Location and Geography. Sudan is in Africa, south of Egypt. It shares borders with Egypt, Libya, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia. It is the largest country in Africa and the ninth largest in the world, covering one million square miles (2.59 million square kilometers). The White Nile flows though the country, emptying into Lake Nubia in the north, the largest manmade lake in the world. The northern part of the country is desert, spotted with oases, where most of the population is concentrated. To the east, the Red Sea Hills support some vegetation. The central region is mainly high, sandy plains. The southern region includes grasslands, and along the border with Uganda the Democratic Republic of the Congo, dense forests. The southern part of the country consists of a basin drained by the Nile, as well as a plateau, and mountains, which mark the southern border. These include Mount Kinyeti, the highest peak in Sudan. Rainfall is extremely rare in the north but profuse in the south, which has a wet season lasting six to nine months. The central region of the country generally gets enough rain to support agriculture, but it experienced droughts in the 1980s and 1990s. The country supports a variety of wildlife, including crocodiles and hippopotamuses in the rivers, elephants (mainly in the south), giraffes, lions, leopards, tropical birds, and several species of poisonous reptiles.
The capital, Khartoum, lies at the meeting point of the White and Blue Niles, and together with Khartoum North and Omdurman forms an urban center known as "the three towns," with a combined population of 2.5 million people. Khartoum is the center for commerce and government; Omdurman is the official capital; and North Khartoum is the industrial center, home to 70 percent of Sudan's industry.
Demography. Sudan has a population of 33.5 million. Fifty-two percent of the population are black and 39 percent are Arab. Six percent are Beja, 2 percent are foreign, and the remaining 1 percent are composed of other ethnicities. There are more than fifty different tribes. These include the Jamala and the Nubians in the north; the Beja in the Red Sea Hills; and several Nilotic peoples in the south, including the Azande, Dinka, Nuer, and Shilluk. Despite a devastating civil war and a number of natural disasters, the population has an average growth rate of 3 percent. There is also a steady rural-urban migration.
Linguistic Affiliation. There are more than one hundred different indigenous languages spoken in Sudan, including Nubian, Ta Bedawie, and dialects of Nilotic and Nilo-Hamitic languages. Arabic is the official language, spoken by more than half of the population. English is being phased out as a foreign language taught in the schools, although it is still spoken by some people.
Symbolism. The flag adopted at independence had three horizontal stripes: blue, symbolizing the Nile
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Population of Sudan
Census of 1983 set population at 21.6 millioeople; July 1999 population estimate approximately 30 million. Annual growth rate between 2.8 and 3.1 percent. Half of population under eighteen years of age. About 20 percent of population urban, concentrated chiefly in three cities--Khartoum, Omdurman, and Khartoum North--constituting national capital area.
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