Sudan, The

Sudan, The
officially Republic of the Sudan

Country, North Africa.

Area: 966,757 sq mi (2,503,890 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 37,090,000. Capital: Khartoum. Muslim Arab ethnic groups live in the northern and central two-thirds of the country, while Dinka, Nuer, and Zande peoples live in the south. Languages: Arabic (official), Beja, Zande, Dinka. Religions: Islam (official), traditional religions, Christianity. Currency: Sudanese dinar. The largest country in Africa, The Sudan encompasses an immense plain with the Sahara Desert in the north, sand dunes in the west, semiarid shrub lands in the south-central belt, and enormous swamps and tropical rainforests in the south. The Nile River flows the entire length of the country. Wildlife includes lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, and zebras. It has a developing mixed economy based largely on agriculture. One of the largest irrigation projects in the world provides water to farms between the White and the Blue Nile. Chief cash crops are cotton, peanuts, and sesame; livestock is also important. Major industries include food processing and cotton ginning. The country is ruled by an Islamic military regime. Evidence of inhabitation dates back tens of thousands of years. From the end of the 4th millennium BC, Nubia (now northern Sudan) periodically came under Egyptian rule, and it was part of the kingdom of Cush from the 11th century BC to the 4th century AD. Christian missionaries converted the Sudan's three principal kingdoms during the 6th century AD; these black Christian kingdoms coexisted with their Muslim Arab neighbours in Egypt for centuries, until the influx of Arab immigrants brought about their collapse in the 13th–15th centuries. Egypt had conquered all of the Sudan by 1874 and encouraged British interference in the region; this aroused Muslim opposition and led to the revolt of al-Mahdī, who captured Khartoum in 1885 and established a Muslim theocracy in the Sudan that lasted until 1898, when his forces were defeated by the British. The British ruled, generally in partnership with Egypt, until the region achieved independence as The Sudan in 1956. Since then the country has fluctuated between ineffective parliamentary government and unstable military rule. The non-Muslim population of the south has engaged in ongoing rebellion against the Muslim-controlled government of the north, leading to famines and the displacement of some four million people.

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▪ 2009

2,505,810 sq km (967,499 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 39,445,000, including more than 200,000 refugees in Chad
Head of state and government:
President and Prime Minister Lieut. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

      Just prior to the beginning of 2008, the UN formally assumed the peacekeeping role in The Sudan's western province of Darfur in conjunction with the African Union force already present in the region. (See Sidebar (Combating the Crisis in Darfur ).) The new force, UNAMID, was intended to be heavily reinforced, but owing to the reluctance of UN member states to supply personnel and equipment, its numbers had reached only about 12,400 by the end of the year, inadequate for the mission's purpose. Moreover, the Sudanese government restricted the movements of the new force. Raids by government aircraft and militia ground forces on suspected rebel bases—as well as on camps for displaced persons and even on the peacekeeping troops themselves—continued throughout the year. Pres. Idriss Déby of Chad, The Sudan's western neighbour, also accused the Sudanese government of supporting Chadian rebels who in early February laid siege to Chad's capital city, N'Djamena.

      The tables were briefly turned in May when members of a Darfur rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, staged a daring raid on the town of Omdurman, on the outskirts of Khartoum. Sudanese Pres. Omar al-Bashir (Bashir, Omar Hassan Ahmad al- ) accused Chad of supporting the attack and severed diplomatic relations with his neighbour, though they were restored later in the year. The following month the International Criminal Court (ICC) declared the Sudanese government responsible for the situation in Darfur, and on July 14 the ICC's chief prosecutor recommended that an arrest warrant be issued for Bashir for crimes against humanity in the war-torn province. There was a huge protest demonstration in Khartoum in response to the recommendation, and when the issue was raised in the UN General Assembly in September, virtually all African countries supported Bashir's effort to halt the proposed indictment against him. Nevertheless, the ICC persisted with its investigations, and in December the chief prosecutor urged all members of the UN Security Council to be prepared to act in unison in reponse to a possible early decision by the ICC judges to call for arrests. In the meantime, Bashir undertook a peacemaking mission in Darfur, although antirebel attacks continued, and in August a powerful incursion by government troops in northern Darfur was launched to prepare the way for oil exploration by Chinese prospectors.

      While international attention was largely focused on Darfur, events in the border region between northern and southern Sudan proved an equally serious threat to the country's stability. In particular, armed northern nomads began to prevent southerners displaced during the civil war from returning to their homes in the border area. This was interpreted as a northern plot to distort a census scheduled for April in order to enhance the north's claims to the oil-rich border region and especially to Unity state. On the south's insistence, the census was postponed, but in May the border town of Abyei was devastated by an attack by a brigade of troops loyal to the northern National Congress Party. A few days later the residents of Abyei reassembled to assert their loyalty to the south. Meetings between representatives of both northern and southern Sudan to find a solution to the conflict proved unavailing.

Kenneth Ingham

▪ 2008

2,505,810 sq km (967,499 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 39,379,000, including nearly 250,000 refugees in Chad
Head of state and government:
President and Prime Minister Lieut. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

      Benefiting from the high prices paid for oil, The Sudan in 2007 recorded one of Africa's fastest-growing economies, estimated at nearly 10%. Foreign investment, spurred by China and some of the emirates in the Persian Gulf, had quadrupled over the past decade.

      On the political front, The Sudan's relations with Eritrea improved following an agreement early in the year between the presidents of the two countries to develop areas along the common border and to encourage cooperation in matters pertaining to health, education, and road construction. In the middle of the year, however, the worst floods in living memory affected 400,000 people in 19 of The Sudan's districts.

      Relations between northern and southern Sudan were less friendly. On October 11 the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, the ruling party in southern Sudan, suspended its participation in the Government of National Unity (GNU), claiming that its partner in the GNU (the Northern Sudan's National Congress Party) was failing to fulfill the terms of the internationally supervised Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005. Little progress had been made toward defining the boundary between north and south, and this led to delays in the compilation of a census, general elections, and the distribution of oil revenues from the disputed border region.

      The semiautonomous region of south Sudan also had mixed fortunes. While a number of companies, including the Kenya Commercial Bank (which opened five new branches in south Sudan), demonstrated their confidence in the region, two million displaced persons who had taken refuge around Khartoum during the civil war still awaited the opportunity to return to their homes in the south. In October the auditor-general of south Sudan launched an investigation into how $500 million—nearly half the region's budget for 2006—had been spent without parliamentary authority.

      Meanwhile, the rebellion in the western province of Darfur remained the focus of international attention. Early in January, Pres. Omar al-Bashir agreed to a 60-day cease-fire, but the disunited rebel groups showed little inclination to cooperate. President Bashir's unswerving resistance to the deployment of UN troops in Darfur exasperated Western governments, but he insisted that while he welcomed help in Darfur, he did not want it at the expense of his country's sovereignty.

      On February 27 the International Criminal Court (ICC) accused Ahmed Haroun (The Sudan's minister of humanitarian affairs) and Ali Kushayb (a former commander of the Janjawid Arab militia) of crimes against humanity. The government, however, rejected the ICC's jurisdiction, stating that the Sudanese judiciary was fully competent to deal with any crimes committed in Darfur.

      A UN Security Council delegation on June 27 claimed that it had secured an unconditional agreement with the Sudanese government to deploy a joint African Union–UN peacekeeping force for Darfur, which would consist of nearly 20,000 troops and more than 6,000 police. Almost immediately the chief of the AU commission, echoing President Bashir's own opinion and reflecting the concerns of other African countries, stated that non-African troops would not be necessary because African countries had offered adequate reinforcements. An appeal by the Security Council to UN members to supply troops was met with a tardy response.

      Early in August eight rebel groups met in Tanzania and agreed to present a united approach to the Sudanese government. The following month UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited The Sudan to try once again to make arrangements to create a lasting peace. On September 6 he announced that an agreement had been reached to hold peace talks in Libya (starting on October 27). The meeting appeared threatened, however, by the absence of representatives of several resistance movements, but the UN and AU envoys to Darfur (who had initiated the talks) insisted that this was only the first phase of an ongoing process and that no peace agreement could be effective until the 20,000 joint AU-UN peacekeeping force was in place in the new year.

Kenneth Ingham

▪ 2007

2,505,800 sq km (967,499 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 36,233,000, including more than 200,000 refugees in Chad
Khartoum (executive and ministerial) and Omdurman (legislative)
Head of state and government:
President and Prime Minister Lieut. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

      Thousands of refugees who had fled from south Sudan during the civil war continued to return to their homes in 2006. They were helped by nongovernmental organizations and UN aid agencies, but their arrival imposed a heavy burden upon the region's resources and increased still further the south's dependence on food aid. The government's disarmament program also ran into problems in some areas where pastoralists, accustomed to carrying weapons, fiercely resisted the campaign. Local authorities urged them to cooperate rather than come into conflict with the Southern Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). On July 30, to mark the first anniversary of the helicopter crash that killed Vice Pres. John Garang, the secretary-general of the SPLA reaffirmed his government's commitment to the terms of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in January 2005. In another significant move, the south Sudan government took the initiative in launching and acting as mediator for talks that began in Juba on July 14, aimed at resolving the long-standing conflict between the Ugandan government and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army in northern Uganda.

 The situation in western Sudan was less promising. In March, Pres. Idriss Déby of Chad, The Sudan's western neighbour, accused Khartoum of supporting a rebel force that had attacked his capital, Ndjamena. The Sudan denied the charge, but in April Chad severed diplomatic relations. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged both countries to prevent violence from escalating, and a few months later diplomatic relations were restored.

      The concern of the majority of members of the African Union (AU) about the continuing conflict in Darfur was reflected at the meeting of the AU summit in Khartoum in January when the claim of Pres. Omar al-Bashir to become the new AU chairman was rejected. Only with some reluctance did the AU agree to extend the mandate of its Darfur peacekeeping force ( AMIS) for six months to September 30 (later extended until December 31) to give time for an agreement to be reached between The Sudan government and its militia allies and their opponents, the Darfur rebels, and for a UN force to take over peacekeeping.

      On May 5 in Abuja, Nigeria, following prolonged international pressure, a peace treaty was signed that appeared to offer significant concessions to both sides. The effectiveness of the treaty was undermined, however, by the failure of two of the three rebel groups to sign the agreement. The struggle continued and grew steadily worse. In August the UN Security Council proposed the creation of a 22,000-strong force to replace the seriously underresourced AMIS. The Sudanese government, which had accepted the presence of AMIS only with reluctance and had consistently opposed the intervention of a UN force on the grounds that it was an infringement of the country's sovereignty, rejected the proposal and launched a new assault on rebel positions in Darfur. As the fighting continued toward the end of the year, the Sudanese government insisted that none of its troops or any of the associated militia were involved. Eyewitnesses claimed that the main aggressors were Janjawid militia.

Kenneth Ingham

▪ 2006

2,503,890 sq km (966,757 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 36,233,000, including nearly 200,000 refugees in Chad
Khartoum (executive and ministerial) and Omdurman (legislative)
Head of state and government:
President and Prime Minister Lieut. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

      The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in Nairobi on Jan. 9, 2005, by the National Islamic Front (NIF) government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) was greeted with widespread relief. Under the terms of the CPA, the south gained the autonomy for which it had fought, with the prospect of a referendum in six years' time to determine whether it would become totally independent of the north. The distribution of seats in the central parliament was satisfactorily negotiated, even in the three disputed oil-rich districts between the north and the south. Offices of state were allocated between the signatories, and agreement was reached on the sharing of oil revenues. Equally significant was the ruling that Shariʿah (Islamic) law would only apply to Muslims, even in the north.

