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Posted by bender 02/25/2009 @ 00:13

Tags : sudan, africa, world

News headlines
Sudan govt forces bomb near North Darfur-UN - Reuters
By Andrew Heavens KHARTOUM, May 13 (Reuters) - Peacekeepers said they saw Sudanese government aircraft bombing suspected rebel positions in the western Darfur region on Wednesday, days after negotiations between Khartoum and the insurgents resumed....
Testimony before the US Senate Subcommittees on African Affairs ... - US Department of State
Let me preface my remarks by saying that violence against women as a tool of armed groups is in no way limited to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan, or just to Africa. We've seen this in Bosnia, Burma, Sri Lanka and elsewhere....
South Sudan cattle raid crackdown - BBC News
South Sudan's government says it will stamp out a recent wave of cattle raids that have left hundreds of people dead by disarming rival ethnic groups. The local government minister told the BBC the disarmament would be carried out by force,...
Sudan: Press Law Storm -
Murtada al-Ghali, editor-in chief of the Freedom Bells newspaper, described the draft law as the most “restrictive” media legislation to emerge in Sudan. “The law insists… on punishment,” he said, “[and] it is aggressive punishment....
'Lost Boy' who settled in Syracuse builds school in southern Sudan - The Post-Standard -
By Maureen Sieh When Gabriel Deng returned to southern Sudan for the first time in 2007, his goal was to find parents he hadn't seen since 1987, when he fled from government soldiers. Relatives and former neighbors told Deng that his parents died - his...
Deby leads Chad protest against Sudan - AFP
NDJAMENA (AFP) — Chad President Idriss Deby Itno led around 10000 anti-Sudanese demonstrators through the capital Ndjamena on Wednesday, to protest what he said was Khartoum's support for a recent rebel offensive. Deby, who joined the march for a few...
Sudan: In Memoriam - Lieutenant Colonel Johnson Abbah Umama -
Johnson Abbah Umama was never lost in the crowd in Nyala. With his booming voice, friends and UNAMID colleagues often heard him enter a room before they saw him, and with his jovial, outspoken nature, he always seemed to be at the centre of the action....
South Sudan reaping Peace Dividend-Business Booms - World Sentinel
A peace dividend is becoming clearly visible in the region following the signing of a peace deal two years ago that ended the 23-year civil war between northern and southern Sudan. Few anticipated such positive developments in the wake of the...
Sudan: UN Urges End to Inter-Ethnic Clashes in South -
The recent surge in deadly ethnic violence in southern Sudan, killing at least 66 people, is cause for serious concern, a United Nations official in the region warned today, calling for an immediate and peaceful resolution to the clashes....
Chad, Sudan Trade Accusations of Backing Rival Rebellions - Voice of America
By Scott Stearns Chad is threatening to sever diplomatic relations with Sudan after the military says it beat back an assault by rebels based in Sudan. Khartoum denies it is behind that rebellion and says Sudan is ready to fight rebels it says are...

Transport in Sudan

The disused railway tracks and station at Malual (or Rumakal/Ruma-Ker) in North Bahr al Ghazal State, Sudan (2007). The station had until recently been used as a barracks of the Sudanese Armed Forces

Transport in Sudan during the early 1990s included an extensive railroad system that served the more important populated areas except in the far south, a meager road network (very little of which consisted of all-weather roads), a natural inland waterway—the Nile River and its tributaries—and a national airline that provided both international and domestic service. Complementing this infrastructure was Port Sudan, a major deep-water port on the Red Sea, and a small but modern national merchant marine. Additionally, a pipeline transporting petroleum products extended from the port to Khartoum.

Only minimal efforts had been expended through the early 1980s to improve existing and, according to both Sudanese and foreign observers, largely inefficiently operated transport facilities. Increasing emphasis on economic development placed a growing strain on the system, and beginning in the mid-1970s a substantial proportion of public investment funds was allocated for transport sector development. Some progress toward meeting equipment goals had been reported by the beginning of the 1980s, but substantial further modernization and adequately trained personnel were still required. Until these were in place, inadequate transportation was expected to constitute a major obstacle to economic development.

The main system, Sudan Railways, which was operated by the government-owned Sudan Railways Corporation, provided services to most of the country's production and consumption centers. The other line, the Gezira Light Railway, was owned by the Sudan Gezira Board and served the Gezira Scheme and its Manaqil Extension. Rail dominated commercial transport, although competition from the highways has been increasing rapidly. The preeminence of the rail system was based on historical developments that led to its construction as an adjunct to military operations, although the first line, built in the mid-1870s from Wadi Halfa to a point about 54 km upstream on the Nile River, was initially a commercial undertaking. This line, which had not proved viable commercially, was extended in the mid-1880s and again in the mid-1890s to support the Anglo-Egyptian military campaigns against the Mahdiyah. Of little other use, it was abandoned in 1905.

The first segment of the present-day Sudan Railways, from Wadi Halfa to Abu Hamad, was also a military undertaking; it was built by the British for use in General Herbert Kitchener's drive against yo the Mahdiyah in the late 1890s. The line was pushed to Atbarah during the campaign and after the defeat of the Mahdiyah in 1898 was continued to Khartoum, which it reached on the last day of 1899. The line was built to 1067 mm gauge track specifications, the result apparently of Kitchener's pragmatic use of the rolling stock and rails of that gauge from the old line. This gauge was used in all later Sudanese mainline construction.

The line opened a trade route from central Sudan through Egypt to the Mediterranean and beyond. It became uneconomic because of the distance and the need for trans-shipment via the Nile, and in 1904 construction of a new line from Atbarah to the Red Sea was undertaken. In 1906 the new line reached recently built Port Sudan to provide a direct connection between Khartoum and ocean-going transport.

During the same decade, a line was also built from Khartoum southward to Sannar, the heart of the cotton-growing region of Al Jazirah. A westward continuation reached Al Ubayyid, then the country's second largest city and center of gum arabic production, in 1911. In the north, a branch line was built from near Abu Hamad to Kuraymah that tied the navigable stretch of the Nile between the fourth and third cataracts into the transport system. Traffic in this case, however, was largely inbound to towns along the river, a situation that still prevailed in 1990.

In the 1920s, a spur of the railway was built from Taqatu Hayya, a point on the main line 200 km southwest of Port Sudan, south to the cotton-producing area near Kassala, then on to the grain region of Al Qadarif, and finally to a junction with the main line at Sannar. Much of the area's traffic, which formerly had passed through Khartoum, has since moved over this line directly to Port Sudan.

The final spur of railway construction began in the 1950s. It included extension of the western line to Nyala (1959) in Darfur Province and of a southwesterly branch to Wau (1961), southern Sudan's second largest city, located in the province of Bahr el Ghazal. This essentially completed the Sudan Railways network, which in 1990 totalled about 4800 route km.

Conversion of Sudan Railways to diesel fuel started in the late 1950s, but a few mainline steam locomotives continued in use in 1990, serving lines having lighter weight rails. Through the 1960s, rail essentially had a monopoly on transportation of export and import trade, and operations were profitable. In the early 1970s, losses were experienced, and, although the addition of new diesel equipment in 1976 was followed by a return to profitability, another downturn had occurred by the end of the decade. The losses were attributed in part to inflationary factors, the lack of spare parts, and the continuation of certain lines characterized by only light traffic, but retained for economic development needs and for social reasons. A number of South African diesel locomotives are in use in Sudan.

The chief cause of the downturn appeared to have been loss of operational efficiency. Worker productivity had declined. For example, repair of locomotives was so slow that only about half of the total number were usually operational. Freight car turnaround time had lengthened considerably, and the reported slowness of management to meet growing competition from road transport was also a major factor. The road system, although generally more expensive, was used increasingly for low-volume, high-value goods because it could deliver more rapidly—2 or 3 days from Port Sudan to Khartoum, compared with 7 or 8 days for express rail freight and up to two weeks for ordinary freight. At the end of the 1980s, moreover, only one to two percent of freight trains arrived on time. The gradual erosion of freight traffic was evident in the drop from more than 3 million tons carried annually at the beginning of the 1970s to about 2 million tons at the end of the decade. The 1980s also saw a steady erosion of tonnage as a result of a combination of inefficient management, union intransigence, the failure of agricultural projects to meet production goals, the dearth of spare parts, and the continuing civil war. The bridge at Aweil was destroyed in the 1980s and Wau is currently without rail access. During the civil war in the south (1983-2005) military trains went as far as Aweil accompanied by large numbers of troops and militia, causing great disruption to civilians and humanitarian aid organisations along the railway line.

