Random Sudan Facts
Random Sudan Facts

50 Surprising Facts about Sudan

By Tayja Kuligowski, Junior Writer
Published October 12, 2017
  • Sudan comes from the Arabic phrase bilād al-Sūdān, "land of the blacks."[9]
  • Sudan's president al-Bashir can technically be arrested anywhere, but the Sudanese government refuses to do so, along with many other African countries who are loyal to the African Union. The African Union opposes al-Bashir's arrest on the grounds that it may destabilize Sudan.[5]
  • When president al-Nimeiry enforced sharia law throughout Sudan in 1983, the country's entire stock of alcohol was poured into the Nile river. Alcohol is still banned in Sudan.[5][6]
  • Apostasy―the conversion from Islam to Christianity― is a capital offense in Sudan.[6]
  • Under sharia law in Sudan, the theft of anything valuable may be punishable by the amputation of the right hand, while aggravated theft and other severe crimes is punishable by amputation of the right hand and left foot.[6]
  • Sudan pyramids
    Sudan has more than twice the number of pyramids in Egypt-- without the crowds
  • Sudan is home to more pyramids than Egypt, giving it the world's largest collection of pyramids in one place at over 200 pyramids total.[5][12]
  • Sudan produces 80% of the world's gum Arabic supply, a binding substance found in gum, shampoo, soft drinks, marshmallows, and many other common products.[5]
  • Under Sudan's sharia law, adultery and homosexuality are punishable by death, but more commonly the accused is lashed. Engaging in premarital sex, drinking alcohol, and uttering blasphemy are also punishable by lashing.[6]
  • In Sudan's Rashaida tribe, the average household owns between 50 and 70 camels. The camels are mostly raised for the milk,although some are bred for meat or racing.[5]
  • In addition to being oiled and perfumed, a Muslim bride in Sudan may have all of her body hair (excluding the hair on her head) removed with boiled sugar and lemon juice.[6]
  • Many of Sudan's brides are purified in the smoke of Talih wood on the eve of their wedding to mark their passage into married life. The smoke is also used as a traditional alternative to Botox, thought to tighten the skin to make the bride more attractive.[5]
  • In 2011, 98% of southern Sudanese voted to secede from the north, making South Sudan the youngest country in the world.[5]
  • South Sudan is one of the most hard-put places in the world.

    - Henry Rollins

  • Sudan's Fur peoples practice rain cults, which involves performing animal sacrifices at shrines and ancestral tombs when rain is likely to fall.[9]
  • Many Muslim tribes in Sudan practice polygamy, and some partake in cousin marriages as well.[9]
  • Under Nilotic tradition, Sudanese peoples practice ghost marriages, which is when a brother marries his deceased brother's wife in order to provide him with an heir. The new groom acts as a stand in for his departed brother, and any of the resulting children are considered to be of the deceased brother.[3]
  • Sudan's Otoro tribe believe in oracles and witchcraft. However, witchcraft is only thought to be effective against those who are guilty of a crime.[9]
  • The poet Rudyard Kipling once celebrated Sudan's Beja peoples as the "fuzzy-wuzzies" due to their distinctive curly hair. Kipling meant the term as a complement.[5]
  • Since 2003, over 2.5 million people have been displaced and 400,000 killed due to the conflicts in the Darfur region of Sudan.[8]
  • Sudan War
    Sudan's war has spiraled into genocide (Scott Nelson / Getty Images)

