Sudan, officially the Republic of the Sudan, is a country in Northeast Africa. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west and Libya to the northwest.
Sudan was the largest country in Africa until South Sudan formally split from it in 2011. Today, it is the third largest country in the continent. Here are some interesting facts about the country.
Interesting facts about Sudan
1. Pyramids are always associated with Egypt but do you know that Sudan is home to more pyramids than Egypt? In fact, it has world’s largest collection of pyramids in one place with over 200 pyramids.
2. The country’s name derives from the Arabic bilad al-sudan, which means “land of the blacks.”
3. It is in Sudan where Nile River is formed. The White Nile and Blue Nile are the two tributaries which merge at Khartoum, becoming the Nile River before flowing into Egypt.
4. The war in Darfur began in February 2003 between the nomadic Arab tribes encroaching upon the settled land of black-farming tribes. The conflicts escalated when Sudan’s government took the side of the nomadic Arabs, causing the non-Arab tribes to rebel. Around 400,000 are killed and more than 2.5 million people were displaced during the war. According to the United Nations (UN), civil war in Darfur region is seen as “one of the worst nightmares in recent history.”
5. With 114 native languages and more than 500 accents, Sudan has a diverse multilingual population.
6. Northern Sudan is very dry and prone to intense dust storms called haboobs that can black out the sun and cut visibility down to zero.
7. 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.
8. Every country and culture has their own weird traditions. The Nilotic tribes in Sudan practice ghost marriages where a man may marry a woman as a stand-in for his deceased brother. This is done in order to continue the family lineage as the children that are born of this union will be considered descendants of the dead man. And as a result polygamy is widely practiced as the man can marry once for himself and for his dead brothers as well.
9. Sudan had one of the first and most active women’s movements in the African and Arab world during the 1960s–70s. It became the first country to have a female parliamentarian in Africa and the Middle East (1965) and female Minister of Health (1974). Sudan is also the first Muslim and Arab country to have female as a judge, cinematographer, football referee, army members and police officers.
10. Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir is the first head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. He 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. The court issued warrants in 2009 and 2010 but the Sudanese government refused the arrest along with many other African countries on the grounds that it may destabilize Sudan.
11. Under Sudan’s sharia law, adultery and homosexuality are punishable by death. Engaging in premarital sex, drinking alcohol, and uttering blasphemy are also punishable by lashing. Apostasy―the conversion from Islam to Christianity― is a capital offense in Sudan.
12. Sudan is the world’s largest producer (80%) of gum arabic. It is a binding substance found in gum, shampoo, soft drinks, marshmallows, and many other common products.
13. Blue Bell wreck is a very popular site for divers in Sudan. It was created from a 1977 shipwreck when the cargo of Toyota cars, trucks, and tractors was scattered. It is also known as the “Toyota Wreck”.
14. There was once an underwater village in the Red Sea of Sudan. Famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau created the project n 1962 to prove that it’s possible for humans to live underwater. Today, the remains of only the underwater garage are present.
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
16. Sudan is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, with 46.5% of the population live below the poverty line.
Trip leader Sakshi’s Recommendations if you are visiting Sudan:
The Nubian Pyramids: The most iconic attractions are the Nubian Pyramids, also known as the Pyramids of Meroe. Meroe was once the central city of the Kingdom of Kush, which was ruled by the Nubian kings, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. These pyramids are much smaller in size than their Egyptian counterparts. They are lesser known as well and therefore the crowd here is much lesser than that you usually find in Egypt.
The Red Sea: Pay a visit to this magnificent blue green water body in Sudan. With its unspoiled natural setting, the beaches in Sudan are stunning. Scuba diving is very popular as the aquatic life is amazing with the corals adding an extra shade to the beauty of the Red Sea.
Musawarat: One of the largest ancient temple complexes in Sudan, the ruins of Musawarat make you travel back in time. These amazing and enigmatic ruins in the middle of desert can be dated back to 3rd century BC.