Sudan, also known as North Sudan, or officially as the Republic of The Sudan, is a country located in the northeastern part of Africa. Sudan is bordered by Egypt to the north, on the east by the Red Sea, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, to the South by South Sudan, and the the Central African Republic to the southwest, to the west by Chad, and Libya to its northwest.
The country had been locked in conflict with secession groups from the South. But in 2012, following mediations from international bodies, an agreement was reached over the conflict and South Sudan was granted its independence. Prior to this, Sudan had been the largest country in Africa but is now the third largest.
Sudan has a population of 39 million according to the World Bank, and a large population of refugees from a foreign nation. According to refugee statistics, the population stands at over 300,000. Additionally, Sudan has a young population, with some two-fifths under age 15; more than one-fourth of the population is between ages 15 and 29.
Sudan’s population is highly culturally diverse and is made up of indigenous inhabitants and Arab migrants. The country’s population is majorly Islam. Sudan has19 major ethnic groups and over 597 ethnic subgroups, who speak more than 400 languages and dialects. Arab speaking Muslims constitute the majority, comprising about 70% of the total population. Other ethnic groups include the Nubians (who are indigenous in the land, and have a rich history of their own), the Copts, the Beja, and a few others make up the rest of the population.
Economically, Sudan has one of the worst economies and is one of the least developed countries in the world. In 2017, its GDP stood at $186.715 billion, and its GDP per capita stood at $2,841.
Sudan’s economy is heavily dependent on oil. Yet, about a third of its inhabitants are dependent on farming and animal husbandry for their livelihoods, making the country reliant on subsistence farming.Oil was first discovered in South-western Sudan in 1977, and commercial quantity was discovered in 1980. Surprisingly though, in 2010, Sudan was considered the 17th fastest growing economy due to its oil resources. But following the independence of South Sudan in 2011, Sudan lost 80% of its oil fields.
Sudan has other known mineral deposits, but not all are exploited. They include gold, uranium, chromite, gypsum, mica, marble, and iron ore. Sudan is a leading producer of gum Arabic, a water-soluble gum obtained from acacia trees and used in the production of adhesives, candy, and pharmaceuticals.
A huge portion of Sudan’s total revenue, more than half, is from oil exports. Beyond oil, Sudan’s other main exports are livestock, cotton, gum Arabic, sorghum, and sesame, while its chief imports consist of machinery and equipment, manufactured goods, motor vehicles, and wheat. Sudan’s leading trading partners include China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Sudan has a rich history. It was home to the ancient Nubian kingdom of Kush, which at its peak spread its reach and conquered all of Egypt in the 8th century BC. However, the empire went into decline, and eventually collapsed after the king of Aksum attacked all that was left of it in the 4th century AD. The civilization of Kush was among the first in the world to use iron smelting technology.
Islam and Christianity slowly began entering Sudan through different means beginning from 540 AD.
In 1820, Egypt (which was under the Ottoman Empire at the time) invaded northern Sudan. The ensuing war ended in 1822 with a complete victory for Egypt, and it held that territory for 60 years. In 1882, internal unrests led to a revolution led by Muhammad Ahmed.
Between 1899 and 1955, Sudan was jointly ruled by Egypt and Britain. By 1956, Sudan got its independence from both nations after several agitations from both internal forces and the Egyptians, who wanted the British to drop claims to Sudan.
However, following its independence, Sudan has witnessed a rollercoaster of crisis, coups, and conflicts that have made it highly unstable. Within just two years after its independence, the country witnessed its first military coup, led by Lieutenant General Ibrahim Abboud. Abboud’s policies caused unrests particularly in the South and caused a civil war that lasted till 1972.
In 1969, Sudan witnessed another coup, led by Colonel (later Field Marshal) Gaafar Muhammad al-Nimeiry. In 1972, he who became the first elected president of Sudan in 1972, and went on to win two more terms. He was overthrown in April 1985 by his chief of staff, General Abd al-RaḥmānSiwar al-Dahab.
The new military administration held an election in 1986, it was inherently flawed by political instability, indecisive leadership, and party manipulations. It was ultimately replaced when Lieutenant General Omar ḤasanAḥmad al-Bashir seized power in 1989.Bashir re-introduced Islamic Law, corporal punishment and supported Iraq during the Persian Gulf War. Bashir’s government oversaw the resurgence of the Civil War in southern Sudan against the rebels.
Bashir transitioned the country from military rule to civilian government. Bashir was however appointed to the presidency of the new government. He held the first elections since 1989 in 1996. He won and was re-elected in 2000. Bashir has remained in power ever since.He continued to fight the rebels in the south until international mediations led to the independence of South Sudan in 2011.