Introduction :: Sudan


The region along the Nile River south of Egypt has long been referred to as Nubia. It was the site of the Kingdom of Kerma, which flourished for about a millennium (ca. 2500-1500 B.C.) until absorbed into the New Kingdom of Egypt. By the 11th century B.C., a Kingdom of Kush emerged and regained the region’s independence from Egypt; it lasted in various forms until the middle of the fourth century A.D. After the fall of Kush, the Nubians formed three Christian kingdoms of Nobatia, Makuria, and Alodia, the latter two endured until around 1500. Between the 14th and 15th centuries much of Sudan was settled by Arab nomads, and between the 16th19th centuries it underwent extensive Islamization. Egyptian occupation early in the 19th century was overthrown by a native Mahdist Sudan state (1885-99) that was crushed by the British who then set up an Anglo-Egyptian Sudan – nominally a condominium, but in effect a British colony.

Following independence from Anglo-Egyptian co-rule in 1956, military regimes favoring Islamic-oriented governments have dominated national politics. Sudan was embroiled in two prolonged civil wars during most of the remainder of the 20th century. These conflicts were rooted in northern economic, political, and social domination of largely non-Muslim, non-Arab southern Sudanese. The first civil war ended in 1972 but another broke out in 1983. Peace talks gained momentum in 2002-04 with the signing of several accords. The final North/South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in January 2005, granted the southern rebels autonomy for six years followed by a referendum on independence for Southern Sudan. The referendum was held in January 2011 and indicated overwhelming support for independence. South Sudan became independent on 9 July 2011. Sudan and South Sudan have yet to fully implement security and economic agreements signed in September 2012 relating to the normalization of relations between the two countries. The final disposition of the contested Abyei region has also to be decided. The 30-year reign of President Umar Hassan Ahmad al-BASHIR ended in his ouster in April 2019, and a Sovereignty Council, a joint civilian-military-executive body, holds power as of November 2019.

Following South Sudan’s independence, conflict broke out between the government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states (together known as the Two Areas), resulting in a humanitarian crisis affecting more than a million people. A earlier conflict that broke out in the western region of Darfur in 2003, displaced nearly 2 million people and caused thousands of deaths. While some repatriation has taken place, about 1.83 million IDPs remain in Sudan as of May 2019. Fighting in both the Two Areas and Darfur between government forces and opposition has largely subsided, however the civilian populations are affected by low-level violence including inter-tribal conflict and banditry, largely a result of weak rule of law. The UN and the African Union have jointly commanded a Darfur peacekeeping operation (UNAMID) since 2007, but are slowly drawing down as the situation in Darfur becomes more stable. Sudan also has faced refugee influxes from neighboring countries, primarily Ethiopia, Eritrea, Chad, Central African Republic, and South Sudan. Armed conflict, poor transport infrastructure, and denial of access by both the government and armed opposition have impeded the provision of humanitarian assistance to affected populations. However, Sudan’s new transitional government has stated its priority to allow greater humanitarian access, as the food security and humanitarian situation in Sudan worsens and as it appeals to the West for greater engagement.

Geography :: Sudan


north-eastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Egypt and Eritrea

Geographic coordinates

15 00 N, 30 00 E

Map references



total: 1,861,484 sq km

land: 1,731,671 sq km

water: 129,813 sq km

Area – comparative

Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 6,819 km

border countries (7): Central African Republic 174 km, Chad 1403 km, Egypt 1276 km, Eritrea 682 km, Ethiopia 744 km, Libya 382 km, South Sudan 2158 km

note: Sudan-South Sudan boundary represents 1 January 1956 alignment; final alignment pending negotiations and demarcation; final sovereignty status of Abyei region pending negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan


853 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 18 nm

continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation


hot and dry; arid desert; rainy season varies by region (April to November)


generally flat, featureless plain; desert dominates the north


mean elevation: 568 m

lowest point: Red Sea 0 m

highest point: Jabal Marrah 3,042 m

Natural resources

petroleum; small reserves of iron ore, copper, chromium ore, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver, gold; hydropower

