The 14 million Chad people belong to some 200 ethnicities, who speak numerous languages. The peoples of Chad carry significant ancestry from Eastern, Central, Western, and Northern Africa. The population can be broadly divided between those in the east, north and west who follow Islam, and the peoples of the south, the five southernmost prefectures, who are mostly Christian or animist. The southern part of the country was historically the cross roads of the caravan routes below the Sahara, forming a link between West Africa and the Arabic region, as well as one between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
Islamization began as early as the 8th century and was mostly complete by the 11th, when Islam became the official religion of the Kanem-Bornu Empire. The Arab invaders established an economy of slave trade across the Sudan region, and in Chad there was a tradition of slave raids (ghazw) under the Ouaddai and Baguirmi which persisted well into the 20th century.
The Arabs of Chad form a relatively homogeneous group, localized in the regions of Chari Baguirmi and Ouaddai, but mostly seminomadic.
Arabs are the second ethnic group in Chad around 10% of total population, after de 30% of Sara people.
Other Muslim groups include the Toubou, Hadjerai, Fulbe/Fulani, Kotoko, Kanembou, Baguirmi, Boulala, Zaghawa, and Maba. Some indigenous groups, such as the Salamat and the Tandjor, were largely Arabized by intermarriage over the years.