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Sudan, Republic of the Sudan, largest country in Africa, located in the northeast of the continent.

Land and climate

Sudan occupies 967,494 sq mi (2,505,813 sq km) and is bounded on the north by Egypt; on the west by Libya, Chad, the Central African Republic, and Zaire; on the south by Uganda and Kenya; and on the east by Ethiopia and Eritrea. It has a 400-mi (644-km) coastline on the Red Sea. Sudan may be divided into two main regions: the barren desert region north of Khartoum, comprising about one-third of the country, and the well-watered region of the south. The Nile River enters Sudan from Uganda in the south and crosses the entire length of the country on its way to Egypt and the Mediterranean. In the far south is a region of tropical forest and to the southeast wooded grassland. Further north is the Sudd region, a great marshy area where the river is congested with floating vegetation. Between the Sudd and Khartoum, the central area of the Sudan is grasslands. At Khartoum the White Nile is joined by the Blue Nile, both branches of the Nile flowing north to form a triangle of land between them whose apex is at Khartoum, where the rivers meet. The land between them is the Gezira plain, the most fertile part of the Sudan. Beyond Khartoum to the north, the Nile flows through the Libyan and Nubian deserts. In the northeast there are mountain ranges bordering the Red Sea coastal plain. The prevailing climate of the Sudan is hot with rainfall increasing in frequency toward the south. The capital is Khartoum.


The people are divided into Arab-speaking Muslims in the north and black African and Nilotic peoples of the south and west. The Muslims are 80% of the population and profess Islam. The black Africans are mainly animists.


The Sudan is basically agricultural, and most people live by subsistence farming. The chief cash crops are cotton, gum arabic, and peanuts. Domestic crops include millet, sorghum, wheat, and sugar cane. Livestock are raised in large numbers. Manufacturing is limited and there is a small mining industry. The only port is Port Sudan on the Red Sea.


Called Nubia in ancient times, North Sudan was colonized by Egypt in 2000 B.C. By 800 B.C. it had come under the Cush kingdom, which by A.D. 600 had given way to independent Coptic Christian states. In the 13th to 15th centuries they collapsed under Muslim expansion, and the Muslim Funj state was established, lasting until Egypt invaded the Sudan in 1821. The nationalist Mahdi led a revolt in 1881, after which a series of campaigns resulted in joint Anglo-Egyptian rule in 1899. Since independence in 1956, the country has been racked by civil war pitting southerners fearful of Muslim dominance against northerners. By 1972 1.5 million southerners had died in the fighting but some autonomy had been achieved for the south. Hostilities have continued and Sudan has been additionally burdened in recent years by an influx of nearly half a million refugees fleeing war and famine in neighboring countries. In 1997 the US decided to impose harsh sanctions against Sudan due to Sudan's supposed support of international terrorism. The continuing hostilities have resulted in a famine (1998).


Additional topics

21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Sterility to Swedish