Land use

agricultural land: 100% (2011 est.)

arable land: 15.7% (2011 est.) /** permanent crops:** 0.2% (2011 est.) /** permanent pasture:** 84.2% (2011 est.)

forest: 0% (2011 est.)

other: 0% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

18,900 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

with the exception of a ribbon of settlement that corresponds to the banks of the Nile, northern Sudan, which extends into the dry Sahara, is sparsely populated; more abundant vegetation and broader access to water increases population distribution in the south extending habitable range along nearly the entire border with South Sudan; sizeable areas of population are found around Khartoum, southeast between the Blue and White Nile Rivers, and throughout South Darfur

Natural hazards

dust storms and periodic persistent droughts

Environment – current issues

water pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water; water scarcity and periodic drought; wildlife populations threatened by excessive hunting; soil erosion; desertification; deforestation; loss of biodiversity

Environment – international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography – note

the Nile is Sudan’s primary water source; its major tributaries, the White Nile and the Blue Nile, meet at Khartoum to form the River Nile which flows northward through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea

People and Society :: Sudan


45,561,556 (July 2020 est.)


noun: Sudanese (singular and plural)

adjective: Sudanese

Ethnic groups

unspecified Sudanese Arab (approximately 70%), Fur, Beja, Nuba, Fallata


Arabic (official), English (official), Nubian, Ta Bedawie, Fur


Sunni Muslim, small Christian minority

Age structure

population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 76.9

youth dependency ratio: 70.4

elderly dependency ratio: 6.5

potential support ratio: 15.4 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 18.3 years

male: 18.1 years

female: 18.5 years (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

2.69% (2020 est.)

Birth rate

33.8 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Death rate

6.5 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Net migration rate

-0.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Population distribution

with the exception of a ribbon of settlement that corresponds to the banks of the Nile, northern Sudan, which extends into the dry Sahara, is sparsely populated; more abundant vegetation and broader access to water increases population distribution in the south extending habitable range along nearly the entire border with South Sudan; sizeable areas of population are found around Khartoum, southeast between the Blue and White Nile Rivers, and througout South Darfur


urban population: 35.3% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 3.17% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas – population

5.829 million KHARTOUM (capital), 923,000 Nyala (2020)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.12 male(s)/female

total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

295 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 41.8 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 46.7 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 36.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 66.5 years

male: 64.3 years

female: 68.8 years (2020 est.)

Total fertility rate

4.72 children born/woman (2020 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

12.2% (2014)

Drinking water source

improved:** urban:** 99% of population

rural: 80.7% of population

total: 87% of population

unimproved:** urban:** 1% of population

rural: 19.3% of population

total: 13% of population (2017 est.)

Current Health Expenditure

6.3% (2017)

Physicians density

0.26 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

0.7 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved:** urban:** 72.1% of population

rural: 30.6% of population

total: 44.9% of population

unimproved:** urban:** 27.9% of population

rural: 69.4% of population

total: 55.1% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate

0.2% (2018 est.)

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS

59,000 (2018 est.)

HIV/AIDS – deaths

2,900 (2018 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria, dengue fever, and Rift Valley fever

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

respiratory diseases: meningococcal meningitis

Obesity – adult prevalence rate

6.6% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

33.5% (2014)

Education expenditures

2.2% of GDP (2009)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 60.7%

male: 65.4%

female: 56.1% (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 8 years

male: 8 years

female: 7 years (2015)

Government :: Sudan

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of the Sudan

conventional short form: Sudan

local long form: Jumhuriyat as-Sudan

local short form: As-Sudan

former: Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Sudan

etymology: the name “Sudan” derives from the Arabic “bilad-as-sudan” meaning “Land of the Black [peoples]”

