Interesting Facts About Sudan

  1. Sudan used to be the largest country in Africa and the Middle East (area wise), before the country split in two in July 2011 (Sudan and South Sudan). In addition, it ranked as the 10th largest country in the world. Today, Sudan is third largest country in Africa (after Algeria and Democratic Republic of the Congo) and the 16th largest country in the world. It covers an area of 728,215 square miles and has an estimated population of 30,894,000.south-sudan-map
  2. Since the country’s independence in January 1, 1956, six individuals (and three multi-member sovereignty councils) have served as head of state of Sudan, currently under the title President of the Republic of Sudan.
  3. The country’s name derives from the Arabic bilad al-sudan, which means “land of the blacks.”
  4. The capital of Sudan, Khartoum, means elephant trunk in Arabic, which refers to the large bend in the Nile River that it makes as it flows north from the city.Sudan - The Land and the People
  5. The White and Blue Nile rivers run through Sudan and merge at Khartoum, becoming the Nile River before flowing into Egypt.
  6. Although much of Sudan’s land is made up of plains and deserts, it has large areas of arable land, significant gold deposits and massive oil reserves.
  7. Thousands of years ago, the area of north Sudan was extremely volcanic, remnants of these old volcanoes can be seen in the north.
  8. Oil accounts for about 73% of Sudan’s total export revenues. Officials from the Sudanese Energy Ministry estimate that the county has 3 billion barrels of oil reserves.

    Sudanese pyramids in the city of Marawi. Source: Trip Advisor

    Sudanese pyramids in the city of Marawi. Source: Trip Advisor

  9. There are a large number of old Egyptian ruins and pyramids in Sudan, even larger in number than the ones in Egypt (although not as old), as the country was once part of the Egyptian realm, prior its independence. Read more about this on The New York Times.
  10. Sudan had one of the first and most active women’s movements in the African and Arab world during the 1960s–70s. In addition, Sudanese women are also pioneers in science, politics and activism. Sudan boasts the first female parliamentarian in Africa and the Middle East (1965), the first female Minister of Health (1974); and the Middle East’s first female judge, cinematographer, football refereearmy and police officers. Read more about it on ‘8 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Sudanese People‘.

    The funeral procession for Ahmad al-Qurashi, a 20-year-old student activist shot by the police, drew thousands in Khartoum on Oct. 22, 1964. His death set off Sudan's October Revolution. Source: New York Times

    The funeral procession for Ahmad al-Qurashi, a 20-year-old student activist shot by the police, drew thousands in Khartoum on Oct. 22, 1964. His death set off Sudan’s October Revolution. Source: New York Times

  11. Sudan is the first Muslim and Arab country to appoint a female as a judge. This took place in the 1960s. There are at least 67 judges in the Sudanese judiciary today, which is more than any other Arab or Muslim country in the world.
  12. Before the Arab Spring, which begin in Tunisia in 2010, Sudan was the first country to carry an uprising – not only once but twice. The first took place in 1964: the so-called ‘October revolution’ ousted Sudan’s first military dictator, General Aboud. The second occurred in 1985 and toppled another military dictator, Jafar Numeiri, who had come to power in a coup in 1969.
  13. In July 2008, the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) top prosecutor called for the arrest of President Omar Al 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.
  14. The literacy rate of Sudan is 62% – 70%, according to a UNESCO study and other reports.
  15. Only about 68% of children are enrolled in primary school; this number drops once children enter secondary school. (More number of girls die during childbirth or pregnancy than when trying to complete their primary school).
  16. Sudan has a youth unemployment rate of 34%. More than 18% of Sudan’s population is unemployed and about 40% (37 million) of the population lives below the poverty line.
  17. According to the CIA – The World Factbook, only 3.3% of Sudan’s population is 65 years old and above, and only 3.8% are between the age of 55 and 64. The life expectancy in Sudan is 61 years.
  18. Although the official languages spoken in the country are Arabic and English, anthropologists and social scientists have identified more than 100 languages and dialects that are used in Sudan. The Afro-Arab ethnic and linguistic diversity remains one of the most complex in the world. Nearly 600 ethnic groups speak more than 400 languages and dialects, many of them intelligible to only a small number of individuals. Today, sources identify the minimum number of individual languages listed for Sudan as 78. Of these, 75 are living and three are extinct. Of the living languages, nine are institutional, 10 are developing, 22 are vigorous, 17 are in trouble, and 17 are dying.
  19. About 400 BC, the ox-driven water wheel was introduced to the Sudan. It still plays a vital role in the country’s economy.
  20. The natural resources include copper, chromium ore, petroleum, zinc, small reserves of iron ore, hydropower and mica, tungsten, silver and gold. Agricultural production – such as cotton and peanuts cultivation – employs 80% of the workforce and contributes 39% of the gross domestic product.
  21. Sudan is the world’s largest producer of gum Arabic. It exports 70% of the world’s gum arabic from just 20% os its available trees. Learn more on CNN!
  22. Sudan currently ranks 3rd on the list of African gold producing countries.
  23. According to the United Nations (UN), civil war in Darfur region is seen as “one of the worst nightmares in recent history.” Furthermore, “the Sudan crisis is the most dramatic race against the clock anywhere in the world at the moment,” stated the UN.
  24. Despite being a refugee-generating country (an estimated 200,000 Sudanese from Darfur have escaped to Chad, where they are living in refugee camps), Sudan also hosts a refugee population. According to the World Refugee Survey 2008, published by the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, 310,500 refugees and asylum seekers lived in Sudan in 2007. The majority of this population came from Eritrea (240,400 persons), Chad (45,000), Ethiopia (49,300) and the Central African Republic (2,500). In 2007, the Sudanese government forcibly deported at least 1,500 refugees and asylum seekers during the year. Sudan is a party to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
  25. According to Sudanese law, the minimum age for a male to get married is 18 and above, while a female must be 16 years old or above.

