The Sudan was the Arabic countries passage into Africa, a bridge between Arab and African worlds, Sudan is Africa's largest country. What used to be the ancient Kingdom of Nubia is now one of the biggest countries in Africa. Like Chad, Sudan is devided in an Arabic, Muslim north and Black south. In the northern deserts, the traditional oxen-driven water wheels and lever-principle shadoufs have been replaced by diesel engines, lifting water from the Nile. Sudan is bordered on the north by Egypt, on the east by the Red Sea and Ethiopia, on the south by Uganda, Kenya and Zaire and on the west by the Central African Republic, Chad and Libya. Renowned are the Pyramids of Meroe and ghost port of Suakin. The coexistence between the black tribes of the south and the powerful Islamic tribes of the north has never been easy. The largest swamp in the world, the Sudd, is located in the Republic of the Sudan.
Starting from the 14th century the Arabs controlled the local tribes until 1820 when Sudan was passed under Egyptian authority. There are still attempts by the Muslim north to convert the southerners and bring them under Islamic law, which creates ongoing tensions. Since independence, it has lurched from civilian to military rule and a series of oppressive, fundamentalist rulers. El-Bashir seized power in a 1989 coup and established the fundamentalist National Islamic Front. Since then, Sudan has been treated as an international pariah because of its hardline polices and support for international terrorism. A civil war in the south resumed in 1983 and shows little sign of abating. The Kassala area has a large residual refugee population, caught in a political tug-of-war between Sudan and Eritrea.
Dukhn (millet) cereal
Khartoum is one of three cities built at the convergence of the Blue and White Niles. The other two are North Khartoum and Omdurman. It was first established as a military outpost in 1821 and is said to derive its name from the narrow spit of land at the convergence of the rivers, which resembles an elephant's trunk or "khurtum". Originally the name Khartoum comes from the Arabic “bilad as Sudan” which means “land of the blacks”. In 1834 it became the capital of Sudan and many European explorers used it as a base for their African expeditions. Khartoum is the second-largest city in Muslim North Africa, although it still retains much of the flavour of an outpost of the British Empire. Today, the city is enlivened by the growing number of international investors checking out potential deals. For the most part however, its quiet, tree-lined streets exude a languid air redolent of colonial days.
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Sudan is one of seven countries listed by the US State Department as a sponsor of terrorism. It would remain on the list even if the U.N. travel restrictions are removed. The United States severely limits imports of goods from Sudan, and financial dealings with Africa's largest country are generally banned. No American goods or technology may be exported there. However, since 1989 the United States has provided about $1.2 billion in assistance to Sudan. The U.N. sanctions were imposed in 1996 to force Sudan to hand
over the gunmen who tried to assassinate Mubarak while he was visiting Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in June 1995. The suspects were believed to have fled to Sudan, but U.S. counterterrorism experts have concluded they are no longer there. They have never been
The main source of employment and foreign exchange, agriculture is the bedrock of Sudanese society and is worth some $600 million a year. Cotton is the biggest export, followed by gum arabic and sesame. The country boasts more than a million head of livestock and meat is a major income earner. Exports are worth around $130 million a year. The bulk of Sudanese goat and sheep exports go to Saudi Arabia, while camels go solely to Egypt. Slaughtered animals are sold mainly to the Middle East. The great rivers flowing through Sudan offer potential for freshwater fisheries, but like the Red Sea they have barely been exploited. A fish factory has been built by the Arab-German Fisheries Company, with production of about 40,000 tonnes of tuna and 30,000 tonnes of shrimp a year. For all the trials that this nation has been through, there is hope on the horizon. Oil discoveries could transform the economy in the long term. But the need to make the country self-sufficient in food and increase agricultural output for export is paramount.
More than 1,200km from Port Sudan is a sugar estate and factory that most observers said would never work. Situated right in the middle of nowhere, there was no road to the port, no water and no power. But those doubters who said the development would turn into 'a white elephant in the middle of the desert' have been proved wrong. Today, the Kenana Sugar Company (KSC) is the world's largest producer of white sugar. Prior to the establishment of the estate and factory, Sudan imported the bulk of its sugar, which was a drain on its limited foreign exchange.
