The largest country in Africa, Sudan has undergone two civil wars between its Arab north and black African south. Darfur in the west now endures a terrible humanitarian crisis.
Geography: Lies within the upper Nile basin. Mostly arid plains, with marshes in the south. Highlands border the Red Sea in the northeast.
Climate: North is hot, arid desert with constant dry winds. Rainy season ranging from two months in the center to eight in the south.
People and Society: Two million people are nomads. Many ethnic groups. Key social divide is between Arabized Muslims in north, and mostly black African, largely Christian or animist peoples in south. Attempts to impose Arab and Islamic values were the root cause of civil war (1955–1972, 1983–2005). Ethnic violence by Arab militias in Darfur since 2003 has killed 300,000 people: huge refugee crisis. Women’s rights are restricted.
The Economy: Oil exports. Cotton, sesame, gum arabic. Violence and drought hamper farming. Millions of people displaced.
Insight: Sudan’s Sudd is the world’s largest swamp
Official Name: Republic of the Sudan
Date of Formation: 1956
Population: 42.3 million
Total Area: 967,493 sq. miles (2,505,810 sq. km)
Density: 44 people per sq. mile
Languages: Arabic*, African languages
Religions: Muslim 70%, traditional beliefs 20%, Christian 9%, other 1%
Ethnic Mix: Black 59% (including Beja and Dinka 7%), Arab 40%, other 1%
Government: Presidential system
Currency: Sudanese pound or dinar = 100 piastres