The city had only 9,976 inhabitants in 1937, but a decade later, in 1947, the population had almost doubled at 18,435. After independence in 1968 the population reached 126,483. In 1993 it surpassed half a million with 529,555. A good deal of this growth has been down 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. (See Battle of N'Djamena (2006))
The city was once again attacked on February 2, 2008, by UFDD and RFC rebels.