Government type

presidential republic


name: Khartoum

geographic coordinates: 15 36 N, 32 32 E

time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: several explanations of the name exist; two of the more plausible are that it is derived from Arabic “al-jartum” meaning “elephant’s trunk” or “hose,” and likely referring to the narrow strip of land extending between the Blue and White Niles; alternatively, the name could derive from the Dinka words “khar-tuom,” indicating a “place where rivers meet”

Administrative divisions

18 states (wilayat, singular – wilayah); Blue Nile, Central Darfur, East Darfur, Gedaref, Gezira, Kassala, Khartoum, North Darfur, North Kordofan, Northern, Red Sea, River Nile, Sennar, South Darfur, South Kordofan, West Darfur, West Kordofan, White Nile

note: the peace accord signed in October 2020 included a protocol to restructure the country’s current 18 provinces/states into eight regions


1 January 1956 (from Egypt and the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 1 January (1956)


history: previous 1973, 1998; 2005 (interim constitution, which was suspended in April 2019); latest initial draft completed by Transitional Military Council in May 2019; revised draft known as the “Draft Constitutional Charter for the 2019 Transitional Period,” was signed by the Council and opposition coalition on 4 August 2019

amendments: NA

Legal system

mixed legal system of Islamic law and English common law; note – in mid-July 2020, Sudan amended 15 provisions of its 1991 penal code

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; withdrew acceptance of ICCt jurisdiction in 2008


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Sudan

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years


17 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: president (vacant); note – in August 2019, the ruling military council and civilian opposition alliance signed a power-sharing deal as the “Sovereignty Council,” chaired by General Abd-al-Fatah al-BURHAN Abd-al-Rahman and consisting of 6 civilians and 5 generals; the Council is currently led by the military but is intended to transition to civilian leadership in May 2021 until elections can be held; General BURHAN serves as both chief of state and head of government

head of government: president (vacant); note – in August 2019, the ruling military council and civilian opposition alliance signed a power-sharing deal as the “Sovereignty Council,” chaired by General Abd-al-Fatah al-BURHAN Abd-al-Rahman and consisting of 6 civilians and 5 generals; the Council is currently led by the military but is intended to transition to civilian leadership in May 2021 until elections can be held (Abd-al-Rahman)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister (2019)

elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed; last held on 13-16 April 2015 (next to be held in 2022 at the end of the transitional period); prime minister typically appointed by the president; note – the position of prime minister was reinstated in December 2016 as a result of the 2015-16 national dialogue process, and President al-BASHIR appointed BAKRI Hassan Salih to the position on 2 March 2017; on 21 August 2019, the Forces for Freedom and Change, the civilian opposition alliance, named Abdallah HANDOUK as prime minister of Sudan for the transitional period
election results: Umar Hassan Ahmad al-BASHIR reelected president; percent of vote – Umar Hassan Ahmad al-BASHIR (NCP) 94.1%, other (15 candidates) 5.9%

Legislative branch

description: according to the August 2019 Constitutional Decree, which established Sudan’s transitional government, the Transitional Legislative Council (TLC) will serve as the national legislature during the transitional period until elections can be held in 2022; as of early December 2019, the TLC had not been established

elections: Council of State – last held 1 June 2015

National Assembly – last held on 13-15 April 2015
note – elections for an as yet defined new legislature to be held in 2022 at the expiry of the Transnational Legislative Council
election results:
Council of State – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – NA; composition – men 35, women 19, percent of women 35.2%
National Assembly – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – NCP 323, DUP 25, Democratic Unionist Party 15, other 44, independent 19; composition – men 296 women 130, percent of women 30.5%; note – total National Legislature percent of women 31%