      Nevertheless, questions still remained about the future. Even in the north the NIF was not universally popular, and the minimal share of political power accepted grudgingly by the National Democratic Alliance, an umbrella group of several other northern political parties, was insufficient to satisfy the group's aspirations indefinitely. In the south the SPLA had spearheaded the fight for autonomy, but 17 other armed forces, representing a variety of ethnic groups and political objectives, had also participated in the battle and were determined not to be marginalized. In addition, the granting of autonomy to the south provided a precedent that disgruntled elements in the east might be tempted to pursue.

      Above all, there remained the problem of the large western province of Darfur, where—in spite of deliberations at the UN and intermittent attempts by the African Union to mediate between the Sudanese government and the rebels—sporadic fighting continued, and the death toll grew while the number of refugees multiplied steadily. Although the African-sponsored and the Western-funded-and-equipped peacekeeping force achieved some success, its numbers were insufficient and its mandate inadequate to protect the civilians at risk, and in spite of exhortations and promises, reinforcements were not forthcoming.

      The arrival in Khartoum of SPLA/M leader John Garang (Garang, John ) (see Obituaries), who was sworn in on July 9 as first vice president of the entire country, was greeted with great jubilation. Garang was widely regarded as the person most capable of holding the south together as well as encouraging hope of a united Sudan and a settlement of the Darfur crisis. The rejoicing turned to anger and dismay on July 30, however, when the helicopter carrying Garang back from a meeting with Ugandan Pres. Yoweri Museveni crashed, killing all on board. Although the crash appeared to have been accidental, conspiracy theories proliferated, and hostile black Africans in Khartoum and Juba turned on the Arab population, killing more than 100 of them and damaging many homes and businesses. The SPLM moved rapidly to calm the situation by appointing Salva Kiir Mayardit, a staunch supporter of Garang, to succeed him as leader of the party, and in September Pres. Lieut. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir was able to swear in a cabinet that represented the entire country. Later in the month, however, the situation in Darfur deteriorated sharply, and divisions among the leadership of the main rebel group in October posed a further threat to the resolution of the conflict and had repercussions in other parts of the country.

Kenneth Ingham

▪ 2005

2,503,890 sq km (966,757 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 39,148,000, including more than 600,000 Sudanese refugees in African countries, including nearly 200,000 in Chad
Khartoum (executive and ministerial) and Omdurman (legislative)
Head of state and government:
President and Prime Minister Lieut. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

      On May 26, 2004, a peace deal was signed between the Sudanese government in Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, and a 20-year civil war was thus ended. The pact incorporated two earlier agreements on the constitutional future of the south and the allocation of oil revenues between the north and the south, as well as agreement on the nature of power sharing in the central government and on setting up a 39,000-strong army.

      The satisfaction that came from forging an agreement, however, was quickly overshadowed by events in the western province of Darfur, which was not included in the deal. With most of its troops engaged in the war in the south, the government had enlisted and armed Arab militias to quell the revolt of black subsistence farmers that had begun in February 2003. As a result, more than a million black civilians were forced to seek safety in refugee camps, and an estimated 70,000 others had been killed or had died as a result of disease and/or hardship. Aid agencies complained that obstacles were impeding their access to the camps, but the government insisted that it was committed to securing a just and peaceful settlement of the conflict. On April 8, under the auspices of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Sudanese government and two rebel groups agreed to a cease-fire, but it was ignored.

      Senior diplomats from the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and France visited Khartoum and urged the government to take action to curb the militias and what some had referred to as genocide, but their pleas only strengthened the government's resistance to foreign intervention. Successive resolutions by the UN Security Council on June 11, on July 30, and again in mid-September, threatening action if the government did not call a halt to the conflict, produced little result and were seriously weakened by the abstentions of China, Pakistan, Russia, and Algeria. In September China, which had invested millions of dollars in the development of The Sudan's oil resources, threatened to veto any resolutions seeking to impose sanctions on the oil industry.

      In August the Sudanese government accepted the deployment in Darfur of 300 troops offered by the African Union (AU) to protect observers and aid workers. The AU also called on the government to arrest those responsible for the violence. Talks between the opposing parties, which began in mid-August in Abuja, Nigeria, broke down after three weeks but were resumed in October, with the AU serving as mediator; nonetheless, fighting continued between the government and the rebels in Darfur despite repeated efforts to reach an agreement. The AU also offered 3,000 more troops to be deployed as peacekeepers, but only 800 of them had been deployed by mid-December.

Kenneth Ingham

▪ 2004

2,503,890 sq km (966,757 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 38,114,000
Khartoum (executive and ministerial) and Omdurman (legislative)
Head of state and government:
President and Prime Minister Lieut. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

      In late January 2003 in Nairobi, Kenya, peace talks between the Sudanese government and the rebel Southern Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) resumed amid a background of each accusing the other of having broken the cease-fire. Their discussions centred on the Machakos Protocol of July 2002, to which both parties had agreed in principle.

      In the hopes of a successful outcome to the talks, the U.S. and other donor agencies were poised to renew the flow of aid. Charitable bodies, however, protested that the government had used money derived from the oil fields in the border region between the north and the south to fund its military activities against the rebels and that oil exploitation was rendering thousands of people homeless. Awad Ahmad al-Jaz, minister of energy and mines, denied all knowledge of these problems and was supported by Muhammad al-Mubarak, general manager of Sudapet, the Sudanese member of the international consortium developing the oil fields. Nevertheless, the Canadian company Talisman, another member of the consortium, continued to sell off its holdings to an Indian-owned company in response to these concerns. The other two members, Chinese and Malaysian, did not follow suit.

      Among the areas of dispute between the government and the SPLM/A was Pres. Omar al-Bashir's refusal to grant self-determination to three predominantly non-Arab areas located in the northern half of the country. There were also divisions between the various ethnic groups in the south.

      Early in August a crisis arose when floodwaters in the east reached their highest level in 70 years, leaving thousands of people homeless. The government was forced to declare the town of Kassala a disaster area and to fly in food.

      Later that month political discussions stalled briefly. Under considerable international pressure, not least from the U.S., they resumed on September 4 in Naivasha, Kenya. The parties agreed to extend their cease-fire for an additional two months, and on September 25 it was agreed that the SPLM/A would retain its forces in the south but that the armies would be integrated in Khartoum and in the three non-Arab northern areas. The power-sharing issue and the allocation of oil resources were left unresolved. Though talks resumed in a spirit of optimism, government officials were doubtful that American predictions for a final peace agreement would be realized by year's end.

      Under external pressure to end political oppression, the government took the risky step in October of releasing from detention Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi and lifting the ban on his party's activities.

Kenneth Ingham

▪ 2003

2,503,890 sq km (966,757 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 37,090,000
Khartoum (executive and ministerial) and Omdurman (legislative)
Head of state and government:
President and Prime Minister Lieut. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

      On Jan. 19, 2002, the U.S. special envoy to The Sudan, John Danforth, brokered a six-month cease-fire between the Sudanese government and the rebel Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA). The agreement covered only a limited area of the Nuba mountains of south-central Sudan but proved sufficiently successful for it to be renewed for a further six months on July 20. The U.S. had briefly suspended contact with Sudanese authorities in February after government helicopter gunships attacked and killed 17 civilians at a United Nations aid-distribution point. Though discussions were renewed, there seemed little immediate prospect of ending the nearly 20-year-old civil war.

      The rebels' position had been strengthened when two of the leading factions were reconciled in January and proceeded to pose a growing threat to the security of the oil fields in the centre of the country. That threat, together with international pressure to disinvest in The Sudan, caused the Lundin Petroleum company to suspend operations. Both sides recognized that control of the oil industry had become an increasingly important factor in any future settlement. With that in view, the SPLA captured the strategic town of Kapoeta in early June.

      On July 20, after five weeks of peace talks under the aegis of Kenyan Pres. Daniel arap Moi, the two sides signed the Machakos Protocol, named after the town outside Nairobi where negotiations took place. Under terms of the deal, after a six-year “interim” period—during which the rebel-dominated South would have its own legislature within a united Sudan under a constitution acceptable to both parties—there would be an internationally monitored referendum to allow the southerners to vote either for a continuation of the interim arrangement or for secession.

      No provision was made in the agreement for a cease-fire, and on July 31 the government launched a large-scale attack on SPLA positions. Ten weeks later the rival combatants agreed to a total cessation of hostilities with effect from October 17 to allow for discussions aimed at achieving a political settlement. The U.S. government then legislated to authorize sanctions against the Sudanese government if the president believed that it was not taking the peace talks seriously. The Sudan's first vice president roundly condemned the U.S. action.

Kenneth Ingham

▪ 2002

2,503,890 sq km (966,757 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 36,080,000
Khartoum (executive and ministerial) and Omdurman (legislative)
Head of state and government:
President and Prime Minister Lieut. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

      On Jan. 3, 2001, Pres. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir extended the existing state of emergency in The Sudan for an additional 12 months. He stressed, however, that this extension would not restrict religious freedom or freedom of speech among opposition parties. Late in February a former supporter of the president, Hassan al-Turabi, eager to reassert his authority, was arrested after signing a memorandum of understanding with the rebel Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA). At about the same time, President Bashir began discussions with Sadiq al-Mahdi, leader of the opposition Ummah Party, who had returned to The Sudan from self-imposed exile the previous November.

      During the year a number of disturbing contrasts emerged. The 25-year-old Kenana Sugar Co.—which employed some 16,000 people and provided education and health care for 100,000 others—announced record production (403,000 metric tons) in 2000–01. The harvest produced a large surplus that fully supplied the needs of the domestic and export markets. Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme warned that three million people were threatened by hunger resulting from drought and civil war. Though the oil industry was earning approximately $1 million per day for the government, a report by the charity organization Christian Aid accused the government of driving hundreds of thousands of people from the land where the oil companies were operating and killing them and burning their villages if they resisted. The oil industry also funded the civil war, which continued unabated in spite of recurring disputes between the leaders of the SPLA. On the other hand, the government's military expenditures, which since 1998 had doubled, by 2001 equaled exactly its income from oil.

      Nevertheless, the Sudanese government, which had been accused by the U.S. of sponsoring terrorists and which U.S. Pres. George W. Bush had described on May 3 as presiding over a country that was “a disaster area for all human rights,” gave its immediate support to the antiterrorist campaign launched by the U.S. following the September terrorist attacks. In August diplomatic relations with Uganda were reestablished. In September the Security Council lifted sanctions imposed on The Sudan in 1996, and in November the U.S. sent a peace envoy with proposals aimed at ending civil war in the country.

Kenneth Ingham

▪ 2001

2,503,890 sq km (966,757 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 35,080,000
Khartoum (executive and ministerial) and Omdurman (legislative)
Head of state and government:
President and Prime Minister Lieut. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

      The three-month state of emergency declared in December 1999 by Pres. Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who believed his authority was under threat from his ally and former sponsor Hassan al-Turabi, was extended on March 12, 2000, to the end of the year. On January 24 the president had already consolidated his position by dismissing the cabinet, all state governors, and his senior advisers, and his position received a further boost in March when the Ummah Party, led by former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, withdrew from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which was waging war on government strongholds in the east.

      In April Bashir announced that there would be presidential and parliamentary elections in October, later postponed to December, and launched his own campaign for the presidency by summoning a National Congress (NC) “mobilization gathering” to take place on May 4. Turabi claimed that only he, as secretary-general of the Congress, was authorized to convene such a gathering and called for a boycott. The meeting nevertheless took place, and Bashir attacked Turabi in a speech to the delegates. Two days later the entire NC secretariat and party chiefs were suspended. The opposition subsequently decided to boycott the elections.

      While the president was strengthening his position within his own circle, events in other parts of the country and relations with external bodies were not uniformly happy. Encouraged by the growth in oil exports, the government made strenuous efforts to establish a better accord with other countries, but the Canadian government was not impressed and accused the Canadian company Talisman Energy Inc. of contributing to human rights violations by its involvement in oil production in The Sudan. There was also a dispute with the UN over the government's claim that airplanes working for UN aid agencies had been transporting southern rebel leaders; this led to bombing by government forces of relief planes on the ground. In the south the heaviest fighting in several years was taking place, and the government was accused by aid agencies of using the prevention of flights carrying food to the area as a weapon of war that was threatening thousands with starvation. More promising for the nation was a request by the Organization of African Unity for the lifting of UN sanctions against it, imposed in 1996 in the interest of promoting peace and stability. In August The Sudan was restored to full membership in the International Monetary Fund.

