Chad Department of State Background
U.S. Department of State Background Note
- Government and Political Conditions
- Foreign Relations
- U.S.-Chad Relations
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Chad is a landlocked country in north central Africa measuring 1,284,000 square kilometers (496,000 sq. mi.), roughly three times the size of California. Most of its ethnically and linguistically diverse population lives in the south, with densities ranging from 54 persons per square kilometers in the Logone River basin to 0.1 persons in the northern B.E.T. desert region, which is larger than France. The capital city of N’Djaména, situated at the confluence of the Chari and Logone Rivers, is cosmopolitan in nature, with a current population nearing one million people.
Chad has four bioclimatic zones. The northernmost Saharan zone averages less than 200 mm (8") of rainfall annually. The sparse human population is largely nomadic, with some livestock, mostly small ruminants and camels. The central Sahelian zone receives between 200 and 600 mm (24") rainfall and has vegetation ranging from grass/shrub steppe to thorny, open savanna. The southern zone, often referred to as the Sudanian zone, receives between 600 and 1,000 mm (39"), with woodland savanna and deciduous forests for vegetation. Rainfall in the Guinea zone, located in Chad’s southwestern tip, ranges between 1,000 and 1,200 mm (47").
The country’s topography is generally flat, with the elevation gradually rising as one moves north and east away from Lake Chad. The highest point in Chad is Emi Koussi, a mountain that rises 3,100 meters (10,200 ft.) in the northern Tibesti Mountains. The Ennedi Plateau and the Ouaddaí¯ highlands in the east complete the image of a gradually sloping basin, which descends toward Lake Chad. There also are central highlands in the Guera region rising to 1,500 meters (4,900 ft.).
Lake Chad is the second-largest lake in West Africa and is one of the most important wetlands on the continent. Home to 120 species of fish and at least that many species of birds, the lake has shrunk dramatically in the last four decades due to the increased water use and low rainfall. Bordered by Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon, Lake Chad currently covers only 1,350 square kilometers, down from 25,000 square kilometers in 1963. The Chari and Logone Rivers, both of which originate in the Central African Republic and flow northward, provide most of the water entering Lake Chad.
There are more than 200 ethnic groups in Chad. Those in the north and east are generally Muslim; most southerners are Christians or animists. Through their long religious and commercial relationships with Sudan and Egypt, many of the peoples in Chad's eastern and central regions have become more or less Arabized, speaking Arabic and engaging in many other Arab cultural practices as well. More than three-quarters of the Chadian population is rural.
Chad has a long and rich history. A humanoid skull found in Borkou was dated to be more than 3 million years old. Because in ancient times the Saharan area was not totally arid, Chad's population was more evenly distributed than it is today. For example, 7,000 years ago, the north central basin, now in the Sahara, was still filled with water, and people lived and farmed around its shores. Cliff paintings in Borkou and Ennedi depict elephants, rhinoceroses, giraffes, cattle, and camels; only camels survive there today. The region has been known to traders and geographers since the late Middle Ages. Since then, Chad has served as a crossroads for the Muslim peoples of the desert and savanna regions, and the animist Bantu tribes of the tropical forests.
Sao people lived along the Chari River for thousands of years, but their relatively weak chiefdoms were overtaken by the powerful chiefs of what were to become the Kanem-Bornu and Baguirmi kingdoms. At their peak, these two kingdoms and the kingdom of Ouaddai controlled a good part of what is now Chad, as well as parts of Nigeria and Sudan. From 1500 to 1900, Arab slave raids were widespread. The French first penetrated Chad in 1891, establishing their authority through military expeditions primarily against the Muslim kingdoms. The first major colonial battle for Chad was fought in 1900 between the French Major Lamy and the African leader Rabah, both of whom were killed in the battle. Although the French won that battle, they did not declare the territory pacified until 1911; armed clashes between colonial troops and local bands continued for many years thereafter.