Judicial branch

highest courts: National Supreme Court (consists of 70 judges organized into panels of 3 judges and includes 4 circuits that operate outside the capital); Constitutional Court (consists of 9 justices including the court president); note – the Constitutional Court resides outside the national judiciary

judge selection and term of office: National Supreme Court and Constitutional Court judges selected by the Supreme Judicial Council, which replaced the National Judicial Service Commission upon enactment of the Draft Constitutional Charter for the 2019 Transitional Period

subordinate courts: Court of Appeal; other national courts; public courts; district, town, and rural courts

Political parties and leaders

Democratic Unionist Party or DUP [Jalal al-DIGAIR]
Democratic Unionist Party [Muhammad Uthman al-MIRGHANI]
Federal Umma Party [Dr. Ahmed Babikir NAHAR]
Muslim Brotherhood or MB
National Congress Party or NCP (in November 2019, Sudan’s transitional government approved a law to “dismantle” the regime of former President Omar al-Bashir, including the dissolution of his political party, the NCP)
National Umma Party or NUP [Saddiq al-MAHDI]
Popular Congress Party or PCP [Hassan al-TURABI]
Reform Movement Now [Dr. Ghazi Salahuddin al-ATABANI]Sudan National Front [Ali Mahmud HASANAYN]
Sudanese Communist Party or SCP [Mohammed Moktar Al-KHATEEB]
Sudanese Congress Party or SCoP [Ibrahim Al-SHEIKH]
Umma Party for Reform and Development
Unionist Movement Party or UMP

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

Ambassador Nureldin Mohamed Hamed SATTI (since 17 September 2020)
chancery: 2210 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: 1 338-8565

FAX: 1 667-2406

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d’Affaires Brian SHUKAN (since September 2019)

telephone: [249] 18702-2000

embassy: P. O. Box 699, Kilo 10, Soba, Khartoum

mailing address: P.O. Box 699, Kilo 10, Soba, Khartoum; APO AE 09829

FAX: [249] 18702-2547

Flag description

three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black with a green isosceles triangle based on the hoist side; colors and design based on the Arab Revolt flag of World War I, but the meanings of the colors are expressed as follows: red signifies the struggle for freedom, white is the color of peace, light, and love, black represents the people of Sudan (in Arabic ‘Sudan’ means black), green is the color of Islam, agriculture, and prosperity

National symbol(s)

secretary bird; national colors: red, white, black, green

National anthem


Economy :: Sudan

Economy – overview

Sudan has experienced protracted social conflict and the loss of three quarters of its oil production due to the secession of South Sudan. The oil sector had driven much of Sudan’s GDP growth since 1999. For nearly a decade, the economy boomed on the back of rising oil production, high oil prices, and significant inflows of foreign direct investment. Since the economic shock of South Sudan’s secession, Sudan has struggled to stabilize its economy and make up for the loss of foreign exchange earnings. The interruption of oil production in South Sudan in 2012 for over a year and the consequent loss of oil transit fees further exacerbated the fragile state of Sudans economy. Ongoing conflicts in Southern Kordofan, Darfur, and the Blue Nile states, lack of basic infrastructure in large areas, and reliance by much of the population on subsistence agriculture, keep close to half of the population at or below the poverty line.

Sudan was subject to comprehensive US sanctions, which were lifted in October 2017. Sudan is attempting to develop non-oil sources of revenues, such as gold mining and agriculture, while carrying out an austerity program to reduce expenditures. The worlds largest exporter of gum Arabic, Sudan produces 75-80% of the worlds total output. Agriculture continues to employ 80% of the work force.

Sudan introduced a new currency, still called the Sudanese pound, following South Sudan’s secession, but the value of the currency has fallen since its introduction. Khartoum formally devalued the currency in June 2012, when it passed austerity measures that included gradually repealing fuel subsidies. Sudan also faces high inflation, which reached 47% on an annual basis in November 2012 but fell to about 35% per year in 2017.


GDP (purchasing power parity)

$177.4 billion (2017 est.)
$174.9 billion (2016 est.)
$169.8 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$45.82 billion (2017 est.)

