Sudan Highlights




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General Information,

Sudan is the largest, yet one of the least visited, countries in Africa. Various ongoing conflicts mean some of this vast nation remains off limits. Much of the Middle East and Africa has a reputation for warmth and hospitality but Sudan is in a league of its own, making it a joy to travel in. It is common to be invited to stay at someone’s home and most rural Sudanese would never dream of eating in front of you without inviting you to join them. Meeting them over a glass or five of tea is a serious national ritual, which includes the officials you are dealing with. So be prepared to get spontaneously invited to lunch or dinner. Most of the time people are very interested in you and they are often proud to show you their country and their hospitality. Sudan is as geographically diverse as it is culturally; in the north, the Nile cuts through the eastern edge of the Sahara: the Nubian desert, the site of the Ancient Kingdoms of Cush and Meroe, and the land of the Seti.

Sudan is one of the poorest and least-developed countries in the world, with about one-third of its inhabitants dependent on farming and animal husbandry for their livelihoods. The name Sudan derives from the Arabic expression bilād al-sūdān which means land of the blacks. Prior to the independence of South Sudan declared on July 9, 2011, Sudan was the largest African country, with an area that represented more than 8 percent of the African continent. Oil production began in the late 1990s, and petroleum quickly became the country’s most important export. It was first discovered in southwestern Sudan in 1977, and a commercially viable find was made in 1980, but the civil war in the south prevented any exploitation of the oil deposits until the late 20th century. Upon the secession of the south in 2011, most of the oil reserves fell within the borders of newly independent South Sudan. More than half of the government’s total revenue is from petroleum exports. Besides petroleum, Sudan’s other chief exports are livestock, cotton, gum Arabic, sorghum, and sesame, while its chief imports consist of machinery and equipment, manufactured goods, motor vehicles, and wheat. China is Sudan’s leading trading partner; others include Japan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Sudan has other known mineral deposits, but not all are exploited. They include gold, uranium, gypsum, mica, marble, and iron ore. Electricity is largely limited to urban areas and generally is not a common energy source for cooking. Paraffin, gas, charcoal, and firewood are the primary energy sources used to meet either cooking or lighting needs in the country.