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 Jewel of

The African continent is comprised of 54 nations, each with its own independent government and sovereignty, GDP, culture, natural resources, language(s), military, and religion. The treasure trove of mineral and raw material wealth has scarcely been touched and the continent's largely untapped fertile lands could feed the world. Herewith is Jewel of Africa, an interactive adventure in the cradle of mankind, an exploration of nations from A-Z in alphabetical order.

Sudan: Roots in antiquity speak to the present

The Sudan (officially Republic of Sudan) is a country in Northeast Africa, occupying a total area of 718,723 square miles. It is Sudan is the third-largest country in Africa. Its capital and largest city is Khartoum.

Military regimes have dominated Sudanese politics since the country's independence from the UK in 1956. The remainder of the 20th century saw two civil wars resulting in millions of deaths and millions displaced, due in large part to famine and disease. The chronic instability in Sudan holds much of the population at or below the poverty line. Sudan's border states have felt the effects of that country's near-constant fighting as they've been forced to provide shelter for fleeing refugees.

Though the Sudanese people have experienced decades of wargenocide, and poverty, they hold on to hope, as is reflected in their national flag which has adopted the Pan-Arab colors first intro- duced in 1920—red, white, green and black. These colors reflect the heart and desires of the Sudanese people. Red represents the struggles and martyrs in the Sudan and the great Arab land; white stands for peace, optimism, light and love; black symbolizes the Sudan and the mahdija revolution during which a black flag was used; and green represents and symbolizes growth and prosperity.


Sudan is situated in northern Africa, with a 530-mile coastline bordering the Red Sea. It is the third largest country on the continent (after Algeria and DR Congo), bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west, and Libya to the northwest. It is

dominated by the Nile River and its tributaries.

Northern Sudan, lying between the Egyptian border and Khartoum, has two distinct parts, the desert and the Nile Valley. To the east of the Nile lies the Nubian Desert; to the west, the Libyan Desert. They are similar—stony, with sandy dunes drifting over the landscape. There is virtually no rainfall in these deserts, and in the Nubian Desert there are no oases. In the west, there are a few small watering holes, such as Bir an Natrun, where the water table reaches the surface to form wells that provide water for nomads, caravans, and administrative patrols, although insuffic- ient to support an oasis and inadequate to provide for a settled population.

Unfurling through the desert is the Nile Valley, a region where an alluvial strip of habitable land is no more than 1.2 square miles wide and where its productivity depends on the annual flood. Wes-

tern Sudan is a generic term describing the regions known as Darfur and Kurdufan,  regarded as a single regional unit despite the physical differences. The dominant feature throughout this immense area is the absence of perennial streams; thus, people and animals must remain within reach of permanent wells. Consequently, the population is sparse and unevenly distributed.

Sudan's third distinct region is the central clay plains that stretch eastward from the Nuba Moun- tains to the Ethiopian frontier, broken only by the Ingessana Hills, and from Khartoum in the north to the far reaches of southern Sudan. Between the Dindar and the Rahad rivers, a low ridge slopes down from the Ethiopian highlands to break the endless skyline of the plains, and the occasional hill stands out in stark relief. The central clay plains provide the backbone of Sudan's economy because they are productive where settlements cluster around available water.

Northeast of the central clay plains lies eastern Sudan, which is divided between desert and semi-desert and includes Al Butanah, the Qash Delta, the Red Sea Hills, and the coastal plain.


Khartoum is the capital of Sudan. With a popu- lation of 6.1 million peo- ple, its metropolitan area is the largest in Sudan. It is located at the conflu- ence of the White Nile, flowing north from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile, flowing west from Lake Tana in Ethiopia. The place where the two Niles meet is known as al-Mogran. Khartoum is a tripartite metropolis com- prised of of Khartoum proper linked by bridges to Khartoum North and Omdurman to the west.