In 1905, administrative responsibility for Chad was placed under a governor general stationed at Brazzaville in what is now Congo. Although Chad joined the French colonies of Gabon, Oubangui-Charo, and Moyen Congo to form the Federation of French Equatorial Africa (AEF) in 1910, it did not have colonial status until 1920. The northern region of Chad was occupied by the French in 1914. In 1959, the territory of French Equatorial Africa was dissolved, and four states--Gabon, the Central African Republic, Congo (Brazzaville), and Chad--became autonomous members of the French Community. On August 11, 1960 Chad became an independent nation under its first president, Francois Tombalbaye.
A long civil war began as a tax revolt in 1965 and soon set the Muslim north and east against the southern-led government. Even with the help of French combat forces, the Tombalbaye government was never able to quell the insurgency. Tombalbaye's rule became more irrational and brutal, leading the military to carry out a coup in 1975 and to install Gen. Felix Malloum, a southerner, as head of state. In 1978, Malloum's government was broadened to include more northerners. Internal dissent within the government led the northern prime minister, Hissein Habre, to send his forces against the national army in the capital city of N'Djamena in February 1979. The resulting civil war amongst the 11 emergent factions was so widespread that it rendered the central government largely irrelevant. At that point, other African governments decided to intervene.
A series of four international conferences held first under Nigerian and then Organization of African Unity (OAU) sponsorship attempted to bring the Chadian factions together. At the fourth conference, held in Lagos, Nigeria, in August 1979, the Lagos accord was signed. This accord established a transitional government pending national elections. In November 1979, the National Union Transition Government (GUNT) was created with a mandate to govern for 18 months. Goukouni Oueddei, a northerner, was named President; Colonel Kamougue, a southerner, Vice President; and Habre, Minister of Defense. This coalition proved fragile; in January 1980, fighting broke out again between Goukouni's and Habre's forces. With assistance from Libya, Goukouni regained control of the capital and other urban centers by year’s end. However, Goukouni’s January 1981 statement that Chad and Libya had agreed to work for the realization of complete unity between the two countries generated intense international pressure and Goukouni’s subsequent call for the complete withdrawal of external forces. Libya’s partial withdrawal to the Aozou Strip in northern Chad cleared the way for Habre’s forces to enter N’Djamena in June. French troops and an OAU peacekeeping force of 3,500 Nigerian, Senegalese, and Zairian troops (partially funded by the United States) remained neutral during the conflict.
Habre continued to face armed opposition on various fronts, and was brutal in his repression of suspected opponents, massacring and torturing many during his rule. In the summer of 1983, GUNT forces launched an offensive against government positions in northern and eastern Chad with Libyan support. In response to Libya's direct intervention, French and Zairian forces intervened to defend Habre, pushing Libyan and rebel forces north of the 16th parallel. In September 1984, the French and the Libyan governments announced an agreement for the mutual withdrawal of their forces from Chad. By the end of the year, all French and Zairian troops were withdrawn. Libya did not honor the withdrawal accord, and its forces continued to occupy the northern third of Chad.
Southern rebel commando groups (CODO) in southern Chad were broken up by government massacres in 1984. In 1985 Habre briefly reconciled with some of his most powerful opponents, including the Chadian Democratic Front and the Coordinating Action Committee of the Democratic Revolutionary Council. Goukouni also began to rally toward Habre, and with his support Habre successfully expelled Libyan forces from most of Chadian territory. A cease-fire between Chad and Libya held from 1987 to 1988, and negotiations over the next several years led to the 1994 International Court of Justice decision granting Chad sovereignty over the Aouzou strip, effectively ending Libyan occupation.
However, rivalry between Hadjerai, Zaghawa, and Gorane groups within the government grew in the late 1980s. In April 1989, Idriss Deby, one of Habre's leading generals and a Zaghawa, defected and fled to Darfur in Sudan, from which he mounted a Zaghawa-supported series of attacks on Habre (a Gorane). In December 1990, with Libyan assistance and no opposition from French troops stationed in Chad, Deby’s forces successfully marched on N’Djamena. After 3 months of provisional government, Deby’s Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS) approved a national charter on February 28, 1991, with Deby as president.