Kenneth Ingham

▪ 2000

2,503,890 sq km (966,757 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 34,476,000
Khartoum (executive and ministerial) and Omdurman (legislative)
Head of state and government:
President and Prime Minister Lieut. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

      The introduction of multiparty politics in The Sudan on Jan. 1, 1999, was greeted with considerable skepticism by leading opposition groups, which believed the wording of the new constitutional law to be deliberately vague so that the government could interpret it as it wished. Nevertheless, the policy gradually showed signs of success. Sadiq al-Mahdi, leader of the opposition Umma group, who had been in exile since December 1996, set to work to reconcile his differences with the regime in discussions with the government's most powerful negotiator, Hassan al-Turabi. In May former military leader Gaafar Mohamed el-Nimeiri also registered his own political party in Khartoum. In early December Pres. Omar Hassan al-Bashir declared a state of emergency, and on December 31 his Cabinet resigned.

      Meanwhile, the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which had conducted military operations against the government in both the northeast and the south of the country, was facing its own problems. The northern members, who looked to Egypt for support, found that their ally was itself striving to improve relations with The Sudan and was eager to maintain Sudanese unity. In addition, Eritrea, which had offered both sanctuary and assistance to the NDA, made peace with The Sudan on May 2.

      Southern members of the NDA, who relied on the support of neighbouring Uganda, continued their resistance. Although the Sudanese government offered an olive branch to Uganda by steadily abandoning its support for the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which had for many years used The Sudan as a base for its incursions into Uganda, the latter country made only a limited response by offering an amnesty to the LRA. As the year progressed, Turabi appeared to be cutting back on his links with the minority who supported Bashir with the object, it was thought, of contesting the elections for head of state in 2000.

      On August 5, in a move intended to appeal to the southern rebels, the government declared a two-month comprehensive cease- fire. The proposal was rejected by a spokesman for Garang's Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) on the ground that its own cease-fire in Bhar al-Ghazal province to help aid workers provide humanitarian relief had broken down the previous month.

Kenneth Ingham

▪ 1999

      Area: 2,503,890 sq km (966,757 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 33,551,000

      Capitals: Khartoum (executive and ministerial) and Omdurman (legislative)

      Head of state and government: President and Prime Minister Lieut. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

      In January 1998 the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), based in southern Sudan, launched a new campaign in its long-running civil war against the government. Both sides claimed victories, but little progress appeared to have been made by either combatant. The main outcome was that food shortages in the south became increasingly severe, and external aid agencies claimed that in order to avert famine in the region, they had to be permitted to fly in more food and other forms of relief.

      On May 3 the government responded by permitting additional flights to be made to the Bahr al-Ghazal province, the most seriously affected area, but the SPLA claimed that this was a token gesture to win sympathy immediately prior to new negotiations, which opened in Nairobi, Kenya, the following day. Although neither side appeared to be in a mood for compromise, the meeting did result in an agreement that there should be a referendum on self-determination for the south, though no date was fixed for it to take place and there was a dispute as to the area covered by "the south." The SPLA wanted to extend the definition to include an oil-bearing region that the government, in conjunction with Chinese contractors and other financial backers, was just beginning to develop and had no intention of relinquishing. The government, for its part, gave no indication that it was prepared to waive its insistence upon Islamic law, even in the predominantly non-Muslim south.

      An apparently more promising development took place on June 30 when Pres. Omar Hassan al-Bashir signed into law a new constitution. Significantly, it canceled the former ban on political parties, though strict control of criticism of the government remained in force until the day the law was promulgated. On July 15 the SPLA called a unilateral three-month humanitarian cease-fire in Bahr al-Ghazal, and in August the government called a cease-fire throughout the whole southern Sudan to permit relief organizations to send in supplies.

      All these hopeful signs were jeopardized when the U.S. destroyed a pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum with long-range missiles on August 20 in retaliation for the bombing of U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanz., by terrorists. The U.S. claimed to have convincing evidence that the factory had played a key role in the bombings.


▪ 1998

      Area: 2,503,890 sq km (966,757 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 32,594,000

      Capitals: Khartoum (executive and ministerial) and Omdurman (legislative)

      Head of state and government: President and Prime Minister Lieut. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir

      In December 1996 former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi fled to Eritrea, where he joined forces with the rebel Sudan National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Early in January rebels from the NDA and John Garang's Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) captured Kurmuk and Qeissan, two towns near the Ethiopian border. The Ethiopian authorities strongly denied Sudanese claims that Ethiopian troops had been involved in the attack. Sudanese Pres. Omar al-Bashir nevertheless appealed to the UN Security Council to stop Ethiopian violations of Sudanese territory and also declared a jihad (holy war) against the rebels.

      Relations with Uganda also remained strained. In January Ugandan Pres. Yoweri Museveni urged the Organization of African Unity to designate as a colonial war the continuing conflict in southern Sudan, where the SPLA was claiming new successes in his war against the government. Soon afterward the Sudanese minister of defense accused Uganda of having invaded his country at the instigation of the U.S.

      Significant changes in government policy were suggested in April by the terms of an agreement between the government and six small southern rebel groups that had split from the SPLA in 1991. Under the agreement the government accepted that there should be a referendum on southern self-determination, to be held in 2001, and that legislation imposing the Islamic religious law on the predominantly non-Muslim south would be suspended. This posed a problem for the rebel movement because the northern branch of the NDA insisted upon the unity of The Sudan whereas the SPLA wanted independence for the south. Behind this struggle for supremacy were the emergency humanitarian needs of an estimated 4.2 million displaced and war-affected people in the country.

      Persistent attempts to restore peace by Pres. Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Pres. Daniel arap Moi of Kenya seemed to be bearing fruit when Museveni and Bashir agreed to start "a new chapter of cooperation" after a meeting under Moi's chairmanship in Eldoret, Kenya, in May. This was followed by a meeting in Pretoria, S.Af., in August, with Mandela as host, at which progress was made toward easing the tension between The Sudan and Uganda. In September representatives of the government and the SPLA agreed to meet for talks in Nairobi, Kenya, on October 28. The rebel movement was given a boost in December, however, when the U.S. secretary of state met with Garang and NDA leaders in Uganda.


▪ 1997

      A republic of North Africa, The Sudan has a coastline on the Red Sea. Area: 2,503,890 sq km (966,757 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 31,065,000. Executive cap., Khartoum; legislative cap., Omdurman. Monetary unit: Sudanese dinar, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of Sd 146.50 to U.S. $1 (Sd 230.78 = £ 1 sterling). President of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation, president, and prime minister in 1996, Lieut. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir.

      The first presidential and legislative elections in The Sudan since the 1989 coup took place March 6-17, 1996. Opposition attempts to boycott the elections were ignored by the government, which maintained that 5.5 million votes had been cast, amounting to 70% of the electorate. Pres. Omar al-Bashir polled over four million votes, while his nearest opponent among some 40 candidates gained only 990,000. Hassan at-Turabi, leader of the National Islamic Front, was unanimously elected president of the 400-member National Assembly on April 1.

      Although President Bashir was able to conclude an agreement in February securing the country's borders with Chad and the Central African Republic, fears that his government was supporting militant Islamic groups intent upon subverting the governments of other neighbouring countries aroused both anxiety and hostility. Egypt continued to demand the extradition of three Egyptian dissidents believed to have taken refuge in The Sudan after a failed assassination attempt against Pres. Hosni Mubarak in 1995. The Sudanese government denied that they were in the country.

      Uganda during the year accused The Sudan of arming and training members of a Ugandan Christian fundamentalist group that had carried out damaging raids into northern Uganda. The Sudanese government responded by alleging that Uganda was assisting Sudanese rebels in the south of the country and that both Uganda and the rebels were armed and encouraged by Israel. On April 10 a peace treaty was signed with two of the rebel groups in the south, but John Garang's faction of the Sudan People's Liberation Army, the government's long-term opponent, remained determined to carry on the struggle.

      The deterioration of the country's relations with the outside world was matched by the decline in the economy. The government itself admitted that the foreign debt stood at £ 12.4 billion, three times gross domestic product. (KENNETH INGHAM)

▪ 1996

      A republic of North Africa, The Sudan has a coastline on the Red Sea. Area: 2,503,890 sq km (966,757 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 28,098,000. Executive cap., Khartoum; legislative cap., Omdurman. Monetary units: Sudanese dinar, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of Sd 75 to U.S. $1 (Sd 118.57 = £ 1 sterling), and the Sudanese pound (the former sole unit of currency circulating in parallel with the Sudanese dinar at a rate of 10 pounds = Sd 1). President of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation, president, and prime minister in 1995, Lieut. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir.

      At the beginning of January 1995, The Sudan opened its first stock exchange in an attempt to attract much-needed investment. With the country having a public debt in the region of $16 billion and few donors willing to continue their support, however, its economic and financial problems remained acute. Already formally suspended from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), The Sudan was on the verge of complete expulsion when it saved the day by resuming payment of arrears on its debts. The Sudan's minister of finance, Abdalla Hassan Ahmad, was concerned that the burden of finding $7 million a month to service the country's debt was unsustainable and sought emergency talks with the IMF in August. The IMF was unsympathetic, declaring that it would review the position in the light of future progress.

      In July, Canada's Arakis Energy Corp. introduced a ray of hope when it announced that it had arranged the financing of an oil project in the centre of the country. It was estimated that the project, from which the government would receive 50% of all profits, would make The Sudan a net exporter of oil within two years.

      The Sudan's reputation among Western nations was not enhanced by the arrest on May 16 of former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, overthrown in 1989 by the present military government. He was released toward the end of August. Meanwhile, in June relations with Egypt, never very good, were further strained when Egyptian Pres. Hosni Mubarak accused The Sudan of involvement in an attempt to assassinate him when he was arriving at an Organization of African Unity conference in Addis Ababa, Eth. Although some investigators claimed that the assassination squad was composed of Egyptian extremists, the charges of Sudanese complicity led to skirmishes along the disputed Egypt-Sudan border near the Red Sea. There was further bad news in July when the London-based human rights group African Rights charged the government with having undertaken a campaign of genocide against the Nuba people in southern Kordofan; in September riot police were called upon to quell unrest in Khartoum. (KENNETH INGHAM)

▪ 1995

      A republic of North Africa, The Sudan has a coastline on the Red Sea. Area: 2,503,890 sq km (966,757 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 25,699,000. Executive cap., Khartoum; legislative cap., Omdurman. Monetary units: Sudanese pound, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of Lsd 31.13 to U.S. $1 (Lsd 49.51 = £ 1 sterling), and (from May 1992) the Sudanese dinar (a new unit of currency circulating in parallel with the Sudanese pound at a rate of 1 dinar = Lsd 10). President of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation, head of state, and prime minister in 1994, Lieut. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir.

      The visit of George Carey, archbishop of Canterbury, to southern Sudan in December 1993 and January 1994 as guest of the Episcopal Church soured relations between the governments of The Sudan and the U.K., leading to the reciprocal expulsion of ambassadors. Carey had earlier canceled a visit to Khartoum, fearing that his movements there would be controlled by the Sudanese government. He did, however, meet Col. John Garang and Riak Machar, the leaders of the rival factions of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), in Nairobi, Kenya, and shortly afterward Garang and Machar announced a cease-fire between their two groups. No progress was made, however, in negotiations between the Sudanese government and the SPLA, although a government representative was present in Nairobi.

