Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Wikipedia.
Related to Sudan: Darfur, South Sudan


Sudan (so͞odănˈ), officially Republic of the Sudan, republic (2015 est. pop. 38,648,000), 718,723 sq mi (1,861,484 sq km), NE Africa. It borders on Egypt in the north, on the Red Sea in the northeast, on Eritrea and Ethiopia in the east, on South Sudan in the south, and on the Central African Republic, Chad, and Libya in the west. Khartoum is the capital and Omdurman is the largest city.


The main geographical feature of Sudan is the Nile River, which with its tributaries (including the Atbara, Blue Nile, and White Nile rivers) traverses the country from south to north. The Nile system provides irrigation for strips of agricultural settlement for much of its course in Sudan and also for the Al Gezira plain, situated between the White Nile and the Blue Nile, just south of their confluence at Khartoum. In the extreme north, the Nile broadens into Lake Nasser, formed by the Aswan High Dam in Egypt.

Much of the rest of the country is made up of an undulating plateau (1,000–2,000 ft/305–610 m high), which rises to higher levels in the mountains located in the northeast near the Red Sea, as well as in the central and western portions of the country. Rainfall diminishes from south to north in Sudan; thus, the south is characterized by savanna and grassland which becomes desert and semidesert in the center and north. In the extreme northeast is the Halayeb Triangle, claimed by both Sudan and Egypt.


The inhabitants of Sudan are divided into two main groups. Those who live mainly near the Nile consist of Arab and Nubian groups; they are Muslim (mostly of the Sunni branch), speak Arabic (the country's official language), and follow Arab cultural patterns (although only relatively few are descended from the Arabs who emigrated into the region during the 13th–19th cent.). The westerners, so called because they immigrated (primarily in the 20th cent.) from W Africa, are also Muslim, live mostly in the southern part of Sudan, and work as farmers or agricultural laborers. Other ethnic groups include the Beja in the northeast and the Fur in the southwest.

The great majority of the country's population live in villages or small towns; the only sizable cities are Port Sudan, Wad Madani, Al Ubayyid, and the conurbation of Khartoum, Omdurman, and Khartoum North. The desert and semidesert of the center and north are largely uninhabited.


Sudan is an overwhelmingly agricultural country. Much of the farming is of a subsistence kind. Agricultural production varies from year to year because of intermittent droughts that cause widespread famine. The government plays a major role in planning the economy. The leading export crops are cotton, sesame, peanuts, and sugar. Other agricultural products include sorghum, millet, and wheat. Sheep, cattle, goats, and camels are raised. The leading products of the country's small mining industry are iron ore, gold, copper, and chromium ore. Petroleum deposits were developed in the 1970s, but the work was discontinued in the mid-1980s as military conflict in the now independent South Sudan intensified. In the late 1990s, the government sought foreign partners to help redevelop the oil sector, and a pipeline was built from S Sudan to Port Sudan, on the Red Sea. Sudan began exporting crude oil in 1999. With the independence of South Sudan (2011) some three quarters of the country's oil production was lost, a loss that has had a negative effect on the country's economy, but the petroleum industry remains important.

Industry is largely confined to agricultural and natural resource processing and light manufacturing; the chief products include ginned cotton, textiles, processed food, beverages, soap, footwear, pharmaceuticals, and armaments. There is also some automobile and light-truck assembly. Petroleum and gold and silver are refined and hydroelectric power is produced. The country has a very limited transportation network. Foreign trade is largely conducted via Port Sudan. Chief among the annual imports are food, manufactured goods, refinery and transportation equipment, medicines, chemicals, textiles, and wheat; the principal exports are oil and petroleum products, gold, cotton, sesame, livestock, peanuts, gum arabic, and sugar. The leading trade partners are China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and South Sudan.


Sudan is governed under the interim national constitution of 2005 as amended. The executive branch is headed by a president, who is head of state; the prime minister, appointed by the president, is head of government. The bicameral National Legislature consists of the 30-seat Council of States, whose members are elected by state legislatures to six-year terms and the 351-seat National Assembly, whose members are elected to six-year terms. Administratively, Sudan is divided into 17 states.


Early History

Northeast Sudan, called Nubia in ancient times, was colonized (c.2000 B.C.) by Egypt as far as the fourth cataract of the Nile (near modern Karima). From the 8th cent. B.C. to the 4th cent. A.D. this region was ruled by the Cush kingdom, centered first at Napata (near the fourth cataract) and after c.600 B.C. at Meroë (between the fifth and sixth cataracts). From c.750 to c.650 B.C., Cush ruled Egypt as a result of a dynastic replacement. Meroë was a center of trade and ironworking, and from there iron technology may have spread to other parts of Africa.

Most of the inhabitants of Nubia were converted to Coptic Christianity in the 6th cent. A.D., and by the 8th cent. three states flourished in the area. These states long resisted invasions from Egypt, which had come under Muslim rule in the 7th cent. However, from the 13th to the 15th cent. the region was increasingly infiltrated by peoples from the north; the states collapsed, and Nubia gradually became Muslim. The former southern part of Sudan, which became independent as South Sudan in 2011, continued to adhere to traditional African beliefs. Much of the north was ruled by the Muslim state of Funj from the 16th cent. until 1821, when it was conquered by armies sent by Muhammad Ali of Egypt.

The Era of Foreign Control

The Egyptians founded (1823) Khartoum as their headquarters and developed Sudan's trade in ivory and slaves. Ismail Pasha (in office 1863–79) tried to extend Egyptian influence further south in Sudan, ostensibly to end the slave trade. This campaign, which was headed first by Sir Samuel Baker and then by Charles Gordon, provoked a complex revolt (1881) by the Mahdi (Muhammad Ahmad), who sought to end Egyptian influence and to purify Islam in Sudan. The Mahdists defeated Anglo-Egyptian punitive expeditions, and Britain and Egypt decided to abandon Sudan. Gordon, sent to evacuate the British and Egyptian troops, was killed by the Mahdists at Khartoum in early 1885. The Mahdi died in the same year, but his successor, the Khalifa Abdallahi, continued to build up the theocratic Mahdist state.

In the 1890s the British decided to gain control of Sudan, and, in a series of campaigns between 1896 and 1898, an Anglo-Egyptian force under Herbert (later Lord) Kitchener destroyed the power of the Mahdists. Agreements in 1899 (reaffirmed by the Anglo-Egyptian treaty of 1936) established the condominium government of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. Under the condominium, Sudan was administered by a governor-general, appointed by Egypt with the consent of Great Britain; in practice, however, the British controlled the government of Sudan. The Sudanese continued to oppose colonial rule, and the Egyptians resented their subordinate role to the British.

In 1924 the British instituted a policy of isolating the southern Sudan (now South Sudan) by administering it separately from the north. An advisory council for the northern Sudan was established in 1943, and in 1948 a predominantly elective legislative assembly for the whole territory was set up. In the 1948 elections, the Independence Front, which favored the creation of an independent republic, gained a majority over the National Front, which sought union with Egypt. After the 1952 revolution in Egypt, Britain and Egypt agreed to prepare Sudan for independence in 1956. In 1955 southerners, fearing that the new nation would be dominated by the Muslim north, began a revolt that lasted 17 years.

Struggles of an Independent Nation

In spite of the continuing revolt in the south, Sudan achieved independence as a parliamentary republic in 1956, as planned. In 1958, Gen. Ibrahim Abboud led a military coup that ended the parliamentary system. Unable to improve the country's weak economy or to end the southern revolt, Abboud in 1964 agreed to the reestablishment of civilian government. The new regime also had little success in coping with the country's problems.

In 1969, Col. Muhammed Jaafar al-Nimeiri staged a successful coup. He banned all political parties and subsequently nationalized banks and numerous industries. The bloody civil war was ended by an agreement between the government and the Southern Sudan Liberation Front (whose military arm was known as Anya Nya) signed (Feb., 1972) at Addis Ababa. Under the agreement S Sudan was granted considerable autonomy. Also in 1972, the Sudanese Socialist Union, the country's only political organization, elected a “people's assembly” to draw up a new constitution for the country, which was adopted in 1973. Nimeiri's regime became the target of criticism at home because of worsening economic conditions and for its support of Egypt's part in the Camp David accords with Israel; in the late 1970s, Nimeiri dismissed his cabinet and closed universities in an attempt to quell opposition.

During the 1980s, political instability in S Sudan increased, with renewed fighting by the largely Christian and animist Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). Motivated at least partly by a desire to shore up his popularity in the largely Muslim north, Nimeiri in 1983 instituted strict Islamic law, further inflaming opposition in the south. Having survived numerous earlier coup attempts, he was overthrown in 1985, and Gen. Abdul Rahman Swaredahab was installed as leader of a transitional military government. Elections were held in 1986 and a civilian government led by Sadiq al-Mahdi ruled until it was overthrown in a bloodless coup in 1989.

The new military regime under Lt. Gen. Omar Hassam Ahmed al-Bashir strengthened ties with Libya, Iran, and Iraq; reinforced Islamic law; banned opposition parties; and continued to pursue the war with the south, diverting relief aid (primarily food) from the famine-stricken south to the Muslim north. In 1990 the United States halted relief efforts to Sudan; ties between the two nations were further strained when Sudan supported Iraq in the Persian Gulf War. Bashir officially became president in 1993, but significant political power was held by the National Islamic Front, a fundamentalist political organization formed from the Muslim Brotherhood and led by Hassan al-Turabi, who became speaker of parliament. In 1996, Bashir won a presidential election that was boycotted by most opposition groups; a multiparty system was restored in 1999.

