The Chari River flows from the Central African Republic through Chad into Lake Chad, following the Cameroon border from N'Djamena, where it is joined by its western and principal tributary, the Logone River.
It provides 90 percent of the water flowing into Lake Chad. The watershed of the river covers 548,747 square kilometres (211,872 sq mi). The principal tributary is the Logone River, while minor tributaries include the Bahr Salamat, the Bahr Sah), the Bahr Aouk and the Bahr Kéita.
Much of Chad's population, including Sarh and the capital N'Djamena, is concentrated around it.
As of 2016, Chad remains one of four countries where Guinea worm disease remains endemic. The majority of remaining cases are concentrated around the Chari River.
The river supports an important local fishing industry. One of the most highly prized local fish is the Nile Perch.