In the following 2 years, Deby faced at least two coup attempts. Government forces clashed violently with rebel forces (including the Movement for Democracy and Development, MDD, National Revival Committee for Peace and Democracy (CSNPD), Chadian national Front (FNT), and the Western Armed Forces, FAO) near Lake Chad and in southern regions of the country. Earlier French demands for the country to hold a national conference resulted in the gathering of 750 delegates representing political parties (legalized in 1992), the government, trade unions, and the army to discuss creation of a pluralist democratic regime.
Unrest continued, however, sparked in part by large-scale killings of civilians in southern Chad. The CSNPD, led by Kette Moise and other southern groups, entered into a peace agreement with government forces in 1994, which later broke down. Two new groups, the Armed Forces for a Federal Republic (FARF) led by former Kette ally Laokein Barde and the Democratic Front for Renewal (FDR), and a reformulated MDD clashed with government forces 1994-95.
Talks with political opponents in early 1996 did not go well, but Deby announced his intent to hold presidential elections in June. Deby won the country’s first multi-party presidential elections with support in the second round from opposition leader Kebzabo, defeating General Kamougue (leader of the 1975 coup against Tombalbaye). Deby’s MPS party won 63 of 125 seats in the January 1997 legislative elections. International observers noted numerous serious irregularities in presidential and legislative election proceedings.
By mid-1997 the government signed peace deals with FARF and the MDD leadership and succeeded in cutting off the groups from their rear bases in the Central African Republic and Cameroon. Agreements also were struck with rebels from the National Front of Chad (FNT) and Movement for Social Justice and Democracy in October 1997. However, peace was short-lived, as FARF rebels clashed with government soldiers, finally surrendering to government forces in May 1998. Barde was killed in the fighting, as were hundreds of other southerners, most civilians.
From 1998 to 2003, Chadian Movement for Justice and Democracy (MDJT) rebels skirmished periodically with government troops in the Tibesti region, resulting in hundreds of civilian, government, and rebel casualties, but little ground won or lost. Following an accord with the government in 2003, several hundred rebels rejoined the Chadian Army. Armed remnants of the MDJT linger in the Tibesti region, but no active armed opposition has emerged in other parts of Chad.
In May 2001, Deby won a flawed 63% first-round victory in presidential elections after legislative elections were postponed until spring 2002. Six opposition leaders were arrested (twice), and one opposition party activist was killed following the announcement of election results. However, despite claims of government corruption, favoritism of Zaghawas, and security forces abuses, opposition party and labor union calls for general strikes and more active demonstrations against the government were unsuccessful.
In May 2004, the National Assembly voted in favor of an amendment to the Constitution that would allow President Deby to run again. The amendment was approved in a national referendum June 2005 and abolished presidential term limits. In April 2006, the capital city of N’djamena was attacked by the United Front for Democratic Change--which was led by the Tama ethnic group--coordinating with another Chadian rebel organization from President Deby’s Zaghawa ethnic group. The government put down the attacks. On May 3, 2006 Deby was elected to his third presidential term with a substantial majority, according to Chadian election officials. Provisional figures showed Deby receiving 77.6% of the vote. More than 60% of Chad's 5.8 million registered voters cast ballots.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
The constitutional basis for the government is the 1996 Constitution. A strong executive branch headed by the president dominates the Chadian political system. Following his December 1990 military overthrow of Hissein Habre, Idriss Deby in the mid-1990s gradually restored basic functions of government and entered into agreements with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) intended to carry out substantial economic reforms, including the Doba Basin oil extraction project.
The president has the power to appoint the prime minister and the Council of State (or cabinet), and exercises considerable influence over appointments of judges, generals, provincial officials and heads of Chad’s parastatal firms. In cases of grave and immediate threat, the president, in consultation with the National Assembly President and Council of State, may declare a state of emergency. Most of the Deby’s key advisers are members of the Zaghawa clan, although some southern and opposition personalities are represented in his government.
