Geography of Sudan

Learn Information about the African Nation of Sudan

Voters celebrate with the flag of south Sudan during the first day of voting for the independence referendum in the southern Sudanese city of Juba January 9, 2011 in Juba, Sudan. The result is expected to split Africa's largest country in two. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Population: 43,939,598 (July 2010 estimate)
Capital: Khartoum
Bordering Countries: Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, South Sudan, and Uganda
Land Area: 967,500 square miles (2,505,813 sq km)
Coastline: 530 miles (853 km)

Sudan is located in northeastern Africa and it 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.

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 1800's.

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 2000's 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 that is 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 very 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˚F (16˚C) while the June average high is 106˚F (41˚C).

To learn more about Sudan, visit the Geography and Maps section on Sudan on this website.


Central Intelligence Agency. (27 December 2010). CIA - The World Factbook - Sudan. Retrieved from: (n.d.). Sudan: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Retrieved from:

United States Department of State. (9 November 2010). Sudan. Retrieved from: (10 January 2011). Sudan - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: