Sudan

Driving Directions Sudan

SUDAN is the largest country in Africa, lying just south of the Tropic of Cancer in northeast Africa. The Republic of Sudan divides naturally into three central regions: the desert in the north, dry grasslands and steppe in the center, and marshland, giving way to tropical forest and mountains in the south. Cutting through the country and forming a fourth significant and life-sustaining feature is the great river system of the Nile.

Driving Directions


Its two main headwaters, the White Nile, arising in the south in Uganda, and the Blue Nile, which has its origins in Ethiopia’s highlands to the east, unite at Sudan’s capital, Khartoum (El Khartum). Most of Sudan’s cultivatable land lies in this central belt, south of Khartoum, between the Blue and White Nile rivers.

An upland mountainous plateau, the Janub Darfur (3,038 meters or 10,131 feet), rises near the border with Chad in the west, and the Red Sea Hills lie behind the coast in the northeast. Mountains straddle the border with Uganda, and Sudan’s highest peak, Kinyeti (3,187 meters or 10,456 feet), is located here. North of these mountains and traversed by the White Nile’s many tributaries lies a vast area of marshland called the Sudd. This area is subjected to regular flooding and is the home of cattle-rearing tribal peoples.

Sudan has a hot, tropical climate with high temperatures in summer and cooler ones experienced only in the desert on winter nights. There is virtually no rainfall in the desert regions of the north. Still, amounts increase southwards, with a distinct summer rainy season from June to September in the south’s equatorial regions.

Natural vegetation varies from desert plants to steppe grasslands to tropical forests containing commercially valuable species such as castor oil plants, rubber, ebony, and mahogany trees. Wildlife is equally varied and includes some of the vast African mammals, reptiles, crocodiles, and many snakes and tropical birds. Disease-bearing, biting insects such as the tsetse fly and mosquito is a threat to human health.

Sudan is an agricultural country, and subsistence farming accounts for 80 percent of production. Livestock is also raised. Cotton is farmed commercially and accounts for about two-thirds of Sudan’s exports.

Sudan is the world’s greatest source of gum arabic, which is used in medicines, perfumes, processed foods, and inks. Other forest products are tannin, beeswax, senna, and timber.

Due to the combination of ongoing civil war and drought, Sudan has a large foreign debt estimated to be three times its gross national product.

Google maps™ Sudan

Sudan is an immense, sparsely populated plain, with plateaus or mountains near the west’s borders, the southeast, and the Red Sea coast in the northeast. The most prevalent landscape is the semiarid savannah, a mixture of short grasses, scattered brush, and short trees. Narrow belts of irrigated cropland, no more than a few miles wide, bisect the northern savannah and deserts along the main Nile River; these farmlands also run along the White Nile and the Atbara Rivers. They contrast sharply with the arid savannah or barren desert, which is just beyond irrigation limits. Only 5 percent of Sudan’s land is arable; of the remaining terrain, 24 percent is meadows and pastures, 20 percent is forest and woodland, and 51 percent is semiarid desert.

Sudan has an eastern coast on the Red Sea, a narrow, landlocked sea that separates Africa from the Arabian Peninsula. In the north, it links to the Mediterranean through the Gulf of Suez and the Suez Canal. In the south, the sea links to the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea through Bab el Mandeb’s strait. Therefore, the Red Sea is a major shipping route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Aden. At its widest point, it is only 326 kilometers (205 miles). The Red Sea is rather deep, with an average depth of 500 meters (1,640 feet). It reaches a maximum depth of 2,000 meters (6,562 feet), and it features red coral reefs and extensive coral gardens.

Natural harbors of the Red Sea exist at Port Sudan (Bur Sudan) and Sawākin.

Did you know about Sudan?

The Pyramids of Meroe, in central Sudan, stand as monuments to the kingdom of Nubia, known as Kush to the Egyptians. Sudanese kings reigned over Nubia for a relatively short period, from about 712 B.C. until 657 B.C. The ancient region of Nubia covered part of the area of modern-day southern Egypt and northern Sudan. (Much of this area was submerged recently by the Aswan Dam’s creation of Lake Nassar.) When the Sudanese kings controlled the region, their kingdom’s capital was at Meroe, now Khartoum. More than fifty pyramids that once served as part of the royal cemetery still stand in this desert region. Though smaller than the pyramids of Egypt (the largest of these measures about 51 meters/ 170 feet at its base), the Pyramids of Meroe are the world’s most extensive collection of pyramids in one place.

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