Lake Chad (in French Lac Tchad) is a historically large, shallow lake in Africa, whose size has varied over the centuries. According to the United Nations (UN), it shrank as much as by 95 percent from about 1963 to 1998 yet they also state that "The 2007 (satellite) image shows significant improvement over previous years". Lake Chad is economically important, providing water to more than 20 million people living in the four countries that surround it (Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria) on the edge of the Sahara Desert.
Location and description
Lake Chad is located mainly in the far west of Chad, bordering on northeastern Nigeria. The Chari River, fed by its tributary the Logone provides over 90 percent of Lake Chad's water, with a small amount coming from the Yobe River in Nigeria/Niger. Despite high levels of evaporation the lake is still freshwater. Over half of the lake's area is taken up by its many small islands, reedbeds and mudbanks, and a belt of swampland across the middle divides the northern and southern halves while the shorelines are largely composed of marshes.
Because Lake Chad is very shallow—only 10.5 metres (34 ft) at its deepest—its area is particularly sensitive to small changes in average depth, and consequently it also shows seasonal fluctuations in size of about 1m every year. Lake Chad has no apparent outlet, but its waters percolate into the Soro and Bodélé depressions. The climate is dry most of the year round with occasional rains from June to October.
Lake Chad gave its name to the country of Chad. The name Chad is a local word meaning "large expanse of water," in other words, a "lake."
Lake Chad is believed to be a remnant of a former inland sea which has grown and shrunk with changes in climate over the past 13,000 years. At its largest, around 4000 BC, this lake is estimated to have covered an area of 400,000 km², (approx. 154,000 sq miles). Lake sediments appear to indicate dry periods, when the lake nearly dried up, around 8500 BC, 5500 BC, 2000 BC, and 100 BC."
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