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Brief History

The Republic of Sudan, gained its independence from Egypt and the United Kingdom on January 1, 1956. Since then, military regimes favoring Islamic-oriented governments have dominated national politics. Sudan underwent two civil wars: in 1955 that lasted until 1972, and in 1983 where the previous war reignited. In the latter, more than four million people were displaced and more than 2 million were killed over two decades. In June 1983, the Sudanese government, under President Gaafar Nimeiry, abrogated the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement (A.A.A.), but the war continued even after Nimeiry was ousted and a democratic government was elected with Al Sadig Al Mahdi's Umma Party having the majority in the parliament. Several riots broke out, such as the seperate conflict in Western Darfur, and peace talks gained momentum with the signing of several accords. Sudan also has faced large refugee influxes from neighboring countries primarily Ethiopia and Chad. The current president is Omar al-Bashir.

Geography

Sudan, capital Khartoum, is located in Northern Africa covering an area of 2,505,813 square kilometers. It is the largest country in Africa, and the Arab World, and tenth largest in the world by area. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, Kenya and Uganda to the southeast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west and Libya to the northwest. The climate is tropical in south and arid desert in north. The rainy season varies by region (April to November). The dominating geographic feature is the Nile River, formed near Khartoum by the confluence of the Blue Nile and White Nile rivers. There are natural harbors at Port Sudan (Bur Sudan) and Suakin on the Red Sea. Sudan is rich in some natural resources such as petroleum; small reserves of iron ore, copper, chromium ore, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver, gold, and hydropower.

People

Sudan has a population of 41,980,182 (2010) of over 597 tribes that include many ethnic groups such as blacks, Arabs, Beja, foreigners, and others. The official languages are English and Arabic, and there are other numerous languages such as Nubian, Ta Bedawie, and diverse dialects of Nilotic, Nilo-Hamitic, and other Sudanic languages. The literacy rate is 61.1% (2003) and the unemployment rate is 18.7% (2002). Its religions are distributed among 70% Sunni Muslims (in north), 5% Christians (mostly in south and Khartoum), and 25% followers of indigenous beliefs.

Government

The government of Sudan is subject to a republic system. Its legal system is based on English common law and Islamic law. It accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations. The president, Umar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, is both the chief of state and head of government. He has been president since October 16, 1993. The official currency is the Sudanese pound, where 2.37 pounds are equivalent to US$1.

Economy

Sudan has a high level of poverty and inequality in income. The government’s ability to deliver social services is very poor mainly owing to the unrest in the country and the resulting deterioration of infrastructure. According to the 2004 census, 40% of the population lives below the poverty line, and the GDP per capita is estimated to be US$2,300 (2009).

Agriculture production remains Sudan's most important sector, employing 80% of the workforce and contributing 39% of GDP, but most farms remain rain-fed and susceptible to drought. Instability, adverse weather, and weak world agricultural prices—ensures that much of the population will remain at or below the poverty line for years. The most important agricultural exports are oil seeds, especially sesame cotton, and livestock, given that Cotton and sesame account for almost a quarter each of export earnings. Other export commodities include gold, vegetable oil, crude vegetable materials, groundnuts, gum arabic and sugar.

Sudan's industries supplied many items that had formerly been imported—cotton textiles, sugar, hides and skins, cement, tires, flour, soap, shoes, cigarettes, batteries, sesame oil, biscuits, confectionery, household appliances, paints and varnishes, and plastics. Industry contributed 29.4% to the GDP in 2009. Rich mineral resources are available in Sudan including: petroleum, natural gas, gold, silver, chrome, asbestos, manganese, gypsum, mica, zinc, iron, lead, uranium, copper, kaolin, cobalt, granite, nickel, tin, aluminum. In 1999, Sudan began exporting crude oil and in the last quarter of 1999, recorded its first trade surplus. Currently oil is Sudan's main export, and the production is increasing dramatically. With rising oil revenues the Sudanese economy is booming, with a growth rate of about 9% in 2007.

Growth is also due to the boost of hydroelectricity provided by the Merowe Dam. Until the second half of 2008, Sudan's economy boomed on the back of increases in oil production, high oil prices, and large inflows of foreign direct investment.

Sudan was the world's largest debtor to the IMF in 2003, with arrears of over US$1 billion. It has been working with the IMF to implement macroeconomic reforms including a managed float of the exchange rate.

The inflation rate is 11.2% (2009), and the country’s Gross National Income (GNI) per cpita was estimated to be US$ 1,125.10 (2010).


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