"The most diverse country in Africa" Sudan by redsaga
Sudan Travel Guide: 1,178 reviews and 3,063 photos
The Republic of Sudan is the largest and possibly the most diverse country in Africa and consists mostly of flat plains and sand desert. In the east and west however there are hills. In the rocky Red Sea Hills in the north-east you will have an overlook of the coastal plain and slope westwars to the Nile Valley. West of the Nile the country opens out onto plains rising to the Nuba Mountains and the volcanic range of Jebel Jarra. In the southern parts of the country there will be forest and swamps. The Nile plays a very important role in Sudan and is for most people their only source to water.
Sudan is generally a very hot country and the most pleasant time to make a visit is in the winter when the average temperature is 25 degrees Celcius. Khartoum, the capital, however is especially hot. In summer (June to August) the temperature can rise to some 50 degrees. I haven't experienced it myself (yet) but people describe it as walking straight into an oven. If you're lucky (or unlucky depending on how you see it) you will experience one of the famous "hababs" which are violent dust storms covering everything in its way and lasts for a few hours. If you move south the temperature will be a bit more barable with an average temperature of 30 degrees throughout the year, but on the other hand the humidity is almost as bad as it can get.
The official language is arabic, but there are over 500 tribal dialects across the country. English is now officially Sudan's second language, but a small knowledge of arabic is essential, especially if you're planning to travel outside of the capital.
Since the independence from the UK in the late fifties Sudan has been embroiled in a civil war for all but 10 years since then. The southern christians and the muslim northerners had been isolated from eachother during the British rule and almost immediately after the independence problems began. The cultural differences between the two regions intensified into one of the world's longest and bloodiest civil war. The first military coup took place in 1958 and there have really been no democracy since then. President Omar Hassan al-Beshir took the power through a military coup in 1989.
Sudan is one of the world's toughest dictatures and many coup attemptions were beaten down by with the consequence of mass killings. The regime consists of a ruling military junta and the government is run by an alliance between the National Congress Party (NCP) and the military. The country is governed by the shari'a law which is the traditional islamiv legal system. The law is very conservative and forbids alcohol among other things. Women should cover up as much as possible (although a foreigner has a bit more freedome to wear and do whatever she wants to).
But the war is based on more than cultural and religious conflicts, it have not only been a question about liberation and ideology but also about controlling the rich oil fields between the two regions. Money from the oil and international interest in the discovery of the oil have contributed to the brutality and long duration of the war. And finally both parties have agreed on a division of power and resources.
The war has of course put a great impact on the people of Sudan. Since the early eighties more than 2 million people have lost their lives, over 4 million people are displaced within the country and even more are threatened with starvation and economic ruin. About 1 million Sudaneses have fled the country.
In 2005 a peace agreement was finally signed and the christian south was excepted from the shari'a law that was introduced in 1983. For six years the south will have an autonomy to a certain extent.
In the summer of 2005 the vice president and leader of the resistance movement SPLM/A (Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army) John Garang was killed in a helicopter crash which caused some disturbances in the country. There were riots and demonstrations, killings and lootings. The situation has calmed down and Mr. Salva Kiir succeeded Garang.
The southern parts of Sudan is today one of the poorest areas in the world. The average age of death is 42 years and only one forth of the people can read. Everything is missing: schools and teachers, hospitals and doctors, food and clean water, medicine and supplies, infrastructure and other communications.
There are some 40 million people living in Sudan and theer are over a 100 different ethnic groups.
The people of Sudan can generally be divided into two groups: the muslims that dominate the north, including the greater Khartoum area, and the christians that dominate the southern parts of the country. The people here have suffered a lot. Starvation and extreme poverty are both consequences from the war. Even though the people of the Sudan has gone through so much misery they are definitely among the friendliest, nicest, most hospitable and generous people that I have come across. They have suffered more than any of us can ever imagine and are still happy for all the small everyday things they get; a cup of sweet tea among friends, food for the day and something to sleep on.
But the climate has most definitely marked the sudaneses and no wonder that you get a bit lazy when it's 50 degrees celcius outside! In Sudan everything goes veeeery slowly and the people seem to want as little responsibility as possible so expect things to take a couple of weeks (or more) longer here than it would in most western countries.
- Pros:Extremely friendly, generous and hospitable people
- Cons:The heat and the dust
- In a nutshell:There are treasures to find if you know where to look!
About one hour north of Khartoum, hidden behind desert and mountains you will find the 6th cataract of the Nile. It's a... more travel advice
I haven't had the opportunity to travel in Sudan by train yet, but this is the up-to-date information I've got about the... more travel advice
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