The city was founded in 1821 as Ottoman Egypt. The history of Sudan includes that of both the territory that comprises Republic of SudanSouth Sudan as well as that of a larger region known by the term "Sudan," derived from Arabic or "land of the Black people." It can be used more loosely of West and Central Africa 

in general, especially the Sahel. The early history of the Kingdom

of Kush, located along the Nile region in what is now northern Sudan, is intertwined with the his- tory of ancient Egypt, with which it was politically allied over several regnal eras.  The kingdoms were succeeded by the Sulta- nate of Sennar in the early 16th century which con- trolled large parts of the Nile Valley and the Eastern Desert


Al Butanah is an undulating land between Khartoum and Kassala that provides good grazing for cattle, sheep, and goats. East of Al Butanah is a peculiar geological formation known as the Qash Delta. Originally a depression, it has been filled with sand and silt brought down by the flash floods of the Qash River, creating a delta above the surrounding plain.

Northward beyond the Qash lie the more formidable Red Sea Hills. Dry, bleak, and cooler than the surrounding land, particularly in the heat of the Sudan summer, they stretch northward into Egypt, a jumbled mass of hills where life is hard and unpredictable for the hardy Beja inhabitants. Below the hills sprawl the coastal plain of the Red Sea, varying in width from roughly 33.5 miles in the south near Tawkar to about 14.9 miles near the Egyptian frontier. The coastal plain is dry and barren. It consists of rocks, and the seaward side is thick with coral reefs.

The southern clay plains, which can be regarded as an extension of the northern clay plains, extend all the way from northern Sudan to the mountains on the Sudan-Uganda frontier, and in the west from the borders of Central African Republic eastward to the Ethiopian highlands.

The land rising to the south and west of the southern clay plain is referred to as the Ironstone Plateau (Jabal Hadid), a name derived from its laterite soils and increasing elevation. The plateau rises from the west bank of the Nile, sloping gradually upward to the Congo-Nile watershed. The land is well watered, providing rich cultivation, but the streams and rivers that come down from the watershed divide and erode the land before flowing on to the Nilotic plain flow into As Sudd. Along the streams of the watershed are the gallery forests, the beginnings of the tropical rainforests that extend far into Zaire.


Although Sudan lies within the tropics, the climate ranges from arid in the north to tropical wet-and-dry in the far southwest. Temperatures do not vary greatly with the season at any location; the most significant climatic variables are rainfall and the length of the dry season. Variations in the length of the dry season depend on which of two air flows predominates, dry northeasterly winds from the Arabian Peninsula or moist southwesterly winds from the Congo River basin.

The amount of rainfall increases towards the south. In the north there is the very dry Nubian Desert; in the south there are swamps and rainforest. Sudan’s rainy season lasts for about three months (July to September) in the north, and up to six months (June to November) in the south. The dry regions are plagued by sand storms, known as haboob, which can completely block out the sun. In the northern and western semi-desert areas, people rely on the scant rainfall for the basic agriculture and many are nomadic, traveling with their herds of sheep and camels. Nearer the River Nile, there are well-irrigated farms growing cash crops.

The Nile is the dominant geographic feature of Sudan, flowing 1,864 miles from Uganda in the south to Egypt in the north. Most of the country lies within its catchment basin. The Blue Nile and the White Nile, originating in the Ethiopian highlands and the Central African lakes, respectively, join at Khartoum to form the Nile River proper that flows to Egypt. Other major tributaries of the Nile are the Bahr al Ghazal, Sobat, and Atbarah rivers.

Animals, flora

Animals native to Sudan include lionselephantsgiraffes, and rhinoceros. Large herds of African buffalo and various antelope species are present, including many types of gazelles, kudu, and the famous but endangered Nubian Ibex with its signature corkscrew horns. Among the dangerous Sudanese apex predators are the lionleopardcheetahhyena, and jackal. Chief


Extinct in Sudan is the Northern white rhinoceros, while the ibex, oryx, and chimpanzee are approaching that status. Captive populations remain elsewhere. As many as nine primate species are found in Sudan, including the wide-ranging baboon and chimpanzee.


