Geography of Sudan

Learn Information about the African Nation of Sudan

Suden desert

Getty Images / Frank Heinz

Located in northeastern Africa, Sudan is the largest country in Africa. It is also the tenth largest country in the world based on area. Sudan is bordered by nine different countries and it is located along the Red Sea. It has a long history of civil wars as well as political and social instability. Most recently, Sudan has been in the news because South Sudan seceded from Sudan on July 9, 2011. The elections for secession began on January 9, 2011 and the referendum to secede passed strongly. South Sudan seceded from Sudan because it is mostly Christian and it has been engaged in a civil war with the Muslim north for several decades.

Fast Facts: Sudan

  • Official Name: Republic of the Sudan
  • Capital: Khartoum
  • Population: 43,120,843 (2018)
  • Official Languages: Arabic, English
  • Currency: Sudanese pound (SDG)
  • Form of Government: Presidential republic
  • Climate: Hot and dry; arid desert; rainy season varies by region (April to November)
  • Total Area: 718,720 square miles (1,861,484 square kilometers)
  • Highest Point: Jabal Marrah at 9,981 feet (3,042 meters)
  • Lowest Point: Red Sea at 0 feet (0 meters)

History of Sudan

Sudan has a long history that begins with its being a collection of small kingdoms until Egypt conquered the area in the early 1800s. At this time, however, Egypt only controlled the northern portions, while the south was made up of independent tribes. In 1881, Muhammad ibn Abdalla, also known as Mahdi, began a crusade to unify western and central Sudan which created the Umma Party. In 1885, Mahdi led a revolt but he died soon after and in 1898, Egypt and Great Britain regained joint control of the area.

In 1953, however, Great Britain and Egypt gave Sudan the powers of self-government and put it on a path to independence. On January 1, 1956, Sudan gained full independence. According to the United States Department of State, once it gained independence Sudan's leaders began to renege on promises to create a federal system, which began a long period of civil war in the country between the northern and southern areas as the north has long tried to implement Muslim policies and customs.

As a result of the long civil wars, Sudan's economic and political progress has been slow and a large part of its population has been displaced to neighboring countries over the years.

Throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Sudan underwent several changes in government and suffered from high levels of political instability along with the continuing civil war. Beginning in the early 2000s though, the government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) came up with several agreements that would give South Sudan more autonomy from the rest of the country and put it on a path to becoming independent.

In July 2002, steps to end the civil war began with the Machakos Protocol and on November 19, 2004, the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A worked with the United Nations Security Council and signed a declaration for a peace agreement that would be enacted by the end of 2004. On January 9, 2005 the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

Government of Sudan

Based on the CPA, Sudan's government today is called a Government of National Unity. This is a power sharing type of government that exists between the National Congress Party (NCP) and the SPLM/A. The NCP, however, carries most of the power. Sudan also has an executive branch of government with a president and a legislative branch made up of the bicameral National Legislature. This body consists of the Council of States and the National Assembly. Sudan's judicial branch is made up of several different high courts. The country is also divided into 25 different states.

Economics and Land Use in Sudan

Recently, Sudan's economy has begun to grow after many years of instability due to its civil war. There are a number of different industries in Sudan today and agriculture also plays a large role in its economy. The main industries of Sudan are oil, cotton ginning, textiles, cement, edible oils, sugar, soap distilling, shoes, petroleum refining, pharmaceuticals, armaments, and automobile assembly. Its main agricultural products include cotton, peanuts, sorghum, millet, wheat, gum arabic, sugarcane, tapioca, mangos, papaya, bananas, sweet potatoes, sesame, and livestock.

Geography and Climate of Sudan

Sudan is a large country with a total land area of 967,500 square miles (2,505,813 sq km). Despite the country's size, most of Sudan's topography is relatively flat with a featureless plain, according to the CIA World Factbook. There are some high mountains in the far south and along the country's northeast and western areas, however. Sudan's highest point, Kinyeti at 10,456 feet (3,187 m), is located on its far southern border with Uganda. In the north, most of Sudan's landscape is desert and desertification is a serious issue in nearby areas.

The climate of Sudan varies with location. It is tropical in the south and arid in the north. Parts of Sudan also have a rainy season, which varies. Sudan's capital Khartoum, which is located in the central part of the country where the White Nile and the Blue Nile rivers (both of which are tributaries of the Nile River) meet, has a hot, arid climate. The January average low for that city is 60 degrees (16˚C) while the June average high is 106 degrees (41˚C).


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Briney, Amanda. "Geography of Sudan." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Briney, Amanda. (2021, February 16). Geography of Sudan. Retrieved from Briney, Amanda. "Geography of Sudan." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 21, 2023).