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icon Overview Updated December 31, 2009

Section Contents:  Introduction | Geography | History | Population | Government

Name: Republic of Sudan (Jumhuriyat as-Sudan)
Location: 15 00 N, 30 00 E, Northern Africa
Size: 2.5m sq km (966,757 sq miles)
Climate: North: arid desert and Sahel, rains from July to September, South: tropical rainforest, rainy season lasting from April to November
Currency: Sudanese Pound (SPG)
Population: 40,218,456 (est.)
Capital: Khartoum
Languages: Arabic and English (official), Dinka and other local languages/dialects
Religions: Islam, Christian, Animism
Ethnic Groups: 52 % African, 39 % Arabs, 6 % Beja, and 3 % others
Economy: petroleum; small reserves of iron ore, copper, chromium ore, gypsum, tungsten, mica, silver, gold, and hydropower
GDP: $62.2 billion (2008)
Independence: 1 January 1956 (from Egypt and UK)
National Holiday: Independence Day, 1 January (1956)


Sudan is geographically the largest country on the African continent and the tenth largest worldwide. The country remains starkly divided: by religion, ethnicity, economic resources, and educational opportunity. Principally it is composed of Arabs in the Islamic North and black Africans in the partly Christian and animistic South, creating a population of mixed ancestry and religion which has been a persistent locus of conflict for decades. Moreover, the relationship between the North and the South has also constantly been characterized by a vast economic disparity. Following independence from British rule in 1956, the country went through a transitional period of so-called Sudanization (i.e. foreign government and military officials were replaced by citizens) - and experienced several political coups that further emphasized the geographic and social differences between the north and south. Drought, lack of resources, and the longest civil war in African history led to widespread famine and environmental problems, forcing large numbers of refugees to cross into neighbouring countries, coming with estimated two million people killed and four million displaced only over the last two decades. Another conflict that erupted in the western region of Darfur in 2003 has claimed more than 200,000 lives and left more than two million people displaced from their homes. A fragile peace was established with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between North and South in 2005. However, while some progress has been made during the last three years, the conflict in Darfur continues and implementation of the CPA has fallen behind schedule.


With an area of 2.5 million square kilometres (966,757 sq miles) Sudan is the largest country in Africa. Dominated by the Nile and its tributaries, it borders Egypt, Libya, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea. Sudan has over 800km of coastline along its north-eastern border, providing access to the Red Sea.

Area - Comparative: slightly more than one-quarter of the size of the USA; Southern Sudan equals the size of Germany

Terrain: generally flat, featureless plain; mountains in far south, northeast and west; desert dominates the north.

Central Rivers:  Nile, Ghazal, Atbara

Elevation Extremes: lowest point: Red Sea 0 m, highest point: Kinyeti 3,187 m (located in the Immatong Mountains at the Southern borderline with Uganda).

Climate: Various vegetation zones ranging from an arid desert in the North to the tropical rainforest in the South. In summer, the North experiences temperatures as high as 50° C accompanied by sand storms (Haboubs) and only few short rain showers, whereas the South and Southwest is affected by the rainy season lasting from April to November.

Natural Resources: oil (esp. in Heglieg and Al-Wihda); small reserves of iron ore (western part of the country and in the east in the Red Sea Hills), copper, chromium ore (Liaaicrn part), gypsum (vicinity of Khartoum and the Red Sea coast), tungsten, mica (Eastern parts of the Bayuda Desert), silver/gold (Ariab region in Hastern Sudan), and hydropower (biggest project is the Merowe Dam close to the village Hamdab)

Drilling: The majority of oil reserves are located in the Muglad and Melut basins (South). Constant civil conflict limited the oil exploration mostly to the central and south-central regions of the country.

Mining: At present only gold and chromite are mined and there are still further unexploited huge reserves of gold reserves occur in the eastern and northern parts of the country.

Arable Areas: Mostly located in the Nile valley, Sudan's agricultural sector is an important source of currency income through the export of crops like cotton, which is primarily cultivated in the Dschazira plain between the White and the Blue Nile rivers. Sudan supplies approximately 80 percent of the worldwide gum Arabic production (50% from Kordofan Province, 25% from Kassala Province and 25% from Darfur).