Sudan is also something of a paradise for bat species, with at least 62 distinct varieties having been identified. Unusual species found in Sudan include the rabbit-like hyrax and three types of pangolins, better known in China than in Africa. Two types of highly endangered African wildlife are found on game preserves but no longer in the wild. These are the forest-dwelling antelope known as a Bongo and the highly-endangered grassland dwelling Scimitar-horned Oryx, which is thought to be the creature of origin for unicorn horns in ancient times.

The animals in Sudan also comprise a large number of rodent species, aardvarks, and shrews, and many small predators such as polecats, foxes, wild cats, civets.


Three ancient Kushite kingdoms existed consecutively in northern Sudan. This region was also known as Nubia and Meroë. These civilizations flourished mainly along the Nile River from the first to the sixth cataracts. The kingdoms were influenced by Ancient Pharaonic Egypt. In ancient times, Nubia was ruled by Egypt from 1500 B.C.E., to around 1000 B.C.E. when the Napatan Dynasty was founded under Alara. It regained independence for the Kingdom of Kush although borders fluctuated greatly.

Christianity was introduced by missionaries in the third or fourth century, and much of the region was converted to Coptic Christianity. Islam was introduced in 640 C.E. with an influx of Muslim Arabs. Though the Arabs conquered Egypt, the Christian Kingdoms of Nubia managed to persist until the fifteenth Century.


Britain and Egypt signed an accord ending the condominium arrangement on Feb. 12, 1953. The accord effectively agreed to grant Sudan self government within three years. Also included were provisions for a senate for the Sudan, a Council of Ministers, and a House of Representatives, elections to which was to be supervised by an international commission.

Elections were held during November and December 1953 and resulted in victory for the NUP, and its leader, Ismail al-Aihari, who became the Sudan's first Prime Minister in January 1954. British and Egyptian officers in the Sudanese civil service were quickly replaced by Sudanese nationals. The nation's Parliament voted unanimously in December 1955 that the Sudan should become "a fully independent sovereign state." Foreign troops left the country on Jan 1, 1956, which was the same day a five-man Council of State was appointed to take over the powers of the governor general until a new constitution could be agreed upon.

First Sudanese civil war

The year before independence, a civil war began between Northern and Southern Sudan. South- erners, who knew independence was coming, were afraid the new nation would be dominated by the North. The North of Sudan had historically closer ties with Egypt and was predominately Arab and Muslim. The South of Sudan was predominately Black, with a mixture of Christians and Animists. These divisions were emphasized by the British policy of ruling Sudan’s North and South separately.

From 1924 it was illegal for people living above the 10th parallel to go further south, and people below the 8th parallel to go further north. The law was ostensibly enacted to prevent the spread of malaria and other tropical diseases that had ravaged British troops. It also prevented Northern Sudanese from raiding Southern tribes for slaves. The result was increased isolation between the already distinct north and south. This was the beginning of heated conflict simmering for many decades.

The resulting conflict was known as the First Sudanese Civil War which lasted from 1955 to 1972. The war ended officially in March 1972, when Col. Gaafar Numeiry signed a peace pact with Maj.-General Lagu, the Leader of the Anya-Nya rebels in the south, known as the Addis Ababa Agree- ment. This brought a cessation of the north-south civil war and established a degree of self-rule. This led to a 10-year hiatus in the civil war. Under the Addis Ababa Agreement, Southern Sudan was given considerable autonomy.

Second Sudanese civil war

In 1983 the civil war was reignited following President Gaafar Nimeiry’s decision to circumvent the Addis Ababa Agreement, by attempting to create a Federated Sudan including states in Southern Sudan. This violated the Addis Ababa Agreement which had previously granted the South considerable autonomy. The Sudan People's Liberation Army formed in May 1983 as a result. Finally, in June 1983, the Sudanese Government under President Nimeiry abrogated the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement.

The situation was exacerbated after al-Nimeiry went on to implement Sharia Law in September of the same year. In accord with this enactment, the penal code had been revised in order to link it "organically and spiritually" with Islamic Law. This changed the definition of crimes committed as being defined according to the Koran.