GDP – real growth rate

1.4% (2017 est.)
3% (2016 est.)
1.3% (2015 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP)

$4,300 (2017 est.)
$4,400 (2016 est.)
$4,400 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

Gross national saving

12.1% of GDP (2017 est.)
13.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
12.2% of GDP (2015 est.)

GDP – composition, by end use

household consumption: 77.3% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 5.8% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 18.4% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.6% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 9.7% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -11.8% (2017 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 39.6% (2017 est.)

industry: 2.6% (2017 est.)

services: 57.8% (2017 est.)

Agriculture – products

cotton, groundnuts (peanuts), sorghum, millet, wheat, gum Arabic, sugarcane, cassava (manioc, tapioca), mangoes, papaya, bananas, sweet potatoes, sesame seeds; animal feed, sheep and other livestock


oil, cotton ginning, textiles, cement, edible oils, sugar, soap distilling, shoes, petroleum refining, pharmaceuticals, armaments, automobile/light truck assembly, milling

Industrial production growth rate

4.5% (2017 est.)

Labor force

11.92 million (2007 est.)

Labor force – by occupation

agriculture: 80%

industry: 7%

services: 13% (1998 est.)

Unemployment rate

19.6% (2017 est.)
20.6% (2016 est.)

Population below poverty line

46.5% (2009 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.7%
highest 10%: 26.7% (2009 est.)


revenues: 8.48 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 13.36 billion (2017 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

18.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-10.6% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Public debt

121.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
99.5% of GDP (2016 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

32.4% (2017 est.)
17.8% (2016 est.)

Current account balance

-$4.811 billion (2017 est.)
-$4.213 billion (2016 est.)


$4.1 billion (2017 est.)
$3.094 billion (2016 est.)

Exports – partners

UAE 55.5%, Egypt 14.7%, Saudi Arabia 8.8% (2017)

Exports – commodities

gold; oil and petroleum products; cotton, sesame, livestock, peanuts, gum Arabic, sugar


$8.22 billion (2017 est.)
$7.48 billion (2016 est.)

Imports – commodities

foodstuffs, manufactured goods, refinery and transport equipment, medicines, chemicals, textiles, wheat

Imports – partners

UAE 12.7%, Egypt 10.6%, India 10.5%, Turkey 10.2%, Japan 7.6%, Saudi Arabia 6%, Germany 4.6% (2017)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$198 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$168.3 million (31 December 2016 est.)

Debt – external

$56.05 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$51.26 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Exchange rates

Sudanese pounds (SDG) per US dollar –
6.72 (2017 est.)
6.14 (2016 est.)
6.14 (2015 est.)
6.03 (2014 est.)
5.74 (2013 est.)

Energy :: Sudan

Electricity access

population without electricity: 22 million (2017)

electrification – total population: 45% (2017)
electrification – urban areas: 71% (2017)
electrification – rural areas: 31% (2017)

Electricity – production

13.99 billion kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – consumption

12.12 billion kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – exports

0 kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – imports

0 kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – installed generating capacity

3.437 million kW (2016 est.)

Electricity – from fossil fuels

44% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)

Electricity – from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Electricity – from hydroelectric plants

51% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Electricity – from other renewable sources

6% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Crude oil – production

95,000 bbl/day (2018 est.)

Crude oil – exports

19,540 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil – imports

9,440 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil – proved reserves

5 billion bbl (1 January 2018 est.)

Refined petroleum products – production

94,830 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products – consumption

112,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)

Refined petroleum products – exports

8,541 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products – imports

24,340 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Natural gas – production

0 cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – consumption

0 cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – exports

0 cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – imports

0 cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – proved reserves

84.95 billion cu m (1 January 2018 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

16.03 million Mt (2017 est.)

Communications :: Sudan

Telephones – fixed lines

total subscriptions: 136,923

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2018 est.)

