The north-eastern African country of Sudan is now known as North Sudan, after the secession of South Sudan, still not recognized by some countries. Before this division, it was the largest country in Africa.
Sudan has a varied landscape, crossed by the river Nile, and an interesting and rich historical legacy.
Let’s have a look at the top interesting facts about Sudan.
1. Sudan has more pyramids than Egypt
Although Egypt is famous for “the” Pyramids, Sudan has many more than its neighbor. There are over 230 pyramids strewn across Sudan, some being very difficult to find because of sandstorms and weathering, whereas only around 100 pyramids exist in Egypt.
However, it’s fair to admit that Sudan’s pyramids are nowhere near as intricate and historically significant as the ones in Egypt. They also weren’t used just by members of the royal family – high ranking officials and priests were also buried with a pyramid on top of their grave. However, Sudan’s pyramids do exhibit hieroglyphs and mummies and treasures were found there, too. The most important site is at Meroe, where you can experience an amazing view at sunset when the sun shines over the pyramids, rendering them almost gold-like.
2. It has amazing beaches
This might not be the first thing you think of in relation to this African country, but Sudan actually has amazing beaches and it’s a popular destination for scuba divers. Home to a great variety of corals and fishes, the Red Sea coast on its territory attracts lots of visitors every year, a fun fact about Sudan.
3. Sudan has amazing national parks
The nature reserves in Sudan are exceptional. Dinder National Park in eastern Sudan was set up in 1935 and is a Biosphere Reserve. It hosts 27 species of large mammals, amongst them African leopards, Masai lions and cheetahs, as well as 160 species of birds and 32 species of fishes.
Then, Sanganeb National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2016, is the first marine national park in Sudan, with amazing fish and coral varieties.
4. Sudan is the largest producer of gum arabic in the world
This natural resin comes from acacia trees which grow across the central belt of Sudan. It can be used as glue and is part of stamps, or it can form part of ink and paints. However, its most important use is in sweets and fizzy drinks, an interesting fact about Sudan.
5. It was home to a devastating conflict
The Darfur conflict was a massive humanitarian disaster, causing the death of up to 400,000 people and displacing nearly two million others. Started in February 2003, it was compared to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda for the scale of human suffering it engendered.
6. It’s been an independent country since 1956
Sudan was colonized by the United Kingdom and, later on, it was shared under agreement between Britain and Egypt. It was on 1st January 1956 that it gained independence and this is the first national holiday in Sudan’s annual calendar now, a fun fact about Sudan. Sudan is actually one of the earliest former Western European colonies to become independent, and it is also one of the very few African countries to have been (even if just partially) colonized by another African country.
7. Its name means “land of the blacks”
Ancient Sudan was the territory of the Black Nilotic tribes, which were assimilated into the Arab population which took over, through intermarriage or slavery. The Arab conquerors recognized this original population by naming the territory “Bilad as-Sudan” which means “the land of the blacks” and was eventually abbreviated to just Sudan.
8. The highest point in Sudan is at 3,042 m
The Deriba Caldera is part of the Marra volcanic mountains and constitutes the highest point in Sudan. The caldera has two lakes: one with salty water, shallower and larger in surface, and one with freshwater, smaller in size. The Deriba Caldera is in western Sudan, in the Darfur region.
9. Sudan is one of the most multilingual countries in the world
A fun fact about Sudan is that there are 114 native languages spoken in this country, with the bulk of them dating back to the Nilotic tribes. Because of intermarriages, there are very few – if any – Sudanese of purely Arab or Nilotic origin, most of them having a mixed ancestry. As a result, the new families created over 500 different accents and combined Arabic and Nilotic words in this multitude of languages which can be found today.
10. Its main exports are precious metals and stones
Sudan has a richness of precious stones and metals, which it exports, along with oil and sugar.
Its highest value import is machinery, used to extract oil and for agricultural purposes. It also has to import certain foodstuffs like wheat and tea.
11. It’s the Arab world’s bread basket
The territory of Sudan makes up 45% of the arable land in the Arab world. This is very different from most other Arab countries, mostly covered by barren desert. Sudan produces most of its food needs and exports to other Arab states. The main crops are sugarcane, cotton, millet, sorghum and gum arabic.
12. Sudan is governed by Sharia law
As a traditional Arab country, Sudan has adopted Sharia law.
This means that, among other things, the government has made homosexuality illegal. It is, in fact, a capital offense.
Alcohol is also illegal and when Sharia law first became the norm in 1983, it is said that the whole country’s stock of alcohol was dumped into the Nile, a fun fact about Sudan.
Sudan has an amazing geographical diversity, making it home to some impressive nature reserves, as well as rendering it a bread basket for the Arab world. This is despite being wrought with conflict and going through some very devastating humanitarian crises in recent history. Whilst Sudan is ruled by Sharia law, it is a fascinating place to visit, where you can find more pyramids than in Egypt and a great natural diversity to explore.
I hope that this article on Sudan facts was helpful! If you are interested, visit the Country Facts Page!