The Republic of Chad is landlocked at the crossroads of Central Africa. Chad (whose total area is 495,755 square miles; 1,284,000 sq km) is bordered on the north by Libya, on the south by the Central African Republic, on the east by Sudan, and on the west and south by Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon. The country's fragile ecosystem and harsh terrain make for a difficult environment; nevertheless, there are reasonable prospects of economic growth and development. Over the past century, natural phenomena and human activity have combined to transform the environment, population distribution, social structure, economic conditions, and future prospects of this sparsely populated country.