In Aug., 1998, U.S. missiles destroyed a pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum that was suspected of manufacturing chemical-weapons compounds to be used in terrorist activities; however, international investigators were unable to find evidence to support the charges. Civil war continued through the 1990s, by which time it had reportedly resulted in nearly 2 million deaths (mostly from war-related starvation and disease) and had left the economy crippled. Sudan was cited by the UN Human Rights Commission for human-rights violations (including alleged widespread slavery and forced labor), condemned for supporting terrorism abroad, and accused by human-rights groups of “ethnic cleansing” in its offensive against the south. A cease-fire was declared in July, 1998, in order to allow food shipments to be delivered, but there were violations. In July, 1999, peace talks in Nairobi, Kenya, broke down as the warring sides failed to renew the cease-fire.

During 1999 the parliament increased Turabi's powers and moved to limit those of the president. In response, Bashir declared a state of emergency in December and dissolved parliament; the next month he appointed a new cabinet. Bashir also improved his position in the ruling National Congress party. In May, 2000, Turabi's position as secretary-general of the party was frozen, and Turabi subsequently formed his own party, the Popular National Congress party.

Meanwhile, Bashir's government worked to improve its foreign relations, and, in December, Bashir was reelected president. The opposition boycotted the vote, and the concurrent parliamentary elections were swept by the National Congress party (NCP). In Feb., 2001, Turabi was placed under house arrest after signing a memorandum of understanding with the southern rebels in which they called for joint peaceful resistance to Bashir's government, and subsequently other members of Turabi's political party were arrested; Turabi was not released until Oct., 2003. In Jan., 2002, a cease-fire was declared in the ongoing civil war in the Nuba Mts. to allow relief aid to be distributed in the drought-stricken south-central region, but fighting continued elsewhere. The same month two rebels groups, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and Sudan People's Defense Force, established a formal alliance.

The government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM, the SPLA's political arm) agreed to a framework for peace in July, 2002; however, three regions of central Sudan claimed by the rebels were not covered by the agreement. A broad truce was agreed to in Oct., 2002. Despite some violations of the cease-fire, talks continued in 2003. In Sept., 2003, an accord between the two sides called for the withdrawal of government troops from the south, rebel forces from the north, and the establishment of a joint government-rebel force in the south and in two central regions, and talks continued. Additional protocols were signed in May, 2004.

In 2003 a separate rebellion broke out in the Darfur region of W Sudan; it involved a group linked to an opposition party. A cease-fire was signed in Sept., 2003, but fighting continued. The Darfur rebels subsequently agreed to form alliance with the Beja rebels in NE Sudan (around Kasala and the Eritrean border) if they were not included in any settlement with the government. The Beja group had been expected to be part of the negotiations with the southern rebels, but talks with the Beja rebels were not fruitful until 2006, when a cease-fire and a peace agreement were signed.

Militias allied with the government in Darfur (and the government itself) were accused of ethnic cleansing, and many Sudanese were displaced by the fighting, some of them fleeing to Chad. A new cease-fire was signed in Apr., 2004, but it too did not hold. Also in April, Turabi and members of his party were again arrested by the government, which accused them of plotting against it. In September the government asserted that a new coup plot involving the jailed Turabi had been uncovered, but Turabi was ultimately released (June, 2005). Turabi, who remained a the most prominent northern critic of Bashir, was arrested again on several occasions in subsequent years.

There was increasing pressure in mid-2004 from the United Nations, United States, and European Union on Sudan to end the attacks in Darfur, and in July, 2004, Bashir's government promised the United Nations that it would disarm the militias. A lack of significant progress in ending the fighting and disarming the militias led to UN Security Council resolutions against Sudan in July and September. The latter resolution called for an investigation into whether the attacks were genocide, as U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell had charged; investigating commission ultimately termed various attacks war crimes and crimes against humanity but not genocide. In August, the African Union began sending peacekeepers into Sudan, and subsequently expanded the force. An African Union–sponsored peace accord in Nov., 2004, failed to hold when a new offensive was sparked by a rebel attack later the same month, and fighting continued into 2005, at times spilling over into Chad. By early 2005 it was estimated that 2 million had been displaced by the conflict in Darfur. Lawlessness worsened there in 2005, and the area also became a base for Chadian rebel attacks against Chad, souring relations between Sudan and its neighbor. Meanwhile, there were attacks against Sudanese in the south by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan rebel group, leading both southern Sudanese rebels and government-allied militias to mount a drive against the LRA. LRA attacks in S Sudan continued sporadically in subsequent years; in late 2008 South Sudanese forces joined Ugandan and Congolese troops in a coordinated attack against LRA bases in NE Congo. Uganda continued to mount small-scale operations against the LRA in Sudan in subsequent years.

Additional protocols relating to peace with the SPLM were signed in early in Jan., 2005, and shortly thereafter a final peace agreement was sealed. The deal called for Islamic law to be restricted to the north, for the south to be autonomous and hold a vote on independence in 2011, and for central government power and southern oil revenues to be shared. Later in January the government signed a preliminary peace agreement with the National Democratic Alliance, an umbrella organization embracing more than a dozen opposition groups, including the SPLM.

In July, 2005, SPLM leader John Garang became Sudan's vice president, and the state of emergency in force since 1999 was lifted (except in Darfur and two provinces in E Sudan). Northern opposition parties, however, criticized the interim power-sharing constitution because of the limits it placed on their and southern opposition groups' participation in the government. Garang was killed in a helicopter crash in late July, sparking several days of riots in Khartoum. Salva Kiir was chosen to succeed Garang as head of SPLM and as vice president, and subsequently thousands of refugees from the south began returning there. Sudan's power-sharing government was finalized in September, and a government for autonomous S Sudan was established in Juba in Oct., 2005. Since then, however, there has been fighting in S Sudan between the SPLA and other rebels who have refused to be integrated into the SPLA, and between other Sudanese forces and the SPLA.

Attempts to invigorate the much violated AU-monitored peace accord in Darfur progressed slowly in 2006. The African Union failed to win an agreement on a new cease-fire for Darfur, and Sudan objected to replacing the AU monitors with UN peacekeepers. A failed drive by Chadian rebels that reached Ndjamena, Chad's capital, in Apr., 2006, led to a break in diplomatic relations with Chad, which accused Sudan of supporting the rebels. A peace agreement was reached with one faction of Darfur rebels in May, but subsequently there was fighting among ethnically based rebel factions as well as with government forces.

An Aug., 2006, UN Security Council resolution establishing a UN peacekeeping force for Darfur was rejected by Sudan, and the AU agreed in September to extend its forces' mandate until the end of 2006. In Oct., 2006, Chad again accused Sudan of backing a Chadian rebel incursion, and said Sudan's air force had bombed several E Chadian towns. In early 2007 there was fighting between Chadian and Sudanese forces after Chad's military pursued rebels into Sudanese territory.

Meanwhile, negotiations between the United Nations and Sudan appeared to be making some progress in late 2006 on establishing a mixed AU-UN peacekeeping force for Darfur, but there was no final agreement. In Jan., 2007, both sides in Darfur were reported to have agreed to a 60-day cease-fire and a peace summit, but it was breached, apparently by both sides, later the same month. In March, the International Criminal Court accused Ahmed Haroun, a member of the Sudanese government who was responsible for Darfur in 2003–4, of war crimes; the ICC said it had evidence that the Sudanese government had orchestrated militia attacks. The following month, after pressure from China, Sudan agreed to allow some 3,000 UN peacekeepers to join the AU force, and in June it agreed to a larger joint UN-AU peacekeeping force that would be put in place later. In Dec., 2007, the joint UN-AU operation officially began, but Sudan moved slowly in approving the components of the peacekeeping force.

In the second half of 2007 the conflict in Darfur degenerated as a peace conference scheduled to begin in October approached. Some of the Arab militias battled among themselves, a rebel force attacked AU peacekeepers, and government and militia forces attacked the rebel faction that had signed a peace agreement in 2006. A cease-fire was declared by the government at the beginning of the peace conference, but several major factions boycotted the conference, and two rebel groups that did not attend reported that they had been attacked. The conference did resolve the conflict, and fighting continued continued in Darfur through 2008.

Also in Oct., 2007, the southern Sudanese withdrew from the national government, accusing it of not honoring the peace accord; after negotiations, the south rejoined the government in December, and by Jan., 2008, all government forces finally were withdrawn from the south. However, in Dec., 2007, fighting broke out in the disputed, oil-rich Abyei region between SPLM forces and nomadic Arabs aligned with the government; the conflict, which originally erupted over passage for grazing, continued sporadically into 2008. In May the significant fighting again broke out in Abyei; in June, 2008, after negotiations, a joint north-south force was deployed in the region.

Darfurian rebels mounted an attack against Omdurman, across the Nile from Khartoum, in May, 2008. The rebels were unable to hold Omdurman, but the attack surprised the Sudanese government, which for six months broke off ties with Chad, accusing it of helping the rebels involved in the operation. (The attack was reminiscent of an assault on the Chadian capital by Chadian rebels in Feb., 2008.) Subsequent accords failed to ease Sudanese-Chadian tensions, and in May, 2009, after rebels attacks against Chad, Chadian forces launched attacks against rebel bases in Sudan. In early 2010, however, there were new talks between the two countries.

In July, 2008, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor accused President Bashir of war crimes in connection with the conflict in Darfur; the ICC issued a warrant for Bashir's arrest for war crimes and other charges in Mar., 2009. (The ICC has investigated leaders on both sides in the conflict with respect to possible war crimes.) Sudan ordered international aid agencies to leave Darfur and other parts of the country in retaliation. Some 300,000 are estimated to have died (directly or indirectly) as a result of the Darfur conflict; some 2.7 million have been displaced.

