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For the region of the same name, see Sudan (region); for the orange-red dye see Sudan I.

The Republic of the Sudan, or Republic of Sudan (in recent years the definite article has increasingly been dropped in common usage) is the largest country by area in Africa, situated in Northeast Africa. The capital is Khartoum. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, Kenya and Uganda to the southeast, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west, and Libya to the northwest.

جمهورية السودان
Jumhuriyat as-Sudan
Flag of Sudan Coat of Arms of Sudan
(Flag) (Coat of Arms)
Motto: Al-Nasr Lana (Arabic: Victory is Ours)
Anthem: نحن جند للہ جند الوطن Nahnu Jund Allah Jund Al-watan ("We Are the Army of God and of Our Land")
Location of Sudan
Capital Khartoum
15°00′ N 30°00′ E
Largest city Khartoum
Official languages Arabic
Government Authoritarian regime
U. H. A. al-Bashir
 - Date
From Egypt and the United Kingdom
January 1, 1956
 • Total
 • Water (%)
2,505,810 km² (10th)
 • 2003 est.
 • ? census
 • Density
38,114,160 (32nd)
15/km² (195)
 • Total
 • Per capita
2003 estimate
68,628 (61)
2,046 (126)
Currency Sudanese dinar (SDD)
Time zone
 • Summer (DST)
not observed (UTC+3)
Internet TLD .sd
Calling code +249
Map of Sudan with Khartoum
Map of Sudan with Khartoum



Main article: History of Sudan

Three Kushite and Meroetic kingdoms called northern Sudan their home in ancient times, this region was also known as the Nubian Kingdom and these civilizations flourished mainly along the Nile River from the first to the sixth cataracts. These kingdoms were influenced by, and in turn influenced Pharaonic Egypt. In fact, the borders of the ancient Egyptian and Sudanese kingdoms fluxated greatly and what is now the upper third of present day Northern Sudan was during ancient times indistinguishable from Upper Egypt.

Statue of a Nubian king, Sudan
Statue of a Nubian king, Sudan

Although Christianity had been introduced into Sudan in the third or fourth centuries, around 640 AD, Islam came to Sudan. A merchant class of Arabs established themselves as economically dominant in feudal Sudan. Important kingdoms in the next 1200 years include Makuria and the Kingdom of Sennar.

In 1820, Sudan came under Egyptian rule when Mehemet Ali, the Ottoman viceroy of Egypt sent armies under his son Ismail Pasha and Mahommed Bey to conquer eastern Sudan. Religious leader Muhammad ibn Abdalla, the self-proclaimed Mahdi (Messiah), attempted to unify the tribes of western and central Sudan in the 1880s. He led a nationalist revolt against Egyptian rule culminating in the fall of Khartoum in 1885, in which the British General Gordon was killed, the inspiration for Rudyard Kipling's poem Fuzzy Wuzzy, a tribe in the region of Port Sudan. The Mahdist state survived until being overwhelmed by an Anglo-Egyptian force under Lord Kitchener in 1898. Great Britain ran Sudan as two essentially separate colonies, the south and the north, until 1956.

Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi
Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi

The year before independence in 1956, Southern Sudanese embarked upon a civil war. During the British rule, laws had been put in place making it illegal for anyone living above the 10th parallel to go further south and anyone above the 8th parallel further north. The British law set the country up for this envitable conflict with this law. The law was enacted to prevent the spread of malaria and other tropic diseases that had ravaged British troops. Furthermore, while the British built roads, schools and set up a government in the predominately Arab north, the British left the South to Missionaries to "tame the savages" creating what historians generally agree was a grave injustice in the country. This sparked 17 years of civil war from 1955 to 1972. In 1972, the Addis Ababa Agreement led to a cessation of the north-south civil war and a degree of self-rule. This led to a ten-year hiatus in the civil war.

In September 1983, then President, Gaafar Nimeiry, created a Federated Sudan which included 3 federal states in Southern Sudan. It was the introduction of Sharia law and the dissolution of the 3 federal states in the South that led to the reinvigoration of the civil war.

After shortages of fuel and bread, a growing insurgency in the south, drought and famine, in 1984-5 another military coup led by Gen. Suwar al-Dahab restored a civilian government. However the civil war intensified in lethality and the economy continued to deteriorate. In 1989 General Omar el-Bashir became president and chief of state, prime minister and chief of the armed forces.

In 1991, Osama Bin Laden moved to Sudan. His stated objective was to use his money, power and expertise in the construction field to help Sudan. Bin Laden was responsible for building the road from Khartoum northward to the town of Shendi. He was attracted to Sudan because it claimed to be a purely Islamic state. He is purported to have lost a sizable amount of money on business ventures in Sudan; some estimates place his losses in excess of $100 million USD [1]. In place of payment on his road venture, the Government of Sudan, strapped for cash, paid him with a defunct tanning factory, which was confiscated when in 1996 he was forcebly expelled at the request of the United States and relocated to Afghanistan.

