Sudan country profile

Map of Sudan

Sudan, once the largest and one of the most geographically diverse states in Africa, split into two countries in July 2011 after the people of the south voted for independence.

The government of Sudan gave its blessing for an independent South Sudan, where the mainly Christian and Animist people had for decades been struggling against rule by the Arab Muslim north.

However, various outstanding issues - especially the question of shared oil revenues and border demarcation - have continued to create tensions between the two successor states.

Sudan has long been beset by conflict. Two rounds of north-south civil war cost the lives of 1.5 million people, and a continuing conflict in the western region of Darfur has driven two million people from their homes and killed more than 200,000.


Republic of Sudan

Capital: Khartoum

  • Population 39.5 million

  • Major languages Arabic, English (official)

  • Major religion Islam

  • Life expectancy 63 years (men), 66 years (women)

  • Currency Sudanese pound

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Ruler: Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan

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Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan was sworn in as chairman of Sudan's ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) on 12 April 2019, a day after the army overthrew veteran President Omar al-Bashir. The military said the TMC would lead Sudan through a two-year transition period to prepare it for civilian rule.

Lt-Gen Burhan replaced Defence Minister Lt-Gen Awad Ahmed Ibn Auf, who stood down after protest organisers rejected him for being too close to Mr Bashir. Burhan's appointment was seen as more acceptable to opposition activists because he had no known political affiliation. He was the third highest ranking military official in Sudan and had held the position of Inspector General of the army since February 2019, after several years as Sudan's Commander of Ground Forces.

Lt-Gen Burhan used his first public address as Sudan's new ruler to assure protesters that the military was committed to the establishment of civilian rule. He ordered the release of prisoners who had been jailed under the emergency law for protesting. He promised the restructuring of state institutions and immediately embarked on removing officials who served under Omar al-Bashir, including the attorney general and the head of the national broadcaster.

In the west of the country, Burhan has been accused of involvement in atrocities that led to the displacement of unarmed residents in Central and West Darfur. As head of ground forces, he was in charge when armed militias clashed with Darfur's non-Arab civilians with apparent impunity. The conflict that began in 2003 led to the indictment of ex-president Omar al-Bashir for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

More recently, Lt-Gen Burhan has supervised Sudanese forces participating in the Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen. He has also previously served as Sudan's military attaché in China.

Mr Burhan was born in Sudan's River Nile State in 1960. He is married with three children.


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Sudanese broadcasting is highly restricted and state TV and radio reflect government policy.

The private press carries opposition views, but the state uses its powers to influence what is published.

More than a quarter of Sudanese citizens are online, but access can be prohibitively expensive. Activists have faced arrest for their social media activities.


Some key dates in Sudan's history:

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Image caption Much of Sudan is arid

1821 - Ottoman Empire conquers northern part of the country.

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

1956 - Sudan becomes independent.

1983 - President Numeiri introduces Sharia Islamic law.

2003 - Start of conflict in Darfur region.

2009 - International Criminal Court issues an arrest warrant for President Omar Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity relating to the drawn-out conflict in Darfur.

2011 - South Sudan gains independence following years of war with the central government in Khartoum.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A joint UN and African Union force has been trying to keep the peace in Darfur

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