The census that began in Apr., 2009, was denounced by Kiir after it showed southern Sudanese to make up just over a fifth of the population. The S Sudan government believed the true proportion to be at least a third, and accused Khartoum of deliberately miscounting. In July a Sudanese opposition party and a Darfur rebel group jointly denounced the current power-sharing government as illegitimate and called for a new transitional government to be formed because the accord that created the current government called for new elections by mid-2009. Also in July, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague established the boundaries of the disputed Abyei region; although the region was reduced in size and lost some significant oilfields to N Sudan, the resulting population changes tied Abyei more closely ethnically to S Sudan. Nonetheless the region remained a source of ethnic tension and sporadic violence in subsequent months, and arrangements to include it in the Jan., 2011, referendum could not be worked out. An agreement resolving most remaining disputes concerning the S Sudan peace agreement was signed by both sides in Aug., 2009, but the two thorniest issues, the census and the law governing S Sudan's referendum on independence, were not included.

In Sept., 2009, fighting broke out in N Darfur as government forces moved to oust the rebels there, and it continued intermittently, at times worsening, into 2011. Increased ethnic fighting in the south, along with the unresolved issues, raised north-south tensions as 2009 ended. One of the main Darfur rebel groups signed a truce with the government in Feb., 2010. The agreement also established a framework for further negotiations toward a final peace treaty, but the rebels later withdrew from the talks. Other significant rebel groups were not party to that agreement, but Sudan began talks with another Darfur group in May. A draft peace was proposed a year later (Apr., 2011) in talks in Qatar, but rejected in part by one of the main rebel groups.

The presidential and other elections were finally held in Apr., 2010, but logistical problems, irregularities in both north and south, and, in the north, boycotts by many opposition parties resulted in serious flaws and guaranteed that there would be no significant political changes. Bashir was reelected president with more than two thirds of the vote, while Kiir was reelected as S Sudan's leader with more than 90% of the vote, and subsequently the SPLM again participated in Sudan's coalition government. Tensions between the central government and S Sudan increased, however, in subsequent months as the Jan., 2011, independence referendum neared. The voting was nonetheless largely peaceful and credible, though there were clashes in Abyei, which was not taking part. More than 98% voted in favor of independence.

The months after the vote were marked by ongoing unrest in Abyei and the rise of anti-SPLM militias in parts of S Sudan, particularly in non-Dinka, minority areas. In Feb., 2011, the NCP majority in parliament amended the constitution to immediately exclude representatives of the 10 S Sudanese states, a move that was protested by S Sudan. In July, the south became independent as South Sudan, but the question of Abyei remained unresolved. A full-scale conflict erupted there in May, as the Sudanese government seized control of the area; thousands fled south, and UN peacekeeping forces were deployed in Abyei in July. Another disputed region, Kafia Kingi, a mineral-rich area along the Central African Republic border with a mixed but relatively small population, is also occupied by Sudan.

There also was significant fighting in Southern Kurdufan and, later, Blue Nile states in the south as government forces attempted to crush non-Arab forces, the Sudan People's Liberation Army–North (SPLA-N), who had been allied with the southern rebels; government forces were again accused of ethnic cleansing. In November, the SPLA-N joined with Darfur rebel groups to form the Sudan Revolutionary Front. Fighting in the region continued in subsequent years. A dispute over oil transit fees charged by Sudan led South Sudan to halt oil production in early 2012. In March and April there were significant border clashes between the two nations, which led to an UN-AU ultimatum that called for an end to the fighting and an agreement on border issues. Both nations have been accused of arming each other's rebels.

Loss of oil revenue in Sudan led in June, 2012, to austerity measures that sparked antigovernment protests. An agreement on the resumption of oil shipments (but not border issues) was signed with South Sudan in Sept., 2012, and negotiations continued into 2013 on issues relating to the border and rebels, delaying the resumption of shipments, but in Apr., 2013, South Sudan resumed oil production. In Nov., 2012, the government accused the country's intelligence chief of plotting a coup. In Feb., 2013, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), one of the main Darfur rebel groups, signed a cease-fire agreement and committed itself to negotiations with Sudan; it was the second Darfur rebel group to do so. Subsequently, however, there has been resurgent fighting involving groups on both sides, and in 2016 Sudan was accused of using chemical weapons in Darfur, a charge it denied.

In Apr., 2015, Bashir was reelected president in a landslide. The main opposition parties boycotted the vote, and the turnout was said to be lower than the 46% reported by the government. Constitutional amendments adopted in Dec., 2016, reestablished the post of prime minister (abolished in 1989), and Bakri Hassan Saleh, a close ally of Bashir, became prime minister in Mar., 2017. Short-term truces with rebels eased fighting in the Blue Nile and Southern Kurdufan in 2016. The government unilaterally extended its cease-fire several times, eventually through 2018, and in Oct., 2017, the United States—in part due to the cease-fire—lifted sanctions it had imposed for two decades. Despite the end of U.S. sanctions, the country's economic difficulties continued. In Sept., 2018, Motazz Moussa was named prime minister, replacing Saleh.

Protests against price increases and shortages that began in Dec., 2018, soon focused on demanding that Bashir step down, and as the protests continued into 2019 Bashir declared (February) a state of emergency. Ongoing protests led to divisions among the military and security forces. In April Bashir was ousted and arrested, and a military council was formed to rule Sudan. Protests continued, seeking civilian rule, and at times there were deadly clashes with security forces. In July both sides agreed to a power-sharing deal that would establish a technocratic government and lead to elections in three years, and a constitutional declaration completing the deal was signed in August. A sovereign council, headed by Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who had headed the military council, was formed, and Abdalla Hamdok, a former UN official, was named transitional prime minister.

In Mar., 2020, there was an unsuccessful assassination attempt on the prime minister. Heavy rains in Ethiopia led to severe flooding along the Nile in Sudan in September. In October, a peace agreement was signed with a rebel coalition based in S Sudan, but several major rebel groups were not parties to the agreement. The joint UN-AU peacekeeping operation was ended by the United Nations in Dec., 2020. Also during that month, as Ethiopia fought rebels in Tigray, Sudan took control of territory it claimed that had been settled by Ethiopian farmers, leading to tensions with Ethiopian. Sudan normalized relations with Israel in Jan., 2021; as part of the agreement, the United States agreed to help Sudan pay money owed to the World Bank and enable Sudan to receive a $1 billion World Bank loan.

However, the joint civlian-military government was dissolved in October 2021 when the military staged a coup, arresting Prime Minister Hamdok and several civilian government officials. The military dissolved the council and announced it would rule until elections could be held in July 2023. A month later, the prime minister was reinstated but the military continued to crack down on protesters and eventually Hamdok resigned in January 2022 leaving the government totally in the hands of the military leaders.


See P. M. Holt, A Modern History of the Sudan (3d ed. 1979); R. O. Collins, Shadows in the Grass: Britain in the Southern Sudan, 1918–1956 (1983); N. O'Neill and J. O'Brien, Economy and Class in the Sudan (1988); J. O. Voll, ed., Sudan (1991); P. Woodward, Sudan, 1898–1989 (1991); J. M. Burr, Africa's Thirty Years' War: Chad, Libya, and the Sudan, 1963–1993 (1999); D. Petterson, Inside Sudan (1999); R. O. Collins, A History of Modern Sudan (2009).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



Democratic Republic of the Sudan (Jumhuriyat al-Sudan al-Dimuqratiyah).

The Sudan is a state in northeastern Africa. It is bounded by Egypt on the north, Libya on the northwest, Chad on the west, the Central African Republic on the southwest, Zaire, Uganda, and Kenya on the south, Ethiopia on the southeast and east, and the Red Sea on the northeast. Area, 2,505,800 sq km. Population, 17.3 million (1974, estimate). Administratively, the Sudan is divided into 18 provinces, which in turn are divided into districts. The capital is Khartoum.

The Sudan is a republic. The present constitution was adopted in 1973. The head of state is the president, who is elected to a term of six years by universal suffrage. The president exercises the executive power, issues decrees with the force of law, and appoints the ministers and the chief justice. He has the right to dissolve the People’s Assembly, acts as the commander in chief of the armed forces, and appoints and removes officers, the heads of Sudanese diplomatic missions abroad, and high civil officials.

The highest legislative body is the unicameral People’s Assembly. Of its 250 members, 30 are elected according to place of work and 125 according to place of residence, 70 are elected by the mass organizations, and 25 are elected by the president. The People’s Assembly passes laws and approves the state budget and the general plan of development. It is elected for a term of four years.

The highest executive body is the government of the Sudan. The government is headed by a prime minister, who is appointed by the president. In the provinces, authority rests with the executive councils and the people’s councils at the various local levels of government. Since 1972 the provinces of the southern Sudan have enjoyed regional autonomy. The judicial system includes the High Court of Justice, appellate and local courts, and sharia courts.

Terrain. Most of the Sudan is a plateau, with elevations ranging from 300 to 1,000 m. Much of the north is occupied by the Libyan Desert (sand) and the Nubian Desert (sand and stone). In the west rise the plateaus of Darfur and Kurdufan (Kordofan), with occasional remnant peaks and massifs—in Darfur, for example, the Jabal Marrah rises to an elevation of 3,088 m. In the east are the spurs of the Ethiopian Plateau (Habesha). In the northeast are the Red Sea Hills and, on the Red Sea coast, a narrow strip of coastal lowland. In the south are the spurs of the Central African Highlands, where Mount Kinyeti, the highest point in the Sudan, rises to an elevation of 3,187 m.

Geological structure and mineral resources. The Sudan occupies the northeastern part of the African Platform. In the southwest the basement of the platform crops out as the Central African Massif, an Archaean complex of migmatized and highly metamorphosed gneisses. In the northeast it crops out as the Nubian-Arabian Shield, which consists of Lower and Middle Proterozoic gneisses and schists with marble and of Late Riphean sedimentary and volcanogenic rocks with various intrusions. The cratonic mantle, which is composed primarily of continental Phanerozoic deposits, chiefly in the facies of the Nubian sandstones, occupies the Nile and Upper Nile syneclises. The syneclises divide the Central African Massif and the Nubian-Arabian Shield. In the northeast is the rift trough of the Red Sea, of Neogenic and Anthropogenic origin.