International agreements: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection



Ancient History

The history of Sudan goes back to the time of the Pharaohs. To the old Egyptian Empire, Nubia (part of Sudan) was an important source of gold and slaves. Around 2,000 B.C.E. Nubia was integrated into Egyptian territory. In the sixth century, Sudan (then the Nubian kingdoms Nobatia, Makuria, and Alodia) experienced its first encounter with Christian missionaries. However, after the establishment of Christian kingdoms and partially successful Christianization of the country, with exemption of the South, Sudan was slowly Islamized between the 14th and 16th centuries. Modern relations between Sudan and Egypt began in 1820, when an Egyptian army under Ottoman command invaded Sudan. The subsequent sixty-four-year period of Egyptian rule left a deep mark on Sudan's political and economic systems.

Colonial History

The first successful uprising of an African country against colonial rule took place in Sudan with the Mahdi-Rebellion which lasted 18 years (1881-1899). Under the Islamic-political leader Muhammad Ahmad, the self-declared Mahdi, the Sudanese people fought against the Egyptian occupation, resulting in the creation of an independent Sudanese state.  The so-called Omdurman Caliphate existed for 15 years but was defeated by an Anglo-Egyptian Force in 1898. After this successful re-conquest of Sudan, a British-Egyptian Condominium was established in 1899. However, Sudan remained a de facto British colony until 1956.


Post-Colonial and Modern History

After the downfall of King Faruk of Egypt, Britain and Egypt signed an accord ending the condominium arrangement in 1953 and agreed to grant Sudan self government within three years. The agreement also provided for a senate for the Sudan, a Council of Ministers, and a House of Representatives, elections to which was to be supervised by an international commission. Elections in late 1953 resulted in victory for the National Umma Party (NUP), and its leader, Ismail al-Aihari, who became Sudan's first Prime Minister. On December 19, 1955, the Parliament voted unanimously that the Sudan should become "a fully independent sovereign state". British and Egyptian troops left the country on January 1, 1956, the same day that a five-man Council of State was appointed to take over the powers of the governor general until a new constitution was agreed. Following the declaration of independence, military and political coups were a common event in Sudanese politics in this early period, undermining prospects for any sustainable democratization process to take root. After a socialist turn in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Sudan came under the rule of an Islamic government in the mid-1980s.  Civil war, which had flared soon after independence until the early 1970s between the North and South, once more erupted in the early 1980s along the same fault-line. Due to increasing political instability stemming from the continuing turmoil, in 1989 General Omar al-Bashir led another military putsch which saw him installed as the country's President, a position he retains today. While the North-South conflict continued, a new crisis took shape in Darfur in 2003. Although the violent North-South conflict was officially ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 between the Khartoum government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, the pursuit for remains for Sudan. The implementation of the CPA still faces many hurdles before it is irreversibly secured and, of course, the tragedy that is Darfur endures today.



Although its reliability has been disputed widely, according to the official census conducted in 2008 Sudan has an estimated population of 40,218,456 with an annual growth rate of approximately 2%. With respect to the age structure, 41 % of the Sudanese people are younger than 15 and 56 % between 15 and 64 years old which roughly equals a median age of 19. The life expectancy in Sudan ranges depending on the sources between 50 (CIA Factbook) and 58 years (World Bank 2006), without major disparities in expectancy between women and men.


Sudan's population is composed of 52 % African, 39 % Arabs, 6 % Beja, and 3 % others. In the North, the largest commonly recognized ethnic groups are Arabs, Nubians, Beja, and Fur, and in the South the Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk, and Nuba. Moreover, these ethnic groups subdivide themselves into further tribal or other groups.


Islam is Sudan's state religion. However, with respect to religious affiliation, 70% of the Sudanese people are Muslim, approximately 5% Christian (mainly catholic) and 25% animists. The non-Muslims mainly live in Southern Sudan and in Khartoum. Since the end of the civil war, American-Protestant groups are spreading in Southern Sudan. There are some Coptics in the North who mostly have their origins in Egypt. Compared to other African countries, traditional religions, such as practiced by the Dinka, are still particularly vital in Southern Sudan.