Despite the rapidly growing use of roads, rail has remained of paramount importance because of its ability to move at lower cost the large volume of agricultural exports and to transport inland the increasing imports of heavy capital equipment and construction materials for development, such as requirements for oil exploration and drilling operations. Efforts to improve the rail system reported in the late 1970s and the 1980s included laying heavier rails, repairing locomotives, purchasing new locomotives, modernizing signaling equipment, expanding training facilities, and improving locomotive and rolling-stock repair facilities. One project would double-track the line from Port Sudan to the junction of the branch route to Sannar, thus in effect doubling the Port Sudan-Khartoum rail line. Substantial assistance has been furnished for these and other stock and track improvement projects by foreign governments and organizations, including the European Development Fund, the Development Finance Company, the AFESD, the International Development Association, Britain, France, and Japan. Implementation of much of this work has been hampered by political instability in the 1980s, debt, the dearth of hard currency, the shortage of spare parts, and import controls. Rail was estimated in mid-1989 to be operating at less than 20% of capacity.

The Gezira Light Railway, one of the largest light railways in Africa, evolved from tracks laid in the 1920s' construction of the canals for the Gezira Scheme. At the time, rail had about 135 route km of 610 mm (2 ft) gauge track. As the size of the project area increased, the railway was extended and by the mid-1960s consisted of a complex system totaling 716 route km. Its primary purpose has been to serve the farm area by carrying cotton to ginneries and fertilizers, fuel, food, and other supplies to the villages in the area. Operations usually have been suspended during the rainy season.

President Ismael Omar Guelleh of Djibouti appealed for a 6,000 km landbridge rail line linking his country's Gulf of Tadjourah to Cameroon on the Gulf of Guinea. Estimated to cost $US6 billion, the line would run through the Sudan and the Central Africa Republic. Neighbouring landlocked countries such as southern Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi would all benefit from improved facilities for import and export traffic, as well as Chad. Pointing out that the trade development, peace and economy of the African continent could be considerably enhanced, Guelle suggested that the project forms part of the investment programme proposed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair during the G8 meeting in Scotland.

In 1990, Sudan's road system totaled between 20,000 and 25,000 kilometers, comprising an extremely sparse network for the size of the country. Asphalted all-weather roads, excluding paved streets in cities and towns, amounted to roughly 3,000 to 3,500 kilometers, of which the Khartoum-Port Sudan road accounted for almost 1,200 kilometers. There were between 3,000 and 4,000 kilometers of gravel roads located mostly in the southern region where lateritic road-building materials were abundant. In general, these roads were usable all year round, although travel might be interrupted at times during the rainy season. Most of the gravel roads in southern Sudan have become unusable after being heavily mined by the insurgent southern forces of the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA). The remaining roads were little more than fair-weather earth and sand tracks. Those in the clayey soil of eastern Sudan, a region of great economic importance, were impassable for several months during the rains. Even in the dry season, earthen roads in the sandy soils found in various parts of the country were generally usable only by motor vehicles equipped with special tires.

Until the early 1970s, the government had favored the railroads, believing they better met the country's requirements for transportation and that the primary purpose of roads was to act as feeders to the rail system. The railroads were also a profitable government operation, and road competition was not viewed as desirable. In the mid-1930s, a legislative attempt had been made to prevent through-road transport between Khartoum and Port Sudan. The law had little effect, but the government's failure to build roads hindered the development of road transportation. The only major stretch of road that had been paved by 1970 was between Khartoum and Wad Madani. This road had been started under a United States aid program in 1962, but work had stopped in 1967 when Sudanese-United States relations were broken over the June 1967 Arab-Israeli War. United States equipment was not removed, however, and was used by government workers to complete the road in 1970.

Disillusionment with railroad performance led to a new emphasis on roads in a readjustment of the Five-Year Plan in 1973—the so-called Interim Action Program—and a decision to encourage competition between rail and road transport as the best way to improve services. Paving of the dry-weather road between Khartoum and Port Sudan via Al Qadarif and Kassala was the most significant immediate step; this included upgrading of the existing paved Khartoum-Wad Madani section. From Wad Madani to Port Sudan, the road was constructed in four separate sections, each by different foreign financing, and in the case of the Wad Madani-Al Qadarif section, by direct participation of the Chinese. Other section contractors included companies from Italy, West Germany, and Yugoslavia. The last section opened in late 1980.

Other important road-paving projects of the early 1980s included a road from Wad Madani to Sannar and an extension from Sannar to Kusti on the White Nile completed in 1984. Since then the paved road has been extended to Umm Ruwabah with the intention to complete an all-weather road to Al Ubayyid. Paradoxically, most truckers in 1990 continued to pass from Omdurman to Al Ubayyid through the Sahelian scrub and the qoz to avoid the taxes levied to use the faster and less damaging paved road from Khartoum via Kusti.

A number of main gravel roads radiating from Juba were also improved. These included roads to the towns southwest of Juba and a road to the Ugandan border. In addition, the government built a gravel all-weather road east of Juba that reaches the Kenyan border. There it joined an all-weather road to Lodwar in Kenya connecting it with the Kenyan road system. All these improvements radiating from Juba, however, have been vitiated by the civil war, in which the roads have been extensively mined by the SPLA and the bridges destroyed, and because roads have not been maintained, they have seriously deteriorated.

Small private companies, chiefly owner-operated trucks, furnished most road transport. The government has encouraged private enterprise in this industry, especially in the central and eastern parts of the country, and the construction of allweather roads has reportedly led to rapid increases in the number of hauling businesses. The Sudanese-Kuwaiti Transport Company, a large government enterprise financed largely by Kuwait, began operations in 1975 with 100 large trucks and trailers. Most of its traffic was between Khartoum and Port Sudan. Use of road transport and bus services is likely to increase as paved roads are completed south of Khartoum in the country's main agricultural areas.

The Nile River, traversing Sudan from south to north, provides an important inland transportation route. Its overall usefulness, however, has been limited by natural features, including a number of cataracts in the main Nile between Khartoum and the Egyptian border. The White Nile to the south of Khartoum has shallow stretches that restrict the carrying capacities of barges, especially during the period of low water, and the river has sharp bends. Most of these southern impediments have been eliminated by Chevron, who as part of their oil exploration and development program dredged the White Nile shoals and established navigational beacons from Kusti to Bentiu. A greater impediment has been the spread of the water hyacinth, which impedes traffic. Man-made features have also introduced restrictions, the most important of which was a dam constructed in the 1930s on the White Nile about forty kilometers upriver from Khartoum. This dam has locks, but they have not always operated well, and the river has been little used from Khartoum to the port of Kusti, a railroad crossing 319 kilometers upstream. The Sennar and Roseires dams on the Blue Nile are without locks and restrict traffic on that river.

In 1983 only two sections of the Nile had regular commercial transport services. The more important was the 1,436-kilometer stretch of the White Nile from Kusti to Juba (known as the Southern Reach), which provided the only generally usable transport connection between the central and southern parts of the country. Virtually all traffic, and certainly scheduled traffic, ended in 1984, when the SPLA consistently sank the exposed steamers from sanctuaries along the river banks. River traffic south of Kusti had not resumed in mid-1991 except for a few heavily armed and escorted convoys.

At one time, transport services also were provided on tributaries of the White Nile (the Bahr el Ghazal and the Jur River) to the west of Malakal. These services went as far as Wau but were seasonal, depending on water levels. They were finally discontinued during the 1970s because vegetation blocked waterways, particularly the fast-growing water hyacinth. On the main Nile, a 287-kilometer stretch from Kuraymah to Dunqulah, situated between the fourth and third cataracts and known as the Dunqulah Reach, also had regular service, although this was restricted during the low-water period in February and March. Transport facilities on both reaches were operated after 1973 by the parastatal (mixed government and privately owned company) River Transport Corporation (RTC). Before that they had been run by the SRC, essentially as feeders to the rail line. River cargo and passenger traffic have varied from year to year, depending in large part on the availability and capacity of transport vessels. During the 1970s, roughly 100,000 tons of cargo and 250,000 passengers were carried annually. By 1984, before the Southern Reach was closed, the number of passengers had declined to less than 60,000 per year and the tonnage to less than 150,000. Although no statistics were available, the closing of the Southern Reach had by 1990 made river traffic insignificant.

Foreign economists have characterized the RTC's operations as inefficient, a result both of shortages of qualified staff and of barge capacity. The corporation had a virtual monopoly over river transport, although the southern regional government had established river feeder transport operations, and private river transport services were reported to be increasing until the resumption of the civil war. Despite its favored position, the RTC and its predecessor (SRC) experienced regular losses that had to be covered by government appropriations. In the late 1970s, the corporation procured new barges, pusher-tugboats, and other equipment in an effort to improve services, but this attempt proved useless because of the warfare that had continued from 1983.

88 airports (2006 estimate), 15 with paved runways; 1 heliport.

In mid-1991, scheduled domestic air service was provided by Sudan Airways, a government-owned enterprise operated by the Sudan Airways Company. The company began its operations in 1947 as a government department. It has operated commercially since the late 1960s, holding in effect a monopoly on domestic service. In 1991 Sudan Airways had scheduled flights from Khartoum to twenty other domestic airports, although it did not always adhere to its schedules. It also provided international services to several European countries, including Britain, Germany, Greece, and Italy. Regional flights were made to North Africa and the Middle East as well as to Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda. The Sudan Airways fleet in 1991 consisted of thirteen aircraft, including five Boeing 707s used on international flights, two Boeing 737s and two Boeing 727s employed in domestic and regional services, and four Fokker F-27s used for domestic flights.