The rocks of the basement are associated with deposits of copper, gold, chromite, iron, marble, and other minerals; the iron deposits are associated with the Nubian sandstones, and hydrothermal deposits of manganese with the rift structures. There are large deposits of gypsum on the Red Sea coast.

Climate. The north has a tropical desert climate, with average monthly temperatures ranging from 30°–35°C to 15°–20°C and a total annual precipitation of less than 200 mm. The south has an equatorial monsoonal climate, with average monthly temperatures ranging from 23° to 30°C and a total annual precipitation of 500 to 1,400 mm, most of which falls in the summer. The precipitation is higher, and the rainy season longer, in the south and southwest. In the central Sudan the climate is transitional, with the highest temperatures and frequent dust storms (habub) just before the onset of the rainy season. Unlike other areas in the north, the coastal lowland receives most of its precipitation in winter.

Rivers and lakes. All the permanent rivers of the Sudan lie within the basin of the Nile River, which cuts through the country from south to north. The principal rivers are the Sobat, the White Nile, the Blue Nile, the Atbarah, and al-Bahr al-Jabal. The Nile receives most of its water from the Blue Nile; however, the water level of the Blue Nile varies greatly during the year, falling sharply during the winter and spring. At this time of year the Nile is fed primarily by the White Nile, whose water level is relatively constant throughout the year. The rivers of the Nile basin provide water for irrigation, serve as natural waterways, and possess considerable hydropower potential. Groundwater and intermittent streams, such as the Gash, Barakah, and Khawr Abu Habl, are of great importance in several areas in the Sudan. Apart from these sources of water, almost half the country for much of the year has no other water supply. The Red Sea coast has relatively many springs, but the mineral content of the water is very high.

Soils. In the north and parts of the west, the soil cover is poorly developed. In the south are red ferralitic and alferritic soils of the tall-grass savannas. Farther north are the red-brown soils of the dry savannas and the reddish-brown soils of the desertified savannas. Heavy dark soils prevail in certain areas, such as the Jazirah (Gezira), the area between the White Nile and Blue Nile. Mixed tropical hydromorphic and alluvial soils are also found.

Flora. The northern half of the Sudan is tropical semidesert and desert almost devoid of vegetation. The southern half is mostly savanna—typical tall-grass savanna in the south and dry or desertified savanna farther north. In addition to grasses of various kinds, savanna plant life includes the baobab and various kinds of acacias, among them those that yield gum arabic. In some parts of the south and in some mountain regions are tropical forests diverse in species. Typical species here include two species of Coffea, (C. spathicalyx and C. robusta), the arborescent spurge (Euphorbia abyssinica), and the soapberry (Sapindus arcanas). In the southern half of the Sudan, tropical marshes are common, especially in the basins of al-Bahr al-Jabal and the Bahr al-Ghazal rivers (al-Sudd region).

Fauna. The surviving wildlife of the Sudan includes the oryx, gazelle, giraffe, elephant, leopard, lion, and hippopotamus. Birds include the ostrich, secretary bird, and various species of marabou storks, guinea fowl, and bustards. Reptiles include the python and, in rivers, the crocodile. Fish include the Protopterus aethiopicus and Polypterus bichir, as well as the catfish, Nile perch, and tiger fish (Hydrocyon lineatus). Termites are distributed throughout the country, and the tsetse fly is found in the southwest.

Preserves. In order to preserve its wildlife, the Sudan has established several national parks. Dindar National Park is noted for its antelope, and Nimule National Park for its white rhinoceros, elephant, and hippopotamus. A preserve has been established at Erkowit.

IU. D. DMITREVSKII and A. V. RAZVALIAEV (geological structure and mineral resources)

Arabs make up more than half the population of the Sudan. Most Arabs, especially in the north, are sedentary. Some—the Baqqara, the Humran, and other tribes—are seminomads. The valley of the Nile is also populated by Nubians, who speak a language akin to the Nilotic languages; most speak Arabic as well. The Beja, whose language belongs to the Cushitic languages, inhabit the northeast. Nilotic-speaking peoples, such as the Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk, and Bari, predominate in the south and account for approximately one-fourth of the country’s population. Peoples who speak the languages of the central and eastern Sudan, such as the Azande and Fur, live along the country’s western borders. Arabic is the official language.

In the north the population is chiefly Sunni Muslim. In the south most of the population clings to traditional local beliefs; there are also Christians, primarily Catholics. Both the Muslim and Gregorian calendars are used in the Sudan.

Between 1963 and 1974 the population of the Sudan grew at an average annual rate of 2.8 percent. The economically active population numbers 4.94 million (1973–74), of which 79.9 percent works in agriculture, forestry, and fishing. The average population density is approximately seven persons per sq km. Much of the population is concentrated in the valleys of the Nile and its tributaries. The population density is especially high in the country’s cotton-growing area—the northern part of the lands between the White Nile and Blue Nile; here, in the northern Jazirah, it reaches 100 people per sq km. The desert regions of the north and northwest are virtually uninhabited. Approximately one-fifth of the population are nomads or seminomads. In the southern Jazirah and along the Atbarah River, as a result of hydropower construction and new irrigation projects, the population and population density are growing rapidly. Thirteen percent of the population live in urban areas (1973). Many of the cities are situated along the Nile and its tributaries. The largest cities are Khartoum (population 322,000, 1973), Omdurman, Khartoum North, and Port Sudan. The ruins of the city of Suakin are near Port Sudan.

Prehistory to the early Middle Ages (seventh century). The lands now included in the Democratic Republic of the Sudan have been settled since prehistoric times, as is shown by archaeological discoveries that date from the Stone Age—for example, the Khartoum Neolithic culture.

In the fourth and third millennia B.C., in the northern Sudan, the A Group appeared, whose culture was similar to that of the Egyptians of the period. Much of what is now the Sudan—known as Cush (Kush) in antiquity and as Nubia from the tenth century—was settled by Semito-Hamitic and Cushitic tribes related to the ancient Egyptians. From the second millennium B.C., Negroid elements migrated into the area from the south. The southern Sudan was apparently settled by the ancestors of the present-day Nilotes. In the third millennium B.C., the Egyptian pharaohs obtained—through either raiding parties or trade caravans—slaves, livestock, gold, ivory, and other valuables from Cush. In the same period, the first Egyptian settlements sprang up in northern Cush. Early in the second millennium B.C., the settlement of Kerma arose near the Third Cataract of the Nile. Excavations at Kerma have revealed the existence of primitive forms of state organization in the lands of the Sudan. From the 16th to 12th centuries B.C., the Sudan was ruled by Egypt.

In approximately the eighth century B.C., a kingdom centered in Napata emerged in the area between the Third and Fourth cataracts of the Nile. In the second half of the sixth century B.C., its capital was moved to Meroe. The Meroitic kingdom brought under its rule all the lands along the Nile from the First Cataract to the confluence of the Blue Nile and White Nile. It developed the first alphabetic system of writing to appear in Africa.

Early in the fourth century A.D., much of the Sudan was seized by Ezana, ruler of the Aksum kingdom. From the sixth century A.D., Christianity spread in the Sudan, where, by the seventh century, a series of Christian states had arisen—Alodia (Alwa), Muqurra (Mukurra), and the Nobatae state. Muqurra and the Nobatae state were subsequently joined together.

Seventh century to late 19th century. From the mid-seventh century, the Arabs, who had conquered Egypt in the four years between 639 and 642, moved into the Sudan in large numbers, in so doing contributing to the spread of Islam and the Arab culture, especially in the north and west of the Sudan, and to the formation of feudal relations in the Sudan. From the late 14th to early 16th centuries, a series of Muslim feudal states emerged in the Sudan—notably the Darfur Sultanate and Funj (Fung) Sultanate (Sennar). In these states, agriculture, crafts, and trade made rapid advances. In the south—in the area now embraced by the Upper Nile, Bahr al-Ghazal, and Equatorial provinces— primitive communal relations were preserved among the predominantly Negroid inhabitants.

Between 1820 and 1822, Mehemet Ali (Muhammad Ali), ruler of Egypt, conquered much of the Sudan, turning what was formally part of the Ottoman Empire into a de facto possession of Egypt. The Sudan was divided into provinces, under Ottoman and Egyptian officials. With time, it was gradually drawn into the world economy, exporting increasing quantities of ivory, gum, livestock, hides, wool, and slaves to the markets of the Middle East.

From approximately 1870, Great Britain gained increasing influence in the Sudan. In 1877 it had Egypt appoint the Britisher C. G. Gordon governor-general of the Sudan, and other Europeans were appointed governors of the major provinces. In the early 1880’s, as a result of ruthless exploitation and national oppression by the Ottoman-Egyptian authorities and British colonialists, a powerful popular movement of protest erupted—the Mahdist Revolt. The revolt, which broke out in 1881, was clearly anticolonialist. By 1885 the rebels had taken Khartoum (the capital of the Sudan), driven out the European, Ottoman, and Egyptian officials and Anglo-Egyptian troops, and created an independent state. On Sept. 2, 1898, an Anglo-Egyptian army under H. Kitchener defeated the Mahdist army near Omdurman. The defeat led to the fall of the Mahdist state, which had already been weakened by internal strife.

Under British rule (1899–1955). In January 1899, Great Britain forced Egypt to sign a convention by which the Sudan was declared a condominium of Great Britain and Egypt. Known officially as the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, the Sudan was thus transformed de facto into a British colony. The government of the Sudan consisted of British officials, and the provinces were administered by British governors.

As the national liberation movement in the East gained momentum under the impact of the October Revolution in Russia, the liberation movement in the Sudan also grew in strength. In 1918 and 1919 the Dinka, the Nuer, and the peoples of the Darfur area rose in revolt. From 1918 to 1920 demonstrations in support of the revolutionary anti-British movement in Egypt broke out in the principal cities of the Sudan, such as Omdurman, Khartoum, and Port Sudan. Political patriotic organizations, the first such in the Sudan, appeared on the scene, notably the White Flag Society, led by Ali Abd al-Latif, an army officer originally from the Dinka tribe of the southern Sudan. The White Flag Society took the lead in the anti-British campaign, which often escalated into armed actions.