Vice president John Garang, who had led the south Sudanese rebels
Vice president John Garang, who had led the south Sudanese rebels

The ongoing civil war has displaced more than 4 million southerners. Some fled into southern cities, such as Juba; others trekked as far north as Khartoum and even into Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, and other neighboring countries. These people were unable to grow food or earn money to feed themselves, and malnutrition and starvation became widespread. The lack of investment in the south resulted as well in what international humanitarian organizations call a "lost generation" who lack educational opportunities, access to basic health care services, and little prospects for productive employment in the small and weak economies of the south or the north.

In early 2003 a new rebellion began in the western province of Darfur, during which time the government committed terrible atrocities. In February 2004, the government declared victory over the rebellion but the rebels reported that they remained in control of rural areas and others reports indicated that widespread fighting was continuing.

Peace talks between the southern rebels and the government made substantial progress in 2003 and early 2004, although skirmishes in parts of the south were reportedly continuing. The peace was consolidated with the official signing by both sides of the Naivasha treaty on 9 January 2005, pursuant to which the south will be granted autonomy for six years, to be followed by a referendum on independence.It created a position for a co-vice president position and allowed the north and south to split oil 50/50, but also left both the North's and South's armies in place. John Garang, the south's elected co-vice president died three weeks after being sworn in. It is hoped that the treaty will finally mark the end of a decades-long war that has claimed millions of lives. Now politically, there is a "verbal" peace between the north and the south; however, intertribal wars still exists in the western region of Darfur.


Main article: Politics of Sudan

Sudan has an authoritarian government in which all effective political power is in the hands of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Bashir and his party have controlled the government since he led the military coup on 30 June 1989.

From 1983 to 1997, the country was divided into five regions in the north and three in the south, each headed by a military governor. After the April 6, 1985 military coup, regional assemblies were suspended. The RCC was abolished in 1996, and the ruling National Islamic Front changed its name to the National Congress Party. After 1997, the structure of regional administration was replaced by the creation of 26 states. The executives, cabinets, and senior-level state officials are appointed by the president, and their limited budgets are determined by and dispensed from Khartoum. The states, as a result, remain economically dependent upon the central government. Khartoum state, comprising the capital and outlying districts, is administered by a governor.

In December 1999, a power struggle climaxed between President al-Bashir and then-speaker of parliament Hassan al-Turabi, who was the NIF founder and an Islamist ideologue. Al-Turabi was stripped of his posts in the ruling party and the government, parliament was disbanded, the constitution was suspended, and a state of national emergency was declared by presidential decree. Parliament resumed in February 2001 after the December 2000 presidential and parliamentary elections, but the national emergency laws remain in effect. Al-Turabi was arrested in February 2001, and charged with being a threat to national security and the constitutional order for signing a memorandum of understanding with the SPLA. Since then his outspoken style has had him in prison or under house-arrest, his most recent stint beginning in March of 2004 and ending in June of 2005. During that time he was under house-arrest for his role in a failed coup attempt in September of 2003, an allegation he has denied. According to some reports, the president had no choice but to release him, given that a coalition of National Democratic Union (NDA) members headquartered in both Cairo and Eriteria, composed of the political parites known as the SPLM/A, Umma Party, Mirghani Party, and Turabi's own National People's Congress, were calling for his release at a time when an interim government was preparing to take over in accordance with the Naivasha agreement and the Machokos Accord.

See Presidents of Sudan

Foreign relations

Main article: Foreign relations of Sudan

Sudan has had a troubled relationship with many of its neighbors and much of the international community due to what is viewed as its aggressively Islamic stance. For much of the 1990s, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia formed an ad-hoc alliance called the "Front Line States" with support from the United States to check the influence of the National Islamic Front government. During this period, Sudan supported anti-Uganda rebel groups such as the Lord's Resistance Army in retaliation for Ugandan support of the Sudan People's Liberation Army. Beginning from the mid-1990s Sudan gradually began to moderate its positions as a result of increased US pressure following the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings and the new development of oil fields previously in rebel hands. Sudan also has a territorial dispute with Egypt over the Hala'ib Triangle. Since 2003, the foreign relations of Sudan have centered on the support for ending the Second Sudanese Civil War and condemnation of government support for militias in the Darfur conflict.


Political map of Sudan
Political map of Sudan

Main article: States of Sudan

Sudan has 26 states or wilayat: Al Jazirah, Al Qadarif, Bahr al Jabal, Blue Nile, East Equatoria, Junqali, Kassala, Khartoum, Lakes, North Bahr al Ghazal, North Darfur, North Kurdufan, Northern, Red Sea, River Nile, Sennar, South Darfur, South Kurdufan, Unity, Upper Nile, Warab, West Bahr al Ghazal, West Darfur, West Equatoria, West Kurdufan, and White Nile.

Autonomy, Separation, Conflicts

Southern Sudan is an autonomous region intermediate between the states and the national government.

Darfur is a region of three western states affected by the current Darfur conflict. There is also an insurgency in the east led by the Eastern Front.


The Mountain Dair in central Sudan
The Mountain Dair in central Sudan
Swamp in southern Sudan
Swamp in southern Sudan

Main article: Geography of Sudan

Sudan is situated in Northern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Egypt and Eritrea. It is dominated by the River Nile and its tributaries. With an area of 2,505,810 km², it is the largest country in the continent. The terrain is generally flat plains, though there are mountains in the east and west. The climate is tropical in the south; arid desert conditions in the north, with a rainy season from April to October. Soil erosion and desertification are environmental hazards.