Sixteen international airlines provided regular flights to Khartoum. The number of domestic and international passengers increased from about 478,000 in 1982 to about 485,000 in 1984. Air freight increased from 6 million tons per kilometer in 1982 to 7.7 million tons per kilometer in 1984. As compared with the previous year, in 1989 passenger traffic on Sudan Airways fell by 32% to 363,181 people, reducing the load factor to 34.9%. By contrast, freight volume increased by 63.7% to 12,317 tons. At the end of 1979, Sudan Airways had entered into a pooling agreement with Britain's Tradewind Airways to furnish charter cargo service between that country and Khartoum under a subsidiary company, Sudan Air Cargo. A new cargo terminal was built at Khartoum.

Sudan Airways's operations have generally shown losses, and in the early 1980s the corporation was reportedly receiving an annual government subsidy of about £Sd500,000. In 1987 the government proposed to privatize Sudan Airways, precipitating a heated controversy that ultimately led to a joint venture between the government and private interests. Like the railroads and river transport operators, however, Sudan Airways suffered from a shortage of skilled personnel, overstaffing, and lacked hard currency and credit for spare parts and proper maintenance.

In the early 1980s, the country's civilian airports, with the exception of Khartoum International Airport and the airport at Juba, sometimes closed during rainy periods because of runway conditions. After the 1986 drought, which caused major problems at regional airports, the government launched a program to improve runways, to be funded locally. Aeronautical communications and navigational aids were minimal and at some airports relatively primitive. Only Khartoum International Airport was equipped with modern operational facilities, but by the early 1990s, Khartoum and seven other airports had paved runways. In the mid-1970s, IDA and the Saudi Development Fund agreed to make funds available for construction of new airports at Port Sudan and Waw, reconstruction and improvement of the airport at Malakal, and substantial upgrading of the Juba airport; these four airports accounted for almost half of domestic traffic. Because the civil war resumed, improvements were made only at Port Sudan. Juba airport runways were rebuilt by a loan from the European Development Fund, but the control tower and navigational equipment remained incomplete.

In 1990, Sudan had only one operational deep-water harbor, Port Sudan, situated on an inlet of the Red Sea. The port had been built from scratch, beginning in 1905, to complement the railroad line from Khartoum to the Red Sea by serving as the entry and exit point for the foreign trade the rail line was to carry. It operated as a department of SRC until 1974 when it was transferred to the Sea Ports Corporation, a newly established public enterprise set up to manage Sudan's marine ports. Facilities at the port eventually included fifteen cargo berths, sheds, warehouses, and storage tanks for edible oils, molasses, and petroleum products. Equipment included quay, mobile, and other cranes, and some forklift trucks, but much of the handling of cargo was manual. There were also a number of tugboats, which were used to berth ships in the narrow inlet.

During the early 1970s, port traffic averaged about 3 million tons a year, compared with an overall capacity of about 3.8 million tons. Exports were somewhat more than 1 million tons and imports about 2 million tons; about half of the latter was petroleum and petroleum products. By the mid-1970s, stepped up economic development had raised traffic to capacity levels. In 1985, however, largely as a result of the civil war, exports were down to 663 thousand tons (down 51% from the previous year) and imports were 2.3 million tons (down 25% from the previous year). Physical expansion of the harbor and adjacent areas was generally precluded by natural features and the proximity of the city of Port Sudan. However, surveys showed that use could be increased considerably by modernization and improvement of existing facilities and the addition of further cargo-handling equipment. In 1978, with the assistance of a loan from the IDA, work began on adding deep-water berths and providing roll-on-roll-off container facilities. A loan to purchase equipment was made by a West Germany body. The first phase was completed in 1982, and the second phase began in 1983, aided by a US$25-million World Bank credit. One of the major improvements has been to make the port more readily usable by road vehicles. Developed almost entirely as a rail-serviced facility, the port had large areas of interlacing railroad tracks that were mostly not flush with surrounding surfaces, thereby greatly restricting vehicular movement. Many of these tracks have been removed and new access roads constructed. Much of the cleared area has become available for additional storage facilities.

In the early 1980s, the Nimeiri government announced a plan to construct a new deep-water port at Sawakin, about twenty kilometers south of Port Sudan. Construction of a new port had long been under consideration in response to the projected growth of port traffic in the latter part of the twentieth century. A detailed study for the proposed port was made by a West German firm in the mid-1970s, and plans were drawn up for three general cargo berths, including roll-on-roll-off container facilities, and an oil terminal. Major funding for the port, known as Sawakin, was offered in 1985 by West Germany's development agency Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau and the DFC. After the Nimeiri government repeatedly postponed work on the port, the German government allocated the funds instead for purchase of agricultural inputs. Once work resumed, however, Sawakin port opened in January 1991, and was capable of handling an estimated 1.5 million tons of cargo a year.

A national merchant marine, Sudan Shipping Line, was established in 1962 as a joint venture between the government and Yugoslavia. In 1967 it became wholly government owned. From the initial two Yugoslav-built cargo vessels, the line had grown by the mid-1970s to seven ships, totaling about 52,340 deadweight tons. During 1979 and early 1980, eight more ships were added, including six built in Yugoslavia and two in Denmark. In 1990 the merchant marine consisted of ten ships of 122,200 deadweight tons. The Yugoslav vessels were all multipurpose and included container transport features. The Danish ships were equipped with roll-on-roll-off facilities. Sailings, which had been mainly between Red Sea ports and northern Europe, were expanded in the late 1980s to several Mediterranean ports.

By the early 1970s, operational problems on the Port SudanKhartoum section of Sudan Railways had resulted in inadequate supplies of petroleum products reaching Khartoum and other parts of the country. In 1975 construction of an oil pipeline from the port to Khartoum was begun to relieve traffic pressure on the railroad. It was completed in mid-1976, but leaks were discovered and the 815-kilometer-long pipeline, laid generally parallel to the railroad, did not become operational until September 1977. As constructed, its capacity was 600,000 tons a year, but that throughput was only attained in mid-1981. In early 1982, steps were taken to add additional booster pumping stations to increase the rate to an annual throughput capacity of 1 million tons. The line carried only refined products, including gasoline, gas oil, kerosene, and aviation fuel obtained either from the refinery at the port or from import-holding facilities there. These fuels were moved in a continuous operation to storage tanks at Khartoum with some capacity offloaded at Atbarah. Rail tank cars released by the pipeline were reassigned to increase supplies of petroleum products in the western and southwestern regions of the country.

This article contains material from the CIA World Factbook which, as a U.S. government publication, is in the public domain.

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Coat of arms of Sudan

Sudan (officially the Republic of Sudan) (Arabic: السودان ‎al-Sūdān) is a country in northeastern Africa. It is the largest in the African continent and the Arab World, and tenth largest in the world by area. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, Kenya and Uganda to the southeast, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west and Libya to the northwest. The country's name derives from "Sudd", which refers to a vast expanse of floating water plants or swamps. The earliest mention of the word "Sudd" in reference to modern Sudan appear in the writings of Seneca, who recorded an expedition sent by the Roman Emperor Nero to central Sudan in the first century A.D.

The people of Sudan have a long history extending from antiquity, which is intertwined with the history of Egypt, with which it was united politically over several periods. Sudan's history has also been plagued by civil war stemming from ethnic, religious, and economic conflict between the mostly Muslim and Arab population to the north, and non-Arab Sub-Saharans to the south. Sudan is currently ranked as the second-most unstable country in the world according to the Failed States Index, due to its military dictatorship and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Darfur. However, despite its internal conflicts, Sudan has managed to achieve economic growth.

Archaeological evidence has confirmed that the area in the North of Sudan was inhabited at least 60,000 years ago. A settled culture appeared in the area around 8,000 BC, living in fortified villages, where they subsisted on hunting and fishing, as well as grain gathering and cattle herding while also being shepherds.

The area was known to the Egyptians as Kush and had strong cultural and religious ties to Egypt. In the 8th century BC, however, Kush came under the rule of an aggressive line of monarchs, ruling from the capital city, Napata, who gradually extended their influence into Egypt. About 750 BC, a Kushite king called Kashta conquered Upper Egypt and became ruler of Thebes until approximately 740 BC. His successor, Piankhy, subdued the delta, reunited Egypt under the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, and founded a line of kings who ruled Kush and Thebes for about a hundred years. The dynasty's intervention in the area of modern Syria caused a confrontation between Egypt and Assyria. When the Assyrians in retaliation invaded Egypt, Taharqa (688-663 BC), the last Kushite pharaoh, withdrew and returned the dynasty to Napata, where it continued to rule Kush and extended its dominions to the south and east.

In 590 BC, an Egyptian army sacked Napata, compelling the Kushite court to move to Meroe near the 6th cataract. The Meroitic kingdom subsequently developed independently of Egypt, and during the height of its power in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC, Meroe extended over a region from the 3rd cataract in the north to Sawba, near present-day Khartoum (the modern day capital of Sudan).