The British colonial authorities, in an attempt to isolate the Sudan from the growing national liberation movement elsewhere (especially in Egypt) and to put an end to the national liberation movement in the Sudan itself, put into effect a superficial “Sudanization” of the administration. Seeking to bolster the feudal-tribal elite and colonial bureaucracy, they created a “tribal administration,” by which two-thirds of the country was declared “closed.” In these “closed areas,” the most prominent unions of tribes were restored, and the remnants of the feudal sultanates were preserved; among the sedentary population, the British authorities in effect created artificial tribes, under chieftains they themselves appointed. In the south, the British strongly encouraged Christianity and anti-Muslim, anti-Arab feeling. Because of this policy, the different areas of the Sudan were ethnically and politically estranged one from another, and the growth of economic and other ties among them were thereby hindered. In the central Sudan, the British carried out irrigation and other reclamation projects, the effect of which was to make the Sudan virtually a cotton plantation for Great Britain. British firms and companies thus held sway in the economy as well.

Nevertheless, the national liberation movement did not die. From the late 1930’s, its central feature was the newly founded Graduates’ Congress, a general congress of the graduates of institutions of higher learning.

At the beginning of World War II, Italian army units occupied the cities of Kassala, Qallabat, and Kurmuk. By the spring of 1941, however, they had been driven out, and the Sudan was thenceforth made into one of Great Britain’s most important military bases in Africa. Sudanese army units fought against the fascist powers in Eritrea, Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. The Sudan’s industries, newly constructed for the war effort, turned out ammunition and equipment and processed agricultural produce. Light industry also made advances.

The national bourgeoisie, intelligentsia, and working class grew in size and in political activism as Sudanese participation in the anti-Hitlerite coalition stimulated the growth of liberation sentiments in the Sudan itself. Political parties soon made their appearance. In 1943 the Ashiqqa (Ashigga) was founded, a party that was associated with the Khatmiyya (Khatmia), a Muslim sect founded in the early 19th century. The Ashiqqa called for the union of the Sudan with Egypt and the creation of an independent Egyptian-Sudanese state. In 1952 the National Unionist Party was founded as the successor to the Ashiqqa party. In 1945 the pro-British Umma Party was founded, a party that was associated with the feudal-tribal elite of the Ansar sect, which had been founded in the late 19th century. The Umma Party called for Sudanese independence and opposed union with Egypt but was generally inclined to preserve firm ties with Great Britain. A nationalistic movement emerged in the southern Sudan at about the same time.

After World War II the national liberation movement became much more active, increasingly demanding an end to the condominium and a withdrawal of British troops from the Sudan. In 1946 mass strikes and demonstrations broke out. In the same year the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) was founded. The Communists subsequently provided the initiative for the founding of the first trade unions and organizations of peasants, youth, and other groups. In 1950 the Sudan Workers’ Trade Union Federation was founded. The anti-imperialist aspirations of the Sudanese people received the active support of the socialist countries.

In 1947, after the Egyptian government announced the need for review of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936 and called for the immediate withdrawal of British troops from Egypt and the Sudan, representatives of the USSR and Poland, speaking in the UN Security Council, resolutely insisted that the Egyptian demands be met and that the Sudanese people be given the right of self-determination. The colonial authorities in the Sudan, in an effort to halt the growth of the national liberation movement, resorted to a series of “constitutional reforms,” which were supported by religious and tribal circles and by the comprador bourgeoisie. After the July Revolution of 1952 in Egypt, British policy in the Sudan was dealt a serious blow by Egypt’s recognition of the Sudanese people’s right to self-determination. The Anglo-Egyptian Agreement of 1953 reaffirmed this right. In December 1955, notwithstanding the resistance of the colonialists, the Sudanese parliament, in which the proindependence National Unionist Party held a majority, voted to proclaim Sudanese independence on Jan. 1, 1956. In November 1955, British and Egyptian troops withdrew from the Sudan.

Independent Sudan (since 1956). On Jan. 1, 1956, the Sudan was proclaimed an independent republic. The USSR and other socialist countries were among the first to extend recognition to the young republic. In 1956 the Sudan joined the UN and the Arab League. Diplomatic relations between the Sudan and the USSR were established in January 1956.

With independence, power in the Sudan passed to bourgeois-comprador and feudal-tribal circles, which were represented in parliament primarily by the rightist political parties. The Sudan’s onerous colonial legacy, the extremely low economic level, the domination by foreign monopolies, the dependence on the exports of cotton, the reactionary policies of the ruling circles, these circles’ cooperation with the imperialists, and the deterioration of the economy—all this caused growing discontent among the people. The democratic movement made rapid strides, led by the SCP and the Anti-imperialist Front, a party founded in 1953 on SCP initiative. On Nov. 17,1958, the situation in the Sudan came to a head: the Sudanese army command, with the support of the Umma party and the Ansar sect, carried through a coup d’etat. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, under General I. Abboud (Abbud), took power. Parliament was dissolved, political parties and trade unions were outlawed, the provisional constitution of 1956 was abrogated, and the forces of democracy were subjected to various reprisals. The Abboud government overlooked no opportunity to encourage foreign investment in the Sudanese economy.

After 1956 the Sudan pursued a neutralist foreign policy, though not always in a consistent fashion. It developed better relations with the Soviet Union and other socialist countries. In 1959 and 1961 it concluded agreements with the USSR on trade and on economic and technical cooperation. In 1956, during the Suez Crisis, the Sudan supported Egypt. In 1967, during the Israeli aggression against the Arab countries, it declared war on Israel and sent military units to aid Egypt.

With Abboud’s military government securely in power, the situation in the south grew worse. As before, the peoples of the south had no rights pertaining to their distinctive national, religious, and socioeconomic features. Imperialist circles fomented separatist feeling in the south in every way possible. The nationalist movement, which by now had taken up arms, was quashed by the government. In 1963, Sudanese emigres founded the Sudan African National Union, a party that expressed the interests of south Sudanese nationalist circles. In the south itself, Anya Nya, an antigovernment military-political organization, was founded.

The reactionary domestic policies of the Abboud government gave rise to a broad popular movement, which broke out on Oct. 21,1964, and eventually led to the overthrow of the Abboud dictatorship. A government of the United National Front was formed—on SCP initiative—with participation by representatives of the bourgeois-landowner parties, which won about 80 percent of the seats in the Constituent Assembly, and by progressive forces, including the SCP.

Nevertheless, the rightist parties stymied the progress of democracy in the Sudan. In December 1965 a reactionary bloc of bourgeois-landowner and feudal-tribal circles seized power. On May 25, 1969, a revolutionary coup by patriotic army officers supported by other progressive forces overthrew the reactionary regime. A Revolutionary Council under Major General Jaafar Muhammad al-Nimery came to power, and a new government was formed, which included revolutionary-democratic leaders and Communists. The country was renamed the Democratic Republic of the Sudan.

The anti-imperialist revolutionary-democratic program of the new regime inspired a series of social and economic reforms in the Sudan. Foreign companies were nationalized, the property of the feudal-tribal elite was expropriated, and measures were taken to make the government apparatus more democratic. On June 9, 1969, the government announced its decision to grant autonomy to the southern provinces.

The Democratic Republic of the Sudan pursued an active, anti-imperialist foreign policy. It expanded its relations with the socialist countries, establishing diplomatic relations with the German Democratic Republic, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and the People’s Republic of China.

All the same, the subversive activities of reactionary and imperialist circles have slowed progressive development in the Democratic Republic of the Sudan. Since 1969 the separatist movement in the south has grown in intensity, and military actions between the south Sudanese separatists and the government have continued. Disagreements among the forces of democracy over the Sudan’s path of future development have grown sharper. In the period July 19–22, 1971, leftist officers, in an attempted coup, sought to oust Nimery. Grave consequences followed in its wake. The coup participants were subjected to cruel reprisals. Several SCP leaders, including General Secretary Abd al-Halik Mahjub, were charged with abetting the coup attempt and were executed.

As the nationalist right wing, which includes the pro-Western forces, has consolidated its position, the private sector and foreign investment have been encouraged. The Sudan has expanded its ties with the capitalist countries, including the USA, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Great Britain, as well as with the Arab monarchies. At the same time, it has moved more slowly to develop its relations with the other Arab states and the socialist countries. Since 1971 it has reversed several decisions made in 1970 regarding the nationalization of certain foreign and Sudanese firms.

In February 1972 the Sudanese government and the leaders of the armed movement in the southern Sudan signed an agreement that ended military actions and attempted to resolve the problem of the south. A law of 1972 granted autonomy to the south within the framework of an indivisible Sudanese state. In December 1973 the first government of the southern Sudan was formed. In January 1972 a constituent assembly met, and in January 1974 the first national congress of the Sudanese Socialist Union was convened. The Sudanese Socialist Union is the only political organization permitted in the Sudan. Its programmatic documents define it as an organization of “the union of the labor forces of the nation—peasants, workers, intelligentsia, national capitalists, and soldiers.”