According to the 1996 Constitution, National Assembly deputies are elected by universal suffrage for 4-year terms. Parliamentary elections were last held in April 2002, with President Deby’s MPS party winning a large majority. The Assembly holds regular sessions twice a year, starting in March and October, and can hold special sessions as necessary and called by the prime minister. Deputies elect a president of the National Assembly every 2 years. Assembly deputies or members of the executive branch may introduce legislation; once passed by the Assembly, the president must take action to either sign or reject the law within 15 days. The National Assembly must approve the prime minister’s plan of government and may force the prime minister to resign through a majority vote of no confidence. However, if the National Assembly rejects the executive branch’s program twice in one year, the president may disband the Assembly and call for new legislative elections. In practice, the president exercises considerable influence over the National Assembly through the MPS party structure.
Despite the Constitution’s guarantee of judicial independence from the executive branch, the president names most key judicial officials. The Supreme Court is made up of a chief justice, named by the president, and 15 councilors chosen by the president and National Assembly; appointments are for life. The Constitutional Council, with nine judges elected to 9-year terms, has the power to review all legislation, treaties and international agreements prior to their adoption. The Constitution recognizes customary and traditional law in locales where it is recognized and to the extent it does not interfere with public order or constitutional guarantees of equality for all citizens.
Principal Government Officials
Prime Minister--Nouradine Delwa Kassire Koumakoye
Minister of Foreign Affairs and African Integration--Ahmad Allam-mi
President of the National Assembly--Nassour Guelengdouksia Ouaidou
Ambassador to U.S.--Mahamat Adam Bechir
The Republic of Chad maintains an embassy in the United States at 2002 R Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel: 202-462-4009; fax 202-265-1937).
Under President Hissein Habre, members of Gourane, Zaghawa, Kanembou, Hadjerai, and Massa ethnic groups dominated the military. Idriss Deby, a member of the minority Zaghawa-related Bidyate clan and a top military commander, revolted and fled to Sudan, taking with him many Zaghawa and Hadjerai soldiers in 1989. The forces that Deby led into N'Djamena on December 1, 1990 to oust President Habre were mainly Zaghawa (including a large number of Sudanese), many of whom were recruited while Deby was in the bush. Deby's coalition also included a small number of Hadjerais and southerners.
Chad's armed forces numbered about 36,000 at the end of the Habre regime but swelled to an estimated 50,000 in the early days of Idriss Deby. With French support, a reorganization of the armed forces was initiated early in 1991 with the goal of reducing the size of the armed forces. An essential element of this effort was to make the ethnic composition of the armed forces reflective of the country as a whole. While the military’s size has been reduced to approximately 25,000 soldiers, leadership positions are still dominated by the Zaghawa.
Following Idriss Deby's rise to power, Habre loyalists continued to fight government troops and rob civilians around Lake Chad. In the mid- and late-1990s, a rebellion in the south by the FARF delayed the promised oil development until crushed by government forces. Most recently, the Movement for Democracy and Justice in Tchad (MDJT) launched the most serious threat to Deby's hold on power, but little progress was ever made on either side. In January 2002, the government and the MDJT signed a formal peace accord. Although remnants are still present in the North, active rebellion there has been negligible since late 2003.
Long, porous borders continue to render Chad vulnerable to incursions. In March 2004, the Algerian terrorist organization, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), strayed into Chadian territory, where they were engaged by Chadian armed forces. Since the 2003 outbreak of the Darfur crisis in Sudan, armed militias have occasionally crossed into Chad, resulting in small-scale skirmishes. In response to such ongoing threats Chad has joined in the Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI), a U.S. Government military-to-military assistance program which helps participant countries counter terrorist operations, border incursions, and trafficking of people, illicit materials, and other goods. Initial PSI training was completed in Chad in July 2004.
In 2006, Chad's GDP was estimated at approximately $5.255 billion. Oil, cotton, cattle, and gum arabic are Chad’s major exports.
The effects on foreign investment of years of civil war are still felt today, as investors who left Chad between 1979-82 have only recently begun to regain confidence in the country's future. The most important economic venture to date is the Doba Basin oil extraction project in southern Chad. The project included unique mechanisms for World Bank, private sector, government, and civil society collaboration to guarantee that future oil revenues would benefit local populations and result in poverty alleviation.