The pharaonic tradition persisted among Meroe's rulers, who raised stelae to record the achievements of their reigns and erected pyramids to contain their tombs. These objects and the ruins at palaces, temples and baths at Meroe attest to a centralized political system that employed artisans' skills and commanded the labour of a large work force. A well-managed irrigation system allowed the area to support a higher population density than was possible during later periods. By the 1st century BC, the use of hieroglyphs gave way to a Meroitic script that adapted the Egyptian writing system to an indigenous, Nubian-related language spoken later by the region's people.

In the 6th century AD, the people known as the Nobatae occupied the Nile's west bank in northern Kush. Eventually they intermarried and established themselves among the Meroitic people as a military aristocracy. Until nearly the 5th century, Rome subsidized the Nobatae and used Meroe as a buffer between Egypt and the Blemmyes. About CE 350, an Axumite army from Abyssinia captured and destroyed Meroe city, ending the kingdom's independent existence.

By the 6th century, three states had emerged as the political and cultural heirs of the Meroitic Kingdom. Nobatia in the North, also known as Ballanah, had its capital at Faras, in what is now Egypt; the central kingdom, Muqurra (Makuria), was centred at Dunqulah, about 150 kilometers south of modern Dunqulah; and Alawa (Alodia), in the heartland of old Meroe, which had its capital at Sawba (now a suburb of modern-day Khartoum). In all three kingdoms, warrior aristocracies ruled Meroitic populations from royal courts where functionaries bore Greek titles in emulation of the Byzantine court.

A missionary sent by Byzantine empress Theodora arrived in Nobatia and started preaching Christianity about 540 AD. The Nubian kings became Monophysite Christians. However, Makuria was of the Melkite Christian faith, unlike Nobatia and Alodia.

After many attempts at military conquest failed, the Arab commander in Egypt concluded the first in a series of regularly renewed treaties known as Albaqut (pactum) with the Nubians that governed relations between the two peoples for more than 678 years.

Islam progressed in the area over a long period of time through intermarriage and contacts with Arab merchants and settlers. In 1093, a Muslim prince of Nubian royal blood ascended the throne of Dunqulah as king.

The two most important Arabic-speaking groups to emerge in Nubia were the Jaali and the Juhayna. Both showed physical continuity with the indigenous pre-Islamic population. Today's northern Sudanese culture combines Nubian and Arabic elements.

During the 1500s, a people called the Funj, under a leader named Amara Dunqus, appeared in southern Nubia and supplanted the remnants of the old Christian kingdom of Alwa, establishing As-Saltana az-Zarqa (the Blue Sultanate) at Sinnar. The Blue Sultanate eventually became the keystone of the Funj Empire. By the mid-16th century, Sinnar controlled Al Jazirah and commanded the allegiance of vassal states and tribal districts north to the 3rd cataract and south to the rain forests. The government was substantially weakened by a series of succession arguments and coups within the royal family. In 1820 Muhammad Ali of Egypt sent 4,000 troops to invade Sudan. The pasha's forces accepted Sinnar's surrender from the last Funj sultan, Badi VII.

In 1820, the Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali Pasha invaded and conquered northern Sudan. Though technically the Wāli of Egypt under the Ottoman Sultan, Muhammad Ali styled himself as Khedive of a virtually independent Egypt. Seeking to add Sudan to his domains, he sent his son Ibrahim Pasha to conquer the country, and subsequently incorporate it into Egypt. This policy was expanded and intensified by Ibrahim's son, Ismail I, under whose reign most of the remainder of modern-day Sudan was conquered. The Egyptian authorities made significant improvements to the Sudanese infrastructure (mainly in the north), especially with regard to irrigation and cotton production.

In 1879, the Great Powers forced the removal of Ismail and established his son Tewfik I in his place. Tewfik's corruption and mismanagement resulted in the Orabi Revolt, which threatened the Khedive's survival. Tewfik appealed for help to the British, who subsequently occupied Egypt in 1882. The Sudan was left in the hands of the Khedivial government, and the mismanagement and corruption of its officials became notorious.

Eventually, a revolt broke out in Sudan, led by the Sudanese religious leader Muhammad Ahmad ibn as Sayyid Abd Allah, the self-proclaimed Mahdi (Guided One), who sought to purify Islam and end foreign domination in Sudan. His revolt culminated in the fall of Khartoum and the death of the British governor General Gordon (Gordon of Khartoum) in 1885. The Egyptian and British forces withdrew from Sudan leaving the Mahdi to form a short-lived theocratic state.

The Mahdiyah (Mahdist regime) did not impose traditional Islamic laws. The new ruler's aim was more political than anything else. This was evident in the animosity he showed towards existing muslims and locals who did not show loyalty to his system and rule. He authorised the burning of lists of pedigrees and books of law and theology.

The Mahdi maintained that his movement was not a religious order that could be accepted or rejected at will, but that it was a universal regime, which challenged man to join or to be destroyed.

Originally, the Mahdiyah was a jihad state, run like a military camp. Sharia courts enforced Islamic law and the Mahdi's precepts, which had the force of law. Six months after the fall of Khartoum, the Mahdi died of typhus, and after a power struggle amongst his deputies, Abdallahi ibn Muhammad, with the help primarily of the Baqqara Arabs of western Sudan, overcame the opposition of the others and emerged as unchallenged leader of the Mahdiyah. After consolidating his power, Abdallahi ibn Muhammad assumed the title of Khalifa (successor) of the Mahdi, instituted an administration, and appointed Ansar (who were usually Baqqara) as emirs over each of the several provinces.

Regional relations remained tense throughout much of the Mahdiyah period, largely because of the Khalifa's brutal methods to extend his rule throughout the country. In 1887, a 60,000-man Ansar army invaded Ethiopia, penetrating as far as Gondar. In March 1889, king Yohannes IV of Ethiopia, marched on Metemma; however, after Yohannes fell in battle, the Ethiopian forces withdrew. Abd ar Rahman an Nujumi, the Khalifa's general, attempted to Egypt in 1889, but British-led Egyptian troops defeated the Ansar at Tushkah. The failure of the Egyptian invasion broke the spell of the Ansar's invincibility. The Belgians prevented the Mahdi's men from conquering Equatoria, and in 1893, the Italians repulsed an Ansar attack at Akordat (in Eritrea) and forced the Ansar to withdraw from Ethiopia.

In the 1890s, the British sought to re-establish their control over Sudan, once more officially in the name of the Egyptian Khedive, but in actuality treating the country as British imperial territory. By the early 1890s, British, French, and Belgian claims had converged at the Nile headwaters. Britain feared that the other imperial powers would take advantage of Sudan's instability to acquire territory previously annexed to Egypt. Apart from these political considerations, Britain wanted to establish control over the Nile to safeguard a planned irrigation dam at Aswan.

Lord Kitchener led military campaigns from 1896 to 1898. Kitchener's campaigns culminated in the Battle of Omdurman. Following defeat of the Mahdists at Omdurman, an agreement was reached in 1899 establishing Anglo-Egyptian rule, under which Sudan was run by a governor-general appointed by Egypt with British consent. In reality, much to the revulsion of Egyptian and Sudanese nationalists, Sudan was effectively administered as a British colony. The British were keen to reverse the process, started under Muhammad Ali Pasha, of uniting the Nile Valley under Egyptian leadership, and sought to frustrate all efforts aimed at further uniting the two countries.

During World War II, Sudan was directly involved militarily in the East African Campaign. Formed in 1925, the Sudan Defence Force (SDF) played an active part in responding to the early incursions (occupation by Italian troops of Kassala and other border areas) into the Sudan from Italian East Africa during 1940. In 1942, the SDF also played a part in the invasion of the Italian colony by British and Commonwealth forces.

From 1924 until independence in 1956, the British had a policy of running Sudan as two essentially separate territories, the north (Muslim) and south (Christian). The last British Governor-General was Sir Robert Howe.

The continued British occupation of Sudan fueled an increasingly strident nationalist backlash in Egypt, with Egyptian nationalist leaders determined to force Britain to recognize a single independent union of Egypt and Sudan. With the formal end of Ottoman rule in 1914, Husayn Kamil was declared Sultan of Egypt and Sudan, as was his brother Fuad I who succeeded him. The insistence of a single Egyptian-Sudanese state persisted when the Sultanate was re-titled the Kingdom of Egypt and Sudan, but the British continued to frustrate these efforts.

The first real independence attempt was made in 1924 by a group of Sudanese military officers known as the White Flag League. The group was led by first lieutenant Ali Abdullatif and first lieutenant Abdul Fadil Almaz. The latter led an insurrection of the military training academy, which ended in their defeat and the death of Almaz after the British army blew up the military hospital where he was garrisoned. This defeat was (allegedly) partially the result of the Egyptian garrison in Khartoum North not supporting the insurrection with artillery as was previously promised.

