Background information on Sudan Some background material on the Sudan is relevant. The Sudan is the largest state in Africa with an area of about 2.5 million square kilometres. Its terrain consists primarily of an extensive plain rising gradually to highlands in the northeast near the Red Sea coast, and plateau and low mountains near the southern and western borders of the country. In the Sudan the climate is mainly tropical, being equatorial in the extreme south and arid in the north.
The Sudan is sparsely populated with an enumerated population of about 14 million in 1973 and an estimated population of about 14 million in 1973 and an estimated population of over 19 million in 1981. The population in the Sudan is very young, with nearly 46 per cent of the population aged 15 and only 3 per cent aged 65 and over. The current rate of natural growth is estimated to be around 3.2 per cent annually. The Sudan is predominantly rural with less than 20 per cent of its population living in the urban areas.
The educational level of the adult population in the Sudan is low. In 1973 among persons 10 years of age and older, about 32 per cent of males and 12 per cent of females were literate. Recently, there has been rapid expansion in education. About one-half of the boys and more than one-third of the girls aged 7-12 are currently enrolled in primary schools.
The economy of the Sudan is largely based on agriculture; in 1973 about 66 per cent of the economically active people were engaged in agricultural pursuits. The population of the Sudan falls into several ethno-cultural and tribal groups. In the South there are Christians and Muslims although the majority of people still follow their own traditional
religious beliefs and practices. In the rest of the country Islamic religion predominates. Besides Arabic, the lingua franca of the Sudan, different languages and dialects are spoken by various ethnic groups. Politically, from 1899 to 1955 the Sudan was a British colony and it became an independent country on 1st January 1956. From 1958 to 1964, the Sudan came under military rule; from 1964 to 1969 it was ruled by civilian governments, and with the May Revolution of 1969, a single party Presidential system has been instituted, with the Sudanese Socialist Union as a mass political party.