      On January 24 it was reported that the government was concentrating troops in the south, possibly with a view to cutting the relief routes from Kenya and Uganda. This conjecture was confirmed when, in early February and in spite of government denials, reliable sources stated that a large-scale operation had been launched against the rebels. Thousands of refugees from southern Sudan were soon on the move, many of them making their way into Uganda. On February 14 the UN issued an urgent appeal for humanitarian aid to meet the needs of an estimated 100,000 displaced persons.

      On March 17 and again in May representatives of the government and the SPLA again assembled in Nairobi for meetings sponsored by the presidents of Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia and the foreign minister of Eritrea. Nothing positive resulted from these initiatives, and the plight of the homeless and starving people in southern Sudan steadily worsened while the despair of finding a peaceful solution dampened the enthusiasm of aid donors. Their disillusionment was compounded when the government declared a cease-fire in July only to find the offer rejected by the SPLA.

      Two constitutional developments took place during the year. In February it was announced that the country would again be divided into 26 states instead of 9, with important new powers being given to some of the more remote districts. In April the president approved legislation to set up a presidentially appointed commission to supervise elections. (KENNETH INGHAM)

▪ 1994

      A republic of North Africa, The Sudan has a coastline on the Red Sea. Area: 2,503,890 sq km (966,757 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 25 million. Executive cap., Khartoum; legislative cap., Omdurman. Monetary units: Sudanese pound, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of Lsd 129.05 to U.S. $1 (Lsd 195.52 = £ 1 sterling), and (from May 1992) the Sudanese dinar (a new unit of currency circulating in parallel with the Sudanese pound at a rate of 1 dinar = Lsd 10). President of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation, president (from October 16), and prime minister during 1993, Lieut. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir.

      Having dismissed a UN General Assembly resolution in December 1992 expressing deep concern over human rights violations in The Sudan, the government was under criticism from many quarters, external as well as internal, throughout 1993. During his February visit to The Sudan, Pope John Paul II sternly rebuked the authorities for their harsh treatment of the Christian minority. On August 6 the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which earlier in the year had declared The Sudan to be an "uncooperative state," suspended membership in the organization because it had not paid its arrears of contributions and because it refused to take the IMF's advice on how to improve the country's economy. Twelve days later the U.S. listed The Sudan as a supporter of international terrorism, which barred it from receiving any nonhumanitarian aid from the U.S. The British ambassador was expelled on December 30 after the archbishop of Canterbury pointedly did not stop in Khartoum during his four-day visit to The Sudan. Relations with Egypt were also strained as the result of a border dispute in the oil-rich Hala`ib region near the Red Sea.

      Not all the sufferings of the Sudanese people were the result of government actions. Fierce fighting between rival factions within the southern rebel forces caused many to seek sanctuary in Uganda. The fighting brought aid operations to a virtual standstill. The government contributed to the disaster, however, by launching a large-scale attack on the rebels in Western Equatoria province in August. The UN relief organization trying to function in the area protested strongly. The military also prevented the International Red Cross from undertaking a vast emergency operation, even though the government had approved the plans. The government's efforts to secure supplies from Iran in April were unsuccessful. On October 16 the military junta disbanded and appointed its leader, Omar al-Bashir, president of the country. (KENNETH INGHAM)

* * *

Sudan, flag of The  country located in northeastern Africa. It is bounded on the north by Egypt; on the east by the Red Sea and Ethiopia; on the south by Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo; on the west by the Central African Republic and Chad; and on the northwest by Libya. The largest African country, The Sudan has an area that represents more than 8 percent of the African continent and almost 2 percent of the world's total land area. Khartoum, the national capital, is located in the northern half of the country at the junction of the Blue (Blue Nile River) and White Nile rivers (White Nile River). The name Sudan derives from the Arabic expression bilād as-Sūdān (“land of the blacks”), by which medieval Arab geographers referred to the settled African countries that began at the southern edge of the Sahara.

Mohy el Din Sabr Jay L. Spaulding
      Since ancient times the Sudan has been an arena for interaction between the cultural traditions of Africa and those of the Mediterranean world. In recent centuries Islām and the Arabic language have achieved ascendancy in many northern parts of the country, while older African languages and cultures predominate in the south. Large parts of the country continue to rely on an agricultural and pastoral subsistence economy, but commercial agriculture—together with more limited mining and industrial development—plays a central role in the northern districts and in the national economy as a whole.

      The country has had numerous changes in government since independence in 1956. Successive regimes found it difficult to win general acceptance from the country's diverse political constituencies, a situation symbolized by the lack of a formal constitution until 1973. An early conflict arose between those northern leaders who hoped to impose unity upon the nation through the vigorous extension of Islāmic law and culture to all parts of the country and those who opposed this policy; the latter included the majority of southerners and those northerners who favoured a secular government.

      From independence until 1972 there prevailed a costly and divisive civil war, fought largely in the south but punctuated by violent incidents in the capital. The Addis Ababa Agreement of 1972 ended the conflict only temporarily, and in 1983 the civil war resumed. By this time the comparative lack of economic development in the south had become a new source of regional grievance, and northern leaders' continuing attempts to Islāmize the Sudanese legal system proved an even more potent source of discord. The failure in the 1970s of an array of costly development projects in commercial agriculture left the national economy stagnant and debt-ridden. As a result, many Sudanese began to experience a significant decline in living standards in the late 1970s that has continued to the present.

Jay L. Spaulding

The land


      The Sudan (Sudan, The) is mainly composed of vast plains and plateaus that are drained by the middle and upper Nile River and its tributaries. This river system runs from south to north across the entire length of the east-central part of the country. The immense plain of which The Sudan is composed is bounded on the west by the Nile-Congo watershed and the highlands of Darfur and on the east by the Ethiopian Plateau and the Red Sea Hills (ʿAtbāy (Itbāy)). This plain can be divided into a northern area of rock desert that is part of the Sahara; (Sahara) the western Qawz, an area of undulating sand dunes that merges northward into the rock desert; and a central and southern clay plain, the centre of which is occupied by an enormous swampy region known as As-Sudd (Sudd, Al-) (the Sudd).

      Most of the northern Sudan is a sand- or gravel-covered desert, diversified by flat-topped mesas of Nubian sandstone and islandlike steep-sided granite hills. In the central Sudan the clay plain is marked by inselbergs (inselberg) (isolated hills rising abruptly from the plains), the largest group of which forms the Nuba Mountains (Jibāl An-Nūbah). The western plain is composed primarily of Nubian sandstones, which form a dissected plateau region with flat-topped mesas and buttes. The volcanic highlands of the Marra Mountains (Marrah Mountains) rise out of the Darfur Plateau farther west to altitudes of between approximately 3,000 and 10,000 feet (900 and 3,000 metres) above sea level. These mountains form the Nile-Congo watershed and the western boundary of the central plain.

      In the northeastern Sudan, the Red Sea Hills region is an uplifted escarpment. The scarp slope facing the Red Sea forms rugged hills that are deeply incised by streams. The escarpment overlooks a narrow coastal plain that is 10 to 25 miles (16 to 40 kilometres) wide and festooned with dunes and coral reefs. Farther south the eastern uplands constitute the foothills of the Ethiopian highland massif.

      In the southern Sudan there are two contrasting upland areas. The Ironstone Plateau lies between the Nile-Congo watershed and the southern clay plain; its level country is marked with inselbergs. On the Uganda border there are massive ranges with peaks rising to more than 10,000 feet. The Imatong Mountains contain Mount Kinyeti (10,456 feet), the highest in The Sudan.

Drainage and soils
      The Nile River system is the dominant physical feature, and all streams and rivers of The Sudan drain either into or toward the Nile. The White Nile (Baḥr Al-Abyaḍ) enters the country as the Mountain Nile ( Baḥr al-Jabal) from the south through rapids at Nimule on the Uganda border. After its confluence with the left- (west-) bank tributary known as the Baḥr Al-Ghazāl, the Mountain Nile becomes the White Nile. A little farther north along its course, the White Nile receives much of its water from the right-bank Sobat River, which flows from the Ethiopian Plateau to join the Nile near Malakāl. The White Nile then loses much of its water in the swampy As-Sudd region as it flows northward to Khartoum. The White Nile continues to maintain an extremely low gradient until it is joined by the Blue Nile (Baḥr Al-Azraq) at Khartoum. The Blue Nile, which, like the Sobat, rises in the Ethiopian Plateau, contributes much of the floodwaters of the White Nile. After the confluence of the White and Blue Niles at Khartoum, the river flows in a great, curving northward course and is known simply as the Nile (Nahr An-Nīl).

      Throughout much of the country drainage does not reach the Nile rivers; the rivers of the southwest infrequently reach the Baḥr Al-Ghazāl system, and to the north most hill groups initiate seasonal watercourses that are lost in the surrounding plains.

      The surface of the deserts in the north and northeast are either bare rock, a mantle of bare waste, or sandy expanses of mobile dunes known as ergs (erg). In the semiarid zone of the north-central Sudan, the layer of rock waste is slightly modified to form immature soils; in the Qawz region, soils are brownish red and of low fertility. Alluvial soils occur at the desert deltas of Al-Qāsh (the Gash) and Barakah rivers, along the White and Blue Niles, and in the alluvial plains of the many small rivers radiating from the Marra Mountains.

      The alkaline soils of the central and southern plains are heavy cracking clays. The soil of the Gezira (Al-Jazīrah (Jazīrah, Al-)) plain south of Khartoum is deep-cracking, uniform clay that has been deposited during the annual inundations of the Blue Nile, while the clays of As-Sudd were deposited in the area of impeded drainage.

      In the northernmost Sudan northerly winds prevail for most of the year, and rainfall is rare; to the south of this the seasons are characterized by the oscillation, north and south, of the boundary between moist southerly air and dry northerly air. The latter phenomenon, more specifically, involves the seasonal migration and pulsation of the northern tropical continental air mass and the southern maritime continental air mass, which are divided by the intertropical convergence zone. In winter the north winds of the tropical air mass blow across The Sudan toward the front, which may be as far south as the Tropic of Capricorn. These winds are relatively cool and dry and usually bring no rain. By April the front begins to move northward across the country, and moist southerly air of the maritime air mass is drawn in from the South Atlantic Ocean. Because of this, the central and southern Sudan have rainy seasons, the total lengths of which vary according to their latitude.

      The Sudan is a hot country, for temperatures are little mitigated by altitude. The central region has the highest mean annual temperatures; at Khartoum temperatures of more than 100° F (38° C) can be recorded during any month of the year. The highest temperatures normally occur just before the rainy season.

      Rainfall varies from almost nothing in the north to more than 47 inches (1,200 millimetres) annually in the extreme south. Along the Red Sea the climate is alleviated by sea breezes, and most of the rain falls during winter. In the central and southern Sudan, precipitation usually occurs during the summer months. Dust storms are common in the north, while the rainy season lasts for eight to nine months a year in the south.

Plant and animal life
      The Sudan has five main vegetational belts in succession from north to south, more or less in coincidence with rainfall patterns. The desert region in the north forms about one-fourth of the total area. It is followed southeastward by semidesert, low-rainfall and high-rainfall savanna (grassland) with inland floodplains, and mountain vegetation regions.

      The desert region, with less than 3 inches of rainfall, supports permanent vegetation only near watercourses. The semidesert, with 3–11 inches of rainfall, supports a mixture of grasses and acacia scrub. Farther south, low-rainfall savannas appear that consist of grasses, thorny trees, and baobab trees. Acacia trees dominate these savannas, with one species, A. senegal, yielding the gum arabic which was long one of The Sudan's principal exports. With an annual precipitation of more than 30 inches, the high-rainfall savannas of the south-central Sudan are more lush, with rich grasses along the Nile that support a large number of cattle. The intermittent woodlands dotting this belt gradually merge southward with the true rain forest that is now found in only remnants of the southernmost portions of the country.

