Sudan People, Population, Religion and Nationality


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Sudan People

Browse the information below for demographic information on Sudan, including population, religion, nationality and more. If you do not find the Sudan information you need on the people page, check out our complete listing on the Sudan Country Page.

  • Sudan Geography
  • Sudan Government
  • Sudan Economy
  • Sudan History

    Nationality: Noun and adjective (sing. and pl.)--Sudanese.
    Population (2000 est.) 30 million; 30%-33% urban.
    Annual growth rate (2000 est.) 2.8%.
    Ethnic groups: Arab-African, black African.
    Religions: Islam (official), indigenous beliefs (southern Sudan), Christianity.
    Languages: Arabic (official), English, tribal languages.
    Education: Years compulsory--8. Attendance--35%-40%. Literacy--30%.
    Health: Infant mortality rate--99/1,000. Life expectancy--52 yrs.
    Work force: Agriculture--86%; industry and commerce--9%; government--5%.

    People of Sudan
    In Sudan’s 1981 census, the population was calculated at 21 million. No comprehensive census has been carried out since that time due to the resumption of the civil war in 1983. Current estimates range to 30 million.

    The population of metropolitan Khartoum (including Khartoum, Omdurman, and Khartoum North) is growing rapidly and ranges from 6-7 million, including around 2 million displaced persons from the southern war zone as well as western and eastern drought-affected areas.

    Sudan has two distinct major cultures--Arab and Black African--with hundreds of ethnic and tribal divisions and language groups, which makes effective collaboration among them a major problem.

    The northern states cover most of the Sudan and include most of the urban centers. Most of the 22 million Sudanese who live in this region are Arabic speaking Muslims, though the majority also use a traditional non-Arabic mother tongue (i.e., Nubian, Beja, Fur, Nuban, Ingessana, etc.) Among these are several distinct tribal groups; the Kababish of northern Kordofan, a camel-raising people; the Ja’alin and Shaigiyya groups of settled tribes along the rivers; the seminomadic Baggara of Kordofan and Darfur; the Hamitic Beja in the Red Sea area and Nubians of the northern Nile areas, some of whom have been resettled on the Atbara River; and the Negroid Nuba of southern Kordofan and Fur in the western reaches of the country.

    The southern region has a population of around 6 million and a predominantly rural, subsistence economy. This region has been negatively affected by war for all but 10 years of the independence period (1956), resulting in serious neglect, lack of infrastructure development, and major destruction and displacement. More than 2 million people have died, and more than 4 million are internally displaced or become refugees as a result of the civil war and war-related impacts. Here the Sudanese practice mainly indigenous traditional beliefs, although Christian missionaries have converted some. The south also contains many tribal groups and uses many more languages than in the north. The Dinka (pop. est. more than 1 million) is the largest of the many Black African tribes of the Sudan. Along with the Shilluk and the Nuer, they are among the Nilotic tribes. The Azande, Bor, and Jo Luo are “Sudanic” tribes in the west, and the Acholi and Lotuhu live in the extreme south, extending into Uganda.


  • Sudan Geography
  • Sudan Government
  • Sudan Economy
  • Sudan History