Population

Sudan today

Of the estimated 38 million Sudanese, more than 5 million live in Greater Khartoum. About 40% of the population are younger than 15 years old. Despite Arabic being the main language and Islam the main religion, the Sudanese society is multiethnic, and ethnicity is a major factor in collective and individual identities. Reportedly, the country has about 600 ethnic groups that speak over 400 different languages and dialects.

The present-day Arabic majority is often described as descending from migrants who came from the Arabian Peninsula and who have intermarried with indigenous populations since the Middle Ages. This, however, is just one perspective and indigenous populations probably form the main substratum of today's society, but they have been thoroughly reshaped by various episodes of migration and profound processes of Arabisation. The mobility inherent in this history shows in the genealogical ties which many ethnic groups claim to have with tribes in neighbouring countries and regions such as Chad, Libya, Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula.

An ethnic group which gained particular international attention was the Nubians, who continue to live in the Nile valley in southern Egypt and northern Sudan. They were greatly affected by the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s, as its reservoir flooded major parts of their homeland. Many Nubians on the Sudanese side were re-settled to New Halfa in southeastern Sudan. Today, Nubian communities still live in what is often called the Nubian Nile valley which reaches up to ad-Dabbah, north of the Great Nile Bend.

In terms of global dynamics, most of Sudan's migration flows originate from or are destined to neighbouring African countries and the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia and other gulf states host approximately a million Sudanese labour migrants. While migration of Sudanese to the EU is very limited, up to half a million Sudanese live in bordering states such as Egypt, Chad and Ethiopia. Despite being a refugee-generating country, Sudan also hosts a substantial refugee population. The majority of these come from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Chad and, most recently, Syria.

 

Geography

Sudan is the sixteenth-largest country in the world and the third-largest in Africa, after Algeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its southern part belongs to the Sahel zone; the regions in the north are the southeasternmost part of the Sahara. Read more ...

Climate

Sudan lies within the tropics. Its climate is primarily dictated by the dry northeasterly trade winds from the Arabian Peninsula and the moist southwesterly monsoon winds from the Congo river basin, which bring the typical summer rains. Read more ...

Population

Of the estimated 38 million Sudanese, more than 5 million live in Greater Khartoum. About 40% of the population are younger than 15 years old. Despite Arabic being the main language and Islam the main religion, the Sudanese society is multiethnic. Read more ...

Economy and infrastructure

Historically, agriculture was the main source of income and employment in Sudan. Since the early 2000s, oil has been the backbone of the economy. The oil sector aside, the country's most important industries are agricultural processing and various light industries. Read more ...

Politics and society

Officially, Sudan is a democracy, organised as a federal republic with a directly elected president. Omar al-Bashir came to power after a military coup in 1989. He also won the first multi-party presidential election in 2010 as well as the most recent election in 2015. Read more ...

Islam in Sudan

97% of Sudan's population are Muslim, with the vast majority adhering to the Sunni denomination. An important aspect of Sudanese Islam is Sufism, which is considered to be a very tolerant persuasion. Divorced from personal beliefs, Islam has become deeply politicised in Sudan. Read more ...