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Sudan is the largest and one of the most geographically diverse countries in Africa. Mountain ranges divide the deserts of the north from the swamps and rain forests of the south, and the River Nile splits the country from east to west.Long referred to as Nubia, modern-day Sudan was the site of the Kingdom of Kerma (ca. 2500-1500 B.C.) until it was absorbed into the New Kingdom of Egypt. By the 11th century B.C., the Kingdom of Kush gained independence from Egypt; it lasted in various forms until the middle of the 4th century A.D. After the fall of Kush, the Nubians formed three Christian kingdoms of Nobatia, Makuria, and Alodia. The latter two endured until around 1500. Between the 14th and 15th centuries much of Sudan was settled by Arab nomads, and between the 16th–19th centuries it underwent extensive Islamization. Following Egyptian occupation early in the 19th century, the British established an Anglo-Egyptian Sudan - nominally a condominium, but in effect a British colony.


Military regimes favoring Islamic-oriented governments have dominated national politics since Sudan gained independence from Anglo-Egyptian co-rule in 1956. The 30-year reign of President Umar Hassan Ahmad al-BASHIR, following months of nationwide protests, ended with the military forcing him out in April 2019. In October 2021, the Sudanese military deposed Prime Minister HAMDOUK but reinstated him in November 2021. As of December 2021, a joint civilian-military-executive body known as the Sovereign Council rules Sudan; the transitional government has stated it intends to hold elections that result in a civilian led government by early 2024.


During most of the second half of the 20th century, Sudan was embroiled in two prolonged civil wars rooted in northern economic, political, and social domination of the largely non-Muslim, non-Arab southern portion of the country. The first civil war ended in 1972, but another broke out in 1983. Peace talks gained momentum in 2002-04, and the final North/South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in January 2005, granted the southern rebels autonomy for six years followed by a referendum on independence for Southern Sudan. South Sudan became independent on 9 July 2011, but Sudan and South Sudan have yet to fully implement security and economic agreements relating to the normalization of relations between the two countries.


 In the 21st century, Sudan faced conflict in Darfur, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile starting in 2003. Together, these conflicts displaced more than 3 million people; while some repatriation has taken place, about 2.28 million IDPs remained in Sudan as of December 2020. Sudan also faces refugee influxes from neighboring countries, primarily Central African Republic, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and South Sudan.



Military regimes favoring Islamic-oriented governments have dominated national politics since independence from the UK in 1956. Sudan was embroiled in two prolonged civil wars during most of the remainder of the 20th century. These conflicts were rooted in northern economic, political, and social domination of largely non-Muslim, non-Arab southern Sudanese. The first civil war ended in 1972 but broke out again in 1983. The second war and famine-related effects resulted in more than four million people displaced and, according to rebel estimates, more than two million deaths over a period of two decades. 

Peace talks gained momentum in 2002-04 with the signing of several accords. The final North/South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in January 2005, granted the southern rebels autonomy for six years.


Nearly 99 percent of southern Sudanese voters have chosen to split off from northern Sudan and form their own country According to the final count, announced in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, 98.83 percent of the more than 3.8 million registered voters in southern Sudan chose to separate from the north. In many parts of the country the vote was over 99 percent.

Southern Sudan will not achieve formal independence until July 9, when the United States-backed peace treaty that put the referendum in motion is set to expire. By then southern Sudan hopes to pick a national anthem and a name; leading contenders are Nile Republic and South Sudan.

The Darfur conflict was an armed conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan.

In 2003, militants accused the government of President Omar al-Bashir of neglecting the region and oppressing black Africans in favour of Arabs in the state of Darfur. Over half of the people in the area are subsistence farmers, with the rest being nomadic or semi-nomadic herders. The government, caught by surprise by the militants' attacks, had very few troops in the region. In response, it mounted a campaign of aerial bombardment in support of ground attacks by an Arab militia, the Janjaweed, that it had recruited from local tribes. More than 2.5 million people  fled their homes since the fighting began.

The UN took command of the Darfur peacekeeping operation from the African Union on 31 December 2007. 


 Sudan’s entire civilian population faces enormous threats from continuing and potentially new violence. The country’s future is at stake with an upcoming referendum on southern independence (2011), as stipulated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the civil war in 2005. With continued disputes over borders and resources, in addition to the challenges of creating new political systems in both the north and the south, the prospect of separation is seeded with potential sources of conflict



UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie talking to displaced young girls about the vulnerable situation of women and girls in Darfur near the women's centre in Ardamata camp. © UNHCR/R.Ek



Timeline: Sudan

A chronology of key events:

1881 - Revolt against the Turco-Egyptian administration.

1899-1955 Sudan is under joint British-Egyptian rule.

1956 - Sudan becomes independent.

1958 - General Abboud leads military coup against the civilian government elected earlier in the year

1962 - Civil war begins in the south, led by the Anya Nya movement.

1964 - The "October Revolution" overthrows Abbud and an Islamist-led government is established

1969 - Jaafar Numeiri leads the "May Revolution" military coup.

1971 - Sudanese Communist Party leaders executed after short-lived coup against Numeiry.

1972 - Under the Addis Ababa peace agreement between the government and the Anya Nya, the south becomes a self-governing region.

1978 - Oil discovered in Bentiu in southern Sudan.

1983 - Civil war breaks out again in the south involving government forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), led by John Garang.

Islamic law imposed

1983 - President Numeiri declares the introduction of Sharia Islamic law.

1985 - After widespread popular unrest Numayri is deposed by a group of officers and a Transitional Military Council is set up to rule the country.

1986 - Coalition government formed after general elections, with Sadiq al-Mahdi as prime minister.

1988 - Coalition partner the Democratic Unionist Party drafts cease-fire agreement with the SPLM, but it is not implemented.

1989 - National Salvation Revolution takes over in military coup.

1993 - Revolution Command Council dissolved after Omar Bashir is appointed president.

US strike

1995 - Egyptian President Mubarak accuses Sudan of being involved in attempt to assassinate him in Addis Ababa.

1998 - US launches missile attack on a pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, alleging that it was making materials for chemical weapons.

1998 - New constitution endorsed by over 96% of voters in referendum.

1999 - President Bashir dissolves the National Assembly and declares a state of emergency following a power struggle with parliamentary speaker, Hassan al-Turabi.

Advent of oil

1999 - Sudan begins to export oil.

2000 President Bashir meets leaders of opposition National Democratic Alliance for first time in Eritrea.

Main opposition parties boycott presidential elections. Incumbent Bashir is re-elected for further five years.

2001 Islamist leader Al-Turabi's party, the Popular National Congress, signs memorandum of understanding with the southern rebel SPLM's armed wing, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). Al-Turabi is arrested the next day, with more arrests of PNC members in the following months.

Government accepts Libyan/Egyptian initiative to end the civil war after failure of peace talks between President Bashir and SPLM leader John Garang in Nairobi.

US extends unilateral sanctions against Sudan for another year, citing its record on terrorism and rights violations.

Peace deal

2002 - Government and SPLA sign landmark ceasefire agreement providing for six-month renewable ceasefire in central Nuba Mountains - a key rebel stronghold.

Talks in Kenya lead to a breakthrough agreement between the government and southern rebels on ending the 19-year civil war. The Machakos Protocol provides for the south to seek self-determination after six years.

2003 February - Rebels in western region of Darfur rise up against government, claiming the region is being neglected by Khartoum.

2003 October - PNC leader Turabi released after nearly three years in detention and ban on his party is lifted.

Uprising in west

2004 January - Army moves to quell rebel uprising in western region of Darfur; hundreds of thousands of refugees flee to neighbouring Chad.

2004 March - UN official says pro-government Arab Janjaweed militias are carrying out systematic killings of non-Arab villagers in Darfur.

Army officers and opposition politicians, including Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi, are detained over an alleged coup plot.

2004 May - Government and southern rebels agree on power-sharing protocols as part of a peace deal to end their long-running conflict. The deal follows earlier breakthroughs on the division of oil and non-oil wealth.

2004 September - UN says Sudan has not met targets for disarming pro-government Darfur militias and must accept outside help to protect civilians. US Secretary of State Colin Powell describes Darfur killings as genocide.

Peace agreement

2005 January - Government and southern rebels sign a peace deal. The agreement includes a permanent ceasefire and accords on wealth and power sharing.

