Sudan is geographically located at the crossroads of Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and stretches across the Red Sea. Sudan shares borders with seven countries including Libya and Egypt to the North, Chad to the West, the Central African Republic to the South-West, South Sudan to the South, Ethiopia to the South-East and Eritrea to the East. The White and Blue Niles meet in Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan, and merge to become the Nile River that flows all the way to the Mediterranean Sea via Egypt. Sudan has a Sahelian belt with the desert in the far north, fertile land in the Nile valleys, the Gezira and across the rest of the country from Darfur to Kassala via Blue Nile and Kordofan States for farming and livestock herding. The country is sparsely populated and shares international borders with Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Chad, and Libya. The River Nile traverses the country from south to north providing a crucial water source, while the Red Sea washes close to 900km of the eastern coast, making Sudan a sea bridge between Africa and the Middle East.
In Sudan, the climate is desert in the north and on the coast of the Red Sea, while it's semi-desert or semi-arid in the south, which is affected by the summer monsoon. Summer temperatures often exceed 43.3 degrees Celsius (110 degrees Fahrenheit) in the desert zones, and rainfall is negligible. Dust storms frequently occur in desert zone. High temperatures also occur in the south throughout the central plains’ region, but the humidity is generally low. Winter is characterized by a sunny weather everywhere, except on the Red Sea coast, where there can be a bit of cloudiness and some showers; in the south and the east, it's hot during the day, but generally cool at night, while in the north, it can get cold at night. By February, the temperature begins to rise across the country, and in the south, where it was already intense, it becomes scorching.
Sudan is both an African and Arab country, with Arabic being the most widely spoken language. Over 97% of the population are Sunni Muslims with a small Christian minority.
Sudan is growing at a quick rate of 2.42% per year. This rate adds over 1 million people to the population every year. Because the fertility rate is so high, a very large portion of the population is under 15 years old, putting additional strains on social services, especially education and health.
The country is dominated by Muslims, most of whom speak Arabic and are for the most part ethnically mixed. Despite a common language and religion, the people are highly differentiated in their mode of livelihood and comprise city dwellers, village farmers, and pastoral nomads. The tribal system has largely disintegrated in urban areas and settled villages, however, and retains its strength only among the nomads of the plains who raise cattle, sheep, and camels.
There are more than one hundred different indigenous languages spoken in Sudan, including Nubian, Ta Bedawie, and dialects of Nilotic and Nilo-Hamitic languages. Arabic is the official language, spoken by more than half of the population. English is being phased out as a foreign language taught in the schools, although it is still spoken by some people.
The day usually begins with a cup of tea. Breakfast is eaten in the mid- to late morning, generally consisting of beans, salad, liver, and bread. Millet is the staple food, and is prepared as a porridge called Asida or a flat bread called kisra. Vegetables are prepared in stews or salads. Fool, a dish of broad beans cooked in oil, is common, as are cassavas and sweet potatos. Nomads in the north rely on dairy products and meat from camels. In general, meat is expensive and not often consumed. Sheep are killed for feasts or to honor a special guest. The intestines, lungs, and liver of the animal are prepared with chili pepper in a special dish called marara. Cooking is done in the courtyards outside the house on a tin grill called a kanoon, which uses charcoal as fuel. Tea and coffee are both popular drinks.
Coffee beans are fried, then ground with cloves and spices. The liquid is strained through a grass sieve and served in tiny cups.
Sudan has a tradition of lyrical music that utilizes oblique metaphors and has historically been used as part of the Sudanese independence movement and in other political movements. The tambour (a lyre) was originally used as accompaniment, but this was replaced by the oud when it was imported from Arabia. The method of playing the oud continues to use a plucking method developed with the tambour, making a distinctive and characteristic sound. Sudanese popular music evolved into what is generally referred to as "post-Haqibah", a style dominating in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. This period was marked by the introduction of tonal instruments from both East and West, such as the violin, accordion, oud, tabla and bongo. A big band style came into existence, mirroring trends in the West. Post-haqibah, like haqibah, was based on the pentatonic scale.
The dance culture: Dance is a part of the regular life of the Sudanese people. They enjoy their music and dance in their ceremonies and special occasions. Much of the Sudanese music is influenced by Arabic and African styles. Although the dancing rhythm differs from place to place, the pattern is essentially the same across the country.
Sudan is rich in arable land, natural resources, a young workforce, and agricultural opportunities, Sudan’s rich endowment of natural resources, including natural gas, gold, silver, chromite, manganese, gypsum, mica, zinc, iron, lead, uranium, copper, kaolin, cobalt, granite, nickel, tin, and aluminum offer significant economic potential. However, these resources have yet to be fully realized. Moreover, the secession of the oil-rich South in 2011 initiated a declining economic trend. IMF figures indicate that GDP halved between 2011 and 2019. The 75% decline in oil income resulted in both a trade and fiscal deficit, which led to a substantial devaluation of the currency and rising inflation.
Sudan’s exports are dominated by gold, sesame seed, livestock, crude oil and groundnuts, and accounted for 82% of all exports in 2019. Historically, agriculture has remained the main source of income and employment in Sudan, employing or providing livelihoods for more than 60% of the population. However, neglect of traditional smallholder agriculture and nomadic animal husbandry saw the sector’s share of GDP dip in recent years. This trend, combined with the exodus from the conflict- or poverty-affected areas of the country, has contributed to a high rate of unorganized urbanization in and around the larger cities.
While Sudan saw a 142.9% increase in gross national income per capita between 1990 and 2019, the value of the HDI increased only 54.1%. Progress on social and legislative reform has been substantive since the establishment of the new Transitional government. Achievements thus far include outlawing female genital mutilation (FGM), committing to 40% representation of women in Sudan’s new Parliament, repealing restrictive ‘Public Order Laws’, improving government budget transparency, and systematically moving State-owned enterprises under the control of the Ministry of Finance.
One third of the population live in cities or towns; the remaining 70 percent are rural. Khartoum boasts beautiful, tree-lined streets and gardens. It is also home to a large number of immigrants from rural areas, who come looking for work and who have erected shantytowns on the city's fringes.
The majority of Sudan's major cities either lie along the Nile River or the Red Sea, which makes sense since so much of the rest of the country is desert. The largest city of Omdurman has a population of 2,395,013. Omdurman is in very close proximity to the nation's capital of Khartoum, which has a population of 1,974,647. Because these cities are so close, their populations are often lumped together into a cumulative greater metropolitan population of 7,380,479. Some other notable cities are Nyala, Port Sudan, El-Obeid and Kassala- none of which have populations over 500,000.