Arabic and English are the official languages in Sudan. The Lingua franca Sudanese Arabic (an Arabian dialect) is predominantly spoken in northern and central Sudan. English is partly spoken as a second language in the North but the principal language in the South. Other major languages are Nubian and Ta Bedawie (Beja) in the North, Dinka and Nuer in the South, and Fur, Haussa, and Azande in the West.


In general, the health status of the Sudanese population has suffered from both the prolonged civil war and the low quality of, and unequal access to health care. With a life expectancy at birth of 56 years and a disability-adjusted life expectancy of around 43 years, the health indicators are poor. Overall the health status indicators mirror the North-South differentials. Communicable, infectious and parasitic diseases such as tuberculosis, diarrhoea, malaria, measles and acute respiratory infections dominate the health status in Sudan and represent the main causes of morbidity and mortality. Nutrition is an area of major concern throughout Sudan despite relief assistance and food aid, which alone, totals 73% of all assistance provided. The government's health system is reasonable in absolute numbers; however, all the available indicators on outputs show low productivity.


Generally, education does not make a crucial part of the national politics in Sudan, at least in terms of its share of GDP. Increases in expenditures on education have mostly been absorbed by salaries and not helped overcome the chronic lack of qualified teaching staff and education material. However, education levels in at least the North compare favourable with other African countries, with the University of Khartoum being of high reputation in Arabic academics. Over the last decades the number of post-secondary institutions has increased. Sudan has now 19 universities; the language of instruction is primarily Arabic. A positive trend is the high and constantly increasing ratio of female university students. Yet, it is noteworthy that the unemployment rate among university graduates in the field of their study is roughly 70%, a significantly high figure that contributes to the intellectual exodus the country is experiencing in recent years. Schools are mainly concentrated in urban areas, with many in the south and west destroyed or damaged by conflict.



Government of National Unity (GNU) 

The National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) formed a power-sharing government under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)

Officials - North

President/ Prime Minister/ Commander in Chief

Lt. Gen.Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir [NCP]

First Vice President

Lt. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit [SPLM]

Second Vice President

Ali Osman Muhamad Taha [NCP]

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Deng Alor Kuol (SPLM)

Minister of Foreign Trade

James Kok Rona

Minister of Investment

George Bioring Mayan

Minister of Cabinet Affairs

Kosti Manibe (SPLM)

Minister of Education

Paul Mathianq (SPLM)

Minister of Higher Education

George Boreing Niyami (SPLM)

Minister of Roads and Transport

Philip Thon Leek (SPLM)

Minister of Health

Tabitha Sokaya (SPLM)

Minister of Humanitarian Affairs

Harun Run Lual (SPLM)

Minister of Interior

Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid (NCP)

Minister of Energy and Mining

Al-Zubayr Ahmad al-Hasan (NCP)

Minister of Defence

Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein (NCP)

Minister of Justice

Abdul-Basid Sabdarat (NCP)

Minister of Finance and National Economy

Dr.Awad Ahmad al-Jas(NCP)

Minister of Information

Zahawi Ibrahim Malek  (Umma faction)

Minister of International Cooperation

Al-Tijani Saleh Hudeib (NCP)

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

Prof. Zubeir Beshir Taha (NCP)

Minister of Industry

Jalal al-Dugair (DUP)

Minister of International Cooperation

Al-Tigani Saleh Fedail (NCP)

Minister of Federal Government

Abdul-Rahman Sa'id Abdul Rahman (NCP)

Minister of the Presidency

Bakri Hassan Saleh (NCP)

Minister of Parliamentary affairs

Joseph Okelo (USAP)

Minister of Animal Resources and Fisheries

Muhammad Ahmad at-Taher Abu Kalabis(NCP)

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports

Mohammed Yusuf Abdallah (NCP)

Minister of Water Resources

Kamal Ali Mohammed (NCP)

Minister of Tourism

Josef Malwal (UDSF)

Minister of Religious Affairs and Waqf

Azhari Al-Tigani Awad al-Sid (NCP)

Minister of Labour and Human Resources

Alison Manani Magaya (NCP)

Minister of Environment and Urban Development

Ahmed Babkir Nahar (NCP)

Minister of Science and Technology

Prof. Ibrahim Ahmad Omar (NCP)

Minister of General Education

Hamid Mohamed Ibrahim(NDA)


Officials - South


H.E Lt. General Salva Kiir Mayardit (SPLM)


