Historical background of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan

Historical background

The Republic of Sudan formerly known as Anglo-Egyptian Sudan has had an extremely rich history, conflict on political, religious and cultural grounds have all contributed hugely towards the shaping of Sudan and continue to do so to this very day. Sudan was once just a group of small, independent principalities until around 1820, this is when Egypt first invaded the northern side of Sudan. However nobody really had much power over the southern half of Sudan with the exception of a number of tribes.

Up until 1955 Sudan was under joint British and Egyptian rule however gained full independence in 1956. The majority of the remainder of the 20th century was occupied by 2 civil wars between the Muslim north and the largely non-Muslim south. The first of the two wars began in 1962, this was very much down to the northern domination of the south of Sudan both economically and socially. This lasted up until 1972 only to break out again 1983. The main cause of this war was down to the introduction of Sharia (Islamic) law by the at the time current leader President Numayri. In the second of the two civil wars over 2 million people were believed to have been died from a combination of both the war and severe famine. However in 2005 things temporarily at least seemed to be on the up. The final North/South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed. This allowed the Southern rebels 6 years independence under their own ruling. After the 6 years a referendum for full independence is to be held. I believe this is certainly a step in the right direction in order to resolve the religious conflict in Sudan and then full concentration can be placed on the chronic underlying issue of poverty.

However the conflict wasn't to stop after the civil wars of the late 20th century. In 2003 a separate conflict broke out in the Darfur region of Sudan. This was after the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) began to attack government targets and accusing the capital Khartoum of oppressing the black Africans in favour of the Arabs. Many believe the current president Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir is to blame for the conflict, as many people have accused him of supporting pro-government militias. The International Criminal Court have recently issued an arrest warrant, however is highly unlikely to be brought to justice as many African nations have said they will not honour the warrant.

Geographical Layout

Sudan is located in the northeast of Africa. It is the largest country on the continent and the 10th largest in the world, roughly translating to one fourth of the size of the United States of America. Sudan shares its borders with 9 other countries. On the north side there's Egypt and Libya, on the south there's Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo then on the west its Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) and then finally to the east there's Ethiopia and Eritrea. The eastern side of Sudan also has around 500 miles of coastline on the Red sea. Also the river Nile runs straight through the full length of Sudan, all of whose tributaries are either all or partly within its borders.

The landscape in Sudan is extremely vast. The northern and central areas of Sudan are deserts and savannah whereas in the south there is much more rainfall causing tropical like conditions. In the south also you would find the As Sudd which is the world's largest swamp, filled with lakes lagoons and plants. This is a huge contrast to the desert land in the north which has virtually no rainfall throughout the year. The terrain in Sudan is generally flat which is one of the main the reasons for its large trade in agriculture and livestock. However there are a number of mountainous regions mainly to the east and the west. Because there is such a vast variety of terrains and weather conditions in Sudan it also makes it ideal for growing a number of tradable goods, these include cotton, sesame seeds, peanuts, gum Arabic and also sugar cane. Compared to the more economically developed countries manufacturing tends to be relatively limited.

Demographic statistics

Sudan has a population of 41,087,825 (est. July 2009 CIA) which is a relatively small amount considering the size of the country. This can be seen when you compare 10th largest country in the world to the 30th most populated country. The median age in Sudan comparatively is quite high at 19.1 years of age, when looked at alongside other African nations. The age structure of Sudan is represented by the chart on the right hand side of the page. As can be seen from the chart there is only a tiny percentage of the population (2.5%) who are of the age 65 or above. This is also backed up by the average life expectancy of 51.42 years of age, which is one of the lowest life expectancies in the world. Several factors obviously contribute to this, chief of which would be a lack of essential resources such as food and clean water.

Sudan has a large nationality divide within its borders, which is one of the main causes of its conflict. The graph clearly shows the two most common nationalities present in Sudan, Black and Arab. The official language is Arabic alongside English however there are several Sudanic languages such as Nubian and Ta Bedawie.

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