Sudan, officially the Republic of the Sudan, sometimes called North Sudan, is an Arab state in North Africa (it is also considered to be part of the Middle East). The population of Sudan is a combination of indigenous inhabitants of Nile Valley, and descendants of migrants from the Arabian Peninsula.
The government has targeted agriculture, mining, and enhanced oil production as sectors for development. With conflicts continuing on its southern borders, a virtual cessation in cross-border trade with the new South Sudan, and unresolved issues with both oil revenue sharing and an arrangement for transporting South Sudan oil to Port Sudan, Sudan and its people are not able in the near future to reap the benefits from its natural resources, rebuild its infrastructure, increase oil production and exports, and be able to attain its export and development potential.
In 2004, the cessation of major north-south hostilities in Sudan and expanding crude oil exports resulted in 6.4% GDP growth and a near doubling of GDP per capita since 2003. The aftereffects of the 21-year civil war and very limited infrastructure, however, presented obstacles to stronger growth and a broader distribution of income. The country continued taking some steps toward transitioning from a socialist to a market-based economy, although the government and governing party supporters remained heavily involved in the economy.
The trade weighted average tariff rate is estimated to be less than 10 percent, but extensive non-tariff barriers severely constrain freedom to trade. Political instability, coupled with an outmoded regulatory environment and inadequate infrastructure, significantly deters private investment. A large portion of the population remains outside of the formal banking sector, and access to credit remains limited.
The rule of law remains fragile and uneven across the country. There is little respect for private property, with the legal framework severely hampered by years of political conflict. The government influences the judiciary, and the military and civil authorities do not follow due process to protect private property. Widespread corruption continues to weaken the government’s capacity to provide basic services.
Sudan’s climate ranges from hot and dry in the north to humid and tropical in the equatorial south. September to April is the best time to visit. Northern temperatures can exceed 40°C year-round, but peak from April to July. The heaviest rains (rarely more than 150mm in Khartoum) in July and August (Port Sudan’s meagre rainy season is October to December) present few problems for travel in the north, though wreak havoc on roads in the Nuba Mountains.
Sudan is governed under the interim national constitution of 2005, which established a power-sharing national goverment. The executive branch is headed by a president, who is both head of state and head of government. The bicameral National Legislature consists of the and the 50-seat Council of States, whose members are elected by state legislatures to six-year terms and the 450-seat National Assembly, who members, though now appointed, will be elected to six-year terms. Administratively, Sudan is divided into 25 states.
The largest country in Africa, it borders on Egypt in the north, on the Red Sea in the northeast, on Eritrea and Ethiopia in the east, on Kenya, Uganda, and Congo (Kinshasa) in the south, on the Central African Republic and Chad in the west, and on Libya in the northwest. Khartoum is the capital and Omdurman is the largest city.
Sudan has long been beset by conflict. Two rounds of north-south civil war cost the lives of 1.5 million people, and a continuing conflict in the western region of Darfur has driven two million people from their homes and killed more than 200,000.
Sudan, once the largest and one of the most geographically diverse states in Africa, split into two countries in July 2011 after the people of the south voted for independence.
Sudan has been at war with itself for almost its entire post-colonial history, starting in 1956. After decades of fighting for independence from the north, southern Sudan seceded on July 9, 2011, and became the Republic of South Sudan, six months after nearly 99 percent of the region’s voters approved the split in an internationally backed referendum.