Learn about the two Sudans then answer the question at the bottom for a chance to add a stamp to your Virtual Passport!
Republic of the Sudan
Sudan is situated in the north east of Africa. It shares borders with six countries—Chad, Libya, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Central African Republic. Its capital city, Khartoum, is situated at the confluence of the Blue and the White Nile rivers.
Republic of South Sudan
South Sudan is in east Africa. It shares borders with five countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Central African Republic—and is landlocked. It is roughly the size of the U.S. state of Texas. Its capital city, Juba, is situated on the White Nile river.
The population of Sudan is estimated to be about 30 million, though such figures are uncertain and can be controversial. It is among the most diverse populations on the African continent, even after South Sudan seceded in 2011. The official state religion is Islam, though other religions are practiced in parts of the country.
The population of South Sudan is estimated to be about 10 million people (also uncertain and controversial), the majority of them African in character. It is home to a wide array of ethnic groups and languages. Christianity is the most prominent religion, though many follow other indigenous beliefs.
South Sudan seceded from Sudan on July 9th, 2011. Prior to southern secession, the country of Sudan experienced serious internal conflict for much of the last half-century, following independence from Britain in 1956. Northern-led governments focused on building up the “center” around Khartoum and sought to promote Arabism and Islam, leaving non-Muslims, southerners, and other populations on the periphery in all directions politically and economically marginalized.
The first Sudanese civil war ended in 1972, but conflict between north and south resumed in 1983 and raged for more than two decades. In 1989, President Omar al-Bashir seized power in a coup and installed the hard-line National Islamic Front (later the National Congress Party), which intensified the conflict between the north and south. This government was politically repressive internally, and also at times supported radical Islamist groups.
The people of the south, as well as those in the west and east of Sudan, were subject to increasing alienation from the central government. As the north-south conflict continued, the ruling government in the north sought to manipulate and exploit divisions in the south, and violence raged. In total, more than two million people died in the north-south civil wars, and more than four million were displaced from their homes.
In the 1990s, regional efforts to bring an end to the war gathered momentum, and finally, in 2005, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed. It granted some autonomy to the south and allowed for a referendum to be held six years later on independence for southern Sudan.
Yet even as the north-south war was winding down, another serious internal conflict emerged in the western region of Darfur in 2003. A rebellion by armed groups led to a brutal counterinsurgency campaign by the Khartoum government and its allied militias. Many communities were devastated in the violence that ensued, and a large international campaign formed to urge action to stop the massacres in Darfur. An African Union peacekeeping operation transitioned to United Nations command in 2007, as international forces have sought to stabilize a chaotic situation in western Sudan, which has also had destabilizing effects on neighboring Chad.
As violence continues to plague Darfur, there have been problems, too, in the east of the country, where the population also claims longstanding economic and political marginalization by Khartoum.
The referendum on independence for southern Sudan took place in January 2011 and resulted in overwhelming support for independence. Several important issues remain outstanding––regarding citizenship, security, and the status of the contested region of Abyei, where violence spiked in the early summer of 2011. Fighting along the border continues to flare, and all parties continue to work on these challenges with support from the U.S. and others in the international community. In August 2012 after nearly two years of talks, both north and south agreed to an interim oil revenue sharing deal, which is important to both countries' economies. Additionally, the two countries signed nine cooperation agreements in September 2012 that address oil, border issues, citizenship, and the division of debts and assets.
Nevertheless, as of early 2013, progress on the oil agreements remains mired in Sudan-South Sudan disputes over border regions. The state of Sudan’s economy may be the single most important factor in Sudan’s overall trajectory in the coming year, as it faces a deepening emergency with losses of revenue and high unemployment. Relations between the countries will be affected by these economic pressures as well as political questions.
As of February 2013, troubling signs of increasing authoritarianism began to surface in South Sudan. Reports of harassment and detention of journalists, including death by firearm of a South Sudanese journalist, the expulsion of a U.N. human rights official after a report of alleged atrocities by South Sudan’s army in Jonglei state, and lack of progress in developing a constitution, as well as several other troubling events, indicate undemocratic tendencies that could make building internal peace in South Sudan increasingly difficult over the coming year.
While the U.S. designates Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism and has in place comprehensive economic, trade, and financial sanctions, the U.S. played a significant role in brokering the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and continues to provide significant assistance in response to the crisis in Darfur and in support of peace and stability in Sudan and South Sudan more broadly.
For more than 20 years, experts from the United States Institute of Peace have focused on helping to build peace and stability in Sudan, working through partnerships with the U.S. Department of State, nongovernmental organizations in Sudan, and key stakeholders.
USIP’s current programs focus on supporting efforts to resolve border issues, promoting dialogue within and across communities, and working on matters related to justice and rule of law. For instance, USIP funded a project that trained local journalists and produced weekly radio programs to help in efforts to reduce tensions on the North-South border. USIP grant funding supports organizations that are empowering communities to resolve local conflicts themselves. USIP also is providing start-up funding and advisory support for the Sudd Institute, a new, independent policy research organization based in the South Sudanese capital of Juba.
More information about our work in and on The Two Sudans
News updates on the Two Sudans
© 2012 by the Endowment of the United States Institute of Peace | Privacy / Terms / Accessibility