The civil war went on for more than 20 years, resulting in the deaths of 2.2 million Christians and Animists. It displaced roughly 4.5 million people within Sudan and into neighboring countries. It also damaged Sudan’s economy leading to food shortages resulting in starvation and malnutrition. The lack of investment during this time, particularly in the south, meant a generation lost access to basic health services, education, and jobs.

Peace talks between the southern rebels and the government made substantial progress in 2003 and early 2004. The Naivasha peace treaty was signed on Jan. 9, 2005, granting Southern Sudan autonomy for six years, followed by a referendum about independence. It created a co-vice president position and allowed the north and south to split oil equally. It left both the North's and South's armies in place.

The United Nations Mission In Sudan (UNMIS) was established under UN Security Council Resolution 1590 in March 24, 2005. Its mandate is to support implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and to per- form functions relating to humanitarian assistance, protection and promotion of human rights. There was some hostility toward the UN being in Sudan. In greater hopes of peace, the International Observance in Sudan was formed. It consists of four nations, the U.S.NorwayItaly and Great Britain.

Secession of Southern Sudan

A referendum took place in Southern Sudan in January 2011, on whether the region should remain a part of Sudan or be independent. Voters from the worldwide South Sudanese diaspora were included. The result showed 98.9 percent in favor of secession. The region of Southern Sudan became an independent country, with the name of South Sudan, on July 9, 2011.


sud38 red sea.jpg
sud37 Port_Sudan.jpg

The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. Its connection to the ocean is in the south, through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. To the north lie the the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez, lead- ing to the Suez Canal. It is under-lain by the Red Sea Rift, part of the Great Rift Valley. The Red Sea has a surface area of roughly 169,100 miles, is 1,398 miles long, and—at its widest point—220.6 mile. It has an average depth of 1,608 feet, and in the central Suakin Trough it reaches a maximum depth of 9,970 feet. The Red Sea also has extensive shallow shelves, noted for their marine life. The sea is habitat for more than 1,000 invertebrate species and 200 types of soft and hard coral. 


Sudan is situated in northern Africa, with a 530-mile coast- line bordering the Red Sea. It is the third largest country on the continent (after Algeria and DR Congo), bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia 

to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Rep- ublic to the southwest, Chad to the west, and Libya to the northwest. It is dominated by the Nile River and its tributaries.

Northern Sudan, lying between the Egyptian border and Khar- toum, has two distinct parts, the desert and the Nile Valley. To the east of the Nile lies the Nubian Desert; to the west, the Libyan Desert. They are similar—stony, with sandy dunes drifting over the landscape. There is virtually no rainfall in these des- erts, and in the Nubian Desert there are no oases. In the west, there are a few small watering holes, such as Bir an Natrun, where the water table reaches the surface to form wells that provide water for nomads, cara- vans, and administrative patrols, although insufficient to support an oasis and inadequate to provide for a settled population.


A distinct region of Sudan is the central clay plains that stretch eastward from the Nuba Moun- tains to the Ethiopian frontier, broken only by the Ingessana Hills, and from Khartoum in the north to the far reaches of southern Sudan. Between the Dindar and the Rahad rivers, a low ridge slopes down from the Ethiopian highlands to break the endless skyline of the plains, and the occasional hill stands out in stark relief. The central clay plains provide the back- bone of Sudan's economyproductive where settlements cluster around available water


Animals native to Sudan include many of the most commonly known African species like lions, leopards, elephantsgiraffes, and rhinoceros. Large herds of African buffalo and various antelope species are present, including many types of gazelles, kudu, and the famous but now endangered Nubian Ibex with its signature corkscrew horns.


Despite this result, many crucial issues are yet to be resolved, some of which requiring internat- ional intervention. The threats to people of South Sudan after referendum are numerous, with security topping the list. Other threats include disputes over the region of Abyei, control over oil fields, the borders, and the issue of citizenship.

Government, politics

The current government in Sudan is a hot mess. According to Bloomberg, "Sudan’s army is incap- incapable of running the impoverished country and new leaders are needed to stem further unrest, the United Nations special envoy said, after the prime minister’s recent resignation once again left the military in sole charge.