H.E Lt. General Dr. Riek Machar Teny-Dourghon

Political Advisor

Mr. Lual Diing Wol (SPLM)

Security Advisor

Mr. John Kong Nyoun (SPLM)

Development Advisor

Mr. Abdalla Albert

Minister of Internal Affairs

Grier Chuanf Along (SPLM)

Minister of Finance and Economic Planning

David Deng Athorbein (SPLM)

Minister of Commerce, Trade and Supply

Barnabas Marial Benjamin (SPLM)

Minister for Culture Youth and Sport

 Gabriel Changson Chang (SPLM)

Minister of Information and Broadcasting

Paul Mayom Akceck (SPLM)

Minister for Cooperatives and Rural Development

Peter Abdel-Rahaman Sule (SPLM)

Minister of Regional Transportation and Roads

Anthony Lino Makana (SPLM)


Government Structure

The President of Sudan represents the highest executive authority. As the head of state and government he presides over the Council of Ministers, and stands as the commander in chief of the armed forces. The Presidency also includes a first vice president and a second vice president. First vice president is the person who has been elected to the post of President of Government of Southern Sudan. The legislative branch is embodied in the National Legislature (al-majlis al-watani), which consists of a lower house (The National Assembly) and an upper house (The Council of States). The 450 seats of the National Assembly are distributed according to a power sharing formula, allowing the  ruling National Congress Party (NCP or al-mutammer al-watani) to hold 52% of the seats; the SPLM, 28%, and other northern and southern parties, 14% and 6% respectively. The Council of States is constituted by 52 representatives from the 26 Sudanese states (two per state) and additionally two observers from Abyei. The Sudanese Judicial branch is embodied in the High Court, Minister of Justice, Attorney General, and civil and special tribunals.

Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS)

According to the CPA, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) leader will form the government of Southern Sudan and the government of the southern states, i.e. the Government of Southern Sudan and ten states, each of which will have an executive and a legislative assembly.

Administrative subdivisions

Twenty-six states, each with a governor appointed by the president, along with a state cabinet and a state legislative assembly.

Political Parties

During three periods of civilian rule in the Sudan (1956-1958; 1964-1969 and 1986-1989), political parties proliferated. After the military takeover in June 1989 all political parties were banned, but registration opened up again in 1999 when a new law covering political parties (multi-party system) came into force. The main parties are:

  • The National Congress Party, currently the ruling party, which has its roots in the Egypt in the 40's;
  • The Umma Party, the political organization of the Islamic Ansar Sect. The party is led by Sadiq al-Sidiq Abdel Rahman al-Mahdi, who served as Prime Minister in all coalition governments between 1986 and 1989;
  • The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), based on the Khatmiyyah sect, led by Mohammed Osman al-Mirghani who is also the leader of the National Democratic Alliance, a loose coalition of political parties, labour unions and individuals who oppose the ruling party;
  • The Popular National Party (PCP) which was created by Hassan al-Turabi in June 2000 after his expulsion from the National Congress Party.


In Southern Sudan, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) dominates. There are several parties representing the interests of Southern Sudanese in Northern Sudan. These include the Union of Sudan African Parties (USAP) and the United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF)

There are a number of smaller religious, pan-Arabist and progressive parties, including the Communist Party of the Sudan, the Baath Party, the Republican Brothers and the Justice Party. Regional alliances include the National Redemption Front which is led by former governor of Darfur Ahmed Ibrahim Diraige, the United Sudan National Party, an amalgamation of parties representing the Nuba Mountains; and the Beja Congress which represents Eastern Sudan.

In May 2009, Northern opposition parties formed the National Alliance. The SPLM attended the conference as an observer, but did not officially join.  The Alliance agreed to participate in elections if certain reforms were adopted by the NCP and pledged to run one candidate against President al-Bashir.   The opposition called for the Government of National Unity (GNU) to be dissolved since elections were not held in July 2009, the date originally agreed upon in the CPA, and replaced by a larger and more inclusive caretaker government.