Katsnel’son, I. S. Napata i Meroedrevnie tsarslva Sudana. Moscow, 1970.
Istoriia Afriki v XlX-nach. XX vv. Moscow, 1967.
Noveishaia istoriia arabskikh stran (1917–1966). Moscow, 1968.
Smirnov, S. R. Istoriia Sudana (1821–1956). Moscow, 1968.
Smirnov, S. R. Vosstanie makhdistov v Sudane. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.
Kiselev, V. I. Put’ Sudana k nezavisimosti. Moscow, 1958.
Griadunov, Iu. S. Novye gorizonty Sudana. Moscow, 1969.
Demokraticheskaia Respublika Sudan: Spravochnik. Moscow, 1973.
Arkell, A. J. A History of the Sudan. London, 1961.
Shinnie, P. L. Meroe: The Civilization of the Sudan. New York, 1967.
Holt, P. M. The Mahdist State in the Sudan, 1881–1898. Oxford, 1958.
Shibeika, M. British Policy in the Sudan, 1882–1902. London, 1952.
Shibeika, M. The Independent Sudan. New York [1959].
Fawzi, Saad ed Din. The Labour Movement in the Sudan, 1946–1955. London, 1957.
I. S. KATSNEL’SON (to the seventh century), V. I. KISELEV (seventh century to 1917), and IU. S. GRIADUNOV (from 1918)

The Sudanese Socialist Union (al-Ittihad al-Ishtiraki al-Sudani) was founded in 1972. The Sudanese Communist Party (al-Hizb al-Shuyui al-Sudani), founded in 1946, operates illegally. Several other parties and organizations also operate illegally. The Sudan Workers Trade Union Federation was founded in 1950.

General state of the economy. The Sudan is agrarian and underdeveloped. On the world market, it is a major exporter of high-grade cotton and a principal supplier of gum arabic.

In 1971–72 agriculture accounted for 38.2 percent of the gross domestic product, industry (including energy production) 11 percent, construction 4.2 percent, transportation 8.1 percent, trade and services 16.1 percent, and other sectors 22.4 percent. In 1972 the per capita gross domestic product was approximately $120. An economic development program for the period 1970/71–1976/77 has been completed. Foreign capital, especially British capital, still plays a large part in the economy.

The USSR has helped the Sudan build fruit and vegetable canneries in Kuraymah and Waw, an onion-curing plant in Kassala, a dried-milk plant in Babanusah, and grain elevators in Port Sudan and Al-Qadarif.

Agriculture. Agriculture in the Sudan is marked by structural diversity; that is, agricultural lands are owned by the state, by communities, and by private individuals; private landownership appears in its peasant, feudal, and capitalist forms. Large commercial farms, both state-owned and private, exist side by side with small farms. The leasing of land is common. The cultivated area—more than 7 million hectares (ha), of which 1.4 million ha are irrigated—represents only 3 percent of the Sudan’s total land area. Meadows and pastureland account for 9.6 percent, and forest and brushland 37 percent.

Commercial agriculture consists primarily of land cultivation. In the north, crops are for the most part irrigated, especially in the largest irrigation complexes, such as Al-Manaqil on the Nile and Khashm al-Qirbah on the Atbarah. In the south, irrigation is rare.

Cotton is a major cash crop in the Sudan. After Egypt, the Sudan is Africa’s largest producer of cotton. Its fine-fiber cottons are especially in demand. More than half the Sudan’s cotton is grown in the Jazirah. Other large cotton areas are the Atbarah River valley around Khashm al-Qirbah and the valleys of the White Nile and Blue Nile. Other export crops include sesame and peanuts. Sesame is grown primarily on nonirrigated lands on the Kurdufan Plateau and in the basin of the Blue Nile and Atbarah River. Peanuts are grown on nonirrigated lands on the Darfur and Kurdufan plateaus and on irrigated lands in the basins of the Blue Nile.

Durra and dukhn (pearl millet)—the main food crops—are grown throughout the Sudan. Four-fifths of the durra is grown on nonirrigated land in the basin of the Blue Nile and on the plateaus of the west and east. The date palm is also important—in 1970 the Sudan had 2 million date palms and in 1974 obtained a date harvest of 100,000 tons. Gum arabic is obtained primarily from wild acacias but also from cultivated acacias. In 1973–74 the Sudan produced 25,000 tons of gum arabic, primarily in the Kurdufan region. Senna leaves (Alexandria senna) and doom palm nuts are harvested in the north. Table 1 shows the area and harvest of the Sudan’s principal agricultural crops.

Stock raising is the principal means of subsistence for the nomads and seminomads, who make up approximately one-fifth of the Sudan’s inhabitants. In the north, camel raising is of major economic significance. In 1974 the Sudan had 11.9 million sheep, 8.6 million goats, 14 million head of cattle, 2.6 million camels, and 21 million domestic fowl. Fish are a supplementary source of food in the valleys of the Nile and its tributaries and are often the primary source of food in the south. In 1973–74 the Sudan’s total catch of fish was 60,000 tons. In 1973 logging operations in the Sudan accounted for removals of approximately 21 million cu m of trunk wood.

Industry. Industry in the Sudan is poorly developed, its chief products being processed agricultural products and wood products. Food products include vegetable oils, canned fruits and vegetables (Kuraymah, Waw, and Kassala), dairy products (Baba-nusah), and sugar (Husayhisah and Khashm al-Qirbah). The products of light industry include ginned cotton (Jazirah region), textiles (Khartoum), and leather and footwear (Khartoum). There are sawmills at Waw.

In the larger cities, certain industries are expanding, including metalworking in Atbarah, Khartoum North, and Port Sudan, oil refining in Port Sudan, and cement production in Atbarah. Gold, chromium ore, iron ore, and manganese ore are mined, and salt is extracted from the sea. In 1973 the Sudan produced 16,500 tons (by chromic oxide content) of chromium ore, and in 1971, 55,000 tons of salt. In 1973 it produced 210,000 tons of cement, 1.2 million

Table 1. Area and harvest of principal crops
 Area (thousand ha)Harvest (thousand tons)
Cotton(fiber) ...............20743949574148229
Peanuts ...............3831381119329991
Sesame ...............15842085199178271
Durra ...............8201,4002,1006011,2561,795
Dukhn ...............3525231,100181303470

tons of petroleum products, and 100,000 tons of sugar. Most of the Sudan’s electric power is generated at steam and diesel power plants. The total installed capacity is 118,400 kilowatts (1972), and the total power production, 503.9 million kilowatt-hours. A large hydroelectric power plant is at Rusayris. Most of the Sudan’s industry is in Khartoum, Khartoum North, Omdurman, Port Sudan, and Atbarah.

Transportation. The Sudan has 4,700 km of railroads and 15,300 km of vehicular roads (1973). Most of the latter are unimproved and, during the rainy season, impassable. The Sudan has 32,700 automobiles and 19,600 trucks (1971). Traditional modes of transportation—bearers and pack animals—are still being used. Some rivers in the Sudan are navigable only during periods of high water. The Nile is navigable for a distance of 3,700 km; a major route is that between Khartoum and Juba, a distance of 1,755 km. The Sudan has its own national airline, and foreign airlines serve the country as well. There is an international airport in Khartoum. Port Sudan, with a freight volume of 3.08 million tons in 1973, is the largest seaport.

Foreign trade. In 1974 the Sudan’s exports totaled 122.1 million Sudanese pounds, and its imports, 223.6 million Sudanese pounds. In 1973 cotton accounted for 56 percent of the Sudan’s exports, peanuts for 9.1 percent, gum arabic for 5.4 percent, sesame for 7.5 percent, and skins and hides for 3.8 percent. The major imports were machinery and equipment, chemicals and chemical products, foodstuffs, and industrial consumer goods. In 1973, India accounted for 17.4 percent of the Sudan’s exports and 9.6 percent of its imports, Great Britain for 4.8 percent of the exports and 18.6 percent of the imports, the Federal Republic of Germany for 9.9 percent of the exports and 6.3 percent of the imports, Italy for 12.3 percent of the exports, and Japan for 11.5 percent of the exports.

The monetary unit is the Sudanese pound. In June 1976, one Sudanese pound was worth two rubles 14 kopecks at the rate of exchange used by the Gosbank of the USSR.


Demokraticheskaia Respublika Sudan: Spravochnik. Moscow, 1973.
Dmitrevskii, Iu. D., K. A. Shakhnovich, and V. S. Iag’ia. Ekonomicheskaia geografiia stran Severo Vostochnoi i Vostochnoi Afriki. Leningrad, 1972.
Africa South of the Sahara, 1973. London, 1973.

The armed forces of the Sudan consist of an army, an air force, and a navy. The combined personnel strength is more than 48,600 (1975). In addition, there are border police and a national guard, with a combined personnel strength of approximately 3,500. The president is the commander in chief, the minister of defense has general responsibility for the armed forces, and the general staff exercises immediate command. There is no conscription. Officers are trained in national schools.

The army, with a personnel strength of approximately 45,000, consists of seven infantry brigades, three armored brigades, and one paratroop brigade, of three artillery regiments, three air defense artillery regiments, and one engineer regiment, and of rear services. The air force, with a personnel strength of approximately 3,000, has several squadrons and 43 combat aircraft. The navy, with a personnel strength of approximately 600, has six patrol craft and two landing craft.

Medicine and public health. In 1971, according to the World Health Organization, the Sudan had a birthrate of 45 per 1,000 population and a death rate of 20 per 1,000. Infant mortality was 130 per 1,000 live births. The average life expectancy was 44.6 years for men and 46.9 years for women.

Infectious and parasitic diseases predominate and constitute the principal cause of mortality. Malaria, tuberculosis, meningo-coccic infections, smallpox, leprosy, helminthiases, and venereal diseases are common. In the Jazirah (Blue Nile Province), as many as 80 percent of the children suffer from schistosomiasis. Trachoma is especially common in Northern Province. Diseases stemming from nutritional deficiencies, such as kwashiorkor, rickets, beriberi, and pellagra, are also common.

In 1973 the Sudan had 122 hospitals, with 15,400 beds, or 1.1 beds per 1,000 inhabitants. Of this capacity, the 98 government hospitals provided 12,800 beds. Outpatient services were provided by the clinics attached to the various hospitals, by 583 health centers, by 606 dispensaries, and by 1,200 dressing stations. The Sudan also had 114 maternity centers and 41 dental offices. It had 1,300 physicians, or one physician per 12,500 inhabitants. Of the Sudan’s 1,300 physicians, 1,200 worked in state-owned institutions. The Sudan also had 1,600 physicians’ assistants, 77 dentists, 371 pharmacists, and about 16,000 midlevel medical personnel.

