Sudan country profile
Sudan, once the largest and one of the most geographically diverse states in Africa, split into two countries in July 2011 after the people of the south voted for independence.
The government of Sudan gave its blessing for an independent South Sudan, where the mainly Christian and Animist people had for decades been struggling against rule by the Arab Muslim north.
However, various outstanding issues - especially the question of shared oil revenues and border demarcation - have continued to create tensions between the two successor states.
Sudan has long been beset by conflict. Two rounds of north-south civil war cost the lives of 1.5 million people, and a continuing conflict in the western region of Darfur has driven two million people from their homes and killed more than 200,000.
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Republic of Sudan
Population 39.5 million
Major languages Arabic, English (official)
Major religion Islam
Life expectancy 63 years (men), 66 years (women)
Currency Sudanese pound
President: Omar Hassan al-Bashir
Omar Hassan al-Bashir has ruled with an iron fist since coming to power in a coup in 1989.
He was elected president in 1996,. and has been re-elected several times since in votes mostly boycotted by opposition parties.
Mr Bashir faces two international arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, but the main threat to his continued rule comes from increasing domestic discontent over the rising cost of living.
Sporadic protests escalated through 2018, and took on an overtly anti-Bashir political dimension after up to 40 people were killed in clashes with security forces.
Sudanese broadcasting is highly restricted and state TV and radio reflect government policy.
The private press carries opposition views, but the state uses its powers to influence what is published.
More than a quarter of Sudanese citizens are online, but access can be prohibitively expensive. Activists have faced arrest for their social media activities.
Some key dates in Sudan's history:
Circa 2000-1500 BC - Emergence of the Nubian Kingdom of Kush in what is now northern Sudan and Lower Nubia, which stretches to Egypt's Aswan province.
651 - Islam spreads in Sudan from Egypt.
1820-21 - Ottoman Empire conquers northern part of the country.
1899-1955 - Sudan is under joint British-Egyptian rule.
1956 - Sudan becomes independent.
1983 - President Numeiri introduces Sharia Islamic law.
2003 - Start of conflict in Darfur region.
2009 - International Criminal Court issues an arrest warrant for President Omar Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity relating to the drawn-out conflict in Darfur.
2011 - South Sudan gains independence following years of war with the central government in Khartoum.