UN report accuses the government and militias of systematic abuses in Darfur, but stops short of calling the violence genocide.

2005 March - UN Security Council authorises sanctions against those who violate ceasefire in Darfur. Council also votes to refer those accused of war crimes in Darfur to International Criminal Court.

2005 June - Government and exiled opposition grouping - National Democratic Alliance (NDA) - sign reconciliation deal allowing NDA into power-sharing administration.

President Bashir frees Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi, detained since March 2004 over alleged coup plot.

Southern autonomy

2005 9 July - Former southern rebel leader John Garang is sworn in as first vice president. A constitution which gives a large degree of autonomy to the south is signed.

2005 1 August - Vice president and former rebel leader John Garang is killed in a plane crash. He is succeeded by Salva Kiir. Garang's death sparks deadly clashes in the capital between southern Sudanese and northern Arabs.

2005 September - Power-sharing government is formed in Khartoum.

2005 October - Autonomous government is formed in the south, in line with January 2005 peace deal. The administration is dominated by former rebels.

Darfur conflict

2006 May - Khartoum government and the main rebel faction in Darfur, the Sudan Liberation Movement, sign a peace accord. Two smaller rebel groups reject the deal. Fighting continues.

2006 August - Sudan rejects a UN resolution calling for a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, saying it would compromise sovereignty.

2006 October - Jan Pronk, the UN's top official in Sudan, is expelled.

2006 November - African Union extends mandate of its peacekeeping force in Darfur for six months.

Hundreds are thought to have died in the heaviest fighting between northern Sudanese forces and their former southern rebel foes since they signed a peace deal last year. Fighting is centred on the southern town of Malakal.

2007 April - Sudan says it will accept a partial UN troop deployment to reinforce African Union peacekeepers in Darfur, but not a full 20,000-strong force.

War crimes charges

2007 May - International Criminal Court issues arrest warrants for a minister and a Janjaweed militia leader suspected of Darfur war crimes.

US President George W Bush announces fresh sanctions against Sudan.

2007 July - UN Security Council approves a resolution authorising a 26,000-strong force for Darfur. Sudan says it will co-operate with the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (Unamid).

2007 October - SPLM temporarily suspends participation in national unity government, accusing Khartoum of failing to honour the 2005 peace deal.

2007 December - SPLM resumes participation in national unity government.

2008 January - UN takes over Darfur peace force.

Within days Sudan apologises after its troops fire on a convoy of Unamid, the UN-African Union hybrid mission.

Government planes bomb rebel positions in West Darfur, turning some areas into no-go zones for aid workers.

2008 February - Commander of the UN-African Union peacekeepers in Darfur, Balla Keita, says more troops needed urgently in west Darfur.

Abyei clashes

2008 March - Russia says it's prepared to provide some of the helicopters urgently needed by UN-African Union peacekeepers.

Tensions rise over clashes between an Arab militia and SPLM in Abyei area on north-south divide - a key sticking point in 2005 peace accord.

Presidents of Sudan and Chad sign accord aimed at halting five years of hostilities between their countries.

2008 April - Counting begins in national census which is seen as a vital step towards holding democratic elections after the landmark 2005 north-south peace deal.

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes says 300,000 people may have died in the five-year Darfur conflict.

2008 May - Southern defence minister Dominic Dim Deng is killed in a plane crash in the south.

Tension increases between Sudan and Chad after Darfur rebel group mounts raid on Omdurman, Khartoum's twin city across the Nile. Sudan accuses Chad of involvement and breaks off diplomatic relations.

Intense fighting breaks out between northern and southern forces in disputed oil-rich town of Abyei.

2008 June - President Bashir and southern leader Salva Kiir agree to seek international arbitration to resolve dispute over Abyei.

Bashir accused

2008 July - The International Criminal Court's top prosecutor calls for the arrest of President Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur; the appeal is the first ever request to the ICC for the arrest of a sitting head of state. Sudan rejects the indictment.

2008 September - Darfur rebels accuse government forces backed by militias of launching air and ground attacks on two towns in the region.

2008 October - Allegations that Ukrainian tanks hijacked off the coast of Somalia were bound for southern Sudan spark fears of an arms race between the North and former rebels in the South.