Political Situation

Peace and Security

Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement

For a long time the region of Eastern Sudan has been neglected politically and its population suffered from severe economic and social conditions, making it the least developed region in Sudan. This marginalisation has been the reason for continuous attacks from the rebels of the Eastern Front (Beja Congress and Free Lions) against government targets since 1997. Although the rebels only carried out small-scale attacks, they beard the potential to develop into a major conflict. Consequently, in order to avoid an escalation, in August 2006, the Government of Eritrea convened negotiations between the Eastern Front (EF) and the Government of Sudan. The Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement (ESPA) was signed in Asmara (Eritrea) on 14 October 2006, aiming at greater development for Eastern Sudan.


In 2003, while the historic North-South conflict was on its way to resolution, increasing reports began to surface of attacks on civilians in the extremely marginalized Darfur region of Sudan. A rebellion broke out in Darfur, led by two rebel groups--the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) representing mostly "self-identified" African Muslim tribes. In seeking to defeat the rebel movements, the Government of Sudan increased arms and support to local African Muslims (Janjaweed). Attacks on the civilian population by the Janjaweed, often with the direct support of Government of Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), and the resulting large-scale displacements of people have led to the deaths of many thousands of people in Darfur and an estimated two million internally displaced people and another 250,000 refugees in neighbouring Chad.

Although several attempts have been made to create a Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), under intense international pressure and support to solve the crisis got underway, all cease-fire agreements were continuously violated. The situation in Darfur has remained critical, since new conflicts erupted between those who signed the ceasefire agreement in 2006 and those who did not. The rebel movements separated into numerous new groups. Tensions between Sudan and Chad, which accuse one another of supporting rebel groups in other country respectively, add to the general devastating situation. Up to date the conflict has not come to an end, and significant improvements are not observable.

Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)

There was hope for lasting peace in the country with the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the government and the SPLA in January, 2005. The CPA established a new Government of National Unity and the interim Government of Southern Sudan and called for wealth-sharing, power-sharing, and security arrangements between the two parties. The historic agreement provides for a ceasefire, withdrawal of troops from southern and eastern Sudan and the repatriation and resettlement of refugees. It also stipulates that by the end of the six-year interim period, during which the various provisions of the CPA are implemented, the South Sudanese will hold a referendum deciding on full independence of the South from the North. However, while some improvements have been observed during the last two years, significant implementation of central CPA provisions remains pending.

The ICC Ruling

On 14 July 2008, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, announced that he was seeking an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir for allegedly masterminding crimes against humanity in Darfur. The ICC followed up on the Chief Prosecutor's request by issuing an arrest warrant for al-Bashir on 4 March 2009, accusing him of orchestrating a five-year campaign of violence in Darfur.



  • Al-Ra'y al-Amm - widely-distributed, privately-owned newspaper
  • Al-Ayam - long-established newspaper
  • Khartoum Monitor - privately-owned
  • Al-Khartoum - privately-owned
  • Al-Anbaa - government newspaper


  • Sudan National Broadcasting Corporation (SNBC) - government-run, operates two channels, also available via satellite


  • Sudan National Radio Corporation - government-run, national and regional networks in Arabic, English and several other languages Opposition and clandestine radios
  • Voice of Sudan - operated by opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA), broadcasts on short wave
  • Voice of Hope - weekly broadcast by New Sudan Council of Churches, produced at studios in Uganda and the Netherlands and transmitted via Radio Netherlands relay station in Madagascar
  • Voice of Freedom and Renewal - operated by armed opposition group Sudan Alliance Forces News agency

Internet: Internet services were introduced in 1997. There were some 300,000 internet users by 2003 (International Telecommunication Union source)."


The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) describes the press climate in Sudan as having deteriorated against a backdrop of insecurity, growing political unrest and protests over price rises. There is increasing censorship of opposition and independent newspapers in Sudan against the country's promise to the international community to adopt democratic reforms. Sudanese broadcasting is also highly restricted, with state-run radio and TV being under state control to reflect government policy. Internet use is increasing, with a ratio of 32.1 for every 1,000 people having internet access in 2004 from 0.9 in 2000.

Human Rights

According to the US Department of State, the signing of the CPA in 2005 has brought little improvement in human rights in the country. Attacks on civilians, killings, rape, torture, looting, arbitrary arrests and harassment of human-rights activists continue to be witnessed in Darfur and other parts of Sudan.