Even when the British ended their occupation of Egypt in 1936 (with the exception of the Suez Canal Zone), Sudan remained under British occupation. The Egyptian Revolution of 1952 finally heralded the beginning of the march towards Sudanese independence. Having abolished the monarchy in 1953, Egypt's new leaders, Muhammad Naguib, whose mother was Sudanese, and Gamal Abdel-Nasser, believed the only way to end British domination in Sudan was for Egypt to officially abandon its sovereignty over Sudan. Since Britain's own claim to sovereignty in Sudan theoretically depended upon Egyptian sovereignty, the revolutionaries calculated that this tactic would leave Britain with no option but to withdraw. Their calculation proved to be correct, and in 1954 the governments of Egypt and Britain signed a treaty guaranteeing Sudanese independence on January 1, 1956.

Afterwards, the newly elected Sudanese government led by the first prime minister Ismail Al-Azhari, went ahead with the process of Sudanisation of the state's government, with the help and supervision of an international committee. Independence was duly granted and on January 1, 1956, in a special ceremony held at the People's Palace where the Egyptian and British flags were lowered and the new Sudanese flag, composed of green, blue and white stripes, was raised in their place.

In 1955, the year before independence, a civil war began between northern and Southern Sudan. The southerners, anticipating independence, feared the new nation would be dominated by the north.

Historically, the north of Sudan had closer ties with Egypt and was predominantly Arab and Muslim while the south was predominantly a mixture of Christianity and Animism. These divisions had been further emphasized by the British policy of ruling the north and south under separate administrations. From 1924, it was illegal for people living above the 10th parallel to go further south and for people below the 8th parallel to go further north. The law was ostensibly enacted to prevent the spread of malaria and other tropical diseases that had ravaged British troops, as well as to facilitate spreading Christianity among the predominantly Animist population while stopping the Arabic and Islamic influence from advancing south. The result was increased isolation between the already distinct north and south and arguably laid the seeds of conflict in the years to come.

The resulting conflict, known as the First Sudanese Civil War, lasted from 1955 to 1972. The 1955 war began when Southern army officers mutinied and then formed the Anya-Nya guerilla movement. A few years later the first Sudanese military regime took power under Major-General Abboud. Military regimes continued into 1969 when General Ja'afar al Nimiery led a successful coup. In 1972, a cessation of the north-south conflict was agreed upon under the terms of the Addis Ababa Agreement, following talks which were sponsored by the World Council of Churches. This led to a ten-year hiatus in the national conflict.

The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), based in southern Sudan, was formed in May 1983. Finally, in June 1983, the Sudanese government under President Gaafar Nimeiry abrogated the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement (A.A.A.). The situation was exacerbated after President Gaafar Nimeiry went on to implement Sharia Law in September of the same year .

The war continued even after Nimeiry was ousted and a democratic government was elected with Al Sadig Al Mahdi's Umma Party having the majority in the parliament. The leader of the SPLA John Garang refused to recognize the government and to negotiate with it as representative of Sudan but agreed to negotiate with government officials as representative of their political parties.

In 1989, a bloodless coup brought control of Khartoum into the hands of Omar al-Bashir and the National Islamic Front headed by Dr. Hassan al-Turabi. The new government was of Islamic orientation and later it formed the Popular Defence Forces (al Difaa al Shaabi) and began to use religious propaganda to recruit people, as the regular army was demoralised and under pressure from the SPLA rebels. This worsened the situation in the tribal south, as the fighting became more intense, causing casualties among the Christian and animist minority.

The SPLA started as a Marxist movement, with support from the Soviet Union and the Ethiopian Marxist President Mengistu Haile Meriem. In time, however, it sought support in the West by using the northern Sudanese government's religious propaganda to portray the war as a campaign by the Arab Islamic government to impose Islam and the Arabic language on the Christian south. In 1991 the SPLA was split when Riek Machar withdrew and formed his own faction.

The war went on for more than 20 years, including the use of Russian-made combat helicopters and military cargo planes which were used as bombers to devastating effect on villages and tribal rebels alike. "Sudan's independent history has been dominated by chronic, exceptionally cruel warfare that has starkly divided the country on racial, religious, and regional grounds; displaced an estimated four million people (of a total estimated population of thirty-two million); and killed an estimated two million people." It damaged Sudan's economy and led to food shortages, resulting in starvation and malnutrition. The lack of investment during this time, particularly in the south, meant a generation lost access to basic health services, education, and jobs.

Peace talks between the southern rebels and the government made substantial progress in 2003 and early 2004. The peace was consolidated with the official signing by both sides of the Nairobi Comprehensive Peace Agreement 9 January 2005, granting southern Sudan autonomy for six years, to be followed by a referendum about independence. It created a co-vice president position and allowed the north and south to split oil deposits equally, but also left both the north's and south's armies in place. John Garang, the south's peace agreement appointed co-vice president died in a helicopter crash on August 1, 2005, three weeks after being sworn in. This resulted in riots, but the peace was eventually able to continue.

The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) was established under UN Security Council Resolution 1590 of March 24, 2005. Its mandate is to support implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and to perform functions relating to humanitarian assistance, and protection and promotion of human rights.

In October 2007 the former southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) withdrew from government in protest over slow implementation of a landmark 2005 peace deal which ended the civil war. Observers say the biggest obstacle to reconciliation is the unresolved status of the.

Just as the long north-south civil war was reaching a resolution, some clashes occurred in the western region of Darfur in the early 1970s between the pastoral tribes and the agricultural famine. The rebels accused the central government of neglecting the Darfur region economically, although there is uncertainty regarding the objectives of the rebels and whether it merely seeks an improved position for Darfur within Sudan or outright secession. Both the government and the rebels have been accused of atrocities in this war, although most of the blame has fallen on Arab militias known as the Janjawid, which are armed men appointed by the Al Saddiq Al Mahdi administration to stop the long-standing chaotic disputes between Darfur tribes. According to declarations by the United States Government, these militias have been engaging in genocide; the fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, many of them seeking refuge in neighbouring Chad. The government claimed victory over the rebels after capturing a town on the border with Chad in early 1994. However, the fighting resumed in 2003.

On September 9, 2004, the United States Secretary of State Colin Powell termed the Darfur conflict a genocide, claiming it as the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century. There have been reports that the Janjawid has been launching raids, bombings, and attacks on villages, killing civilians based on ethnicity, raping women, stealing land, goods, and herds of livestock. So far, over 2.5 million civilians have been displaced and the death toll is variously estimated from 200,000 to 400,000 killed. These figures have remained stagnant since initial UN reports of the conflict hinted at genocide in 2003/2004.

On May 5, 2006, the Sudanese government and Darfur's largest rebel group, the SLM (Sudanese Liberation Movement), signed the Darfur Peace Agreement, which aimed at ending the three-year long conflict. The agreement specified the disarmament of the Janjawid and the disbandment of the rebel forces, and aimed at establishing a temporal government in which the rebels could take part. The agreement, which was brokered by the African Union, however, was not signed by all of the rebel groups. Only one rebel group, the SLA, led by Minni Arko Minnawi, signed the DPA.

Since the agreement was signed, however, there have been reports of widespread violence throughout the region. A new rebel group has emerged called the National Redemption Front, which is made up of the four main rebel groups that refused to sign the May peace agreement. Recently, both the Sudanese government and government-sponsored Muslim militias have launched large offensives against the rebel groups, resulting in more deaths and more displacements. Clashes among the rebel groups have also contributed to the violence. Recent fighting along the Chad border has left hundreds of soldiers and rebel forces dead and nearly a quarter of a million refugees cut from aid. In addition, villages have been bombed and more civilians have been killed. UNICEF recently reported that around 80 infants die each day in Darfur as a result of malnutrition.

The people in Darfur are predominantly Black Africans of Muslim beliefs. While the Janjawid militia is made up of Black Arabs, the majority of Arab groups in Darfur remain uninvolved in the conflict. Darfurians — Arab and non-Arab alike — profoundly distrust a government in Khartoum that has brought them nothing but trouble.

The International Criminal Court has indicted State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs Ahmed Haroun and alleged Muslim Janjawid militia leader Ali Mohammed Ali, aka Ali Kosheib, in relation to the atrocities in the region. Ahmed Haroun belongs to the Bargou tribe, one of the non-Arab tribes of Darfur, and is alleged to have incited attacks on specific non-Arab ethnic groups. Ali Kosheib is an ex-soldier and a leader of the popular defense forces, and is alleged to be one of the key leaders responsible for attacks on villages in west Darfur.

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor on Darfur, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, announced on July 14, 2008, ten criminal charges against President Bashir, accusing him of sponsoring war crimes and crimes against humanity. The ICC's prosecutors have claimed that al-Bashir "masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part" three tribal groups in Darfur because of their ethnicity. The ICC's prosecutor for Darfur, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, is expected within months to ask a panel of ICC judges to issue an arrest warrant for Bashir.

The Arab League, AU, and even France support Sudan’s efforts to suspend the ICC investigation. They are willing to consider Article 16 of the Rome Statute, which states ICC investigations, can be suspended for one year if the investigation endangers the peace process.