      Large areas of The Sudan's natural vegetation have disappeared because of the effects of centuries of cultivation and because of grass fires that annually may sweep across more than half the country. Further dangers to plant life are the effects of overstocking, soil erosion, the lowering of the water table, and the advance of the desert into the central region.

      The country's wildlife includes the lion, leopard, and cheetah, as well as the elephant, giraffe, zebra, wild ass, rhinoceros, buffalo, hippopotamus, ibex, wild sheep, and numerous varieties of antelope. The chimpanzee, baboon, and colobus monkey are found in the forests. Resident birds include bustards, guinea fowl, several kinds of partridge, geese, cranes, Egyptian vultures, storks, pelicans, plover, weaverbirds, shrikes, and starlings. Reptiles include crocodiles and various lizards. Insect life is abundant; mosquitoes infest the riverbanks and swamps, and seroot flies (large bloodsucking houseflies) are a scourge during the wet months. The tsetse fly is found south of latitude 12° N whenever suitable conditions occur.

Settlement patterns
      Rural settlements in The Sudan are usually clustered along watercourses because of problems of water supply, especially during the dry months. In the north, villages are often strung out along the rivers. The types of houses built vary from north to south. In the north houses are made of sun-dried bricks and have flat-topped roofs, while in the central and southern portions of the country the people build round huts with thatched conical roofs made out of grass, millet stalks, and wooden poles. In the central Sudan walls constructed of millet stalks often surround building compounds.

      Though towns are few and widely scattered, about one-fifth of The Sudan's population can be considered urban. The southern Sudan was the least urbanized region in 1956 but has since experienced a high rate of urban growth. Urbanization has also been relatively rapid in the states of Kurdufān and Dārfūr, respectively in the west-central and western Sudan, where trade is more highly developed. The high urban proportion of the population of Aʿālī An-Nīl (Upper Nile) state is attributable to Aṭbarahʿ, the administrative centre that contains the main workshops of Sudan Railways. The high proportion of urban population in Ash-Sharqīyah (Eastern) state is due to Port Sudan, The Sudan's major outlet to the sea, and the numerous towns in the cotton-growing deltas of the Al-Qāsh and Barakah rivers. With few exceptions, all major towns in The Sudan lie along one of the Niles.

Mohy el Din Sabr Jay L. Spaulding Ahmad Alawad Sikainga
      Khartoum, the smallest of the states, contains the Three Towns of Khartoum: Khartoum, Omdurman, and Khartoum North. By the early 1980s the population of the Khartoum metropolitan area had grown to about one-twelfth of the country's population. The easily defended site of Khartoum was adopted by the Egyptian-Ottoman government as the colonial capital of the Sudan in the 1830s. Today it is firmly established as the centre of both government and commerce in the country. Omdurman, formerly the capital of the Mahdist state in the Sudan, retains a more traditional atmosphere, while Khartoum North is a new, industrially oriented town.

The people (Sudan, The)

Ethnic structure

      One of the most striking characteristics of The Sudan is the diversity of its people. The Sudanese are divided among 19 major ethnic groups and about 597 subgroups and speak more than 100 languages and dialects.

Muslim peoples
      A major cleavage exists between the northern and the southern parts of the country. The north is dominated by Muslims, most of whom speak Arabic (Arab) and identify themselves as “Arabs,” while the people of the south are “Africans” (i.e., blacks) who for the most part follow traditional African religions, though there are also some Christians among them. Those who identify themselves as Arabs were estimated at 39 percent of the total population in 1956. The largest non-Arab ethnic group is that of the Dinka, who constituted 12 percent of the population, followed by the Beja at 7 percent. (These figures are estimates, since the only census that recorded ethnicity was taken in 1956.) Moreover, ethnic identity may not actually coincide with a particular racial character. Those Sudanese who consider themselves Arabs are, for the most part, ethnically mixed, and many of them are physically indistinguishable from dark-skinned southerners. Despite a common language and religion, the “Arabs” do not constitute a cohesive group: they are highly differentiated in their mode of livelihood and comprise city dwellers, village farmers, and pastoral nomads. The Arabs have historically been divided into tribes based on presumed descent from a common ancestor. The tribal system has largely disintegrated in urban areas and settled villages, however, and retains its strength only among the nomads of the plains who raise cattle, sheep, and camels. Each Arab tribe or cluster of tribes is in turn assigned to a larger tribal grouping, of which the two largest are the Jalayin and the Juhaynah. The Jalayin encompasses the sedentary agriculturalists along the middle Nile from Dunqulah south to Khartoum and includes such tribes as the Jalayin tribe proper, the Shāyqīyah, and the Rubtab. The Juhaynah, by contrast, traditionally consisted of nomadic tribes, although some of them have now become settled. Among the major tribes in the Juhaynah grouping are the Shukriyah, the Kababish (Kabābīsh), and the Baqqārah. All three of these tribes are camel- or cattle-herders of the semiarid plains of the western and northeastern Sudan.

      Besides Arabs, there are several Muslim but non-Arab groups in the north. The most notable of these are the Nubians, who live along the Nile in the far north and in southern Egypt. Most Nubians speak Arabic as a second language. The same applies to the Beja, who inhabit the Red Sea Hills. Although they adopted Islam, these pastoral nomads have retained their Bedawi language, which belongs to the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Another non-Arabized Muslim people is the Fur; these sedentary agriculturalists live in or near the Marra Mountains in the far west. North of the Fur are the Zaghawa, who are scattered in the border region between The Sudan and Chad.

Non-Muslim peoples
      The vast majority of non-Muslim peoples in The Sudan live south of latitude 12° N, in the three southern states of Baḥr Al-Ghazāl, Aʿālī An-Nīl (Upper Nile), and Al-Istiwāʾīyah (Equatoria). The most important linguistic grouping in the south is that of the Nilotes (Nilot), who speak various languages of the Eastern Sudanic (Sudanic languages) subbranch of the Nilo-Saharan language family. Chief among the Nilotic peoples are the Dinka, Nuer, and Shilluk, who together make up almost one-fifth of The Sudan's total population. The Dinka are mostly cattle-herders on the plains east of the White Nile, while the Shilluk are more settled farmers on the west bank of that river. The Nuer live farther south, east of the Mountain Nile. The Bari, another Nilotic people, live even farther south, on the Mountain Nile's upper course not far from the border with Uganda. In the southwestern part of The Sudan live a number of smaller ethnic groups who speak various languages belonging to the Adamawa-Ubangi branch of the Niger-Congo family of languages. Among these peoples are the Zande, who are scattered between The Sudan and Congo (Kinshasa). One of the most important non-Muslim peoples in The Sudan is the Nuba, who live in the Nuba Mountains north of the Nilotes. The Nuba are hill cultivators who have tended to be isolated from adjacent peoples in the Nile valley. They speak various Eastern Sudanic languages, among them Midobi and Birked, that are collectively known as Hill Nubian.

      Over the years, The Sudan had attracted a great variety of immigrants, but the most important recent group are West Africans (Hausa, Fulani, and Borno), who are known collectively as the Fellata. Many of the Fellata are employed as seasonal labourers on the country's cotton farms. According to the 1955–56 census, the West Africans constituted 5 percent of the population; in the mid-1970s they were estimated at about 10 percent.

      There are more than 100 languages spoken as mother tongues in The Sudan. Arabic (Arabic language) is the primary language of one-half of the population, with Dinka that of about one-tenth. Arabic is the official national language and is the most common medium for the conduct of government, commerce, and urban life throughout the country. English has been acknowledged as the principal language in the south since 1972. The languages spoken in The Sudan belong to three families of African languages: Afro-Asiatic (Afro-Asiatic languages), Nilo-Saharan (Nilo-Saharan languages), and Niger-Congo (Niger-Congo languages). The most important Afro-Asiatic languages are Arabic and the Bedawi language of the Beja. The Nilo-Saharan languages, including Dinka, Nuba, Nuer, and Shilluk, account for the next largest number of speakers. The Niger-Congo family is represented by the Banda, Sere, Zande, and many other smaller ethnic groups. To surmount these language barriers, the vast majority of Sudanese have become multilingual, with Arabic and, to a lesser extent, English as second languages.

      It is estimated that more than one-half of the population of The Sudan is Muslim (Islāmic world). Ninety percent of these people live in the northern two-thirds of the country.

      The Muslims of The Sudan belong overwhelmingly to the Sunnite (Sunnī) sect. Sunnite Islam in The Sudan, as in much of the rest of Africa, has been characterized by the formation of tariqas, or Muslim religious brotherhoods. The oldest of these tariqas is the Qādirīyah, which was introduced to the Sudan from the Middle East in the 16th century. Another major tariqa is the Khatmīyah, or Mīrghanīyah, which was founded by Muḥammad ʿUthmān al-Mīrghanī in the early 19th century. Perhaps the most powerful and best organized tariqa is the Mahdīyah (Mahdist); its followers led a successful revolt against the Turco-Egyptian regime (1821–85) and established an independent state in the Sudan that lasted from 1884 to 1898. The Mahdīyah and Khatmīyah tariqas formed the basis for the political parties that emerged in the Sudan in the 1940s and have continued to play a dominant role in the nation's politics in the postindependence period.

      At least one-third of The Sudan's population follow traditional animist (animism) religions, particularly in the south and in the Nuba Mountains. Although these animists share some common elements of religious belief, each ethnic group has its own indigenous religion. Virtually all The Sudan's traditional African religions share the conception of a high spirit or divinity, usually a creator god. There exist two conceptions of the universe: the earthly and the heavenly, or the visible and the invisible. The heavenly world is seen as being populated by spiritual beings whose function is to serve as intermediaries or messengers of God; in the case of the Nilotes, these spirits are identified with their ancestors. The supreme deity is the object of rituals using music and dance.

      Christians account for between 4 and 10 percent of the population. Christianity first came to the Sudan about the 6th century AD, and for centuries thereafter Christian churches flourished in the ancient kingdom of Nubia. But, after the establishment of Muslim rule in Egypt and later Arab migrations into the Sudan, Christianity declined in Nubia and was gradually replaced by Islam; the process was complete by the end of the 15th century. Christianity in the present-day Sudan is a product of European missionary efforts that began in the second half of the 19th century. Most of these efforts were concentrated in the south and in the Nuba Mountains, rather than among the Muslims of the north.

Demographic trends
      In 1955–56, when the first census was taken, The Sudan's population was 10.3 million. The 1973 census gave a total population of almost 15 million, which rose to 20 million in the census of 1983. Despite the ravages of civil war and natural disasters, the country's population growth rate has averaged about 3 percent a year, bringing the total to an estimated 34.5 million in 1999. This figure leaves The Sudan with a rather low population density as a whole, but, owing to the lack of adequate water supplies in many parts of the country, half of the population lives on just over 15 percent of the land. The greatest population densities are found along the Nile rivers and their tributaries, where water is available for irrigated farming. By contrast, one-quarter of The Sudan is virtually uninhabited, including the deserts of the north and northwest.

      There has been considerable rural-to-urban migration in The Sudan in the decades since independence; the urban population increased from 8.3 to 18 percent of the total between 1956 and 1972, and the fraction of the population that is urban is probably more than one-third today. It is estimated that almost five million people, more than 15 percent of the population, may now live in the capital city—i.e., the Three Towns of Khartoum, Omdurman, and Khartoum North. Recurrent famine and a continuing civil war have brought more than three million southern and western Sudanese to the capital since 1983; many of these people live in shantytowns on the outskirts of the Three Towns.

      Owing to the prevalence of pastoral livelihoods, the Sudanese population is highly mobile, and about 10 percent of the population still follows a totally nomadic life-style. In addition, before the civil war, almost one million herdsmen practiced transhumance, following the northward movement of the summer rains in search of new pastures for their livestock. There are also about 500,000 seasonal labourers who move among the country's major irrigated agricultural projects.