  • Over 97% of Sudan's population is Muslim, practicing in the Sunni tradition.[5]
  • A popular site for divers in Sudan is the Blue Bell wreck, also known as the "Toyota Wreck" due to the scattered cargo of Toyota cars, trucks, and tractors from a 1977 shipwreck.[5]
  • Sudan's whirling dervishes are adherents of the Sufi Qadiriya order that gather once per week at the tomb of Hamed al-Nil in Omdoman. The men wear long robes of red and green, and chant and sometimes spin to the beat of cymbals and drums in an attempt to commune with God.[5]
  • The Sha'ab Rumi reef Lagoon in Sudan's Red Sea was once home to Jacques Cousteau's Conshelf II experiment in underwater living. The 1963 experiment involved people living in 2 underwater units for 1 month. Today, only the underwater garage remains.[5]
  • Egypt's Pharaoh Tutankhamen was buried wearing sandals with images of Sudan's Nubians on the soles so that he might trample on them for eternity.[5]
  • The conflict between Sudan and South Sudan is Africa's longest civil war, lasting from 1955 to 1972 and again from 1983 to 2005. The war left over 2.5 million Sudanese dead and more than 4 million displaced.[4][11]
  • During the first 5 months of 2016, over 70,000 South Sudanese arrived in Sudan due to horrible food conditions in the new country.[10]
  • Al-Bashir Fact
    Al-Bashir is the first sitting head of state ever indicted by the ICC
  • Sudan president al-Bashir is the first head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. The court issued warrants in 2009 and 2010 on multiple accounts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes over the course of 5 years in the Darfur region.[5][7]
  • The conflict in Sudan's Darfur began between the nomadic Arab tribes encroaching upon the settled land of black-farming tribes, such as the Fur, Massalit, and Zaghawa tribes. The conflicts escalated in 2003 when Sudan's government took the side of the nomadic Arabs, causing the non-Arab tribes to rebel.e[5]
  • After conflicts began in Sudan's Darfur region in 2003, by 2004 it was estimated that 60% of villages in northern Darfur had been burned by the government force known as Janjaweed.[5]
  • A remaining dispute between Sudan and South Sudan involves the right to the oil rich Abyei region. Currently, the area has been awarded to Sudan by the Hague Permanent Court of Arbitration, and 1 in 8 barrels of oil from Sudan is from Abyei.[5]
  • At about 3 times the size of Texas, Sudan is the 3rd largest country in Africa by land mass after Algeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the 16th largest in the world. Before the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Sudan was the largest country in Africa and the 10th largest in the world.[18][20]
  • Sudan lost more than 75% of its oil reserves after the 2011 secession of South Sudan.[5]
  • Petroleum exports make up more than half of Sudan's government revenues. Sudan produces 125,000 barrels of oil per day.[5][9]
  • Sudan president al-Bashir gave the fighting force known as Janjaweed free reign to fight against civilians in Darfur, which led to looting of food supplies, incidents of rape, and the burning of villages and mosques. Many of the men who made up Janjaweed were criminals released from prison specifically to join janjaweed.[5]
  • Northern Sudan is very dry and prone to dust storms called haboobs that can black out the sun and cut visibility down to zero.[5][18]
  • Educational Sudan Facts
    The word haboob is Arabic for "blasting" or "drifting"