Gender Issues

A number of constraints continue to challenge the implementation of women's rights, including patriarchal customs and continuous conflict between written law and customary/religious laws, according to the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). In the ongoing Darfur crisis, women and girls remain vulnerable to sexual attacks in remote areas when they go out to fetch water or take their wares to the market,. Regarding the protection of women's rights, Sudan has not ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Rape of women and girls throughout the country, including systematic rape in Darfur, continues to be a serious problem. The police arrested unmarried pregnant women who claimed to have been raped, unless the rape victim could provide proof of the crime. A woman cannot travel abroad without the permission of their husbands or male guardians. They must dress modestly according to Islamic standards, including wearing a head covering. In some instances police officers in the north and south arrested women for their dress. These cases have been well publicized in the Western media after Lubna Hussein, a journalist, working for UNMIS, was arrested for wearing trousers.  She was originally sentenced to 40 lashes, but a judge later reduced her sentence to a 500 pound fine because of the bad press and protests the case generated.  Hussein refused to pay and was imprisoned until colleagues paid the fine. Economic discrimination in access to employment, credit, and pay for substantially similar work, and owning or managing businesses is still a vital issue for women in Sudan.




General Data:

Labour Force - by Occupation: agriculture 80%, industry and commerce 7%, government 13% (1998 est.)

Agriculture - Products: cotton, groundnuts (peanuts), sorghum, millet, wheat, gum Arabic, sugarcane, cassava (tapioca), mangos, papaya, bananas, sweet potatoes, sesame; sheep, livestock

Industries - oil, cotton ginning, textiles, cement, edible oils, sugar, soap distilling, shoes, petroleum refining, pharmaceuticals, armaments, automobile/light truck assembly

Main exports - Oil, petroleum, cotton, sesame, livestock and hides, gum

Monetary unit - Sudanese Pound (SPG)

GNI per capita - US $ 950

Currency - 2.28Sudanese pounds = 1 US dollar (12/03/2009)

General Situation

Since the mid-1990s the Sudanese government has implemented several macroeconomic reform programs in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to modernize the economic infrastructure of the country. Privatization, liberalization and diversification have been core determinants of the reforms implemented, which mainly aim at balancing the various economic branches, macroeconomic stability and socio-economic growth incentives. The success of these reforms is reflected in the so-called "oil boom," revived light industry and expanded export processing zones that helped sustain annual GDP growth rates of more than 10% in 2006 and 2007 as well as the decrease of the inflation rate down to 7% in 2006. Moreover, foreign direct investment has also been stimulated through changes in economic and financial laws. However, the central points of critique from both the IMF as well as the World Bank have been Khartoum's military expenditures which roughly amount to 40% of the total budget and, in spite of the increasing revenues from oil exports, add to the rising external debt which exceeds the country's financial capacities to fulfill its debt obligations.


Economic Disparity

The Southern but also Western areas of Sudan have not equally benefited from the economic growth of the past years. Especially, the crisis region of Darfur has experienced major slumps to its economy coming with the violent conflicts in 2003. Hence, in the aftermath of the 2005 CPA, the GoSS started to stimulate economic development on the basis of its two central revenue flows: (1) a 50% share of oil revenue from fields of Southern Sudan and (2) the Multi-donor Trust Fund. Investment priorities were education, health, infrastructure, and also increased government capacity. Southern Sudan has vast forest and mineral resources, great potential in livestock and forestry and almost 50 million hectares of prime agricultural land but economic activity remains at a subsistence level. It is estimated that less than 1% of land with agricultural potential is under cultivation, while at the same time food insecurity is chronic and widespread.  Formal private sector capacity remains weak.

Economic and service delivery challenges will be compounded by the huge expected influx of IDPs and refugees.  Further challenges are enormous, ranging from a severe lack of infrastructure, a lack of qualified human capital, an increasing regional insecurity, which, in turn, raises doubts over the prospects for a successful outcome of these attempts.


The trade balance of Sudan has constantly been negative, although the rates of return from oil exports have significantly increased. In 2006 the balance deficit amounted to 5.1 billion US Dollar. Oil and petroleum products (accounting for more than 87% of the total export in 2006, gum Arabic, cotton, sesame, livestock, groundnuts and sugar represent the most important items of export of the Sudanese economy. With a 70 percent share of Sudanese oil exports, The People's Republic of China (PRC) has made itself the most important export partner for Sudan. Besides China, also Japan and Saudi Arabia account for a large amount of imports of Sudanese products. At the same time, these countries are also among those nations (others are India, UAE, and Egypt) from where the Sudan imports foodstuffs, manufactured goods, refinery and transport equipments, medicines and chemicals.