See List of cities in Sudan


Main article: Economy of Sudan

Sudan has turned around a struggling economy with sound economic policies and infrastructure investments, but it still faces formidable economic problems, starting from its low level of per capita output. From 1997 to date, Sudan has been implementing IMF macroeconomic reforms. In 1999, Sudan began exporting crude oil and in the last quarter of 1999 recorded its first trade surplus, which, along with monetary policy, has stabilized the exchange rate. Increased oil production, revived light industry, and expanded export processing zones helped sustain GDP growth at 6.1% in 2003.

Agriculture production remains Sudan's most important sector, employing 80% of the work force and contributing 39% of GDP, but most farms remain rain-fed and susceptible to drought. Chronic instability - including the long-standing civil war between the Muslim north and the Christian/animist south, adverse weather, and weak world agricultural prices - ensure that much of the population will remain at or below the poverty line for years.

See Communications in Sudan, Transportation in Sudan



Main article: Demographics of Sudan, Social order of Sudan

In Sudan’s 1993 census, the population was calculated at 26 million. No comprehensive census has been carried out since that time due to the continuation of the civil war. Current estimates from the CIA factbook as of 2004 estimate the population to be about 39 million. The population of metropolitan Khartoum (including Khartoum, Omdurman, and Khartoum North) is growing rapidly and ranges from 6-7 million, including around 2 million displaced persons from the southern war zone as well as western and eastern drought-affected areas.

Sudan has two distinct major cultures--Arabicized Black Africans (but also some non-black Egyptian Arabs) and non-Arab Black Africans--with hundreds of ethnic and tribal divisions and language groups, which makes effective collaboration among them a major problem.

The northern states cover most of the Sudan and include most of the urban centers. Most of the 22 million Sudanese who live in this region are Arabic-speaking Muslims, though the majority also use a traditional non-Arabic mother tongue--e.g., Nubian, Beja, Fur, Nuban, Ingessana, etc. Among these are several distinct tribal groups: the Kababish of northern Kordofan, a camel-raising people; the Ga’alin (الجعلين), Rubatab (الرباطاب), Manasir (المناصير) and Shaiqiyah (الشايقيّة) of settled tribes along the rivers; the seminomadic Baggara of Kurdufan and Darfur; the Hamitic Beja in the Red Sea area and Nubians of the northern Nile areas, some of whom have been resettled on the Atbara River; and the Negroid Nuba of southern Kurdufan and Fur in the western reaches of the country.

The southern region has a population of around 6 million and a predominantly rural, subsistence economy. This region has been negatively affected by war for all but 10 years since independence in 1956, resulting in serious neglect, lack of infrastructure development, and major destruction and displacement. More than 2 million people have died, and more than 4 million are internally displaced or have become refugees as a result of the civil war and war-related impacts. Here the Sudanese practice mainly indigenous traditional beliefs, although Christian missionaries have converted some. The south also contains many tribal groups and many more languages are used than in the north. The Dinka--whose population is estimated at more than 1 million--is the largest of the many black African tribes of the Sudan. Along with the Shilluk and the Nuer, they are among the Nilotic tribes. The Azande, Bor, and Jo Luo are “Sudanic” tribes in the west, and the Acholi and Lotuhu live in the extreme south, extending into Uganda.


(more, with rough locations)

  • many more


Main article: Culture of Sudan

Largest Christian denominations are the Roman Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, the Presbyterian Church in the Sudan and the Coptic Orthodox Church.


Main article: Education in Sudan

Institutions of higher education in the Sudan include:

Related topics

Miscellaneous topics

Sudan Topics
States Al Jazirah | Al Qadarif | Bahr al Jabal | Blue Nile | East Equatoria | Junqali | Kassala | Khartoum | Lakes | North Bahr al Ghazal | North Darfur | North Kurdufan | Northern | Red Sea | River Nile | Sennar | South Darfur | South Kurdufan | Unity | Upper Nile | Warab | West Bahr al Ghazal | West Darfur | West Equatoria | West Kurdufan | White Nile
History Timeline (Early Sudan | Coming of Islam | The Turkiyah | The Mahdiyah | Anglo-Egyptian rule | Independent Sudan | First Civil War | Nimeiri Era | Second Civil War | Transitional Military Council | Mahdi Coalition Governments) | Foreign relations | Military | Demographic history
Politics Prime Minister
Geography Geology | Mountains | Lakes | Rivers | Volcanoes
Economy Economic History | Transportion | Communications | Companies | Merowe Dam | Sudanese dinar | Banks | Taxation
Military Sudanese Air Force
Demographics Languages | Religion (Islam in Sudan) | Social order | Ethnic groups | Ethnic minorities | Human rights issues | States | Cities
Culture Art | Literature | Music | Sport | Media
Symbols of Sudan
2005 in Sudan Sudan current events

External links

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Look up Sudan on Wiktionary, the free dictionary







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