    Sudanese bride and groom at the Jertik wedding ceremony. Source: Reuters

    Sudanese bride and groom at the Jertik wedding ceremony. Source: Reuters

  26. Sudanese weddings can last up to a week. There are at least five ‘optional’ wedding ceremonies, which are the jertik (spiritual wedding ceremony), groom’s henna, bride’s henna, subhiya or ragis al 3aroos (the bride dances for a female-only audience) and al dukhla (a western-style wedding ceremony).
  27. In Sudan, there is a marriage tradition called ghost marriage. A ghost marriage is the practice by which people marry for a deceased brother to bring up an heir for him. In other words, a deceased groom is replaced by his brother. The brother serves as a stand in to the bride, and any resulting children are considered children of the deceased spouse. It’s a predominant practice in the Nilotic tradition. The Nuer and Dinka (people of South Sudan) particularly still socially adopt the marriage as a means of extending the family number. Ghost marriages have also occurred in France and China.
  28. Decades ago, Sudanese women were encouraged to be plump. The larger the girth, the more desirable a woman was for marriage. The people living at the time of the ancient Kush civilization, which ended in 350 AD, favored full bodies, and especially thick hips and thighs. This mentality still exists in Sudan today but in minority. Read more about this on The World.
  29. Before a wedding, it’s a tradition for a bride to sit in a smoke bath of burning perfumed acacia wood called Dukhan, twice a day for 40 days (shorter or longer). During that period, she wouldn’t wash. Her body would be covered with aromatic oils as well until a thick layer forms on her skin. On day 40, the thick sooty layer would be peeled off revealing glowing skin underneath. Watch it on YouTube.
  30. Sudan had 4.2 million internet users by December 2011, comprising around 10% of the population.
  31. More than 40% of people in Sudan do not have access to safe water and more than 60% are not using adequate sanitation facilities. As a result, there’s a rise to problems such as periodic droughts, soil erosion and desertification in Sudan. Due to excessive hunting, the wildlife population is threatened.
  32. Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world. Annual per-capita income in 2001 was $340.
  33. Due to prolonged conflicts and civil wars, there are over 3 million internally displaced Sudanese in countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya and Chad.
  34. Regardless of the country’s prolonged conflicts, Sudan is a refugee hosting country
  35. Sudan hosts one of the largest numbers of Syrian refugees in the MENA region. Estimates from the Government of Sudan’s Commission of Refugees (COR) indicate that since 2011 Sudan has received a considerable number of Syrian refugees, with the number of arrivals estimated at 100,000 people. The committee says about 300 Syrians arrive at the Khartoum airport from Syria every month, while a greater number arrive from Jordan and Lebanon. Syrian refugees receive free visa entry, education, healthcare and more. UNHCR provided $10 million to the government of Sudan in support to the Syrian refugees.
  36. Sudan ranked among the bottom 10 countries in the 2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
  37. In 1997, the US placed sanctions on Sudan, crippling its economy. Recently on 6 October 2017, the US permanently lifted the two-decade sanctions on Sudan. However, it does not remove Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Know any interesting facts about Sudan that others may not know about? Then leave a comment in the box below.

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26 thoughts on “Interesting Facts About Sudan

    • Dear Luke,

      That’s great! I hope the students found the information useful and interesting. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

  1. you need to update your info:-
    1- Sudan internet and mobile usage now covers 115% of the population (many people have 2 or more lines)
    2- education rate has risen to over 80%
    3- per capita income is approx 1800 USD (World Bank stats)
    4- huge reserves of iron ore (5 billion tons approximately) plus entering the gold-producers market producing more than 30 tons a year, is now a regional economic center exporting manufactured goods and cereals to neighboring countries and tying in landlocked countries (ethiopia, chad, congo and south sudan) to the sea.
    5- and most importantly, Sudanese Pharoahs ruled Egypt till Alexandria for over 5000 years and Sudan has over 400 pyramids proving that the Pharoanic Dynasties started in Sudan and conquered Egypt. Sudan has the oldest human remains in history proving that we are the “cradle of humanity” and the oldest known remains of a village with iron and fire remains (the first to live in communities and use fire and iron) … excavations are ongoing and Pyramids and cities have been found as far South as Kordufan !!

  2. even more :-
    1- there are 7 aircraft companies working in Sudan
    2- Investment levels from 2000 – 2010 made Sudan the 2nd largest investment recipient of direct investment in Africa and 4th in the Arab world !!
    3- Sudan has more than 20 government-run universities and more than that private universities with approximately 100,000 graduates a year , many of who emigrate to Arab countries for work
    4- 4 telecom companies work in Sudan providing very affordable mobile and internet services covering the whole country and electronic payments services are getting ever more common for everyday use
    I’ll think up some more for you ….
    Good job though, and nice writing !!

  3. First of all i appreciate your efforts MS’s OLA to collecting this ” simple info’s ” about Sudan but i just wondering what’s kind of facts you indicated up for all about Sudan. secondly you should be very accurate when you tell numbers specially in case of the countries like Sudan coz unstable situation will change numbers always . Then should tell Nam’s of resources u got this Info’s and the rate of transparency of it. Otherwise you will provoking Sudan and Sudanese like Me.

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