Ahmad Alawad Sikainga

The economy
      The Sudan is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, with most of its inhabitants dependent on farming and animal husbandry for their livelihoods. Though its role in the economy has declined in the decades since independence, agriculture still accounts for one-third of The Sudan's gross domestic product (GDP) and more than nine-tenths of its exports, while providing the livelihood of two-thirds of the population. The economy has steadily declined since the late 1970s, when the failure of an ambitious development program left the country with both stagnating agricultural production and a large foreign debt.

      The Sudan's main crops are cotton, peanuts (groundnuts), sesame, gum arabic, durra (a type of sorghum), sugarcane, coffee, and dates. The main subsistence crops are durra and millet, with smaller amounts of wheat, corn, and barley. There are four distinct subsectors in Sudanese agriculture: modern irrigated farming, most of which is carried out with mechanized equipment on a large scale with the help of government investment; mechanized rain-fed crop production; traditional rain-fed farming; and livestock raising.

Mechanized agriculture
      Irrigated areas along the White and Blue Niles produce the bulk of the country's commercial crops. These areas are centred on the Gezira Scheme (Al-Jazīrah)—with its Mangil extension—between the Blue and White Niles south of Khartoum. Other major farming areas are watered by the Khashm Al-Qirbah Dam on the ʿAṭbarah River and by the Ar-Ruṣayriṣ Dam, which provides irrigation water for the Rahad Scheme.

      The Sudan's irrigated agriculture is thus dependent on abundant supplies of water from the two main branches of the Nile. The future growth of Sudanese agriculture, however, continues to depend on mechanized rain-fed farming in a broad belt running from Ash-Sharqīyah state in the east to southern Kurdufān state in the west. One of the major disadvantages of this type of agriculture, however, is that rich farmers practice a sophisticated version of traditional shifting cultivation—they farm an area intensively with government-financed equipment for a few years but then move on to more attractive virgin land when yields decline. This practice has led to soil erosion and even to desertification in some areas.

      Because of the relative anarchy of the mechanized rain-fed sector in agriculture, planners in The Sudan have tended to concentrate their efforts on irrigation schemes, under which cotton is the dominant crop. The bulk of the cotton crop is grown on the Gezira Scheme, situated on a fertile, wedge-shaped clay plain lying between the White and Blue Niles south of Khartoum. The scheme, which was begun by the British in 1925 to provide cotton for the textile mills of Lancashire, Eng., is one of the largest irrigation projects for agriculture in the world. It covers an area of 2.5 million acres (1 million hectares) and provides water for more than 100,000 tenant farmers. The tenants farm the land in cooperation with the government and The Sudan Gezira Board, which oversees administration, credit, and marketing. Although The Sudan's total output accounts for only a tiny percentage of world production, its importance in the cotton market results from supplying a large part of the extra-long-staple cotton grown in the world. In the mid-1970s there was a short-lived experiment to turn the Gezira's production away from cotton into wheat, peanuts, and other cash crops that could be used to satisfy The Sudan's domestic demand for food. This led to a dramatic fall in cotton production and export revenues, however, and in 1978 it was decided to halt this venture and return to concentration on cotton production.

      The Sudan has great agricultural potential, with an estimated 210 million acres of arable land, of which less than 15 percent is under cultivation. The remainder is unused owing to inadequate water sources and transport difficulties. The Sudanese government tried to tap this potential in the 1970s, when vast projects financed by oil-rich Arab countries were undertaken in an effort to transform The Sudan into a major food producer for the Middle East. The resulting capital-intensive projects, including the building of new sugar refineries and a trunk road system, foundered owing to poor planning and government inefficiency and corruption. By the early 1980s The Sudan found itself saddled with a large foreign debt, declining agricultural production, and little capital left to invest in the country's traditional irrigated infrastructure and its network of railways, which transported its cotton and other exports. The government has since continued to try to diversify its export-based agriculture with some success, however, encouraging the production of gum arabic and sesame in an effort to reduce reliance on cotton alone.

      Mechanized rain-fed farming was begun in the fertile clay plains of the eastern Sudan in the mid-1940s and has since greatly expanded. Despite the problems of irresponsible use and soil depletion mentioned previously, the broad belt of mechanized farms stretching from the ʿAṭbarah River in Ash-Sharqīyah state west to the Blue Nile is now the granary of the country, with sorghum, sesame, and cereal grains its main crops.

Subsistence farming and livestock raising
      There is little development of commercial agriculture in the southern Sudan, where subsistence farming still predominates. Indeed, about two-thirds of the country's population is still engaged in subsistence farming. Besides the south, many such farmers live in the low-rainfall savannas of the central and western Sudan, growing crops of sorghum and millet.

      One of The Sudan's most underestimated resources is its livestock, the commercial exploitation of which only truly began in the 1970s. The Nilotic peoples keep millions of head of cattle, while the Baqqārah and other Arabs raise similar numbers of sheep, goats, cattle, and camels. Inadequate transport facilities hinder the export of much of this livestock for sale abroad, however, and the Nilotes tend to accumulate cattle rather than sell them, viewing their herds as sources of social prestige and status rather than as disposable economic assets.

Other cash crops
      Projects for the cultivation of such tropical crops as coffee, tea, and tobacco have begun in the south. Fruits grown include dates, mangoes, guavas, oranges, and bananas, while onions are the most widespread vegetable.

      The Sudan is the world's largest producer of gum arabic, a water-soluble gum obtained from acacia trees and used in the production of adhesives, candy, and pharmaceuticals. The southern forests yield hardwood timber such as mahogany and sant (a type of acacia) and softwoods. The northern woodlands have been deforested by the extraction of wood for fuel and charcoal.

      The Nile rivers are the main source of fish, especially Nile perch. Most of the catch is consumed locally, although attempts have been made to export fish to Europe and the Middle East. Significant quantities of fish and shellfish are produced from the Red Sea.

      The Sudan's manufacturing sector remains relatively small; manufacturing and mining combined contribute less than one-tenth of the GDP and employ only 4 percent of the country's labour force. The Sudan faces severe shortages of trained manpower and raw materials, as well as of the foreign exchange that is vitally needed to import intermediate goods for its industrial sector to process. The country's industrial base is dominated by the processing of food, beverage, and tobacco products. Sugar refining is a major activity, as are the production of vegetable oil and of soap. The ginning of cotton and the production of cotton textiles also remain a major sector, though textile production has plummeted since the country's debt crisis began in the late 1970s. Other industries include the production of shoes, chemical fertilizers, and cement. Falling production elsewhere, particularly in the food-processing and textile industries, have encouraged a breaking off of state-owned factories to private interests. Such measures have had little positive effect, however, and many factories in the country operate at a mere fraction of their capacity. There are other serious problems, one of which has been a loss of trained manpower through emigration to the oil-rich countries of Arabia and the Persian Gulf. Remittances by Sudanese émigrés form an important source of income for some parts of the country, but the loss of skills has produced chronic personnel crises in a number of programs and projects.

      One area of continuing optimism for the economy as a whole is that of oil (petroleum). Oil was first discovered in the southwestern Sudan in 1977, and a commercially viable find was made in 1980. The Sudan's recoverable oil reserves totaled 500 million barrels in the early 1990s, though the actual total may be substantially higher. The continuing civil war in the south has prevented any exploitation of the oil deposits, however.

      About one-half of The Sudan's electricity is produced by hydroelectric plants and one-half by thermal power plants. The Sennar Dam (Sannār Dam) on the Blue Nile supplies electricity to the Gezira and to Khartoum, and hydroelectric dams have also been built at Khashm Al-Qirbah on the ʿAṭbarah River and Ar-Ruṣayriṣ on the Blue Nile.

Finance and trade
      All banks operating in The Sudan were nationalized in 1970, but foreign banks were again allowed to operate after 1975. The Bank of Sudan issues all currency and acts as banker to the government. The banking system is geared primarily to the finance of foreign trade and especially the cotton trade. Most banks are concentrated in Khartoum and the surrounding area. Under the current government, banks using Islāmic banking principles have rapidly achieved a dominant position within the finance sector and a large degree of control over the country's trade. In 1990 the Bank of Sudan announced its intention to Islāmize the country's entire banking system.

      The foundering of the large-scale development projects undertaken in the 1970s left The Sudan unable to pay off its loans to its Arab and other foreign creditors. The national debt more than quadrupled in the 1980s to reach about $13 billion by 1990. Merely servicing this debt takes most of the foreign exchange earned by exports, thus depriving The Sudan of much-needed capital with which to maintain its infrastructure and industries.

      The Sudan suffers from an unfavourable balance of trade. Its chief exports are cotton, gum arabic, millet, sorghum, and sesame, while its chief imports consist of oil and petroleum products, motor vehicles and machinery, and wheat. Saudi Arabia has become the leading market for Sudanese exports, consuming livestock, cereal grains, and other foodstuffs. Japan, Thailand, and Italy are among the major purchasers of Sudanese cotton. The Sudan in turn receives the bulk of its petroleum from Saudi Arabia, while importing much of its machinery from members of the European Community as well as from the United States.

Administration of the economy
      Government control of the economy has been gradually relaxed since the mid-1970s. This has resulted in the liberalization of exchange controls, encouragement of private and foreign investment, payment of market prices to farmers, and a number of other measures designed to cause the economy to be regulated more by the market rather than by the government.

      Since 1978 The Sudan has been operating under an austerity program designed to improve the balance of payments and cut back development spending. Negotiations have periodically been undertaken to reschedule debts to external creditors, but by the early 1990s The Sudan was unable to meet even the interest payments on its burdensome foreign debt.

      Little government revenue is raised by direct taxation, while indirect taxes, such as those on imports and excise and consumption duties, provide more than half the revenue. Other revenue has traditionally been derived from government monopoly profits on sugar, tea, coffee, and salt and proprietary receipts from agricultural and other schemes.

      The smallness of the industrial sector and the predominance of rural life have tended to constrain the development of workers' and employers' associations. In 1989 all trade unions (organized labour) were dissolved by the new government headed by the Revolutionary Command Council.

E.I.U. Ahmad Alawad Sikainga

      The transport system is underdeveloped and is a serious constraint on economic growth. The country's vast area and the availability of only one major outlet to the sea place a heavy burden on the limited facilities, especially on the government-owned Sudan Railways and on the country's growing road network. The railways had traditionally hauled most of The Sudan's freight, but heavy investments in roads (and accompanying neglect of the rail infrastructure) in the 1970s and '80s encouraged a growing reliance on trucks and other motor vehicles to haul the nation's raw materials. The road system now handles more than 60 percent of the nation's freight traffic.

      There were fewer than 240 miles of paved roads in The Sudan in 1969, but by the mid-1980s this total had increased to more than 1,240 miles. By far the most important road is the all-weather highway running for 744 miles from Port Sudan to Khartoum, which was completed in 1980.

      The main railway line runs north from Al-Ubayyiḍ (El-Obeid) via Khartoum to Lake Nasser and the submerged terminal of Wadi Ḥalfāʾ, with branch lines from Sannār and ʿAṭbarah to Port Sudan and from Sannār to Ar-Ruṣayriṣ. There is also a westward extension from Al-Ubayyiḍ to Nyala, with a branch line south to Wāw.

      For centuries the Nile was the riverine highway of the Sudan, and the White Nile is still an important link with the southern region. The White Nile and the Baḥr Al-Ghazāl are navigable throughout the year, but the Blue Nile is not navigable, and the Nile below Khartoum is navigable only in short stretches. The government operates steamer services on the White and the main Nile. Port Sudan, 850 miles south of Suez, Egypt, is the country's main port on the Red Sea.

      The government-owned Sudan Airways operates domestic and international services from the main airport at Khartoum. There are several subsidiary airports, the most important of which are those at Al-Ubayyiḍ and Port Sudan.