Oil exploitation in the southern Doba region began in June 2000, with U.S.-based Exxon Mobil leading a consortium in a $3.7 billion project to export oil via a 1,000-km. buried pipeline through Cameroon to the Gulf of Guinea. Beginning in late 2000, development of Chad’s petroleum sector stimulated economic growth by attracting major investment and increased levels of U.S. trade. Oil revenue began trickling into the country in July 2004. It was hoped that this project would serve as a catalyst for the entire economy by helping to reduce energy costs and attracting additional trade and investment in other sectors. However, the question remains whether Chad will continue to consolidate its economic reforms and invest its oil revenues wisely in order to encourage a wider range of economic initiatives. Political controversy surrounding elections and a rebellion in northern Chad also dampen Chad's economic prospects somewhat by exposing the weaknesses in Chad's political institutions.
The U.S. Government expressed both concern and disappointment after the Government of Chad on August 26, 2006 ordered Chevron Oil Corporation and Petronas, members of the Exxon Mobil-led and operated oil consortium, to cease operations and leave Chad within 24 hours for alleged non-payment of income taxes.
Chevron and Petronas entered into a tax agreement in 2000 with the government, represented by Petroleum Minister Mahamat Hassan Nasser, when they replaced Elf and Shell as minority members of the consortium. The companies assert that the agreement authorizes them to use a special depreciation schedule allowing greater tax deductions than those afforded consortium partner Exxon Mobil. The Government of Chad, however, claimed that the 2000 tax agreement was illegal, because it was negotiated by officials without proper authority and was not vetted by the National Assembly. The Government of Chad also announced plans to press charges against negotiating officials, and on August 28, 2006 replaced Nasser, as well as Economic Minister Mahamat Ali Hassan and Farming Minister Moucktar Moussa. Chevron and Petronas consider the Government of Chad to have violated its contractual obligations and planned to seek recourse through all diplomatic and legal means. While the U.S. takes no position on the merits of the dispute, it has urged all parties involved to respect any binding contractual commitments.
Despite recent development of the petroleum sector, more than 80% of the work force is involved in agriculture (subsistence farming, herding, and fishing). Like many other developing countries, Chad has a small formal sector and a large, thriving informal sector. Statistics indicate the following distribution as percentage of GDP: Agriculture--32.5% (farming, livestock, fishing); industry--26.6%; and services--40.8%. Chad is highly dependent on foreign assistance. Its principal donors include the European Union, France, and the multilateral lending agencies.
Primary markets for Chadian exports include neighboring Cameroon and Nigeria and France, Germany, and Portugal. Aside from oil, cotton remains a primary export, although exact figures are not available. Rehabilitation of CotonTchad, the major cotton company that suffered from a decline in world cotton prices, has been financed by France, the Netherlands, the European Economic Community (EC), and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). The parastatal is now being privatized.
The other major export is livestock, herded to neighboring countries. Herdsmen in the Sudanic and Sahelian zones raise cattle, sheep, goats, and, among the non-Muslims, a few pigs. In the Saharan region, only camels and a few hardy goats can survive. Chad also sells smoked and dried fish to its neighbors and exports several million dollars worth of gum arabic to Europe and the United States each year. Other food crops include millet, sorghum, peanuts, rice, sweet potatoes, manioc, cassava, and yams.
After averaging 0.8% in 1999-2000, Chad’s real GDP growth was estimated at 8.9% in 2001, and 10% in 2002 and 2003 as the Doba oil project accelerated. Inflation rose from 3.7% in 2000 to 12.4% in 2001, dropped to 5.2% in 2002, and was estimated to level out at 3% in 2004. These fluctuations were due in large part to increasing demand from the Doba project but also to fluctuations in agricultural production. After a disappointing agricultural campaign in 2000, increased production during the 2001-02 timeframe helped reduce inflation in 2002. In 2003, the contraction in investments, the 7% appreciation in the CFA Franc exchange rate, and bumper harvests combined to generate a 1% deflation in place of the projected 4.3% inflation. Chad’s economic performance, at least until the onset of oil exports, continued to depend on fluctuations in rainfall and in prices of its principal export commodities, especially cotton.