The incident prompting the declaration of war was an attack on the Chadian town of Adré near the Sudanese border that led to the deaths of either one hundred rebels (as most news sources reported) or three hundred rebels. The Sudanese government was blamed for the attack, which was the second in the region in three days, but Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman Jamal Mohammed Ibrahim denied any Sudanese involvement, "We are not for any escalation with Chad. We technically deny involvement in Chadian internal affairs." The Battle of Adré led to the declaration of war by Chad and the alleged deployment of the Chadian air force into Sudanese airspace, which the Chadian government denies.

The leaders of Sudan and Chad signed an agreement in Saudi Arabia on May 3, 2007 to stop fighting from the Darfur conflict along their countries' 1,000-kilometre (600 mi) border.

The Eastern Front is a coalition of rebel groups operating in eastern Sudan along the border with Eritrea, particularly the states of Red Sea and Kassala. The Eastern Front's Chairman is Musa Mohamed Ahmed. While the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) was the primary member of the Eastern Front, the SPLA was obliged to leave by the January 2005 agreement that ended the Second Sudanese Civil War. Their place was taken in February 2004 after the merger of the larger Beja Congress with the smaller Rashaida Free Lions, two tribal based groups of the Beja and Rashaida people, respectively. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a rebel group from Darfur in the west, then joined.

Both the Free Lions and the Beja Congress stated that government inequity in the distribution of oil profits was the cause of their rebellion. They demanded to have a greater say in the composition of the national government, which has been seen as a destabilizing influence on the agreement ending the conflict in Southern Sudan.

The Eastern Front had threatened to block the flow of crude oil, which travels from the oil fields of the south-central regions to outside markets through Port Sudan. A government plan to build a second oil refinery near Port Sudan was also threatened. The government was reported to have three times as many soldiers in the east to suppress the rebellion and protect vital infrastructure as in the more widely reported Darfur region.

The Eritrean government in mid-2006 dramatically changed their position on the conflict. From being the main supporter of the Eastern Front they decided that bringing the Sudanese government around the negotiating table for a possible agreement with the rebels would be in their best interests. They were successful in their attempts and on the 19 June 2006, the two sides signed an agreement on declaration of principles. This was the start of four months of Eritrean-mediated negotiations for a comprehensive peace agreement between the Sudanese government and the Eastern Front, which culminated in signing of a peace agreement on 14 October 2006, in Asmara. The agreement covers security issues, power sharing at a federal and regional level, and wealth sharing in regards to the three Eastern states Kassala, Red Sea and Al Qadarif.

Southern Sudan is acknowledged to have some of the worst health indicators in the world. In 2004, there were only three surgeons serving southern Sudan, with three proper hospitals, and in some areas there was just one doctor for every 500,000 people. The humanitarian branch of the United Nations, consisting of several UN agencies coordinated by OCHA, works to bring life-saving relief to those in need. It is estimated by OCHA, that over 3.5 million people in Darfur (including 2.2 million IDPs) are heavily reliant on humanitarian aid for their survival. By contrast, in 2007 OCHA, under the leadership of Eliane Duthoit, started to gradually phase out in Southern Sudan, where humanitarian needs are gradually diminishing, and are slowly but markedly leaving the place to recovery and development activities.

In July 2007, many parts of the country were devastated by flooding, prompting an immediate humanitarian response by the United Nations and partners, under the leadership of acting United Nations Resident Coordinators David Gressly and Oluseyi Bajulaiye. Over 400,000 people were directly affected, with over 3.5 million at risk of epidemics. The United Nations have allocated US$ 13.5 million for the response from its pooled funds, but will launch an appeal to the international community to cover the gap. The humanitarian crisis is in danger of worsening. Following attacks in Darfur, the U.N. World Food Program announced it could stop food aid to some parts of Darfur.

Sudan has an authoritarian government in which all effective political power is in the hands of President Omar al-Bashir. Bashir and his party have controlled the government since he led the military coup on 30 June 1989.

From 1983 to 1997, the country was divided into five regions in the north and three in the south, each headed by a military governor. After the military coup on April 6, 1985, regional assemblies were suspended. The RCC was abolished in 1993, and the ruling National Islamic Front changed its name to the National Congress Party. The new party included some non Muslim members; mainly Southern Sudanese Politicians, some of whom were appointed as ministers or state governors. After 1997, the structure of regional administration was replaced by the creation of twenty-six states. The executives, cabinets, and senior-level state officials are appointed by the president, and their limited budgets are determined by and dispensed from Khartoum. The states, as a result, remain economically dependent upon the central government. Khartoum state, comprising the capital and outlying districts, is administered by a governor.

In December 1999, a power struggle climaxed between President al-Bashir and then-speaker of parliament Hassan al-Turabi, who was the NIF founder and an Islamic ideologue. Al-Turabi was stripped of his posts in the ruling party and the government, parliament was disbanded, the constitution was suspended, and a state of national emergency was declared by presidential decree. Parliament resumed in February 2001 after the December 2000 presidential and parliamentary elections, but the national emergency laws remained in effect. Al-Turabi was arrested in February 2001, and charged with being a threat to national security and the constitutional order for signing a memorandum of understanding with the SPLA. Since then his outspoken style has had him in prison or under house-arrest, his most recent stint beginning in March 2004 and ending in June 2005. During that time he was under house-arrest for his role in a failed coup attempt in September 2003, an allegation he has denied. According to some reports, the president had no choice but to release him, given that a coalition of National Democratic Union (NDA) members headquartered in both Cairo and Eritrea, composed of the political parties known as the SPLM/A, Umma Party, Mirghani Party, and Turabi's own National People's Congress, were calling for his release at a time when an interim government was preparing to take over in accordance with the Naivasha agreement and the Machokos Accord.In the proposed 2009 elections, Vice President Slava Kiir declared he is likely to challenge Bashir for the Presidential seat.

Sudan has had a troubled relationship with many of its neighbours and much of the international community due to what is viewed as its aggressively Islamic stance. For much of the 1990s, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia formed an ad-hoc alliance called the "Front Line States" with support from the United States to check the influence of the National Islamic Front government. The Sudanese Government supported anti-Uganda rebel groups such as the Lord's Resistance Army. Beginning from the mid-1990s Sudan gradually began to moderate its positions as a result of increased US pressure following the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings and the new development of oil fields previously in rebel hands. Sudan also has a territorial dispute with Egypt over the Hala'ib Triangle. Since 2003, the foreign relations of Sudan have centered on the support for ending the Second Sudanese Civil War and condemnation of government support for militias in the Darfur conflict.

The United States has listed Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993. U.S. firms have been barred from doing business in Sudan since 1997. In 1998, the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum was destroyed by a US cruise missile strike because of its alleged production of chemical weapons and links to al-Qaeda.

Sudan has extensive economic relations with China. China gets 1/10 of its oil from Sudan, and according to a former Sudanese government minister, China is Sudan’s largest supplier of arms.

On December 23, 2005, Chad, Sudan's neighbour to the west, declared war on Sudan and accused the country of being the "common enemy of the nation ." This happened after the December 18 attack on Adre, which left about 100 people dead. A statement issued by Chadian government on December 23, accused Sudanese militias of making daily incursions into Chad, stealing cattle, killing people and burning villages on the Chadian border. The statement went on to call for Chadians to form a patriotic front against Sudan. The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) have called on Sudan and Chad to exercise self-restraint to defuse growing tensions between the two countries. On May 11, 2008 Sudan announced it was cutting diplomatic relations with Chad, claiming that it was helping rebels in Darfur to attack the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

On December 27, 2005, Sudan became one of the few states to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.

On November 17, 2006, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced that "Sudan has agreed in principle to allow the establishment of a joint African Union and UN peacekeeping force in an effort to solve the crisis in Darfur" - but had stopped short of setting the number of troops involved. Annan speculated that this force could number 17,000. Despite this claim, no additional troops have been deployed as of late December 2006. On July 31, 2007 the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1769, authorizing the deployment of UN forces. Violence continues in the region and on December 15, 2006, prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) stated they would be proceeding with cases of human rights violations against members of the Sudan government. A Sudanese legislator was quoted as saying that Khartoum may permit UN peace keepers to patrol Darfur in exchange for immunity from prosecution for officials charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The legal system in Sudan is based on English common law and Islamic law; as of 20 January 1991, the now defunct Revolutionary Command Council imposed Islamic law in the northern states; Islamic law applies to all residents of the northern states regardless of their religion; however, the CPA establishes some protections for non-Muslims in Khartoum; some separate religious courts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; the southern legal system is still developing under the CPA following the civil war; Islamic law will not apply to the southern states.

The judicial branch of the government consist of: Constitutional Court of nine justices; National Supreme Court; National Courts of Appeal; other national courts; National Judicial Service Commission will undertake overall management of the National Judiciary.

A letter dated August 14, 2006, from the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch found that the Sudanese government is both incapable and unwilling to protect its own citizens in Darfur and that its militias are guilty of crimes against humanity. The letter added that these human rights abuses have existed since 2004.