Mohy el Din Sabr Ahmad Alawad Sikainga

Administration and social conditions

      Since independence in 1956, The Sudan has witnessed several constitutions and regime changes, including military coups in 1985 and 1989. On seizing power in 1989, the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) for National Salvation abolished the transitional constitution of 1985, the National Assembly, and all political parties and trade unions and ruled by decree.

      The RCC disbanded in 1993, after appointing ʿUmar Ḥasan Aḥmad al-Bashīr (Bashir, Omar Hassan Ahmad al-) to the position of president in the new “civilian” administration; he later retained that position by winning elections in 1996 and 2000. A new constitution, promulgated in 1998, called for Islamic law ( Sharīʿah) to be the basis for the country's laws and regulations. Under the constitution, the president is popularly elected to serve a five-year term and appoints the members of the Council of Ministers. Legislative power is unicameral, vested in the National Assembly. Members serve four-year terms; the majority are directly elected, and the remaining members are elected by specific interest groups. For administrative purposes, The Sudan is divided into 26 states, each administered by a governor.

      Civil justice is administered through the Supreme Court, appeals courts, and courts of first instance. There is also a Constitutional Court. Muslims remain subject to Islamic law, as do constituents in northern states of the country regardless of their religious belief. Southern states—with a primarily animist-Christian population—are exempt from much, but not all, of Islamic law.

      Multiparty politics, banned after the 1989 coup, were reintroduced in 1999. The National Congress party (formerly the Islamic National Front; NIF), long the only legal party, continued to dominate the political scene in the years immediately following. Other political associations active in The Sudan include the Ummah Party (UP), the Alliance of the People's Working Forces (APWF), the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), an association of several opposition movements.

      The Sudan's armed forces have been greatly expanded since 1969, mainly to cope with the continuing rebellion in the south. By the early 1980s the forces consisted of an army, a navy, and an air force. In 1990–91 the government began to establish a militia and also instituted a military draft to furnish recruits to conduct the war.

      A modern educational system was established in The Sudan in the 1970s when the government reorganized a haphazard system of schools inherited from the British colonial government. In the Muslim areas of the north, boys were long instructed in religious subjects according to traditional methods. Primary education was begun by the British in the northern Sudan after 1898, and secondary education began in 1913. The University of Khartoum was formally established in 1956 from the University College of Khartoum, which itself dated from the merger in 1951 of two smaller colleges founded by the British.

      Christian missionaries assumed responsibility for formal education in the south prior to independence. Southern education suffered during the subsequent civil war; the national authorities curtailed missionary activities, attempted to Arabize the southern schools, and, failing that, closed them in 1962. The southern partisans operated schools in the areas they controlled, but their resources were extremely limited.

      After being extensively reorganized in 1969 and in the 1970s, the Sudanese educational system was reorganized yet again in 1992. Under the new system, eight years of primary education (later made compulsory in 1998) begin at age six. Three years of secondary education—either academic or vocational in nature—then follow. The primary language of instruction in the nation's primary schools is Arabic.

      In addition to the University of Khartoum, higher education is provided by several universities, including Omdurman Islamic University, which trains Muslim clerics and scholars, and Ahfad University for Women, also in Omdurman. National universities that emphasize scientific and technical training were opened in the 1970s at Wad Madanī and at Juba. Between 1990 and 1995, the number of universities in The Sudan more than doubled—the result of government efforts to expand opportunities for higher education. English was formerly the medium of instruction in the nation's universities and secondary schools but has now been largely replaced by Arabic. The south, ravaged by decades of civil war, remains the most educationally deprived region of the country. Literacy rates in The Sudan, although showing improvement since independence, are still relatively low when compared with the rest of the world: about three-fifths of adults are able to read.

      Varying ecological conditions in The Sudan, poor hygiene, and widespread malnutrition result in a high incidence of fatal infectious diseases. The most common illnesses are malaria, measles, and tuberculosis. Cerebrospinal meningitis, whooping cough, and infectious hepatitis are not uncommon. Schistosomiasis (bilharzia), leishmaniasis, dracunculiasis (Guinea worm disease), and African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) are endemic in the southern part of the country.

      Many Sudanese in rural areas suffer from temporary undernourishment on a seasonal basis. Malnutrition is prevalent year-round in Darfur and in the south, especially among children, because of the disruptive effects of the civil war. Life expectancy for both men and women in The Sudan is below the average for North Africa, and the infant mortality rate is significantly higher.

      Beginning in the mid-1970s, the Ministry of Health initiated a national program intended to provide primary health care throughout the country, with an emphasis on preventive medicine. A lack of funds severely affected the plan's implementation, as it would the government's establishment in the early 1990s of three tiers of health care at the federal, state, and local levels.

      At the beginning of the 21st century, roughly half of all Sudanese had access to health services, but accessibility greatly depended upon geographic location. Most of the country's small number of physicians are concentrated in the urban areas of the north, as are the major hospitals. Medical assistants, who can diagnose common endemic diseases and provide simple treatment and vaccination, are in short supply and tend to work in the north, as do most trained nurses and midwives. International relief agencies have made efforts to expand health care access in the non-government-controlled areas in the south.

Ahmad Alawad Sikainga Ed.

Traditional cultures
      Because of The Sudan's great cultural diversity, it is difficult to classify the traditional cultures of the various peoples. These traditional societies have diverse linguistic, ethnic, social, cultural, and religious characteristics. And, although improved communications, increased social and economic mobility, and the spread of a money economy have led to a general loosening of the social ties, customs, relationships, and modes of organization in traditional cultures, much from the past still remains intact. The selection of four cultures that follows merely suggests some rather prominent cultural patterns that are illustrative of the wide range present. These four cultures are those of the Azande (Zande), African animists of the southwestern Sudan; the Fur, Muslim Africans in the far western part of the country; the Humr tribe of the Baqqārah Arabs, of the west-central Sudan; and the Otoro tribe of the Nuba, in the east-central Sudan.

Political and territorial organization
      Broadly speaking, the traditional societies of The Sudan exhibited two types of political organization: the hierarchical systems of the Azande and Fur and the segmentary systems of the Humr Baqqārah and Otoro. Zandeland, for example, was divided into a number of autonomous chiefdoms (chief). The structure of authority within each chiefdom was pyramidal, with chiefs (previously kings) at the apex of the hierarchy, followed by subchiefs, deputies, and finally homestead heads. The homestead was the basic political, social, and economic unit. Absolute authority lay with the aristocratic Avongara clan, and commoners could reach only the positions of deputy or homestead head. Local groupings, in which descent was reckoned in the male line, were not associated with clans or sections of clans; they were political and administrative units. Clans had little corporate life, and genealogical links between clansmen were seldom known.

      A centralized political and administrative structure also existed among the Fur. There was a sultan at the head of the state, which was divided into four regions in turn divided into districts, subdistricts, and villages. Each village had a council of elders who decided minor cultivation disputes and enforced their decisions by advice and warning. The rights of the village were vested in its inhabitants jointly. Ultimate authority lay with the sultan, who could depose officials beneath him when their power became a threat to his dominance.

      In contrast, the Humr Baqqārah had a political system based on a segmentary lineage organization. The tribe was divided into two sections, each of which was divided into a further five sections, each comprising major lineages, camps, and extended families. All these groups had potential leaders. The significant residential and herding unit was the camp, the composition of which changed with the seasons. Within each tribe and at every level, there was a process of splitting, migration, and resettling that resulted in a continuous change of alliance among groups and individuals. Blood feuds occurred between segments and were settled by payment of blood money. Power among the Humr Baqqārah stemmed from wealth and strength of personality.

      The Otoro political system consisted of a number of territorial segments that did not coincide with kinship groupings. Clan members were scattered in different localities; the basic political unit was the hill community, whose members shared a tract of land and a common code of morality. Feuding between hill communities was constant, but members of the same hill community could not kill one another. The Otoro recognized tribal boundaries defined by periodically renewed intertribal treaties. Because of the continual raids and wars between segments, a chieftainship, with the power to use force to maintain peace, was established.

Family and kinship patterns
      In all the societies descent was reckoned in the male line, but the significance of such agnatic ties among kin groups differed from one society to another. Among the Azande there were exogamous clans that functioned primarily as political and administrative units. Clan members were expected to join together to celebrate births, marriages (marriage), and funerals. The Azande recognized obligations to the kin of both parents, but greater importance attached to the paternal connection. Until an Azande male married, he had not achieved a man's full status. Marriage was a series of events, each of which was marked by the transfer of goods from one group of kin to the other. Wives of a dead man were inherited by his sons or brothers. polygyny was also practiced and was regarded as a means of extending affinal (in-law) relationships and acquiring support. Although divorce is now common, a broken marriage was considered a shameful thing because it destroyed the network of relationships.

      The Fur also reckoned descent patrilineally, but residence was customarily with or near the wife's parents. However, if a husband disagreed with his in-laws, he could take his wife to live with his own group. Cousin marriage, sororate (customary marriage with a deceased wife's sister), levirate (customary marriage to an elder brother's widow), and polygyny were practiced.

      Among the Humr Baqqārah, members of the smallest lineage (surra), together with their dependents, formed a single camp. The organization of a surra depended on the number of cattle and the distribution of their ownership among its members. Each surra had a leader who was wealthy but who had no administrative functions unless he was already a member of the local government. Whereas members of a camp formed the basic unit of cooperation over herding, the household was the main unit of cooperation in agriculture, although some activities connected with agriculture involved a wider group. Preferred marriage within the surra was with a parallel cousin. Many first marriages, contracted to conform to the expectation of elders, ended in divorce, but in subsequent marriages partners could be freely chosen.

      Among the Otoro there were patrilineal clans of various size. With the exception of the Chungur clan, which was the traditional holder of the hereditary chieftainship, all clans were socially of equal order. Clan members intermarried with each other, although clan exogamy was formerly the rule. In the economic and religious spheres the clan did not exercise influence, but it did impose upon its members the collective duty of blood feud in the case of homicide between clans. Patrilineal descent was important in determining the social identity of a person, inheritance, and rights and duties concerning marriage and bridewealth (gifts from the groom and his kinsmen to the father of the bride and his kinsmen). Although the Otoro were patrilineal, matrilineal ties were also important. Polygyny and leviratic marriages were practiced, and bridewealth payments established wider contact between social groups. Divorce was negotiated and settled by the families concerned. The marriage was usually dissolved by the total refund of the bridewealth to the former husband.

Social stratification
      All the groups had some form of class distinction. The Azande's Avongara clan recognized rigid distinctions between chiefs and commoners, and, generally, among the Azande there were distinctions between conquering and conquered groups and slaves. Political, economic, and social status depended exclusively on birth, but the politically superior group, the Avongara, had to maintain their position by organized political and military means.

      The highest political office among the Fur was that of the sultan, who was surrounded by a body of councillors dependent on royal patronage. Locally, there was a descending hierarchy of hereditary fief stewards, village heads, and, lastly, heads of households. Ironworkers were a despised class not allowed to intermarry with ordinary Fur.

      Among the Humr Baqqārah, the main distinction was between persons of Arab descent (who held the positions of power) and non-Arabs. In other respects, a person's wealth and personality determined his successful bid for leadership.

      Traditionally, among the Otoro there were no political offices, only a special hereditary ritual office—that of “chief of the Path,” who acted as intermediary in peace negotiations between conflicting parties. Today, however, there are chiefs selected by the local government from among persons of local wealth and importance. In addition there were age-grades (age set); membership in each of the five grades lasted three years, after which all the members were promoted together to the next higher grade. Promotion was marked with festivities, and members of each age-grade lived separately. This system marked the development of a person from an ordinary youth to that of a “big man.” Girls also formed age-grade groups.