Physicians and pharmacists are trained at the medical and pharmacy divisions, respectively, of the medical school at the University of Khartoum. Midlevel medical personnel are trained at 14 schools and colleges scattered throughout the country. In addition, some of the larger hospitals have their own schools for nurses and orderlies. In the five-year economic development plan for 1970/71–1974/75, 8.4 million Sudanese pounds were allocated to public health, an 81.8 percent increase over the allocation in the preceding five-year period.


Veterinary services. Annual mortality rates in the Sudan run as high as 6 percent for cattle, 10 percent for sheep, and 15 percent for goats. Animal husbandry has been significantly hindered by the high incidence of many particularly dangerous infectious diseases among animals. In 1973 three outbreaks of cattle plague were reported, five of anthrax, five of blackleg, nine of hemorrhagic septicemia, three of foot-and-mouth disease, 135 of trypanosomiasis, one of nodular dermatitis, 34 of Newcastle disease, 204 of cattle tuberculosis, 13 of epizootic lymphangitis, and 48 of piroplasmosis. Also reported are mycotic diseases of cattle, African horse sickness, sheep pox, fowl pox, bovine pleuropneumonia, goat pleuropneumonia, contagious agalactia, rabies, rick-ettsiosis, Q fever, toxoplasmosis, classical fowl plague, infectious bronchitis, fowl laryngotracheitis, avian encephalomyelitis, avian spirochetosis, fowl coccidiosis, fowl cholera, salmonellosis, theileriasis, manges, echinococcosis, and fascioliasis. Among the helminthiases, the most dangerous are the schistosomiases and trematodiases, major vectors of which are freshwater and land mollusks (in the Nile River valley).

Veterinary services are provided by the veterinary clinics of provinces and cities, by veterinary stations, and by mobile veterinary laboratories. A chief veterinary inspector is in charge of veterinary services in the provinces. During large livestock drives, mobile units carry out a variety of preventive measures, for the most part vaccinations, for the protection of the livestock. In 1974 the Sudan had 314 veterinarians.

Veterinary research is carried on in a research-production laboratory in Soba (opened 1974), a research laboratory in Khartoum, and several regional laboratories. Veterinarians are trained in the veterinary school of the University of Khartoum, which in 1973 graduated 40 veterinarians. In 1972 a two-year institute for the training of midlevel veterinary specialists was opened in Khartoum North.

Before 1956 the literacy rate in the Sudan was only 5 percent. In 1956, after independence had been won, a public education law was adopted; allocations for the development of education were also increased. In the 1970–71 academic year, the Sudan spent 25.3 million Sudanese pounds on education. Education is not compulsory. In 1973 the literacy rate was approximately 19.5 percent.

Children enter school at the age of seven or eight. Primary schools, which are free, offer a six-year curriculum. There are separate classes for boys and girls. The language of instruction is Arabic. Courses in the fundamentals of Islam are compulsory. Secondary schools, which are not free, consist of two levels, each of three years’ duration. The language of instruction is English.

According to an estimate for the 1974–75 academic year, 1.195 million pupils were enrolled in the Sudan’s primary schools, 38,000 students in the general secondary schools, and 37,000 students in the higher secondary schools. In the 1973–74 academic year, the vocational-technical schools, which take the graduates of the primary schools or general secondary schools (three or four years), had an enrollment of approximately 4,000.

Teachers for the primary schools are trained at pedagogical schools—six schools for men, three for women—which take the graduates of the general secondary schools. Teachers for the general secondary schools are trained at two pedagogical schools—one for men, one for women—which take the graduates of the secondary schools. In 1961 a four-year institute was opened in Omdurman for the instruction of prospective secondary school teachers. The eradication of illiteracy among adults has been given a high priority. According to an estimate for 1974–75, anti-illiteracy courses in the Sudan had a total enrollment of 500,000.

The Sudan’s institutions of higher learning include the University of Khartoum (founded 1956), the Khartoum branch of the University of Cairo (1955), the Khartoum Polytechnic (1950), and the Shambat Institute of Agriculture (1954). All require tuition.

The major libraries are the Library of the University of Khartoum and the Omdurman Central Public Library. The former, founded in 1945, has 200,000 volumes, and the latter, founded in 1951, has 17,700 volumes.

The major museums are the Sudan National Museum (founded 1971), the Ethnographic Museum (1956), and the Sudan Natural History Museum (1920), all in Khartoum. Also of note is the archaeological museum in Meroe.


Research in the Sudan is coordinated by the National Council for Research, founded in 1970. The Institute of Solar Energy Research is run under the council’s auspices. Most other research institutions operate under the aegis of the ministries. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources has more than ten experiment stations and other facilities. The Ministry of Industry and Mining has a geological laboratory. The Ministry of Transport and Communications has a meteorological section, with four research stations. The Ministry of Health maintains the Sudanese Medical Research Laboratory, founded in 1935, and other facilities. The ministry’s veterinary research section has six research stations.

At the University of Khartoum, research is carried on by the schools of agriculture, engineering, natural sciences, medicine, and pharmacy, by the Hydrobiological Research Unit (founded 1951) and other laboratories, and by the Institute of African and Asian Studies (founded 1972). The Sudan also has the Industrial Research Institute (1965), located in Khartoum, and several foreign research institutes, primarily British.


National Science Policies in Africa. [Paris, 1974.]

Several Arabic-language newspapers are published in the Sudan (1977). The daily Al-Ayam has been published since 1954 and has a circulation of 60,000. The daily Al-Sahafah has been published since 1962 and has a circulation of approximately 100,000. The weekly Al-Quwwat Al-Musallaha has a circulation of approximately 15,000. The government information agency is the Sudan National News Agency, founded in December 1970 and officially opened in May 1971. It is located in Khartoum.

Radio broadcasting in the Sudan dates from 1940. The radio service is government-run and is located in Omdurman. Television broadcasting dates from 1962 and is also government-run and located in Omdurman. Broadcasts on radio and television are in Arabic.

Sudanese literature, or the literature of part of what is now the Sudan, originated among the Nubians of antiquity. However, no literary works dating from or before the medieval period have survived in the original. The earliest poetic folktales date back to the tenth century.

In later periods, Sudanese literature was part of Arabic culture in general, developing within the traditions of classical Arabic literature, in which poetry was preeminent. Eminent writers of these periods include Hammad ibn Muhammad ibn Ali al-Mashaikhi (1646–1730) and Muhammad al-Jali (1728–1809).

In the late 19th century, as the national liberation movement grew in strength, poets such as Yahya al-Salawi glorified the struggle against British expansionism and called for Arab unity. In the 1910’s and 1920’s, as a national press came into being, political and social commentary also made its appearance. In 1910, Abd al-Qadir Mukhtar published his first play, The Sudanese Guide.

Before the 1930’s, the poets Abu Jukkuda, Ali Ahmadani, Hamzah al-Malik Tanbal, and Yusuf Bushir al-Tijani (1912–37) gave a major impetus to the growth of Sudanese literature. A revival of literature came with the emergence of a new literary movement, the Madrasat al-Fagr (School of the Dawn), and with the publication, from July 1934 to August 1935, of the journal Al-Fagr. Al-Fagr not only published classical Arabic literature and sought new literary forms and themes but also laid down the principles for the development of Sudanese literature. The philosopher and critic Muhammad Ahmad Mahjub (born 1908) was the ideologist of the movement.

Muhammad Said al-Abbasi, Abd Allah Abd al-Rahman, and Abd Allah Umar al-Banna are representative of neoclassicism in Sudanese poetry. Muhammad Ahmad Mahjub and Abd al-Halim Muhammad, who collaborated on a biographical chronicle, Death of the World (1946), laid the foundations of the Sudanese novel and novella.

The growth of the national liberation movement after World War II and the attainment of independence helped give rise to a literature shaped by the influence of Egyptian and Soviet literature. Social concerns and anti-imperialism mark the poetry of Ghali Abd al-Rahman (born 1931), Taj al-Sirr al-Hasan (born 1930), and Muhammad al-Fayturi (born 1931) and the prose realism of Abu Bakr Khalid (born 1932), al-Zubayr Ali (born 1928), and, especially, al-Tayyib Salih (born 1929), who wrote the novel Season of Migration to the North (1968; Russian translation 1975). Modern playwriting and literary criticism, which are in their infancy in the Sudan’, are represented by Muhammad Ibrahim al-Shush and Abd Allah al-Tayyib.

The literary organizations of the Sudan include the Association of Sudanese Writers (founded 1956) and the League of Sudanese Writers. Apart from written literature, oral folk poetry is widespread throughout the Sudan. In the north it is similar to the folklore of the other Arab countries. In the south, where local languages are spoken, it is closely tied to the culture of tropical Africa.


Sovremennaia arabskaia literatura: Sbornik statei. Moscow, 1960.
Poety Sudana. [Compiled by G. Lebedev. Moscow, 1967.]
Demidchik, V. P. Sudanskaia poeziia XX v. Dushanbe, 1972.
Demokraticheskaia Respublika Sudan: Spravochnik. Moscow, 1973.
Mahjub, Muhammad Ahmad. Al-Harakat al-fikriyah fi al-Sudan ila aina yajib an tattajih. Khartoum, 1941.
Abidin, Abd al-Majid. Tarikh al-thaqafah al-Arabiyah fi al-Sudan. Cairo, 1953.
Al-Tayyib, Abd Allah. Muhadarat fi al-ittijahat al-hadithah fi al-nathr al-Arabi fi al-Sudan. Cairo, 1959.