Both government forces and militias allied with the government are known not only to attack civilians in Darfur, but also humanitarian workers. Sympathizers of rebel groups are arbitrarily detained, as are foreign journalists, human rights defenders, student activists, and displaced people in and around Khartoum, some of whom face torture. The rebel groups have also been accused in a report issued by the American government of attacking humanitarian workers and of killing innocent civilians.

Due to the Sudanese government's abhorrent treatment of refugees and asylum seekers within its borders, the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants named Sudan as one of the Ten Worst Places for Refugees in its World Refugee Survey 2008. Sudan has forcibly confined, or warehoused, Eritrean refugees in camps for nearly 40 years and Ethiopians for nearly 30. The twelve refugee camps in Sudan lack basic food, water, and hygiene supplies. There are also reports that Sudanese officials have attempted to repopulate destroyed villages in Darfur with Chadian refugees living in Niger.

Sudan is situated in northern Africa, bordering the Red Sea and it has a coastline of 853 km along the Red Sea. With an area of 2,505,810 square kilometres (967,499 sq mi), it is the largest country in the continent and the tenth largest in the world. It borders the countries of Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya and Uganda. It is dominated by the River Nile and its tributaries.

The terrain is generally flat plains, broken by several mountain ranges; in the west the Jebel Marra is the highest range; in the south is the highest mountain Mount Kinyeti Imatong, near the border with Uganda; in the east are the Red Sea Hills.

The Blue and White Niles meet in Khartoum to form the River Nile, which flows northwards through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. Blue Nile's course through Sudan is nearly 800 km long and is joined by the rivers Dinder and Rahad between Sennar and Khartoum. The White Nile within Sudan has no significant tributaries.

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

There are several dams on the Blue and White Niles. Among them are the Sennar and Roseires on the Blue Nile, and Jebel Aulia dam on the White Nile. There is also Lake Nubia on the Sudan-Egyptian border.

Rich mineral resources are available in Sudan including: petroleum, natural gas, gold, silver, chromite, asbestos, manganese, gypsum, mica, zinc, iron, lead, uranium, copper, kaolin, cobalt, granite, nickel and tin.

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

The nation's wildlife is threatened by hunting. As of 2001, twenty-one mammal species and nine bird species are endangered, as well as two types of plants. Endangered species include: the waldrapp, northern white rhinoceros, tora hartebeest, slender-horned gazelle, and hawksbill turtle. The Sahara oryx has become extinct in the wild.

In May 2007, it was announced that hundreds of wild elephants have been located on a previously unknown, treeless island in the Sudd swampland region of southern Sudan. The exact location being kept secret to protect the animals from poachers.

Despite being the 17th fastest growing economy in the world, new economic policies, and infrastructure investments, Sudan still faces formidable economic problems as it must rise from a very low level of per capita output. Since 1997, Sudan has been implementing the macroeconomic reforms recommended by the IMF. In 1999, Sudan began exporting crude oil and in the last quarter of 1999 recorded its first trade surplus. Increased oil production (the current production is about 520,000 barrels per day (83,000 m³/d)) revived light industry, and expanded export processing zones helped sustain GDP growth at 6.1% in 2003. These gains, along with improvements to monetary policy, have stabilized the exchange rate. Currently oil is Sudan's main export, and the production is increasing dramatically. With rising oil revenues the Sudanese economy is booming at a growth rate of about 9% in 2007. Sustained growth is expected next year, not only because of increasing oil production, but also due to the boost of hydroelectricity (annual electricity yield of 5.5 TWh) by Merowe Dam, which will produce energy later this year.

Rich mineral resources are available in Sudan including: petroleum, natural gas, gold, silver, chrome, asbestos, manganese, gypsum, mica, zinc, iron, lead, uranium, copper, kaolin, cobalt, granite, nickel and tin.

Agriculture production remains Sudan's most important sector, employing 80% of the work force and contributing 39% of GDP, but most farms remain rain-fed and susceptible to drought. Chronic instability — including the long-standing civil war between the Muslim north and the Christian/animist south, adverse weather, and weak world agricultural prices — ensure that much of the population will remain at or below the poverty line for years.

The Merowe Dam, also known as Merowe Multi-Purpose Hydro Project or Hamdab Dam, is a large construction project in northern Sudan, about 350 km north of the capital Khartoum. It is situated on the river Nile, close to the 4th Cataract where the river divides into multiple smaller branches with large islands in between. Merowe is a city about 40 km downstream from the construction site at Hamdab. The main purpose of the dam will be the generation of electricity. Its dimensions make it the largest contemporary hydro power project in Africa. The construction of the dam will be finished by mid 2008, supplying more than 90% of the population with electricity. Other gas powered electricity stations are under construction in Khartoum state, these are also due to be completed by 2008.

Despite the American sanctions, the Sudanese economy is the one of the fastest growing in the world according to a New York Times report of October 2006.

In Sudan's 1993 census, the population was recorded to be 25 million. No comprehensive census has been carried out since then due to the continuation of the civil war. A 2006 United Nations estimate put the population at about 37 million. The population of metropolitan Khartoum (including Khartoum, Omdurman, and Khartoum North) is growing rapidly and is estimate at about 5 to 7 million, including around 2 million displaced persons from the southern war zone as well as western and eastern drought-affected areas.

Despite being a refugee-generating country, Sudan also hosts a refugee population. According to the World Refugee Survey 2008, published by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, 310,500 refugees and asylum seekers lived in Sudan in 2007. The majority of this population came from Eritrea (240,400 persons), Chad (45,000), Ethiopia (19,300) and the Central African Republic (2,500). The Sudanese government was reportedly uncooperative with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in 2007, and the government forcibly deported at least 1,500 refugees and asylum seekers during the year. Sudan is a party to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

Sudan has 597 tribes that speak over 400 different languages dialects, but there are two distinct major cultures – Arabs with Nubian roots, and non-Arab Black Africans – consisting of hundreds of ethnic and tribal divisions and language groups. The northern states cover most of Sudan and include most of the urban centers. Most of the 22 million Sudanese who live in this region are Arabic-speaking Muslims, though the majority also use a traditional non-Arabic mother tongue (e.g. Nubian, Beja, Fur, Nuban, Ingessana, etc) as education is in Arabic language. Among these are several distinct tribal groups: the camel-raising Kababish of northern Kordofan; the Dongolawiyin (الدنقلاويين); the Ga’aliyin (الجعلين); the Rubatab (الرباطاب); the Manasir (المناصير); the Shaiqiyah (الشايقيّة); the Bideiria ; the semi-nomadic Baggara of Kurdufan and Darfur; the Beja in the Red Sea area and who extend into Eritrea; and the Nubians of the northern Nile areas, some of whom have been resettled on the Atbara River. Shokrya in the Butana land, Bataheen bordering the Ga’alin and Shokrya in the south west of Butana. Rufaa, Halaween, Fulani (فولاني) and many other tribes have settled in the Gazeera region and on the banks of the Blue Nile, Damazine and the Dindir region. The Nuba of southern Kurdufan and Fur in the western reaches of the country.

As with most Egyptians, Palestinians, and many other Arab peoples, most Sudanese Arabs are primarily Arab by culture rather than race, being descended primarily from the ancient Nubians. The Nubians are a Semitic race, similar in appearance to Ethiopians,Eritreans,and Somalis, sharing a common history with the latter up to a point (see ancient Kush, and Axum). In common with much of the rest of the Arab World, the gradual process of Arabisation in northern Sudan led to the predominance of the Arabic language and aspects of Arab culture , leading a majority of northern Sudanese today to identify as Arab. This process was furthered both by the spread of Islam and the emigration to Sudan of racial Arabs from the Arabian Peninsula and their intermarriage with the indigenous peoples of the country. The development of the Arab identity was repeated throughout what is now the Arab World, e.g., in Libya, where the indigenous Berbers and conquering Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula intermarried to form the modern Libyan Arabs, though it did not take place among the Persians of Iran, who accepted Islam, but rejected the Arabic language and Arab identity.

The Southern region has a population of around six million and a predominantly rural, subsistence economy. This region has been affected by war for all but 10 years since the country's independence in 1956, resulting in serious neglect, lack of infrastructure development, and major destruction and displacement. More than two million people have died, and more than four million are internally displaced or have become refugees as a result of the civil war and war-related impacts. Here a majority of the population practices traditional indigenous beliefs, although some practice Christianity, a result of Christian missionary efforts. The south also contains many tribal groups and many more languages are used than in the north. The Dinka, whose population is estimated at more than one million, are the largest of the many Black African ethnic groups of Sudan. Along with the Shilluk also the Nuer and the Bari which consist of other five tribes,Pojulu,Mundari, Kuku,kakaw and Ngangware they are Nilotic tribes. The Azande, Bor, and Jo Luo are “Sudanic” tribes in the west, and the Acholi and Lotuhu live in the extreme south, extending into Uganda. Unlike northern Sudan, Arabisation and Islamisation have been limited in the south as the region's permanent merger with the north is relatively recent, dating back to the union with Egypt in the 19th Century. As a result, Arab self-identification amongst people in the south is almost exclusively limited to those of northern Sudanese origin, with the vast majority of southern Sudanese rejecting Arab identity.

