The people of Sudan have a long history extending from antiquity that is intertwined with the history of Egypt. Sudan suffered seventeen years of civil war during the First Sudanese Civil War (1955–1972) followed by the Second Sudanese Civil War between central government of Northern Sudan and the SPLA/M of Southern Sudan. This led to the Second Sudanese Civil War in 1983. Because of continuing political and military struggles, Sudan was seized in a bloodless coup d'état by colonel Omar al-Bashir in 1989, who thereafter proclaimed himself President of Sudan. The civil war ended with the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement which granted autonomy to what was then the southern region of the country. Following a referendum held in January 2011, South Sudan seceded on 9 July 2011 with the consent of Sudan.
By the eighth millennium BC, people of a Neolithic culture had settled into a sedentary way of life there in fortified mud-brick villages, where they supplemented hunting and fishing on the Nile with grain gathering and cattle herding. During the fifth millennium BC migrations from the drying Sahara brought neolithic people into the Nile Valley along with agriculture. The population that resulted from this cultural and genetic mixing developed social hierarchy over the next centuries become the Kingdom of Kush (with the capital at Kerma) at 1700 BC.
Sudan is situated in northern Africa, with a 853 km (530 mi) coastline bordering the Red Sea. With an area of 1,886,068 km2 (728,215 sq mi), it is the third largest country on the continent (after Algeria and DR Congo) and the sixteenth largest in the world. Sudan lies between latitudes 8° and 23°N.
The terrain is generally flat plains, broken by several mountain ranges; in the west the Deriba Caldera (3,042 m or 9,980 ft), located in the Marrah Mountains, is the highest point in Sudan; in the east are the Red Sea Hills.
The Blue and White Nile rivers meet in Khartoum to form the River Nile, which flows northwards through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. The Blue Nile's course through Sudan is nearly 800 km (497 mi) long and is joined by the Dinder and Rahad Rivers between Sennar and Khartoum. The White Nile within Sudan has no significant tributaries.
In 2010, Sudan was considered the 17th-fastest-growing economy in the world and the rapid development of the country largely from oil profits even when facing international sanctions was noted by The New York Times in a 2006 article. Because of the secession of South Sudan, which contained over 80 percent of Sudan's oilfields, the economic forecast for Sudan in 2011 and beyond is uncertain.
Even with the oil profits before the secession of South Sudan, Sudan still faced formidable economic problems, and its growth was still a rise from a very low level of per capita output. In any case, the economy in the Sudan has been slowly growing over the last ten years, and according to a World Bank report the overall growth in GDP in 2010 was 5.2 percent compared to 2009 growth of 4.2 percent. This growth was sustained even during the crisis in Darfur and period of southern autonomy preceding South Sudan's independence.
97 percent of the population adheres to Islam. Almost all Muslims are Sunni, although there are significant distinctions between followers of different Sunni traditions. Two popular divisions, the Ansar and the Khatmia, are associated with the opposition Umma and Democratic Unionist Parties, respectively. A minority of Muslims are Shia or Sufi There are significant but long-established groups of Coptic Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Christians in Khartoum and other northern cities.
Sudan Top Cities