Telephones – mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 30,100,412

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 70 (2018 est.)

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: well-equipped system by regional standards and being upgraded; despite economic hardships govt. boosts mobile infrastructure and builds fiber broadband network across country; economic climate has not encouraged growth in telecoms, but some investment has been made to build mobile towers and expand LTE services; launches its own Chinese built satellite in 2019 to develop space technology sector (2020)

domestic: consists of microwave radio relay, cable, fiber optic, radiotelephone communications, tropospheric scatter, and a domestic satellite system with 14 earth stations; teledensity fixed-line less than 1 per 100 and mobile-cellular 70 telephones per 100 persons (2018)

international: country code – 249; landing points for the EASSy, FALCON and SAS-1,-2, fiber-optic submarine cable systems linking Africa, the Middle East, Indian Ocean Islands and Asia; satellite earth stations – 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic’s effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry – mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite – has moderated

Broadcast media

the Sudanese Government directly controls TV and radio, requiring that both media reflect government policies; TV has a permanent military censor; a private radio station is in operation (2019)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 13,311,404

percent of population: 30.87% (July 2018 est.)

Broadband – fixed subscriptions

total: 31,352

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2018 est.)

Military and Security :: Sudan

Military and security forces

Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF): Ground Force, Navy, Sudanese Air Force; Rapid Support Forces (paramilitary); Reserve Department (formerly the paramilitary Popular Defense Forces) (2020)
the RSF is an autonomous paramilitary force formed in 2013 to fight armed rebel groups in Sudan, with Mohammed Hamdan DAGALLO (aka Hemeti) as its commander (he is also Deputy Chairman of the Sovereignty Council), from the remnants of the Janjaweed militia that participated in suppressing the Darfur rebellion; it was initially commanded by the National Intelligence and Security Service, then came under the direct command of former president Omar al-BASHIR, who boosted the RSF as his own personal security force; the RSF has been accused of committing rights abuses against civilians; it is also reportedly involved in business enterprises, such as gold mining; in late 2019, Sovereignty Council Chairman and SAF Commander-in-Chief General Abd-al-Fatah al-BURHAN said the RSF would be fully integrated into the SAF, but did not give a timeline

Military expenditures

1.6% of GDP (2019)
2.3% of GDP (2018)
3.9% of GDP (2017)
3% of GDP (2016)
3% of GDP (2015)

Military and security service personnel strengths

size assessments for the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) vary widely; more than 100,000 active duty personnel, including approximately 1,500 Navy and 3,000 Air Force; est. 30,000-plus paramilitary Rapid Support Forces; est. 20,000 Popular Defense Forces (2019 est.)

note: in August 2020, Sudan and the major rebel group Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) signed an agreement to integrate the group’s fighters into the Sudanese Army by the end of 2023

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the SAF’s inventory includes a mix of Chinese, Russian, Soviet, Ukrainian, and domestically-produced weapons systems; since 2010, the leading arms providers to the SAF are Belarus, China, Russia, and Ukraine; Sudan has a domestic arms industry that manufactures ammunition, small arms, and armored vehicles, largely based on older Chinese and Russian systems (2019 est.)

Military deployments

est. 1,000 Libya; est. 1,000 Yemen (Jan 2020)
Sudanese troops deployed to Libya and Yemen were from the Rapid Support Forces

Military service age and obligation

18-33 years of age for male and female compulsory or voluntary military service; 1-2 year service obligation (2013)

Military – note

United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) has operated in the disputed Abyei region along the border between Sudan and South Sudan since 2011; UNISFA’s mission includes ensuring security, protecting civilians, strengthening the capacity of the Abyei Police Service, de-mining, monitoring/verifying the redeployment of armed forces from the area, and facilitating the flow of humanitarian aid; UNISFA had about 4,000 personnel deployed as of January 2020
in addition, the United Nations African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) has operated in the war-torn Darfur region since 2007; UNAMID is a joint African Union-UN peacekeeping force with the mission of bringing stability to Darfur, including protecting civilians, facilitating humanitarian assistance, and promoting mediation efforts, while peace talks on a final settlement continue; as of March 2020, UNAMID had about 6,500 personnel deployed (2020)