By employing 80 percent of the work force and contributing 32.9 percent (as compared to 31.2% for industry (mostly oil/petroleum) and 36% services) to the Gross Domestic Product, agriculture represents the most important economic sector of Sudan. Although the country is trying to diversify its cash crops, cotton, and gum Arabic remain its major agricultural exports. Despite the significance of the agricultural sector, Sudan remains a net importer of food. Problems of irrigation and transportation appear to be the greatest constraints to a more dynamic agricultural economy. Although Sudan is reputed to have great mineral resources, exploration has been quite limited, and the country's real potential is unknown. It is foremost oil ("oil boom") that over the last five years has gained importance as a central engine behind the industrial development of the country. The current ratio of oil production is 457,000 bbl/day (2007 est.) with 360,000 bbl/day (2007 est.) being exported and 97,000 bbl/day (2007 est.) consumption.


The country's transport facilities consist of one 4,800-kilometer (2,748-mi.), single-track railroad with a feeder line, supplemented by limited river steamers, Sudan airways, and about 1,900 km. (1,200 mi.) of paved and gravel road—primarily in greater Khartoum, Port Sudan, and the north. Some north-south roads that serve the oil fields of central/south Sudan have been built; and a 1,400 km. (840 mi.) oil pipeline goes from the oil fields via the Nuba Mountains and Khartoum to the oil export terminal in Port Sudan on the Red Sea. The country has 51 airports (with the majority being paved and used for civilian purposes) and two central sea ports, Port Sudan and Port Suakin. Along the 4068 km of water roads, DschubaKhartumKustiMalakalNimule and Wadi Halfa are major river ports of Sudan. As for hyper power generation, the Merowe Dam near the village Hamdab is the most ambitious recent project in Sudanese energy and infrastructural development.

Development Indicators

Sudan is one of the poorest nations in the world, and what wealth the country possesses is not widely distributed. Poverty is widespread, particularly in rural areas. Not surprisingly, Sudan is ranked number 150 out of 182 countries on the 2009 Human Development Index with an HDI value of only 0.531 (as compared to e.g. Canada with 0.966 as value). About 90 percent of the Sudanese survives on less than $1 per day. Roughly 30% of the population has no or only little access to safe water, which affects overall sanitation and hygiene and encourages the spread of infectious diseases.

Humanitarian Needs

Sudan requires aid for the provision of protection and other humanitarian assistance for its citizens against widespread armed conflict in the Darfur region. Basically four types of humanitarian challenges need to be tackled: (1) influxes of war wounded following armed clashes, (2) epidemics (especially cholera and meningitis), (3) nutritional crises (both in the camps and in rural areas), and (4) large population displacements. With respect to the emergency response two basic problems remain, namely that the emergency alerts rarely come early and, second, access to the refugee camps is far from guaranteed. Moreover, there is inadequate funding to cope with the large refugee population from neighbouring countries, mainly Eritrea and Ethiopia, and thousands of Sudanese returnees.


According to the World Bank, more than 40% of the Sudanese children between 0-5 years of age suffer from being underweight. The infant mortality rate is 86.98 per 1,000 live births. Primary and secondary school enrolment rates are around 38%. Education is free for children between the ages of six and 13, with the primary school enrolment ratio by percentage of 60.1.The country is home to 1.3 million orphans (0-17 years) according to the UN Children's Fund. Child protection issues in Sudan include low birth weight, stunting, child labour and female genital cutting.

Food Security

The conflict in the south has left more than 1.5 million people dead and four million displaced. It has also wrecked the infrastructure and economy with food production being hampered by fighting and displacement, as well as by recurrent droughts according to the World Food Programme (WFP). At least 2.7 million people require food assistance in the greater Darfur region with the ongoing conflict expected to not only hit regional cereal production but also severely reduce food commodity flows from normally surplus-to-deficit areas. Sudan is categorised by the UN as a low-income, food-deficit country.
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