"The generals that launched a coup in October 2021 before restoring Premier Abdalla Hamdok to office the following month, are unable to salvage a democratic transition that was supposed to lead to free elections in 2023, Volker Perthes said in an interview. ‘The process must be spearheaded by credible civilian politicians backed by the street,' 


"'I don’t see any single actor being able to do that—certainly not the powers that be,'" said Perthes. 'Instead, it needs a comprehensive conversation’ [that’s] 'as inclusive as possible and brings at least a minimum agreement on the next steps.'" He said he’d met with senior officials to discuss the issue, without elaborating.

Sudan, where long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir was ousted in 2019 amid mass protests, has been mired in new unrest since the military overthrew the civilian component of a power-sharing government and derailed a transition that appeared a rare bright spot in the Horn of Africa region marked by civil war and tyranny. At least 57 protesters have been killed in the subsequent crackdown.

The US and World Bank were among those to suspend aid, compounding a bleak economic outlook. “I think it will take the international community some time to resume it if you don’t have a new credible government in Khartoum,” Perthes said.

Hamdok, an ex-UN economist, was restored to office in November in a deal rejected by protesters, but quit Jan. 2 saying attempts to share power with the army had failed. Hamdok repeatedly complained the military, typically the arbiter of power since Sudan’s 1956 independence, was preventing him from making political appointments, according to foreign officials aware of the disputes.

In a statement in January 2022, top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan suggested Sudan should form an independent, technocratic government.

"The country is on a slippery slope," Perthes said, adding that the coup had inflamed inter-communal violence in the western region of Darfur, where hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes.

The envoy declined to describe Sudan’s democratic experiment as a failure. "That would mean giving up on the aspirations of all those Sudanese who want and still want a transition to democracy and peace," he said.

According to The New York Times, Sudan faces an uncertain future:

"The military in Sudan is in control once again, jeopardizing the country’s already fragile hopes of a successful transition to democracy. With the resignation of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok , Sudan has no civilian government to help steer a country that was just emerging from a dictatorship that lasted three decades.

"There are now fears of an escalation in the confrontations between protesters and security forces that have gripped the capital, Khartoum, and beyond in recent weeks, resulting in the deaths of at least 57 people, a doctors group said.

“A vast country of [43.8] million people in the northeast of Africa, Sudan has neither the political structures nor the independent political bodies in place to legitimately appoint a new prime minister, analysts said, dampening further the country’s hopes of exchanging a military dictatorship for democratic rule."

Autonomy, foreign relations, conflicts

South Sudan formally became independent from Sudan on July 9, 2011 following the referendum held in January 2011. Darfur is a region of three western states affected by the current Darfur conflict. There is also an insurgency in the east led by the Eastern Front.

Before the government’s latest woes, the foreign relations of Sudan were generally in line with the Muslim Arab world, but are also based on Sudan's economic ties with the People's Republic of China and Western Europe. Sudan's administrative boundary with Kenya does not coincide with international boundary, and Egypt asserts its claim to the "Hala'ib Triangle," a barren area under partial Sudanese administration that is defined by an administrative boundary which supersedes the treaty boundary of 1899.


Sudan has turned around a struggling economy with sound economic policies and infrastructure investments, but it still faces formidable economic problems. Since 1997 Sudan has been implementing the macroeconomic reforms recommended by the IMF.


Currently oil is Sudan's main export and major natural resource, and the production has been increasing dramatically. In 1999, Sudan began exporting crude oil and in the last quarter of 1999 recorded its first trade surplus. Increased oil production revived light industry and expanded export processing zones. These gains, along with improvements to monetary policy, stabilized the exchange rate.


Other valuable resources include natural gasgoldsilver, uraniumcopper, chromite, asbestos, manganese, gyp- sum, mica, zincironlead, kaolin, cobaltgranitenickel and tin.


Agriculture production remains Sudan's most important sector. Still, most farms remain rain-fed and susceptible to drought. Chronic instability—including the long-standing civil war between the Muslim north and the Chris- tian/Animist south, adverse weather, and weak world agricultural prices—ensure that much of the population will remain at or below the poverty line for years. 