Socialization and education
      In all societies under comparison, there were ritual and ceremonial practices marking the stages in the life cycle of the individual—birth, circumcision, puberty, marriage, and death. Circumcision distinguished boyhood from manhood. It was a recent introduction among the Azande, having spread from the south despite being opposed by the Avongara. Among the Otoro, an individual achieved higher status as he was promoted from one age-grade to another. There was also an association of cicatrization (scarring) with a test of manhood: killing an enemy entitled a person to have a small pattern of scars on his back. Similar patterns were also made on the upper arms of successful hunters. Men took part in wrestling and fighting as part of their training for manhood.

      There was little formal education among the Azande, Otoro, Humr Baqqārah, and Fur. Among the Azande and Nuba, there were very few schools at the elementary level established by missions. Education made little headway among the Humr Baqqārah because it came into conflict with their way of life—people were reluctant to send their children to schools because livestock and cattle herding would suffer. There were a few Qurʾānic schools among the Fur, in which elementary Arabic, arithmetic, and the Qurʾān were taught.

Economic organization

Settlement patterns
      The societies exhibited three different patterns of settlement. The Otoro and Azande lived in scattered groups. Otoro homesteads were scattered irregularly over hilltops and valleys, a number of homesteads constituting a village, villages combining to form hill communities, a number of which made up the tribe. Similarly, the Azande lived in family groups in scattered homesteads separated by strips of bush. Among the Otoro and the Azande, the homesteads were the basic social and economic unit. In contrast, the Fur had more compact settlements. The Fur lived in homesteads, a number of which constituted a village. The third type of settlement pattern was that of the Humr Baqqārah, who lived in tent camps. Their nomadic existence did not permit the formation of permanent settlements.

Production and technology
      The economy of most of the peoples of The Sudan was and still is dependent on cultivation, with animal husbandry, and sometimes hunting and fishing, providing an important supplement to agriculture. A wide variety of crops are grown, including grain, sesame, vegetables, sorghum, corn (maize), peanuts (groundnuts), and cotton, the latter two sometimes as cash crops. Among the Humr Baqqārah cultivation is a subsidiary occupation. They move in a regular seasonal cycle according to the availability of water and grass. In winter, or at the end of the rains, they move south, and in spring, or during the rains, they move north. Some cultivation of millet and of cotton as a cash crop is undertaken. Throughout their territory the Humr Baqqārah have communal grazing rights, whereas cultivable plots of land are owned individually and handed down from father to son.

      The technology of these societies was formerly simple. Among the Otoro the making of bedsteads, mat weaving, and pottery were undertaken. The Azande, on the other hand, were prominent as craftsmen and artists. Their superior material culture, particularly their knives, spears, and shields, was one of the factors by which they dominated their neighbours and brought about the spread of their culture. Basketry, net weaving, pottery, smelting, metalworking, and ivory and wood carving also were undertaken. There were ironworkers in every Fur village; other Fur crafts included tanning and weaving of cloth and basketry. The Humr Baqqārah produced leather goods and basketry to meet their own needs.

Property and exchange systems
      Land among the Otoro, Azande, and Fur was the principal economic asset. Among the Otoro, land could be acquired through inheritance, purchase, and lease and by clearing and cultivating new areas. The Otoro and the rest of the Nuba tribes converted nearly their whole agricultural surplus into livestock. Although livestock were used for clan sacrifices, they were not sold for money, and neither were they slaughtered for meat. Among the Nuba tribes, however, people used livestock for certain standardized payments such as bridewealth or gifts to kin relations. Iron, because of its rarity and its use in weapons and tools, became the standard medium of exchange. Handicraft products were purchased with such goods as grain, sesame, hoes, spears, goats, and axheads, and, nowadays, with money.

      Whereas livestock is a secondary source of wealth to the Otoro, cattle are the primary source of wealth, prestige, and political position for the Humr Baqqārah. Cattle were once the medium of exchange, but during the 20th century cash became significant.

      Before the introduction of cotton and money, wealth among the Azande was primarily in the form of perishable agricultural produce, and it was customary to destroy the property of a man after his death. Only chiefs were able to accumulate wealth, since they received tribute and prisoners of war as perquisites. There was little exchange between households, although iron tools and spears were used in bridewealth payments.

      Among the Fur, property consists of houses, domestic articles, rolls of cloth, and cattle kept mainly for resale. Rights over land are held jointly by descent groups and are vested in a titleholder. There are organized marketplaces in which the medium of exchange has been, and still is, money. Previously, cloth may have served as a medium of exchange. Agricultural products are exchanged for tools and utensils, cloth, and other commodities. Labour is exchanged for beer.

Religious practices
      The Humr Baqqārah and Fur peoples adhere to Islamic beliefs and practices, which came to them through Arab influence, and traditional local practices coexist with Islamic beliefs. Among the Fur, for example, the splashing of sanctuaries with a flour-and-water paste is carried out to ensure fertility. There are also rain (rainmaking) cults thought to have been introduced from farther west. Sacrifices are made at shrines and at ancestral tombs when the rains are likely to fall. The office of rainmaker is hereditary.

      The Otoro and Azande have their own local beliefs and practices, which are significant as a means of social control, and Islam and Christianity have very little influence. Among the Otoro there is a widespread belief in oracles (oracle) and witchcraft as a means of punishing offenders and establishing justice. Charms bought from Arab or West African charm sellers, diviners, grain priests, and rainmakers are used to find and punish evildoers. leprosy, imagined to be caused by supernatural powers, is believed to be connected with offenses such as sexual intercourse in forbidden kinship degrees and homicide. Witchcraft, a magic at the disposal of any individual, is effective only if directed against a person guilty of a crime.

      Among the Azande the power of witchcraft is inherited. Diviners, oracles, vengeance magic, and the use of leeches are means of counteracting it. The Avongara clan may not be accused of witchcraft because the chief and his oracle are considered infallible.

Ahmed S. Al-Shahi Ed.

Cultural life
      The key to an understanding of contemporary Sudanese culture is diversity. Each major ethnic group and historical region has its own special forms of cultural expression, and the linguistic diversity of the country provides the basis for a richly varied written and oral literature.

      One of the most important forms of cultural expression among nonliterate groups is oral tradition. The major language with a written literature in traditional Sudanese society is Arabic. The most widely known Sudanese literary works in this language are associated with Islām and its scholarship and include a large body of literature describing the lives and virtue of holy men. These works are best known through recitations on special anniversaries associated with pious persons. In the 20th century, the combination of oral and written literature remains of major importance to both traditional and Westernized segments of Sudanese society. Perhaps the best-known Sudanese novelist is aṭ-Ṭayyib Ṣāliḥ (Ṣāliḥ, al-Ṭayyib), whose books Season of Migration to the North and The Wedding of Zein have been translated into foreign languages.

      Poetry is another important form of literary expression. Modern Sudanese poetry reflects the mixed African and Arab cultural heritage of the country, as expressed in the works of Muḥammad al-Mahdī al-Majdhūb and many others.

      In such arts as painting, weaving, and pottery making, each locality has developed unique forms and styles. However, in the 20th century, more unified national styles have emerged under the influence of artists in the cities. The College of Fine and Applied Arts within the Khartoum Polytechnic has served as the home of graphic arts in The Sudan, and a number of Sudanese printmakers, calligraphers, and photographers have achieved international recognition. Ibrāhīm aṣ-Ṣalaḥi, who is proficient in all three mediums, is perhaps the most widely known such artist.

      Song plays an important role in all the cultural traditions of The Sudan and ranges from the unique cosmopolitan traditions of Qurʾānic recitation in a melodramatic manner to tribal songs. A characteristically national style of music is emerging out of this diversity, as reflected in the music heard in Khartoum.

      The Sudan is one of the richest African countries in terms of archaeological sites. The Sudan Antiquities Service manages the National Museum, a magnificent Khartoum landmark, and smaller archaeological exhibits in Marawī and Al-Ubbayiḍ. The Ethnographical Museum and the Sudan Natural History Museum are affiliated with the University of Khartoum. Drama flourishes at the National Theatre and elsewhere in Khartoum.

      In view of its religious diversity, The Sudan observes both Muslim and Christian holidays. One of the most popular religious festivals is that of the Prophet Muḥammad's birthday.

      Perhaps the most popular form of sports is football (soccer), and a number of clubs exist all over the country.

      There are two broadcasting stations: the oldest is in Omdurman, and the other was established in Juba, the capital of the southern region, after the 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement. Between 1986 and 1989 The Sudan had one of the freest presses in Africa, with more than 40 independent newspapers, but, after the June 1989 military takeover, civilian newspapers were banned, and today there are only a few state-controlled papers.

Ahmad Alawad Sikainga

Additional Reading

General works
Harold D. Nelson (ed.), Sudan, a Country Study, 3rd ed. (1983); and John Obert Voll and Sarah Potts Voll, The Sudan: Unity and Diversity in a Multicultural State (1985), provide basic information on the land, people, economy, and history. John Mack and Peter Robertshaw, Culture History in the Southern Sudan (1982), is a collection of articles on history, archaeology, language, and culture. Further sources on all aspects of the country may be found in M.W. Daly (comp.), Sudan (1983), an annotated bibliography.

Physical and human geography
A standard text on the physical and human geography of The Sudan is K.M. Barbour, The Republic of the Sudan: A Regional Geography (1961). A.J. Whiteman, The Geology of the Sudan Republic (1971), is a comprehensive and systematic account of The Sudan's geology. Studies of the people of Sudan include Abd-al (abdel) Ghaffar Muhammad Ahmad, Shaykhs and Followers: Political Struggle in the Rufaʿa al-Hoi Nazirate in the Sudan (1974), an excellent analysis of the political and social structure of this nomadic community in the southern Funj region; Francis Mading Deng, Africans of Two Worlds: The Dinka in Afro-Arab Sudan (1978), a historical and social study of the Dinka people in the southern Sudan; Mark R. Duffield, Maiurno: Capitalism & Rural Life in Sudan (1981), a pioneering study of a West African migrant community on the Blue Nile; Wendy James, ʿKwanim Pa: The Making of the Uduk People (1979), an anthropological study of the Uduk people in the upper Blue Nile; B.A. Lewis, The Murle: Red Chiefs and Black Commoners (1972), an anthropological investigation of these southern Sudan people; and Fatima (Fatma) Babiker Mahmoud, The Sudanese Bourgeoisie: Vanguard of Development? (1984), a study that traces the roots and the development of the modern Sudanese bourgeoisie.Essays on the economy are collected in Ali Mohamed El-Hassan (ed.), An Introduction to the Sudan Economy (1976); and in Norman O'neill and Jay O'brien (eds.), Economy and Class in Sudan (1988), on political economy, emphasizing the process of class formation. On agriculture, see Tony Barnett, The Gezira Scheme: An Illusion of Development (1977), a critical socioeconomic analysis of the Gezira cotton scheme; A.B. Zahlan (ed.), The Agricultural Sector of Sudan: Policy & Systems Studies (1986); and G.M. Craig (ed.), The Agriculture of the Sudan (1991), a regional survey that also includes much information on the country's physical geography, people, economy, administrative and social conditions, and cultural life. Robert O. Collins, The Waters of the Nile: Hydropolitics and the Jonglei Canal, 1900–1988 (1990), describes the critical and sensitive relations of the riverine states over the vital Nile water. Tim Niblock, Class and Power in Sudan: The Dynamics of Sudanese Politics, 1898–1985 (1987); and Peter Woodward, Sudan, 1898–1989: The Unstable State (1990), analyze the country's government. Cultural life is explored in Muḥammad ʿAbdul-Ḥai (Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Ḥayy), Conflict and Identity: The Cultural Poetics of Contemporary Sudanese Poetry (1976), which traces the development and analyzes the different schools of modern Sudanese poetry; and Sayyid (Sayed) ĕāmid ĕurreiz and Herman Bell (eds.), Directions in Sudanese Linguistics and Folklore (1975), an introductory work on language and folklore in The Sudan, part of a conference proceedings.Ahmad Alawad Sikainga

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Universalium. 2010.

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