|General background: Military dictatorships
favoring an Islamic-oriented government have dominated
national politics since independence from the UK in
1956. Sudan has been embroiled in a civil war for all
but 10 years of this period (1972-82). Since 1983, the
war and war- and famine-related effects have led to
more than 2 million deaths and over 4 million people
displaced. The war pits the Arab/Muslim majority in
Khartoum against the non-Muslim African rebels in the
south. Since 1989, traditional northern Muslim parties
have made common cause with the southern rebels and
entered the war as a part of an anti-government alliance.
Area comparative: Slightly more than one-quarter
the size of the US.
in south; arid desert in north; rainy season (April
Terrain: Generally flat,
featureless plain; mountains in east and west.
Population: 37,090,298 (July 2002 est.)
Ethnic groups: Black 52%, Arab 39%, Beja 6%,
Foreigners 2%, other 1%
Religions: Sunni Muslim 70% (in north), indigenous
beliefs 25%, Christian 5% (mostly in south and Khartoum)
Language: Arabic (official), Nubian, Ta Bedawie,
diverse dialects of Nilotic, Nilo-Hamitic, Sudanic
note: program of "Arabization" in process.
Government type: Authoritarian regime - ruling
military junta took power in 1989; government is run
by an alliance of the military and the National Congress
Party (NCP), formerly the National Islamic Front (NIF),
which espouses an Islamist platform.
Legal system: 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; some separate religious courts; accepts
compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations.
Economic overview: Sudan has turned around
a struggling economy with sound economic policies
and infrastructure investments, but it still faces
formidable economic problems. Starting in 1997 Sudan
began implementing IMF macroeconomic reforms that
have successfully stabilized inflation. In 1999 Sudan
began exporting crude oil and in the last quarter
of 1999 recorded its first trade surplus, along with
monetary policy, has stabilized the exchange rate.
Current oil production stands at 220,000 barrels per
day, of which some 70% is exported and the rest refined
mostly for domestic consumption. Increased oil production,
revived light industry, and expanded export processing
zones should maintain GDP growth at 5% in 2002. Agriculture
production remains Sudan's most important sector,
employing 80% of the work force and contributing 43%
of GDP, but most farms remain rain-fed and susceptible
to drought. Sudan is also constrained by its limited
access to international credit; most of Sudan's $24.9
billion debt remains in arrears. The civil war, chronic
instability, adverse weather, and weak world agricultural
prices ensure that much of the population will remain
at or below the poverty line for years.
Communication/Telephone system: Large, well-equipped
system by regional standards and being upgraded; cellular
communications started in 1996 and have expanded substantially.
Places of interest:
Travel tips: The long civil war, which has
largely gone unnoticed by the West, has seen a mounting
death toll that's already reached two million. Millions
more have starved to death during the regular famines
that have hit the country, particularly in the south.
Major epidemics of meningitis and malaria have also
ravaged the population and have threatened Khartoum.
Before traveling to or around Sudan, check for the
most current information from your embassy.