. The larger, northern portion of the basin is bounded within Chad by the Tibesti Mountains in the northwest, the Ennedi Plateau in the northeast, the Ouadda'i Highlands in the east along the border with Sudan, the Gura Massif in central Chad, and the Mandara Mountains along Chad's southwestern border with Cameroon. The smaller, southern part of the basin falls almost exclusively in Chad. It is delimited in the north by the Gura Massif, in the south by highlands 250 kilometers south of the border with Central African Republic, and in the southwest by the Mandara Mountains.
Lake Chad, located in the southwestern part of the basin at an altitude of 282 meters, sur*risingly does not mark the basin's lowest point; instead, this is found in the Bodele and Djourab regions in the north-central and northeastern parts of the country, respectively.
This oddity arises because the great stationary dunes (ergs) of the Kanem region create a dam, preventing lake waters from flowing to the basin's lowest point. At various times in the past, and as late as the 1870s, the Bahr el Ghazal Depression, which extends from the northeastern part of the lake to the Djourab, acted as an overflow canal; since independence, climatic conditions have made overflows impossible.
Chad's major rivers are the Chari and the Logone and their tributaries, which flow from the southeast into Lake Chad. Both river systems rise in the highlands of Central African Republic and Cameroon, regions that receive more than 1,250 millimeters of rainfall annually.
The size of the lake is determined by rains in the southern highlands bordering the basin and by temperatures in the Sahel. Fluctuations in both cause the lake to change dramatically in size, from 9,800 square kilometers in the dry season to 25,500 at the end of the rainy season. Lake Chad also changes greatly in size from one year to another. In 1870 its maximum area was 28,000 square kilometers. The measurement dropped to 12,700 in 1908. In the 1940s and 1950s, the lake remained small, but it grew again to 26,000 square kilometers in 1963. The droughts of the late 1960s, early 1970s, and mid-1980s caused Lake Chad to shrink once again, however.
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