Country Listing

Sudan Table of Contents



Population: Census of 1983 set population at 21.6 million people; July 1990 population estimate approximately 25 million. Annual growth rate between 2.8 and 3.1 percent. Half of population under eighteen years of age. About 20 percent of population urban, concentrated chiefly in three cities--Khartoum, Omdurman, and Khartoum North--constituting national capital area.

Languages: About 400 languages, but Arabic primary and official language. English common second language in south. Other languages include Bedawiye used by Beja and various dialects of Niger-Kurdufanian and Nilo-Saharan.

Ethnic Groups: Largest ethnic category in 1983 (nearly 40 percent of total, nearly 55 percent in north) comprises those considering themselves Arabs, but category internally split by regional and tribal loyalties and affiliation to various Muslim politico-religious groups. Major Muslim (but non-Arab) groups are Nubians in far north, nomadic Beja in northeast, and Fur in west. Southern non-Muslim groups include Dinka (more than 10 percent of total population and 40 percent in south), Nuer, and numerous smaller Nilotic and other ethnic groups.

Religion: More than half of total population Muslim, most living in north where Muslims constitute 75 percent or more of population. Relatively few Christians, most living in south. Most people in south and substantial minority in north adherents of various indigenous religions.

Education: Six-year primary education increasingly available, but in early 1990s south and many northern communities still suffered from shortage of schools and teachers; many schools in south destroyed by civil war. Small proportion of primary school graduates continued in three-year junior secondary and upper secondary schools or attended technical schools. Most schools in urban locations; many lacked adequately trained teachers. Universities producing adequate numbers of highly educated graduates but Sudanese with skills relevant to largely agricultural economy still in short supply. Estimate of adult literacy about 30 percent.

Health: By 1991 civil war had destroyed most medical facilities in south, and famine in 1980s and 1991 had serious impact on general health. Weak modern medical infrastructure suffering personnel shortages and urban-rural imbalance; most personnel and facilities concentrated in capital area. Malaria and gastrointestinal diseases prevalent through much of country; tuberculosis widespread in north but also occurs in south; schistosomiasis (snail fever) more restricted to territory near White Nile and Blue Nile rivers and adjacent irrigated areas; sleeping sickness spreading in south; acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) also increasing.

Data as of June 1991