Officially the Republic of the Sudan (Arabic: جمهورية السودان Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northeast Africa. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea to the east, Ethiopia to the southeast, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west, and Libya to the northwest. It houses 37 million people (2017)and occupies a total area of 1,861,484 square kilometres (718,722 square miles), making it the third-largest country in Africa. Sudan’s predominant religion is Islam,and its official languages are Arabic and English (although English is not spoken by many). The capital is Khartoum, located at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile.
Sudan’s history goes back to the Pharaonic period, witnessing the kingdom of Kerma (c. 2500 BC–1500 BC), the subsequent rule of the Egyptian New Kingdom (c. 1500 BC–1070 BC) and the rise of the kingdom of Kush (c. 785 BC–350 AD), which would in turn control Egypt itself for nearly a century. After the fall of Kush the Nubians formed the three Christian kingdoms of Nobatia, Makuria and Alodia, with the latter two lasting until around 1500. Between the 14th and 15th centuries much of Sudan was settled by Muslim Arabs. From the 16th–19th centuries, central and eastern Sudan were dominated by the Funj sultanate, while Darfur ruled the west and the Ottomans the far north. This period saw extensive Islamization and Arabization.
From 1820 to 1874 the entirety of Sudan was conquered by the Muhammad Ali dynasty. Between 1881 and 1885 the harsh Egyptian reign was eventually met with a successful revolt led by the self-proclaimed Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad, resulting in the establishment of the Caliphate of Omdurman. This state was eventually destroyed in 1898 by the British, who would then govern Sudan together with Egypt.
The 20th century saw the growth of Sudanese nationalism and in 1953 Britain granted Sudan self-government. Independence was proclaimed on January 1, 1956. Since independence, Sudan has been ruled by a series of unstable parliamentary governments and military regimes. Under Gaafar Nimeiry, Sudan instituted Islamic law in 1983.This exacerbated the rift between the Arab north, the seat of the government and the black African animists and Christians in the south. Differences in language, religion, ethnicity and political power erupted in a civil war between government forces, strongly influenced by the National Islamic Front (NIF) and the southern rebels, whose most influential faction was the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), eventually concluding in the independence of South Sudan in 2011. Since 2011, Sudan’s government has been engaged in a war with the Sudan Revolutionary Front. Human rights violations, religious persecution and allegations that Sudan had been a safe haven for terrorists isolated the country from most of the international community. In 1995, the United Nations (UN) imposed sanctions against Sudan.
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