Desertification is a serious problem in Sudan. There is also concern over soil erosion. Agricultural expansion, both public and private, has proceeded without conservation measures. The consequences have manifested themselves in the form of deforestation, soil desiccation, and the lowering of soil fertility and the water table.


With 40.8 million people in the nation,  the population of metropolitan Khartoum (including Khartoum, Omdurman, and Khartoum North) is 6.1 million, including around two million displaced persons from the southern war zone as well as western and eastern drought-affected areas.

Sudan has two distinct major cultures—Arabs with Nubian (Kushite) roots and non-Arab Black Africans—with hundreds of ethnic and tribal divisions and language groups, which makes effective collaboration among them a major problem.

The northern states cover most of the Sudan and include most of the urban centers. Most of the 22 million Sud- anese who live in this region are Arabic-speaking Muslims, though the majority also use a traditional non-Arabic mother tongue, such as Nubian, Beja, Fur, Nubian, and Ingessan. 


Among these are several distinct tribal groups: the Kababish of northern Kordofan, a camel-raising people; the Dongolese, the Ga’alin, Rubatab, Manasir and Shaiqiyah of the tribes settling along the rivers; the seminomadic Baggara of Kurdufan and Darfur; the Beja in the Red Sea area and Nubians of the northern Nile areas, some of whom have been resettled on the Atbara River. Shokrya in the Butana land, Bataheen bordering the Ga’alin and Shorya in the south west of Butana, Rufaa, Halaween and many other tribes are in the Gazeera region and on the banks of the Blue Nile and the Dindir region. The Nuba of southern Kurdufan and Fur are in the western reaches of the country.


Official languages are the Arabic and English languages. Article 8 of the Constitution states:

(1) All indigenous languages of the Sudan are national languages and shall be respected, developed and promoted.

(2) Arabic is a widely spoken national language in the Sudan.

(3) Arabic, as a major language at the national level and English shall be the official working languages of the national government and the languages of instruction for higher education.

(4) In addition to Arabic and English, the legislature of any sub-national level of government may adopt any other national language as an additional official working language at its level.

(5) There shall be no discrimination against the use of either Arabic or English at any level of government or stage of education.


The public and private education systems inherited by the government after independence were designed more to provide civil servants and professionals to serve the colonial administration than to educate the Sudanese.

Since World War II the demand for education has exceeded Sudan's education resources. At independence in 1956, education accounted for only 15.5 percent of the Sudanese budget. By the late 1970s, the government's education system had been largely reorganized. There were some preprimary schools, mainly in urban areas.

The basic system consisted of a six-year curriculum in primary schools and three-year curriculum in junior secondary schools. From there, qualified students could go on to one of three kinds of schools: the three-year upper secondary, which prepared students for higher education; commercial and agricultural technical schools; and teacher- training secondary schools designed to prepare primary-school teachers.

The proliferation of upper-level technical schools has not dealt with what most experts saw as Sudan's basic education problem: providing a primary education to as many Sudanese children as possible. Establishing more primary schools was, in this view, more important that achieving equity in the distribution of secondary schools. Even more important was the development of a primary-school curriculum that was geared to Sudanese experience and took into account that most of those who completed six years of schooling did not go further.

Higher education

The oldest university is the University of Khartoum, which was established as a university in 1956. Since that time, 10 other universities have opened in the Sudan. These include: Academy of Medical Sciences, Ahfad University for Women, Bayan Science and Technology College, Computerman College, Omdurman Ahlia University, Omdurman Islamic University, University of Gezir, University of Juba, Mycetoma Research Centre, and Sudan University of Science and Technology.

Ethnic groups

In 1999, Sudan was one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse countries in the world. It had nearly 600 ethnic groups speaking over 400 languages/dialects. During the 1980s and 1990s some of Sudan's smaller ethnic and linguistic groups disappeared. Migration played a part, as migrants often forget their native tongue when they move to an area dominated by another language. Some linguistic groups were absorbed by accommodation, others by conflict.

Arabic was the lingua franca despite the use of English by many of the elite. Many Sudanese are multilingual.


The majority of Sudanese are Muslim, primarily Sunni, with smaller numbers of Christians and adherents of traditional religions. In September 2020, Sudan constitutionally became a secular state after Sudan's transitional government agreed to separate religion from the state, ending 30 years of Islamic rule and Islam as the official state religion in the North African nation.

In the early 1990s, the largest single category among the Muslim peoples of Sudan consisted of those speaking some form of Arabic. Excluded were a small number of Arabic speakers originating in Egypt and professing Coptic Christianity. In 1983 the people identified as Arabs constituted nearly 40 percent of the total Sudanese population and nearly 55 percent of the population of the northern provinces.

In some of these provinces (Al Khartum, Ash Shamali, Al Awsat), they were overwhelmingly dominant. In others (Kurdufan, Darfur), they were less so but made up a majority. By 1990 Ash Sharqi State was probably largely Arab. It should be emphasized, however, that the acquisition of Arabic as a second language did not necessarily lead to the assumption of Arab identity.

In the early 1990s, the Nubians were the second most significant Muslim group in Sudan, their homeland being the Nile River valley in far northern Sudan and southern Egypt. Other, much smaller groups speaking a related language and claiming a link with the Nile Nubians have been given local names, such as the Birqid and the Meidab in Darfur State. Almost all Nile Nubians speak Arabic as a second language.

Christianity was most prevalent among the peoples of Al Istiwai State—the Madi, Moru, Azande, and Bari. The major churches in the Sudan were the Catholic and the Anglican. Southern communities might include a few Christians, but the rituals and world view of the area were not in general those of traditional Western Christianity. The few communities that had formed around mission stations had disappeared with the dissolution of the missions in 1964. The indigenous Christian churches in Sudan, with external support, continued their mission.

Each indigenous religion is unique to a specific ethnic group or part of a group, although several groups may share elements of belief and ritual because of common ancestry or mutual influence. The group serves as the congregation, and an individual usually belongs to that faith by virtue of membership in the group.

Believing and acting in a religious mode is part of daily life and is linked to the social, political, and economic actions and relationships of the group. The beliefs and practices of indigenous religions in Sudan are not systematized, in that the people do not generally attempt to put together in coherent fashion the doctrines they hold and the rituals they practice.


Sudanese culture melds the behaviors, practices, and beliefs of about 578 tribes, communicating in 145 different languages, in a region microcosmic of Africa, with geographic extremes varying from sandy desert to tropical forest.


Sudan has a rich and unique musical culture that has been through chronic instability and repression during the modern history of Sudan. Beginning with the imposition of strict sharia law in 1989, many of the country's most prominent poets, such as Mahjoub Sharif, were imprisoned while others, like Mohammed el Amin and Mohammed Wardi fled temporarily to Cairo.


Traditional music suffered too, with traditional Zar ceremonies being interrupted and drums confiscated. At the same time, however, the European militaries contributed to the development of Sudanese music by introducing new instruments and styles; military bands, especially the Scottish bagpipes, were renowned, and set traditional music to military march music. The march March Shulkawi No 1, is an example, set to the sounds of the Shilluk.

The Nuba, on the front lines between the north and the south of Sudan, have retained a vibrant folk tradition. The musical harvest festival Kambala is still a major part of Nuba culture. The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) include a group called the Black Stars, a unit dedicated to "cultural advocacy and performance."


Several Sudanese born basketball players have played in the American National Basketball Association. These include Deng Gai, Luol Deng and Manute Bol.

In football, the Khartoum state league is considered to be the oldest soccer league in the whole of Africa as it began in the late 1920s. The Sudan Football Association began in 1954. The Sudan national football team, nicknamed Sokoor Al-Jediane is the national team of Sudan and ismanaged by the Sudan Soccer Association. It is one of only a few countries to have played since the inaugural African Nations Cup in 1957.

Jarrette Fellows, Jr. / Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License