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SUDAN | South Secedes today!

Sudanese Bride

This is an historic day for the largest country in Africa. Following a referendum held in January 2011, Southern Sudan will secede from the north.

The Republic of Sudan, is a country in northeastern Africa. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, Kenya and Uganda to the southeast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west and Libya to the northwest. The world’s longest river, the Nile, divides the country between east and west sides.

Flags and Sudan republic

A Bari community member holds the flag of southern Sudan during celebrations in Juba, southern Sudan, July 9th 2011

The people of Sudan have a long history extending from antiquity which is intertwined with the history of Egypt, with which it was united politically over several periods. After gaining independence from Egypt and the United Kingdom in 1956, Sudan suffered seventeen years of civil war during the First Sudanese Civil War (1955–1972) followed by ethnic, religious and economic conflicts between the Northern Sudanese (with mainly Nubian and Arab roots), and the Christian and animist Nilotes of Southern Sudan. This led to the Second Sudanese Civil War in 1983, and because of continuing political and military struggles, Sudan was seized in a bloodless coup d’état by colonel Omar al-Bashir in 1989, who thereafter proclaimed himself President of Sudan. The civil war ended with the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement which granted autonomy to the southern region of the country.

Population 36,992,500 (2006 est) Population growth rate 2.1% (2005-10) Population density (per sq km) 15 (2006 est) Urban population (% of total) 41 (2005 est) Age distribution (% of total population) 0-14 39%, 15+ 59 55%, 60+ 6% (2005 est)

Ethnic groups: over 50 ethnic groups and almost 600 subgroups; the population is broadly distributed between Arabs (39%) in the north and black Africans (52%) in the south; Beja (6%), foreigners (2%)

Life expectancy 56 (men); 58 (women) (2005-10) Child mortality rate (under 5, per 1,000 live births) 91 (2004) Education (compulsory years) 8 Literacy rate 71% (men); 49% (women) (2004 est) 

Former flag, 1956-1970

Physicians (per 10,000 people) 1.6 (2004 est) Hospital beds (per 1,000 people) 0.7 (2003 est)

HIV infection (% of population aged 15-49) 1.6 (2005 est) AIDS deaths 34,000 (2005 est) Access to drinking-water source (% of total population) 78 (urban); 64 (rural) (2002)

ECONOMY Currency Sudanese dinar GDP (US$) 27.7 billion (2005 est) Real GDP growth (% change on previous year) 12.1 (2006 est) GNI (US$) 23.3 billion (2005 est) GNI per capita (PPP) (US$) 2,000 (2005 est) Consumer price inflation 7% (2006 est) Unemployment 4% (2004 est) Labour force 80% agriculture, 7% industry, 13% services (2003 est) Foreign debt (US$) 28 billion (2005 est) Major trading partners China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Egypt, United Arab Emirates Resources petroleum, marble, mica, chromite, gypsum, gold, graphite, sulphur, iron, manganese, zinc, fluorspar, talc, limestone, dolomite, pumice Industries food processing (especially sugar refining), textiles, cement, petroleum refining, hides and skins Exports crude oil, sesame seed, gum arabic, sorghum, livestock, hides and skins, cotton. Principal market: China 46.7% (2005) Imports basic manufacture, crude materials (mainly petroleum and petroleum products), foodstuffs,. Principal source: China 19.2% (2003) Arable land 6.8% (2006 est) Agricultural products sorghum, sugar cane, groundnuts, cotton, millet, wheat, sesame, fruits; livestock rearing (cattle, sheep, goats, and poultry)

Since 1983, a combination of civil war and famine has taken the lives of nearly 2 million people in Sudan

The effects of Sudan’s almost constant ethnic and rebel militia fighting since the mid-20th century have penetrated all of the neighboring states; as of 2006, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda provided shelter for over half a million Sudanese refugees, which includes 240,000 Darfur residents driven from their homes by Janjawid armed militia and the Sudanese military forces; Sudan, in turn, hosted about 116,000 Eritreans, 20,000 Chadians, and smaller numbers of Ethiopians, Ugandans, Central Africans, and Congolese as refugees; in February 2006, Sudan and DROC signed an agreement to repatriate 13,300 Sudanese and 6,800 Congolese; Sudan accuses Eritrea of supporting Sudanese rebel groups; efforts to demarcate the porous boundary with Ethiopia proceed slowly due to civil and ethnic fighting in eastern Sudan; the boundary that separates Kenya and Sudan’s sovereignty is unclear in the “Ilemi Triangle,” which Kenya has administered since colonial times; Sudan claims but Egypt de facto administers security and economic development of 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

A mother with her sick child at Abu Shouk IDP camp in North Darfur

Sudan is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked internally for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation; Sudan is also a transit and destination country for Ethiopian women trafficked abroad for domestic servitude; Sudanese women and girls are trafficked within the country as well as possibly to Middle Eastern countries for domestic servitude; the terrorist rebel organization, Lord’s Resistance Army, continues to harbor small numbers of Sudanese and Ugandan children in the southern part of the country for use as cooks, porters, and combatants; some of these children are also trafficked across borders into Uganda or the Democratic Republic of the Congo; militia groups in Darfur, some of which are linked to the government, abduct women for short periods of forced labor and to perpetrate sexual violence; during the two decades-long north-south civil war, thousands of Dinka women and children were abducted and subsequently enslaved by members of the Missiriya and Rezeigat tribes; while there have been no known new abductions of Dinka by members of Baggara tribes in the last few years, inter-tribal abductions continue in southern Sudan

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