N’Djamena ( French: ; Arabic: ? Nijamina) is the capital and largest city of Chad, with a population of 1,605,696 as of 2012. A port on the Chari River, near the confluence with the Logone River, it directly faces the Cameroonian town of Kousseri, 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 center of economic activity in Chad.
N’Djamena was founded as Fort-Lamy by French commander Emile Gentil on May 29, 1900, and named after Amedee-Francois Lamy, an army officer who had been killed in the Battle of Kousseri 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 citys 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 Francois Tombalbaye changed its name to N’Djamena (taken from the Arab name of a nearby village, Nigamina, meaning “place of rest”) as part of his authenticite program of Africanization. The city was occupied by Libya during the 1980–81 Libyan 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 Hissene Habre against the southerner Pres Felix 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 Habre 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 Habre as Defense Minister. The intense rivalry between Goukouni and Habre caused the eruption of new clashes in the city in 1980; N’Djamena found itself divided into 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 Habre’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 Habre, who marched on N’Djamena, occupying the city with little resistance in 1982 and installing himself as the new president. He was eventually dislodged in a similar fashion in 1990 by a former general of his, Idriss Deby, 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 to 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 NDjamena (2008))
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.
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.