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Sudan: Country Profile



Sudan, also known as North Sudan, or officially as the Republic of The Sudan, is a country located in the North Eastern Part of Africa. Sudan, once the largest country in Africa, divided into two countries in 2011 after its population in the south voted for independence.

After years of been locked in conflict with secession groups from the South, Sudan’s government finally gave its support to the southern vote of independence in 2011. And by 2012, southern Sudan, consisting of Christians and animists, became independent as South Sudan.

Certain issues however remained outstanding after the independence. These include oil revenues, oil fields, debts and border demarcation. These issues initially threatened early relations between the predominantly Arab north Sudan, and its southern counter parts.


Population: 39.5 million

Religion: Islam

Major Languages: Arabic and English (official)

Sudan has a population of 39 million according to the World Bank, and a large population of refugees from foreign nation. According to refugee statistics, the population stands at over 300,000.

Additionally, Sudan has a young population, with some two-fifths under age 15; more than one-fourth of the population is between ages 15 and 29.

Sudan’s population is highly culturally diverse, and is made up of indigenous inhabitants and Arab migrants.

The country has 19 major ethnic groups and over 597 ethnic subgroups, who speak more than 400 languages and dialects. Arab speaking Muslims constitute the majority, comprising about 70% of the total population. Other ethnic groups include the Nubians, the Copts, the Beja, and others make up the rest of the population.

Economy of Sudan

GDP: $187.715 billion

GDP Per Capita: $2,841

Currency: Sudanese Pound

Economically, Sudan’s has one of the worst economies and is one of the least developed countries in the world. In 2017, its GDP stood at $186.715 billion, and its GDP per capita stood at $2,841.

Sudan’s economy is heavily dependent on oil. Yet, about a third of its inhabitants are dependent on farming and animal husbandry for their livelihoods, making the country reliant on subsistence farming.

Oil was first discovered in South-western Sudan in 1977, and commercial quantity was discovered in 1980. Surprisingly though, in 2010, Sudan was considered the 17th fastest growing economy due to its oil resources. South Sudan’s independence in 2011 caused Sudan to lose 80% of its oil fields.

Sudan has other known mineral deposits such as gold, uranium, chromite, gypsum, mica, marble, and iron ore. Sudan is a leading producer of gum arabic, a water-soluble gum obtained from acacia trees and used in the production of adhesives, candy, and pharmaceuticals.

History and Politics

Independence: JANUARY 1ST 1956

Leader: Omar Ḥasan Aḥmad al-Bashir

Sudan has a rich long history. It was home to the ancient Nubian kingdom of Kush, which at its peak spread its reach and conquered all of Egypt in the 8th century BC. The civilization of Kush was among the first in the world to use iron smelting technology.

However, the empire went into decline, and eventually collapsed after the king of Aksum attacked all that was left of it in the 4th century AD.

Islam and Christianity slowly began entering Sudan through different means beginning from 540 AD.

In 1820, Egypt (which was under the Ottoman Empire at the time) invaded northern Sudan. The ensuing war ended in 1822 with a complete victory for Egypt, and it held that territory for 60 years. In 1882, internal unrests led to a revolution led by Muhammad Ahmed.

Modern History

Between 1899 and 1955, Sudan was jointly ruled by Egypt and Britain. But in 1956, Sudan got its independence from both nations after several agitations from both internal forces and the Egyptians, who wanted the British to drop claims to Sudan.

However, following its independence, Sudan has witnessed a rollercoaster of crisis, coups and conflicts that have made it highly unstable.

Within just two years after its independence, the country witnessed its first military coup, led by Lieutenant General Ibrahim Abboud. However, Abboud’s policies caused unrests particularly in the South, and caused a civil war that lasted till 1972.

In 1969, Sudan witnessed another coup, led by Colonel (later Field Marshal) Gaafar Muhammad al-Nimeiry. In 1972, he who became the first elected president of Sudan in 1972, and went on to win two more terms. He was overthrown in April 1985 by his chief of staff, General Abd al-Raḥmān Siwar al-Dahab.

The new military administration held election in 1986. It was inherently flawed by political instability, indecisive leadership, and party manipulations.

Omar al Bashir has led Sudan since 1989
Omar al Bashir has led Sudan since 1989

By 1989, Lieutenant General Omar Ḥasan Aḥmad al-Bashir led a coup and has seized power ever since. Bashir re-introduced Islamic Law, corporal punishment and supported Iraq during the Persian Gulf War. Bashir’s government oversaw the resurgence of the Civil War in southern Sudan against the rebels.

Bashir transitioned the country from military rule to civilian government. Bashir was however appointed into the presidency of the new government.

He held the first elections since 1989 in 1996. He won, and was re-elected in 2000. Bashir has remained in power ever since. He continued to fight the rebels in the south until international meditations led to the independence of South Sudan in 2011.