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Sudan

Sudan, officially the Republic of the Sudan (Arabic: جمهورية السودان‎, Jumhūrīyat as-Sūdān), and informally North Sudan (to distinguish it from South Sudan), is a country in North Africa. It is also considered part of the Middle East politically and geographically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west and Libya to the northwest. While the population of Sudan predominately descends from both indigenous African groups and Arabs, today most tribes in the country have been Arabized and Arabic and Arab culture predominates. Over 97 percent of the population of Sudan adheres to Islam. The Nile, generally regarded as the world's longest river, divides the country between east and west sides.

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 Muslim Arab and Arabized northern Sudanese and the mostly animist and Christian Nilotes of Southern Sudan. This led to the Second Sudanese Civil War in 1983. 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 what was then the southern region of the country. Following a referendum held in January 2011, South Sudan seceded on 9 July 2011 with the consent of Sudan's President al-Bashir.

A member of the United Nations, Sudan also maintains membership with the African Union, the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the Non-Aligned Movement, as well as serving as an observer in World Trade Organization. Its capital is Khartoum, which serves as the political, cultural and commercial centre of the nation, while Omdurman is the largest city. Officially a federal presidential representative democratic republic, the politics of Sudan are widely considered by the international community to take place within an authoritarian system due to the control of the National Congress Party (NCP) of the judiciary, executive and legislative branches of government.

On 4 March 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir, the current President of Sudan, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the ongoing conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan. Al-Bashir is the first sitting head of state ever indicted by the ICC. On 12 July 2010, the ICC issued a second arrest warrant for al-Bashir, adding the charge of genocide.

Sudan then achieved great economic growth by implementing macroeconomic reforms and finally ended the civil war by adopting a new constitution in 2005 with rebel groups in the south, granting them limited autonomy that was followed by a referendum about independence in January 2011. Rich in natural resources such as petroleum and crude oil, Sudan's economy is amongst the fastest growing in the world. The People's Republic of China and Japan are the main export partners of Sudan.

However, after an Islamic legal code was introduced on a national level, the ruling National Congress (NCP) established themselves as the sole political party in the state and has since supported the use of recruited Arab militias in guerrilla warfare, such as in the ongoing conflict in Darfur. Since then thousands of people have been displaced and killed, and the need for humanitarian care in Darfur has attracted worldwide attention. The conflict has since been described as a genocide.

Sudan has also been the subject of severe sanctions due to alleged ties with Egyptian Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda. Sudan has scored medium in human development in the last few years, ranking number 150 in 2009, between Haiti and Tanzania. Statistics indicate that about seventeen percent of the population live on less than US $1.25 per day. Among Sudan's population of 30 million people, Sunni Islam is the largest religion, while Arabic and English are the official languages.

A referendum took place in Southern Sudan from 9 to 15 January 2011, on whether the region should remain a part of Sudan or be independent. The referendum was one of the consequences of the 2005 Naivasha Agreement between the Khartoum central government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) Preliminary results released by the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission on 30 January 2011 indicate that 98% of voters selected the "separation" option, with 1% selecting "unity". Southern Sudan became an independent country on 9 July 2011. ...read more on Wikipedia