It endured three decades of civil war as well as invasions by Libya before a semblance of peace was restored in 1990.
Idriss Deby, the Libyan-supported rebel leader and former armed forces chief, ousted dictator Hissene Habre in 1990 after invading from Sudan.
The government drafted a democratic constitution and held flawed presidential elections in 1996 and 2001.
Deby won both elections and has been cleared to run again in 2006.
The president has had a tense relationship with his own army.
In 1998, an insurgency led by Youssouf Togoimi, Deby's former defence chief, broke out in northern Chad.
A Libyan-brokered peace deal in 2002 failed to put an end to the fighting.
In 2003 and 2004, unrest in neighbouring Sudan's Darfur region spilled across the border, along with thousands of refugees.
In 2005, new rebel groups emerged in western Sudan and have made probing attacks into eastern Chad.
Scores of soldiers deserted in September and regrouped in the Chad-Sudan border region, vowing to overthrow Deby.
On December 23, Chad announced that it was in a state of war with Sudan.
On February 8, Chad and Sudan, which have accused each other of backing insurgents, signed the Tripoli Agreement, ending the Chadian-Sudanese conflict.
Chad, one of the world's poorest countries, became an oil producer in 2003 with the completion of a $3.7 billion pipeline linking its oilfields to terminals on the Atlantic coast.
The World Bank in January suspended all loans to Chad after its parliament approved legislation that altered a World Bank-supported oil revenue law in a move to access more profits from the Chad-Cameroon pipeline.
Chad, ranked the world's most corrupt country in a Transparency International survey in 2005, said it wanted to use oil money for more immediate needs, among them security.