Sudan lies between latitudes 4° and 22° N and longitudes 22° and 38° E. Sudan has an area of 2,505,810 sq. km, which makes it the largest country on the continent and also the tenth largest country in the world. Sudan, the terrain comprises of flat plains, which are broken by many mountain ranges; Jebel Marra is the highest range in the west; and Mount Kinyeti Imatong in the south is the highest mountain. The White and Blue Niles meet in the capital city of Khartoum to form the River Nile, that flows northwards through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. The White Nile has no tributaries within Sudan, whereas the Blue Nile’s course through Sudan is around 800 km long, which is joined by the rivers Rahad and Dinder between Khartoum and Sennar. The White Nile flows through Sudan and empties into the Lake Nubia in the northern region, the largest manmade lake in the world. The northern region of the country comprises of desert, that are spotted with oases and the population here is concentrated. The Red Sea Hills in the east support some vegetation. The central region of Sudan comprises of high, sandy plains, whereas the southern region includes grasslands. On the Blue and White Niles there are several dams: Sennar and Roseires on the Blue Nile and Jebel Aulia on the White Nile.
Sudan is among the twenty-five poorest countries in the world as it has been vastly affected due to drought, famine and foreign debt. Eighty percent of the labour force in Sudan is inclined towards agriculture. The arable lands in the country have suffered a lot in the recent years due to less rainfall, desertification and lack of improved and sufficient irrigation systems. Presently, only 10% of the arable land is cultivated. The major crops grown in the country include groundnuts, millet, sesame seed, corn, wheat and fruits like dates, mangoes, guavas, bananas, and citrus. People living in the rural areas with no access to arable land support themselves by raising cattle, sheep, goats and camel. About 10% of the labour force is employed in the industrial and commercial sector, whereas 6% of the labour force is employed in the government sector. Many people migrate to different countries to find better work for themselves. An approximate of 30% of the labour force is unemployed. In the developed cities and in rural villages markets remain the centres of commercial activity in the country. Agricultural products like fruits, vegetables, meat and millet along with traditional handicrafts are sold in the markets. There are many large-scale industries in Sudan that contribute towards the economy. The industries include textiles, cement, sugar, edible oils, cotton ginning, soap distilling and petroleum refining. More than a quarter of foreign currency enters the country from the export of Cotton, its primary export. The production of the crops depends on the climatic conditions and is often hurt by the drought in the country. Other exports of Sudan include oil, groundnuts, sesame and livestock. The products are exported to the countries like Italy, Germany, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and France.
Islam by far is the dominant religion in the country. About 70% of the population follow Islam, while the remaining population comprises of followers of animist or indigenous beliefs (25%) and Christianity (5%). In the northern region of the country Islam prevails, while in the southern region, followers of animist beliefs and Christianity prevails. All the Muslims in the country are Sunni, whereas there is significant distinction between the followers of different Sunni Traditions. The Khatima and the Ansar are the two popular divisions. There is also a small Shi’a community in Sudan. The Christian population in Sudan belong to numerous Churches, that includes the Roman Catholic Church and small Melkite and Maronite communities that are concentrated in the northern regions of Sudan. The Presbyterians are mainly from the Nuer and Chollo tribes. Small communities of Orthodox Christians prevail in the capital city of Khartoum and in the cities of northern regions. In Khartoum and eastern Sudan Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox community prevails, along with large groups of refugees and migrants. In the political divisions of the country, religious identity plays an important role. Since independence, the Muslims of the northern region have dominated the political and economic system of the country.
- Mosque, Sudan
There are about 70 languages native to Sudan. Arabic and English are the official languages of Sudan. Sudanese Arabic is widely spoken throughout the country. Sudanese Arabic is the variety of Arabic spoken throughout the northern regions of Sudan. It has borrowed vocabulary from the local languages. It is also widely used in the eastern, western and middle regions, along with the tribal languages. Due to the influence of African and Arab cultures, the tribes in Sudan have similar accents to the people of Saudi Arabia. The other important languages in Sudan include Beja (spoken along the Red Sea), Darfur (spoken in the western region), and various Nubian languages (spoken in the northern regions). Arabic is basically used all over Sudan along with the tribal languages. English is mostly used by the educated elite group. English remains the language of education in school and the language used for administration work by the national government. All the indigenous languages of Sudan are considered as the national languages and are respected, promoted and developed.
The cuisine of Sudan is very diversified and colourful. The day of the people usually begins with a cup of tea or coffee. Breakfast is mostly consumed in the mid-to-late morning and it comprises of beans, salad, bread and liver. Millet is basically the staple food of the people in Sudan and is prepared as porridge called asida. Kissra is a special type of bread, which is made using durra or corn and is mostly taken along with a stew to make it a main dish. Vegetables are usually prepared in salads or stews. Dried meat, onions, spices and peanut butter are the main components or ingredients that are used to make stews. Milk and yoghurt are sometimes added. Dried okra and Ni’aimiya are used to prepare other stews like Waika, Sabaroag and Bussaara. Potatoes, eggplants and other vegetables are also used to prepare stews. The Nomads residing in the northern regions of the country rely on dairy products and meat from camels. Sheep in the country are usually killed during ceremonial occasions or for special guests. Marara is a special dish, prepared using intestines, lungs and liver of animals with chilli pepper. There are several different types of porridges in Sudan, which are made of dukan, dates and wheat and are usually taken along with sugar and milk. The most important component of Sudanese food is the soup; the most popular is Kawari’, which is prepared with cattle’s hoofs along with spices and vegetables. Coffee and tea are popular beverages among the people in Sudan.