Military regimes favoring Islamic-oriented governments have dominated national politics since independence from Anglo-Egyptian co-rule in 1956. 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.
north-eastern Africa, bordering the Red Sea, between Egypt and Eritrea
petroleum; small reserves of iron ore, copper, chromium ore, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver, gold; hydropower
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
Arabic (official), English (official), Nubian, Ta Bedawie, Fur
KHARTOUM (capital) 5.129 million (2015)
- Conventional long form
- Republic of the Sudan
- Conventional short form
- Local long form
- Jumhuriyat as-Sudan
- Local short form
- Geographic coordinates
- 15 36 N, 32 32 E
- Time difference
- UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; withdrew acceptance of ICCt jurisdiction in 2008
Sudan has experienced protracted social conflict, civil war, and, in July 2011, 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 Sudan’s 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.
- External debt stocks
- US$ 21,406,450,000
- Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
- Real Interest Rate
- Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
- Current Account Balance
- US$ -5,933,452,627
- Labor Force, Total
- Employment in Agriculture
- Employment in Industry
- Employment in Services
- Unemployment Rate
- Imports of goods and services
- US$ 11,973,929,147
- Exports of goods and services
- US$ 9,394,847,021
- Total Merchandise Trade
- FDI, net inflows
- US$ 1,736,764,247
- Commercial Service Exports
- US$ 1,638,909,720
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
- gold; oil and petroleum products; cotton, sesame, livestock, peanuts, gum Arabic, sugar
- UAE 23.4%, Macau 23.3%, Saudi Arabia 20.8%, Egypt 9.6% (2015)
- foodstuffs, manufactured goods, refinery and transport equipment, medicines, chemicals, textiles, wheat
- Macau 22.7%, UAE 8.8%, India 8.4%, Egypt 6%, Saudi Arabia 4.6%, Turkey 4.3% (2015)
- Country Risk Rating
- The highest-risk political and economic situation and the most difficult business environment. Corporate default is likely.
- Business Climate Rating
- The highest possible risk in terms of business climate. Due to a lack of available financial information and an unpredictable legal system, doing business in this country is extremely difficult.
- Reforms being undertaken in cooperation with the IMF
- Strategic location between the Middle East and West Africa
- Relative stabilization thanks to the oil agreement with South Sudan
- Loss of oil revenue following independence of South Sudan
- Unsustainable external debt
- Lack of investment in infrastructure
- Significant failings in terms of governance
- Insecurity (in particular on the border with South Sudan)
- High unemployment (particularly among young people) and poverty
A considerable amount of work has been carried out aimed at improving macro-economic stability and restoring growth since the shock triggered by the secession of South Sudan in 2011. The adjustments made have helped bring the rise in the public deficit under control, to reduce inflation and sustain the recovery. There are still major imbalances, linked with the loss of three-quarters of its oil and gas exports (and the corresponding budget revenues), which continue to limit the growth potential, alongside the difficult business climate, the lack of exchange rate flexibility, overindebtedness, internal conflicts and US sanctions.
In this context, with the fall in the prices of its exported products, growth remains limited. Activity slowed in 2016 with the decline in agricultural output. In 2017, better crop yields, thanks to increased rainfall, and the resulting effect on private consumption, should drive growth upwards. The slight recovery in oil prices is also likely to lead to an increase in public consumption. After three years of recession, a slight upturn in the oil and gas GDP is likely.
Inflation will be higher in 2017, reflecting the weakness of monetary control and the rises in the price of oil (of which the country is now a net importer) and food products.
In 2016, the current account deficit contracted slightly as earnings from its gold exports increased, driven by higher prices (Sudan also exports livestock, oil and sesame seeds). The substantial imbalance in its external accounts will continue in 2017, even if there is a slow recovery in oil exports. Foreign investments will not cover the current account deficit, meaning once again that the country will require substantial foreign aid. This would enable it to avoid a further reduction in its currency reserves, which are at a low level (approximately 1 month of imports). In addition, because of the inflexibility of the exchange regime, the exchange rate is around 50% overvalued in real terms.
The budget deficit has widened as a result of declining oil and gas revenues (including transfers from South Sudan covering the use of Sudanese pipelines and compensation for the loss of the oil fields), linked with the fall in crude oil prices. Despite the efforts to bring current account expenditure under control and boost tax revenues, which represent a lower proportion of GDP than the average for poor countries, the public deficit remains at a level that requires recourse to central bank financing.
Sudan remains over-indebted. The public and external debt ratios are high and most of the external debt is in arrears. This means the country has to rely on finance in the form of grants and concessional loans and continue working towards being granted debt relief as part of the HIPC initiative.
Twenty-six years after the coup d'Etat that brought the current president to power, Omar al-Bashir, supported by the National Congress Party, was re-elected for a second five-year term in the presidential election in April 2015. Both the presidential and parliamentary elections, held at the same time, were boycotted by the opposition and the results have been disavowed by Western governments. Periodic popular protests, fed by a lack of any political change and by austerity, and often brutally suppressed, are however unlikely to destabilise the regime, and the political opposition remains divided. In the longer term, the issue of the presidential succession will arise, with no heir identified.
Whilst the shared economic challenge relating to the production and shipping of oil led to cooperation between Sudan and South Sudan, the question of the status of several border regions (Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile) continues to cause strain in the relations between the two countries.
Violent conflict broke out in Darfur, in Western Sudan, in 2003 and continues to this day, between insurgents linked with ethnic minorities and the ruling authorities, controlled by the Arab majority. Since then, the UN has estimated that the fighting between governmental forces and the rebels has led to at least 300,000 deaths and 2.5 million displaced persons.
Sudan has been under a US trade embargo since 1997 following accusations that the Sudanese authorities were supporting violent Islamist groups, and subsequently following condemnation for its actions in the Darfur conflict. Washington extended these sanctions by one year in November 2016 but has not ruled out the lifting of these if the country is making progress.