The lingua franca in Southern Sudan is a variant of Arabic called "Juba Arabic"; the English language is used by the educated elite.

Some western African tribes like the Fallata, also known as Fulani and Hausa, have migrated to Sudan at various times, settling in various regions, mainly in the north, with most speaking Arabic in addition to their native languages.

Islam predominates in the North, while traditional indigenous beliefs (animism) and Christianity are prevalent in the South. Some Muslim leaders estimate the Muslim population to be more than 32 million, or above 80 percent of the total population. Almost all Muslims are Sunni, although there are significant distinctions between followers of different Sunni traditions, particularly among Sufi brotherhoods. Two popular brotherhoods, the Ansar and the Khatmia, are associated with the opposition Umma and Democratic Unionist Parties, respectively. There is a small Shi'a community.

Traditionalists are believed to be the second largest religious group in the country, although there are reports that many converted to Christianity or followed a syncretic form of these two religious beliefs.

Christians are generally considered the third largest group. The Roman Catholic Church estimates the number of baptized Catholics at six million, including small Melkite and Maronite communities in the north. Anglicans estimate five million followers in the Episcopal Church of Sudan and the dissident Reformed Episcopal Church. There are very small but long established groups of Orthodox Christians in Khartoum and other northern cities, including Coptic Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Christians. There are also Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox communities in Khartoum and eastern Sudan, largely made up of refugees and migrants. Other Christian groups with smaller followings in the country include the Africa Inland Church, the Armenian (Apostolic) Church, the Sudan Church of Christ, the Sudan Interior Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Sudan Pentecostal Church, the Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church (in the North), the Presbyterian Church of the Sudan (in the South), and the Seventh-day Adventist Church of Sudan.

Foreign missionary groups operate in both North and South, although Christian missionary activity is limited in the North due to Shari'a, strong social pressure against proselytizing, and existing laws against apostasy.

Many Christians in the North are descended from pre-Islamic era communities or are trading families that immigrated from Egypt or the Near East before independence (1956). Many Muslims in the South are shopkeepers or small business owners who sought economic opportunities during the civil war. Political tensions have created not only a sense of ethnic and religious marginalization among the minority religious group in each region but also a feeling among the majority that the minority groups control a disproportionate share of the wealth.

Religious identity plays a role in the country's political divisions. Northern Muslims have dominated the country's political and economic system since independence. The NCP draws much of its support from Islamists, Salafis/Wahhabis, and other conservative Arab Muslims in the North. The Umma Party has traditionally attracted Arab followers of the Ansar Sect of Sufism as well as non-Arab Muslims from Darfur and Kordofan. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) includes both Arab and non-Arab Muslims in the North and East, especially those in the Khatmia Sufi brotherhood, as well as some northern Arabic-speaking Christians. Southern Christians generally support the SPLM or one of the smaller southern parties.

According to estimates, Sudan is predominantly Muslim. 70% of the population adheres to Islam. The remainder of the population follows either animist and indigenous beliefs (25%), and 5% of the total population adheres to Christianity. Sudan's largest Christian denominations are the following: the Roman Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, the Presbyterian Church in the Sudan, and the Coptic Orthodox Church.

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Sudan Defence Force

The Sudan Defence Force (SDF) was a Sudanese military unit formed in 1925, as its name indicates, to maintain the borders of the Sudan under the British administration. During the Second World War it also served beyond the Sudan in the East African Campaign and in the Western Desert Campaign.

In peacetime, the SDF comprised approximately 4,500 regular Sudanese soldiers.

In wartime, the SDF grew to as many as 20,000 men.

The British did not have enough men to garrison their Empire exclusively with British troops and almost every territory had a local militia or an indigenous regiment. Prior to 1925, the garrison of the Sudan comprised a British battalion around the capital, and battalions of the Egyptian Army, both Egyptian and Sudanese,in the regional capitals.

The Sudan had been a territory loosely administered by Egypt, but in the 1880s it had fallen to the forces of the Mahdi. From 1885 to 1898 it was ruled, de facto, by the Mahdi and his successor the Khalifa (literally 'Successor'). Following the defeat of the Mahdists at the Battle of Omdurman, the Sudan was reorganised as an Anglo-Egyptian Condominium. The Head of the Egyptian Army was the Governor-General and there was still a large garrison, as the territory was huge and the remoter parts, such as Darfur, were not pacified until 1916.

In 1925, the Governor-General was assassinated, by an Egyptian nationalist, on a visit to Cairo. The Egyptian Army garrison of the Sudan was therefore deemed unreliable. The Egyptian battalions were sent home and the Sudanese battalions disbanded, to be reformed into a Sudanese force, under British officers. The structure of the new force was slightly different: a little looser and more territorial, to give a better esprit de corps and sense of responsibility in each 'Corps' for its own territory. Unlike the old battalions, with anonymous numbers, the names were intended to give a distinct, and regional, identity, like English county regiments. Recruitment in each Corps reflected the local ethnicities.

However, some continuity was maintained. The Egypt ruler, the Khedive, or Viceroy, had been, nominally, a subject of the Ottoman Sultan and so the SDF continued Egyptian titles, which in turn continued Ottoman titles. The result was that British officers in the Sudan were called Bimbashi not Major, or an Arabic equivalent, and Kaimakam. Turkish expressions extended beyond the rank structure, too.

The main duties of the SDF were internal security: assisting the police in the event of unrest or natural disaster. In such a vast country, companies could be detached on garrison duties far from the actual Corps headquarters.

In the mid to late 1930s, the SDF was used to counter the aggressive actions of Italian military forces under Marshal Italo Balbo based in Italian North Africa (Africa Settentrionale Italiana, or ASI) Libya. In December 1933, the Italians probed various positions in the Jebel Uweinat area along the poorly defined border between the Kingdom of Egypt, the Sudan, and ASI. Responding to the Italian probes in the area, the SDF was ordered to occupy the Merga oasis and then the area around the Karkur Marr spring. The Italian conquest of Ethiopia led to a reorganisation and an increase in scope of the force. By June 1940 the SDF comprised twenty-one companies — including five (later six) Motor Machine Gun Companies — totalling 4,500 men.

As part of the Anglo-Egyptian "Condominium," the Sudan was at war with the Axis from the time Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and the United Kingom declared war on Germany. Initially the war was limited to Europe and so the Sudan Defense Force had little to do other than preparation work should the land war reach Africa.

From 10 June 1940, when Fascist Italy declared war on Britain and France, the SDF was involved in the East African Campaign. At first, the SDF went on the defensive against attacks into the Sudan by forces of the Italian Royal Army (Regio Esercito) and the Italian Royal Air Force (Regia Aeronautica) based in Italian East Africa (Africa Orientale Italiana, or AOI). The Italians occupied the railway junction at Kassala, the small fort at Gallabat, and the villages of Ghezzan, Kurmuk, and Dumbode on the Blue Nile. In the first days of August, an Italian force of irregular Eritreans raided as far north as Port Sudan.

The Sudan Defense Force fought on the "Northern Front" during the East African Campaign under the overall command of Lieutenant-General William Platt. In October 1940, three motor machine-gun companies from the SDF were part of Gazelle Force, a mobile reconnaissance and fighting force commanded by Colonel Frank Messervy. The Frontier battalion from the SDF was part of Gideon Force commanded by Major Orde Wingate. In January 1941, during the British and Commonwealth offensive into the AOI, the SDF took part in the successful invasion of Eritrea. During this invasion, the SDF contributed machine gun companies, howitzer batteries, and other forces (including some homemade armoured cars).

The SDF also played an active role during the Western Desert Campaign along the Sudanese border with ASI in North Africa. The SDF was used to supply the Free French and then the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) garrisons of the former Italian Fort Taj at the Kufra oasis in southeastern Libya. In March 1941, French and LRDG forces had wrested control of the fort from the Italians during the Battle of Kufra.

SDF convoys of 3-ton trucks had to make a round trip of about 1,300 miles to keep the garrisons at Kufra supplied with petrol, food, and other vital supplies. The overall scarcity of petrol meant that LRDG patrols could do little more than guard Kufra against attacks from the north. They were unable to raid northwards from Kufra. In February 1941, the situation was somewhat improved when twenty 10-ton trucks were added to the convoys. Ultimately the SDF took over the garrison duties at the oasis from the LRDG.

The SDF provided the garrison for Jalo Oasis.

In 1942, elements of the Sudan Defense Force were involved with countering Operation Salaam, the infiltration of German Brandenburger commandos into Egypt. Together with British intelligence agents, members of the SDF were ordered to intercept and capture the German intelligence (Abwehr) commandos and their Hungarian guide, desert explorer László Almásy.

Even after the Tunisian Campaign had ended in Allied victory, SDF patrols were busy thwarting German efforts to land agents behind the lines. The Germans continued attempts to make contact with Arab rebels. On 15 May 1943, a four-engine aircraft with German markings attempted to land at El Mukaram only to be engaged and shot up by a SDF patrol. The aircraft was able to take off and make good its escape, but it did so with casualties and flying on two engines.

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Source : Wikipedia