Dukhn (millet) is the most important cereal in western Sudan where 95% of total dukhn area is found, estimated at 2.1 million ha. Dukhn is grown in the quoz region with sparse rains and soils with poor fertility. The productive area is usually not more than half the cultivated area. The total annual production is estimated between 320,000 and 400,000 tons, all consumed locally.
Sudan is rich in valuable timber trees. Examples includ Sunut (Acacia nilotica) which grows on the banks of rivers, vuba (Isoberlinia doka) which grows well in the ironstone region in the south which is suitable for railway sleepers and building material. Teak, Mahogany (Khaya senegalensis) Bai and Bu provide high quality wood for furniture.
Economic progress has been constrained by the civil war, military expenditures, social dislocation, deterioration of basic infrastructure and lack of access to aid and foreign investments. Sudan is also vulnerable to external shocks, including floods and drought. As a result, poverty levels have risen despite growth.
Since 1996, GDP growth has averaged 5.5% led mainly by agriculture which accounts for an estimated 45% of GDP. Inflation has slowed from 133% to 16%. The general economic improvement has been helped by reforms supported by the IMF. These reforms emphasize containing fiscal deficits, and limiting monetary growth and inflation. The key structural reforms aim at enhancing efficiency by liberalizing the trade and exchange rate regime, phasing out price controls and privatizing public enterprises. More recently, Sudan has benefited from investment in oil production which is expected to reduce the country’s import bill and improve the availability of foreign exchange for development financing.
He holds two masters degrees in Military Science from the Sudanese College of Commanders and Malaysia. In 1988, he was put in command of the 8th Brigade in the South of Sudan, fighting the rebellion in the South of the Country. In June of 1989, with a group of middle rank military officers, he staged a coup d'etat against the elected Coalition government of Sadiq Al-Mahdi. His policy of Islamization of the Sudan and implementation of the Islamic Law (Sharia) has enraged and fueled the already ongoing war in the South of the Country. Due to the misguided economic and political policies of his government, the economic downturn and the degradation of the state and social institutions in the Sudan continues.
President Al-Bashier comes from a rural and working class background. He was born in the town of Hoshe Bannaga, 100 Km North East of Khartoum. He did his high school education in the Ahlia Middle School in Shendi. His family then moved to Khartoum were he did his secondary school education. He supplemented his education and family income by working in a motor garage. After his Secondary education, he was admitted into the the military academy as a pilot. He earned his wings in the Airborne Forces, and then transferred to the Infantry Brigade.
Sudan gained its independence from Britain in 1956. The first episode in what has become an intractable civil war in southern Sudan occurred through a mutiny of southern forces in 1955. Civil strife escalated as southern demands for political expression and economic development were ignored by the ruling elite in the north. Sudan consequently endured a civil war that has spanned more than three decades. Since 1997, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) has controlled much of the south. The civil war continues and prospects for reaching a peace agreement quickly are poor. Efforts are underway to reach an agreement between the Government and the rebels under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Sudan’s parliament was dissolved in December 2000 by the President and a new cabinet was formed. National elections are scheduled for October 2001. Diplomatic relations with the U.S., which were severely strained (following the U.S. bombing in Khartoum), have recently shown some improvement. U.S. sanctions were partially lifted in March 1999 so as to allow increased imports of food and medical supplies.
9 October 2001: The U.N. Security Council lifted five-year-old sanctions against Sudan on 22 September 2001, after the United States gave a green light. Sudan is on the U.S. list of nations sponsoring terrorism, but the Bush administration has said the government in Khartoum has been cooperating following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The Security Council imposed diplomatic sanctions on Sudan in 1996. The measures were intended to compel the Khartoum government to hand over the gunmen who opened fire on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's car on June 26, 1995, while he was visiting Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The suspects were believed to have fled to Sudan.