Transportation :: Sudan

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 6 (2015)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 25 (2015)

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 496,178 (2015)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 13,161,592 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

ST (2016)


67 (2020)

Airports – with paved runways

total: 17 (2020)

over 3,047 m: 2

2,438 to 3,047 m: 11

1,524 to 2,437 m: 2

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 1

Airports – with unpaved runways

total: 50 (2020)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 17

914 to 1,523 m: 24

under 914 m: 9


7 (2020)


156 km gas, 4070 km oil, 1613 km refined products (2013)


total: 7,251 km (2014)

narrow gauge: 5,851 km 1.067-m gauge (2014)

1,400 km 0.600-m gauge for cotton plantations


total: 31,000 km (2019)

paved: 8,000 km (2019)

unpaved: 23,000 km (2019)

urban: 1,000 km (2019)


4,068 km (1,723 km open year-round on White and Blue Nile Rivers) (2011)

Merchant marine

total: 17

by type: other 17 (2019)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Port Sudan

Transnational Issues :: Sudan

Disputes – international

the effects of Sudan’s ethnic and rebel militia fighting since the mid-20th century have penetrated all of the neighboring states; Chad wishes to be a helpful mediator in resolving the Darfur conflict, and in 2010 established a joint border monitoring force with Sudan, which has helped to reduce cross-border banditry and violence; as of early 2019, more than 590,000 Sudanese refugees are being hosted in the Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Sudan; Sudan, in turn, is hosting more than 975,000 refugees and asylum seekers, including more than 845,000 from South Sudan; Sudan accuses South Sudan of supporting Sudanese rebel groups; Sudan claims but Egypt de facto administers security and economic development of the Halaib region north of the 22nd parallel boundary; periodic violent skirmishes with Sudanese residents over water and grazing rights persist among related pastoral populations along the border with the Central African Republic; South Sudan-Sudan boundary represents 1 January 1956 alignment, final alignment pending negotiations and demarcation; final sovereignty status of Abyei Area pending negotiations between South Sudan and Sudan

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 121,156 (Eritrea) (refugees and asylum seekers), 93,502 (Syria) (refugees and asylum seekers), 14,272 (Ethiopia) (refugees and asylum seekers) (2019); 814,750 (South Sudan) (refugees and asylum seekers), 20,605 (Central African Republic) (2020)

IDPs: 2.134 million (civil war 1983-2005; ongoing conflict in Darfur region; government and rebel fighting along South Sudan border; inter-tribal clashes) (2019)

Trafficking in persons

current situation: Sudan is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children who are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; Sudanese women and girls, particularly those from rural areas or who are internally displaced, or refugees are vulnerable to domestic servitude in country, as well as domestic servitude and sex trafficking abroad; migrants from East and West Africa, South Sudan, Syria, and Nigeria smuggled into or through Sudan are vulnerable to exploitation; Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Filipino women are subjected to domestic servitude in Sudanese homes, and East African and possibly Thai women are forced into prostitution in Sudan; Sudanese children continue to be recruited and used as combatants by government forces and armed groups

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Sudan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; the government increased its efforts to publically address and prevent trafficking, established a national anti-trafficking council, and began drafting a national action plan against trafficking; the government acknowledges cross-border trafficking but still denies the existence of forced labor, sex trafficking, and the recruitment of child soldiers domestically; law enforcement and judicial officials struggled to apply the national anti-trafficking law, often relying on other statutes with lesser penalties; authorities did not use systematic procedure to identify victims or refer them to care and relied on international organizations and domestic groups to provide protective services; some foreign victims were penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, such as immigration or prostitution violations (2015)


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