  • Sudan's average life expectancy is 63 years of age, compared to the worldwide average of 73 years.[15]
  • In the 1990s, Sudan provided safe haven to Osama bin Laden of al-Qaeda for 5 years. During that time, al-Qaeda used Sudan as a meeting place and training hub. As of 2016, Sudan still appears on the U.S. State Department's "State Sponsors of Terrorism" list, along with Iran and Syria.[17]
  • Legend says that Sudan's abandoned Suakin Island is home to magical spirits, including a djinn or genie imprisoned by Egypt's King Solomon. One story tells of a boat full of virgin maidens that blew off course to Suakin, and upon departure, all of the girls had inexplicably become pregnant. Historically, the island was a trade route for Sudan, and at its peak saw about 3,000 slaves per year.[5]
  • Sudan averages 46 students per teacher in the classroom, compared to the worldwide average of 19 students per teacher. Only 68% of Sudan's teacher receive the minimum training required by the government.[15]
  • Slavery is still a widespread problem in Sudan, with many children, women, and men subjected to forced labor, sex trafficking, or recruitment as child soldiers. Groups of redeemers, such as the Christian Solidarity, will often buy slaves in order to free them. However, in 2002, it was found that many of the children being sold to redeemers were not slaves, but were sold in order to make a quick profit.[5][21]
  • Sudan Poverty
    Approximately 60% of South Sudan is inaccessible by road during the rainy season, which complicates relief efforts (vlad_karavaev / iStock Images)
  • Sudan is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, with 46.5% of the population live below the poverty line.[1][9]
  • A popular dish in Sudan known as ful consists of brown beans stewed for hours and served with oil, spice, bread, and other items. Poor man's ful uses leftover bean water mopped up with bread and onions, and is popularly called bush after U.S. president George Bush Sr., who cut aid to Sudan in response to Sudan's support for Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War.[5]
  • Half of Sudan's 36,787,012 people live on only 15% of the land due to limited water access.[9][13]
  • U.S. geologists have identified an underwater lake 3 times the size the country of Lebanon in Darfur that may be used to solve irrigation problems in the future.[5]
  • Annual grass fires in Sudan can sweep across more than half of the entire country.[9]
  • In 1998, the U.S. government ordered a cruise missile attack on a pharmaceutical company in Khartoum, Sudan. The attack was in retaliation for bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, based on claims that the company was used for manufacturing chemical weapons used in the attacks by al-Qaeda and Iraq. The U.S. government quietly compensated the owners a few years later when it was discovered the company was only making valuable veterinary drugs.[5]
  • In the 1960s, Egypt created Sudan's High Dam on the Nile river creating Lake Nassier, known locally as Lake Nubia. The lake flooded the city of Wadi Halfat along with 30 villages, causing the displacement of 50,000 Sudanese Nubians. Today, Lake Nubia is one of the world's largest reservoirs.[5][6]
  • Sudan's 2009 Meroë Dam project caused the displacement of 60,000 people, as well as the destruction of archeological sites dating to the Stone Age due to flooding. By increasing the Nile river's surface area by 700 square km, the dam has also resulted in increased water loss due to evaporation by as much as 1.5 billion mᶟ.[5]
  • Khartoum Sudan
    Khartoum is the capital and largest city of Sudan (Marco Di Lauro / Stringer / Getty Images)
  • The capital of Sudan is Khartoum. In Arabic, Khartoum means "elephant trunk," which comes from the shape of the Nile river near the city.[3]
  • The Nile river is the longest river in the world, and the White Nile and the Blue Nile converge to form the Nile river in Sudan. All of Sudan's streams and rivers drain into or towards the Nile, and the river irrigates 70% of Sudan's agricultural land.[6][9][12]
  • Khartoum, Sudan, produces over 5,000 tons of waste―per day. Only 65% of this waste is collected. The other 35% tends to accumulate in front of houses or is burned.[16]
  • Sudan Timeline[2][5][6][9][12][14][19]
    Important DatesEvents
    30,000-20,000 BCHunter- gatherers arrive in Sudan region
    3800Creation of Royal Cemetery pyramids begins
    2500Kingdom of Kerma begins rule
    2000Kingdom of Nubia begins rule
    1500Egypt invades Nubia
    8th centuryKush kingdom begins
    28Romans begin to rule in Nubia
    3rd century ADKush kingdom collapses
    6th centuryChristianity arrives
    7th centuryIslam arrives
    13th centuryNubia kingdom begins to collapse, slowly converting to Islam
    1504Funj Kingdom, largest of the Arab sultanates, begins rule
    1821Egypt conquers the Funj Kingdom
    1823Egypt founds Khartoum as the capital
    1877Britain establishes control
    1881Mahdist rebellion begins
    1885Mahdi and Khalifa Abdullahi take control
    1898Britain and Egypt begin Anglo-Egyptian rule
    1922Egypt gains independence, spurring Sudan independence movement
    1943Egypt declares unilateral rule over Sudan
    1952The Anglo-Egyptian accord grants Sudan a three-year transitional government
    1953Britain and Egypt grant Sudan self-government; first Civil War begins
    1956The Republic of Sudan gains independence; Ismail al-Azhari becomes president; Sudan joins the Arab League and United Nations
    1958Military coup establishes General Ibrahim Abbud as president
    1964General Abbud overthrown; Sudan establishes a democratic government
    1969Military coup establishes Colonel Jaafar al-Nimeiry to power
    1972Al-Nimeiry grants the South an autonomous regional government via the Addis Ababa peace agreement, ending the first Civil War
    1983Al-Nimeiry imposes sharia law, leading to the second Civil War
    1985Military coup overthrows al-Nimeiry
    1986Sayyid Sadiq al-Mahdi becomes prime minister of a coalition government
    1989Military coup establishes Brigadier General Omar Hassan al-Bashir to power
    1991The government vocally supports Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War; Sudan offers sanctuary to Osama bin Laden of al-Qaeda
    1993Government officially establishes al-Bashir as president; The United States places Sudan on the list of state sponsors of terrorism
    1996Al-Bashir reelected; Government expels bin Laden to Afghanistan due to international pressure
    1997United States instates trade embargo on Sudan due to terrorist sympathies
    1998The United States bombs a pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum; government creates new constitution
    2000Al-Bashir reelected
    2001Government renounces terrorism after the events of 9/11in New York, grants the United States access to all files on al-Qaeda and Iraq
    2003Darfur conflict begins; government ends newspaper censorship
    2004The United States declares actions of Sudan's government force Janjaweed in Darfur to be genocide
    2005Government signs the Comprehensive Peace Treaty with the south, ending the second Civil War
    2006Darfur's rebel group SLA signs peace agreement; Darfur conflict continues with other rebel groups, including the JEM
    2009The International Criminal Court issues a warrant of arrest for al-Bashir on account of war crimes in Darfur
    2010Al-Bashir reelected; The International Criminal Court issues a second warrant for al-Bashir's arrest
    2011South Sudan votes to secede from Sudan; Sudan's government closes the southern border
    2012South Sudan shuts down oil production after accusing Sudan of stealing $815 million of South Sudan's oil
    2013South Sudan agrees to resume oil production
    2014Government creates a new security unit called Rapid Support Force as part of the "Decisive Summer" military campaign against rebellions
    2015Al-Bashir reelected
    2016Sudan's government reopens the border with South Sudan
References