The White House said that US sanctions on Sudan would remain in place despite the United Nations Security Council's decision to lift its five-year-old sanctions on Khartoum. Still, the United States continues to maintain its bilateral sanctions
against Sudan," said spokesman Ari Fleischer. Citing Washington's worries about Sudan's human rights record, Fleischer said "those concerns remain" and noted US President George W. Bush had named a special envoy to address the situation. In a brief resolution, sponsored by the eight non-aligned country members of the security council and adopted in a 14-0 vote, it also rescinded a ban on air travel which was ordered on August 16, 1996, but never enforced. The United States, which in 1993 placed Sudan on a list of state sponsors of international terrorism, abstained on the vote, but acknowledged that Sudan had made "substantial steps" towards combating the international scourge.
Rashid Diab the painter has plans -- big plans -- to discover and promote the latent artistic talent he believes exists in his home, Sudan. Born 44 years ago in Wad Medani, 93 miles southeast of Khartoum, Diab knew from an early age that he would be an artist.
He married to Spaniard Mercedes Carmona and left Sudan in 1980 on the first scholarship Spain had offered a Sudanese student. Two years earlier, he had completed studies at
the School of Fine and Applied Arts in Khartoum, founded during the British colonial administration that ended in 1956. Armed with a doctorate in fine arts from Madrid's Complutense University -- his thesis was on the history of art in Sudan -- Diab
became the first foreigner to teach at Madrid's San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Spain's premier art school. His work has been widely exhibited in Europe, and his brightly colored, semiabstract works with hints of classical Arabic calligraphy often command more than $20,000 apiece. Diab has had several retrospective shows in the United States, including one at the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists in
Boston. Two years ago, Diab returned to Khartoum and opened the Dara Art Gallery -- named after his 13-year-old daughter -- in a three-story Arab-style villa. Etchings and oil paintings cover the ground floor walls, living quarters are on the first floor and his studio is on the second. He is hoping to finish a second house for his family in the
coming six months, which will allow him to transform the present one into a full-blown art center that can serve as a place for seminars and workshops and a base from which to promote the new generation of Sudanese painters. One of them, 32-year-old Yassir Abu el-Haram, had a recent show at Dara Gallery. Diab says El Haram's experience is haracteristic of a generation of artists who "suffered from the lack of artists
tools which curtailed the individual's freedom of expression and creation".
He knows from his own experience that promoting young Sudanese painters in Sudan will not be easy because few resources are dedicated to art. One of the main reasons Diab and a handful of other Sudanese painters left was because there were no galleries in which to show their work and no infrastructure in which art could flourish. Despite the heady experience of being in an artistic environment when he studied at the School of Fine and Applied Arts, Diab says instruction there remains stuck in the colonial past and there is
still very little emphasis on African art. ``In last 10 years, Sudan has had big problems ... some fanatical leaders applying Sharia (Islamic law) who were afraid art was not something they could control because artists are always individuals in their thinking and their art,'' Diab said. ``This does not go with dictatorships, but now things have changed.'' And he and his work have also changed. He says his painting is more impressionistic although he draws inspiration from the stark realism around him in Khartoum, a languorous desert metropolis where northern Arab Muslims mingle with southerners who follow both traditional beliefs and Christianity. The contrast with Spain is great, and Diab said he missed the ``expression on Sudanese faces, the country, the streets and the space.'' ``In Europe, it is very hard to find flat, big areas like you
can find in Sudan,'' he said, wide open spaces that accommodate people, ``especially Sudanese people,'' in time and space. ``I think Sudan is a very rich country in heritage and culture. What I'm trying to express is these feelings of my roots. The other
main issue is time ... how things started, how things come to an end. ... It becomes like a philosophy more than a work of art.'' He seems to be a man at ease with himself, all the while pondering these questions, whether sitting in his garden chewing tobacco with fellow Sudanese or mingling with some of Khartoum's expatriate community at brunch, his dining room transformed into a chic cafe.
Last update: 6 August 2009