Since 1995, the Government of Chad has made incremental progress in implementing structural reforms and improving government finances under two successive structural adjustment programs. Most state enterprises have been partially or completely privatized, non-priority public spending has been lessened, and the government has gradually liberalized some key sectors of the economy. Liberalization of the telecommunications, cotton, and energy sectors is expected to proceed over the next several years. Chad reached the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative completion point in May 2001.
Chad is officially nonaligned but has close relations with France, the former colonial power, and other members of the Western community. It receives economic aid from countries of the European Union, the United States, and various international organizations. Libya supplies aid and has an ambassador resident in N'Djamena.
Other resident diplomatic missions in N'Djamena include the embassies of France, the United States, Egypt, Algeria, Iraq, Sudan, Germany, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Taiwan, Cameroon, and the European Economic Community. A number of other countries have nonresident ambassadors. In 1988, Chad recognized the State of Palestine, which maintains a mission in N'Djamena. Chad has not recognized the State of Israel.
With the exception of Libya, with which relations are turbulent, Chad has generally good rapport with its neighbors. Although relations with Libya improved with the advent of the Deby government, strains persist. Chad has been an active champion of regional cooperation through the Central African Economic and Customs Union, the Lake Chad and Niger River Basin Commissions, and the Interstate Commission for the Fight Against the Drought in the Sahel.
Chad belongs to the following international organizations: UN and some of its specialized and related agencies; African Union; Central African Customs and Economic Union (UDEAC); African Financial Community (Franc Zone); Agency for the Francophone Community; African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States; African Development Bank; Central African States Development Bank; Economic and Monetary Union of Central African (CEMAC); Economic Commission for Africa; G-77; International Civil Aviation Organization; International Confederation of Free Trade Unions; International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement; International Development Association; Islamic Development Bank; International Fund for Agricultural Development; International Finance Corporation; International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; International Labor Organization; International Monetary Fund; Interpol; International Olympic Committee; International Telecommunication Union; NAM; Organization of the Islamic Conference; Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons; Universal Postal Union; World Confederation of Labor; World Intellectual Property Organization; World Meteorological Organization; World Tourism Organization; World Trade Organization.
Relations between the United States and Chad are good. The American embassy in N'Djamena, established at Chadian independence in 1960, was closed from the onset of the heavy fighting in the city in 1980 until the withdrawal of the Libyan forces at the end of 1981. It was reopened in January 1982. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Information Service (USIS) offices resumed activities in Chad in September 1983.
The United States enjoys cordial relations with the Deby government. Chad has proved a valuable partner in the global war on terror, and in providing shelter to approximately 200,000 refugees of Sudan’s Darfur crisis along its eastern border.
Before permanently closing its Chad mission in 1995 because of declining funds and security concerns, USAID’s development program in Chad concentrated on the agricultural, health, and infrastructure sectors. It also included projects in road repair and maintenance, maternal and child health, famine early warning systems, and agricultural marketing. A number of American voluntary agencies (notably AFRICARE and VITA) continue to operate in Chad. Peace Corps has traditionally had a large presence in Chad, with volunteers arriving during the postwar period in September 1987, then withdrawing in 1998. Peace Corps operations resumed in September 2003, with a group of 20 new volunteers. The second class of 17 volunteers arrived in September 2004. Both groups focused on teaching English; expansion into other areas was planned for 2005.
Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador-- Marc Wall
Deputy Chief of Mission--Lucy Tamlyn
Political/Economic Officer--Rebecca Daley
Consular/Economic Officer--Arthur Bell
Management Officer--Sharon James
Public Affairs Officer--Arthur Bell
Regional Security Officer--Bradley Markwald
Defense Attache--Lt. Col. Tim Mitchell
The U.S. Embassy in Chad is located on Avenue Felix Eboue, N'Djamena, (tel: 235-51-70-09, 235-51-90-52, or 235-51-92-33; fax 235-51-56-54).
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.
For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Travel/International.shtml.
The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens traveling or residing abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security conditions.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.
The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov
Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help with the export process, and more.STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from the Federal government. The site includes current and historical trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities, and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank.
Revised: Jun. 2007