1"Africa: Sudan." The World Factbook. Updated May 12, 2016. Accessed: June 2, 2016.

2"Darfur." Encyclopedia Britannica. Updated June 15, 2015. Accessed: June 3, 2016.

3Diab, Ola. "Interesting Facts about Sudan." Ola Diab. April 19, 2013. Accessed: June 13, 2016.

4"History." Lonely Planet. 2016. Accessed: June 3, 2016.

5Ibbotson, Sophie and Max Lovell-Hoare. Sudan. Bucks, England: Bradt Travel Guide. 2012.

6Levy, Patricia and Zawiah Abdul Latif. Sudan. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark. 2008.

7Perry, Alex. The Rift. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company. 2015.

8Salih, Zeinab Mohamed. "Smart Cards not so Clever as Scepticism Greets Darfur e-voucher Scheme." The Guardian. Updated May 28, 2016. Accessed: June 13, 2016.

9"Sikainga, Ahmed Alawad. "Sudan." Encyclopedia Britannica. Updated May 24, 2016. Accessed: June 2, 2014.

10"Sudan: About 1,000 New Displaced in West Darfur Need Assistance." All Africa. June 13, 2016. Accessed: June 13, 2016.

11"Sudan and South Sudan." Enough Project. Accessed: June 3, 2016.

12"Sudan." Encyclopedia.com. 2016. Accessed: June 2, 2016.

13"Sudan Facts." National Geographic. 2016. Accessed: June 2, 2016.

14"Sudan Fast Facts." CNN News. Updated February 4, 2016. Accessed: June 2, 2016.

15"Sudan." FindtheData. 2016. Accessed: June 13, 2016.

16---. "Sudan Gets Creative with Waste at Khartoum's First Recycling Festival." The Guardian. March 29, 2016. Accessed: June 13, 2016.

17"Sudan: Khartoum 'Regrets' Place on U.S. Terrorism List." All Africa. June 6, 2016. Accessed: June 13, 2016.

18"Sudan." New World Encyclopedia. Updated October 24, 2015. Accessed: June 13, 2016.

19"Sudan: President Opens Border with South Sudan." The New York Times. January 27, 2016.

20"Sudan Travel Guide." World Travel Guide. 2016. Accessed: June 3, 2016.

21"Sudan." U.S. Department of State. 2015. Accessed: June 13, 2016.

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