2008 November - President Bashir announces an immediate ceasefire in Darfur, but the region's two main rebel groups reject the move, saying they will fight on until the government agrees to share power and wealth in the region.

2008 December - The Sudanese army says it has sent more troops to the sensitive oil-rich South Kordofan state, claiming that a Darfur rebel group plans to attack the area.

2009 January - Sudanese Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi is arrested after saying President Bashir should hand himself in to The Hague to face war crimes charges for the Darfur war.

2009 March - The International Criminal Court in The Hague issues an arrest warrant for President Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

2009 May - An estimated 250 people in central Sudan are killed during a week of clashes between nomadic groups fighting over grazing land and cattle in the semi-arid region of Southern Kordofan.

Alliance strained

2009 June - Khartoum government denies it is supplying arms to ethnic groups in the south to destabilise the region.

The leader of South Sudan and vice-president of the country, Salva Kiir, warns his forces are being re-organised to be ready for any return to war with the north

Ex-foreign minister Lam Akol splits from South's ruling SPLM to form new party, SPLM-Democratic Change.

2009 July - North and south Sudan say they accept ruling by arbitration court in The Hague shrinking disputed Abyei region and placing the major Heglig oil field in the north.

Woman journalist tried and punished for breaching decency laws by wearing trousers. She campaigns to change the law.

2009 August - Darfur war is over, says UN military commander in the region, in comments condemned by activists.

2009 October - SPLM boycotts parliament over a Bill allowing intelligence services to retain widespread powers.

2009 December - Leaders of North and South say they have reached a deal on the terms of a referendum on independence due in South by 2011.

2010 January - President Omar Bashir says would accept referendum result, even if South opted for independence.

2010 Feb-March - The Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) main Darfur rebel movement signs a peace accord with the government, prompting President Bashir to declare the Darfur war over. But failure to agree specifics and continuing clashes with smaller rebel groups endanger the deal.

2010 April - President Bashir gains new term in first contested presidential polls since 1986.

2010 July - International Criminal Court issues second arrest warrant for President al-Bashir - this time for charges of genocide. He travels to Chad.

2010 October - Timetable set for southern independence referendum, due to be held on 9 January, 2011.

2010 November - Voter registration begins amid doubt that referendum schedule can be met.

Tension as North and South accuse each other of massing troops in border areas.

2011 January - People of the South vote in favor of full independence from the north.

2011 February - Clashes between the security forces and rebels in southern Sudan's Jonglei state leave more than 100 dead.

2011 March - Government of South Sudan says it is suspending talks with the North, accusing it of plotting a coup.

2011 May - Northern troops overrun town of Abyei on disputed border between north and south. South describes it as ''act of war''. Thousands flee.

South becomes independent

2011 July - South Sudan gains independence.

2011 September - State of emergency declared in Blue Nile state, elected SPLM-N Governor Malik Agar sacked. Some 100,000 said fleeing unrest.

2011 October - South Sudan and Sudan agree to set up several committees tasked with resolving their outstanding disputes.

2011 November - Sudan accused of bombing refugee camp in Yida, Unity State, South Sudan.

A Kenyan judge issues an arrest warrant for President Bashir, saying he should be detained if ever he sets foot in the country again.

2011 December - International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor requests arrest warrant for Sudan's defence minister, Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

Sudanese government forces kill key Darfur rebel leader Khalil Ibrahim.

2012 January - South Sudan halts oil production after talks on fees for the export of oil via Sudan break down.

2012 February - Sudan and South Sudan sign non-aggression pact at talks on outstanding secession issues. although tensions remain high over oil export fees.


Area: 2.5 million sq. km. (967,500 sq. mi.); the largest country in Africa and almost the size of continental U.S. east of the Mississippi River.
Cities: Capital--Khartoum (pop. 1.4 million). Other cities--Omdurman (2.1 million), Port Sudan (pop. 450,000), Kassala, Kosti, Juba (capital of southern region).
Land boundaries: Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, and Uganda.
Terrain: Generally flat with mountains in east and west. Khartoum is situated at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile Rivers. The southern regions are inundated during the annual floods of the Nile River system (the Suud or swamps).
Climate: Desert and savanna in the north and central regions and tropical in the south.

sources: CIA World Fact Book, United Nations, U.S. Department of State,The BBC,The Washington Post