Neolithic artifacts found in the Sudan include small clay representations of animals, hand-modeled pottery, and a large number of petroglyphs. In the second millennium B.C., the art of the Sudan developed in ways similar to those of ancient Egypt. Toward the end of the first millennium B.C., however, especially in the art of Meroe, local characteristics came increasingly to the fore— notably, squatness and heaviness in architecture and sharp contrasts of light and dark and greater freedom from convention in monumental reliefs.

From the second half of the sixth century A.D., as Christianity consolidated its position in the Sudan, churches whose architecture and wall paintings are reminiscent of Coptic art were erected in the Sudan. The architecture of the western Sudan of the 15th and 16th centuries—the ruins of the city of Orrei (Uri)—exhibits a kinship with the medieval stone architecture of East Africa.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the traditional dwellings of the Sudan have been of several types. In most areas, rectangular mud-brick huts are the rule. Along the Red Sea coast, houses made of coral limestone and girded round with protruding latticed windows are characteristic. Among the Negroid tribes of the south, dwellings are typically round huts made of clay or wattle and roofed over with thatch. Before the mid-20th century, European-type architecture was for the most part confined to Khartoum and other large cities. Since 1956 better-planned industrial and housing construction has grown, and some attempts at urban planning have been made.

The traditional Sudanese representational and decorative-applied art has also been of several types. One is sculpture in wood, which is distinguished by its static and abstract qualities and by its relatively undifferentiated forms. Another is work with small clay objects and figures. The Arabs of the northern Sudan do leatherwork and filigree work in copper and silver. The Negroid peoples of the south are known for their highly artistic work with wicker.

Since the mid-20th century, a national school of easel art has taken shape in the Sudan, one that combines local decorative traditions and European traditions. Prominent in this school are the sculptors M. Kua and A. Hamid, the painters H. ‘Abbas and M. O. Bashir, and the graphic artist A. A. Burhan.


Kunst und Geschichte Nubiens in christlicher Zeit. Recklinghausen, 1970.

The theater in the Sudan has been strongly drawn to Arabic culture in general. In 1936 the Theater Society was founded, initially in order to serve the schools. Since 1940, however, it has given public performances. With time, the society gave rise to drama and music troupes, both of which were founded in 1950 and both of which give their performances in Arabic. Writers and others devoted to the development of a national theater have joined the troupes. By 1961, the Sudan also had the Modern Sudanese Theater, the Khartoum Troupe, and several folk dance companies. Young performing artists study at schools in Egypt and Italy.

In 1968 a Sudanese film administration was set up for the production of educational films and newsreels. The Sudan’s first full-length feature film, Hopes and Dreams, was released in 1969 and directed by al-Rashid Mahdi.

Before 1970, films were distributed by the Greek company Likas Distributors and by the country’s own Sudan’s Cinema. In 1970 film distribution was made the responsibility of the Sudan Film Center of the Ministry of Culture and Information. In 1972 and 1973, however, the country’s motion-picture theaters were denationalized; a single government-run theater still operates in Khartoum. Now, private firms import and distribute films.

The Sudanese director A. Hashim has made several short films, including Struggle of the Generations (1972), about Sudanese student life in Cairo. He has also made a full-length feature film, Conflict of Brothers (1973). In 1973 the Sudan had 53 open-air motion picture theaters.



a natural region in Africa, stretching from the southern edge of the Sahara to 4–8° N lat. and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ethiopian Plateau. Area, approximately 5 million sq km.

The Sudan lies entirely within the bounds of the Precambrian African Platform, whose syneclises form the basins of the middle Niger, Lake Chad, and the White Nile; sandy-argillaceous deposits fill the basins. The region ranges from 200 to 500 m in elevation, falling below 200 m only in the west, in the lowland of Senegambia. Rising above the basins are the Jos, Darfur, and Kurdufan plateaus, crystalline in composition and dotted with inselbergs. The cones of extinct volcanoes remain in Senegal and Darfur; the Jabal Marrah, at 3,088 m, is the highest mountain mass in the Sudan. River valleys, the channels of intermittent rivers, and lake basins are the predominant landforms. In the modern era, weathering and erosion are the dominant forces in the modification of the landscape.

The Sudan has a subequatorial monsoonal climate. With winter comes the northeasterly winter monsoon—called the passat or, in the northern Sudan, the harmatan—with tropical continental air and hot, dry weather. Temperatures in the coldest month average 20° to 26°C. With summer comes the southwesterly monsoon and, with it, moist equatorial air and precipitation. Average monthly temperatures are usually highest—from 30° to 35°C—before the onset of the rainy season. The total annual precipitation increases from 100 mm in the north to 2,000 mm in the south, and the length of the rainy season, from two months in the north to ten months in the south. The largest rivers are the Niger, the Sénégal, the Shari, the Gambia, and the Nile and its tributaries. The rivers are rain-fed; high water occurs in the summer and fall. In some areas in the basins, the rivers form marshes. Lake Chad is the region’s largest lake. As the climate grows more moist from north to south, the landscape changes, the tropical deserts of the Sahara giving way to semidesert and savanna and eventually to the tropical rain forests of Equatorial Africa. Much of the Sudan is typical savanna, which in the south gives way to tall-grass savanna (to 5 m in height) and deciduous and evergreen forests. Red ferralitic and alferrite soils and red-brown soils prevail.

The historical Sudan is coextensive with the natural region of the Sudan. Three principal historical regions are usually distinguished: western Sudan, central Sudan, and eastern Sudan. The western Sudan stretches eastward as far as Lake Chad. The central Sudan extends from Lake Chad to the Democratic Republic of the Sudan. The eastern Sudan includes the Democratic Republic of the Sudan as far east as the White Nile. The western and central Sudan, which are closely related to each other historically and ethnically, are often viewed as a single cultural region. The Sudan is inhabited by many peoples, including the Wolof, Fulbe, Bambara, Malinke, Hausa, Mossi, and Songhai in the western Sudan, the Kanuri, Baguirmese, Wadai, and Azande in the central Sudan, and the Fur and Arabs in the eastern Sudan. In the medieval and modern periods, these peoples created the most advanced states in tropical Africa, including the states of Takrur, Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Kanem-Bornu, Baguirmi, Wadai, the Darfur Sultanate, and the Funj Sultanate. At the turn of the 20th century, France, Great Britain, and Germany partitioned the Sudan, forming therein a series of colonial states. In the period 1957–73, as a result of the national liberation struggle, the peoples of the Sudan won political independence.

The Sudan comprises in whole or in part the countries of Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Upper Volta, the Ivory Coast, and Guinea.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Republic of the Sudan

Capital city: Khartoum

Internet country code: .sd

Flag description: Three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black with a green isosceles triangle based on the hoist side

Geographical description: Northern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Egypt and Eritrea

Total area: 967,500 sq. mi. (2,505,810 sq. km.)

Climate: tropical in south; arid desert in north; rainy sea­son varies by region (April to November)

Nationality: noun: Sudanese (singular and plural); adjective: Sudanese

Population: 39,379,358 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: black 52%, Arab 39%, Beja 6%, foreigners 2%, other 1%

Languages spoken: Arabic (official), Nubian, Ta Bedawie, diverse dialects of Nilotic, Nilo-Hamitic, Sudanic lan­guages, English

Religions: Sunni Muslim 70% (in north), Christian 5% (mostly in south and Khartoum), indigenous religions 25%

Legal Holidays:

Christmas DayDec 25
Coptic EasterApr 27
Independence DayJan 1
Revolution DayJun 30
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


1. a republic in NE Africa, on the Red Sea: the largest country in Africa; conquered by Mehemet Ali of Egypt (1820--22) and made an Anglo-Egyptian condominium in 1899 after joint forces defeated the Mahdist revolt; became a republic in 1956; civil war has been waged between separatists, in the mainly Christian south, and the government since independence, apart from a period of peace (1972--83). It consists mainly of a plateau, with the Nubian Desert in the north. Official language: Arabic. Official religion: Muslim; there are large Christian and animist minorities. Currency: Sudanese dinar. Capital: Khartoum. Pop.: 34 333 000 (2004 est.). Area: 2 505 805 sq. km (967 491 sq. miles)
2. the. a region stretching across Africa south of the Sahara and north of the tropical zone: inhabited chiefly by Negroid tribes rather than Arabs
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
I am pleased to report to you that while we remain concerned about certain Palestinian rejectionist groups, which maintain offices in Sudan, we have continued to make progress in our counter-terrorism dialogue with Khartoum.
Some 4 million Sudanese nationals are internally displaced in Sudan, another 500,000 live as refugees and asylum seekers outside Sudan.
Most recently, they convinced President Bush to appoint a special envoy to Sudan in an effort to help end the state-sponsored persecution of Christians.
He has separated from the SPLA and joined a smaller faction called the South Sudan Independence Movement (SSIM)--the group that signed a so-called peace charter with the government in Khartoum, the country's capital.
"An agreement on outstanding issues has been signed and this agreement expresses the commitment of all parties to a ceasefire," the foreign minister of neighbouring Sudan, Al-Dirdiri Mohamed said on Sudan state television.
The five-track process includes the fight against terrorism, Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), Sudan's role in the peace process in South Sudan, Sudan's peace and the humanitarian situation in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
The success of the Nuba Mountains cease-fire gives us tangible indications of what a comprehensive peace agreement could accomplish not only in the South, but throughout all of the Sudan.
(Opposing factions are the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement and the National Democratic Alliance, although there are other warring groups.)
In the case of Sudan, sanctions do seem to have pushed the regime to stop "assisting, supporting and facilitating terrorist activities" -- but these sanctions, as noted above, were diplomatic.
Now, after nine years of subsisting on rationed corn mush and lentils and living largely ungoverned by adults, the Lost Boys of Sudan are coming to America.
The steadily escalating conflict has drawn in many of Sudan's neighbors--in the fighting and in efforts to promote peace--while involving the United States in an increasingly hostile confrontation with the current regime.