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Demographics of Sudan

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Title: Demographics of Sudan  
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Subject: Demographics of Africa, Sudan, Health in Sudan, Ethnic groups in Sudan, Energy in Sudan
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Demographics of Sudan

A Sudanese wedding
Beja nomads
Sudanese writer Leila Aboulela
Sudanese Arab student from Khartoum
Arab Bedouin in north
Rashaida in the east
Demographics of Sudan, Data of FAO, year 2005; Number of inhabitants in thousands.

This article is about the demographic features of the population of Sudan, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

In Sudan's 1993 census, the population was calculated at 25 million. No comprehensive census has been carried out since that time due to the civil war. Estimates of Sudan, including the population of South Sudan, ranged from 37 million (United Nations estimate) to 45 million (CIA estimate). Since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011, estimates place the current population of Sudan at a little over 30 million. The population of metropolitan Khartoum (including Khartoum, Omdurman, and Khartoum North) is growing rapidly and ranges from six to seven million, including around two million displaced persons from the southern war zone as well as western and eastern drought-affected areas.


  • Population overview 1
  • Population statistics 2
  • Vital statistics 3
  • Ethnic groups 4
  • Languages 5
  • Religion 6
  • CIA World Factbook demographic statistics 7
    • Population 7.1
    • Nationality 7.2
    • Age structure 7.3
    • Sex ratio 7.4
    • Life expectancy at birth 7.5
    • Literacy 7.6
  • References 8

Population overview

The population of Sudan is a combination of indigenous inhabitants of the Nile Valley, and descendants of migrants from the Arabian Peninsula. Due to the process of Arabisation common throughout the rest of the Arab world, today Arab culture predominates in Sudan. The ethnic groups of Sudan are Arabs 70%, others being Arabized ethnic groups of Nubians, Copts, and Beja.[1] Others (Fur, Nuba, Fallata).[2] Sudanese Arabs are by far the largest ethnic group in Sudan, they are almost entirely Muslims; while the majority speak Sudanese Arabic; some other Arab tribes speak different Arabic dialects like Awadia and Fadnia and Bani Arak tribes who speak Najdi Arabic; Bani Hassan, Al-Ashraf, Kinanah and Rashaida who speak Hejazi Arabic. In addition, Arab tribes like the Baggara and other Darfurians, both who speak Chadian Arabic.[3] Sudanese Arabs of northern and eastern parts descend primarily from migrants from the Arabian Peninsula and some of the pre-existing indigenous populations of Sudan, most predominately the Nubian people who also share a common history with Egypt. Additionally, a few pre-Islamic Arabian tribes existed in Sudan from earlier migrations into the region from Western Arabia, although most Arabs in Sudan are dated from migrations after the 12th century.[4] The vast majority of Arab tribes in Sudan migrated into the Sudan in the 12th century, intermarried with the indigenous African populations and introduced Islam.[5]

Population statistics

Achieving good counts of the population is difficult in Sudan, because conducting a census has been difficult due to various conflicts and wars in the southern, eastern and western regions of Sudan over the past few decades. The government of South Sudan (led by the former SPLM resistance movement) has in the past accused Sudan of deliberately manipulating the census in oil-rich regions such as the Abyei district, on the border between Sudan and South Sudan. The population count is a determining factor for the share of wealth and power each part of Sudan receives after the secession of South Sudan (See: Naivasha Agreement). Another complication is the Southern Sudanese refugees present in the north, whose citizenship in Sudan after the secession of South Sudan is now in question.[6]

Vital statistics[7]

The vital statistics below include South Sudan.

Period Live births per year Deaths per year Natural change per year CBR* CDR* NC* TFR* IMR*
1950-1955 452 000 233 000 219 000 46.5 24.0 22.5 6.65 160
1955-1960 510 000 251 000 259 000 46.7 23.0 23.8 6.65 154
1960-1965 572 000 268 000 304 000 46.6 21.8 24.7 6.60 147
1965-1970 647 000 281 000 365 000 46.5 20.3 26.3 6.60 137
1970-1975 737 000 298 000 438 000 46.2 18.7 27.5 6.60 126
1975-1980 839 000 317 000 522 000 45.1 17.1 28.1 6.52 116
1980-1985 950 000 339 000 611 000 43.6 15.5 28.0 6.34 106
1985-1990 1 043 000 361 000 682 000 41.7 14.4 27.3 6.08 99
1990-1995 1 137 000 374 000 763 000 40.1 13.2 26.9 5.81 91
1995-2000 1 242 000 387 000 855 000 38.6 12.0 26.6 5.51 81
2000-2005 1 324 000 373 000 951 000 36.5 10.3 26.2 5.14 70
2005-2010 1 385 000 384 000 1 001 000 33.8 9.4 24.4 4.60 64
* CBR = crude birth rate (per 1000); CDR = crude death rate (per 1000); NC = natural change (per 1000); IMR = infant mortality rate per 1000 births; TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman)

Ethnic groups

Main: Index: Ethnic groups in Sudan

Sudanese Arabs 70%, others being Arabized ethnic groups of Nubians, Copts, and Beja.[1] Others (Fur, Nuba, Fallata).[2]


The most widely spoken languages in Sudan are:

  1. Arabic
  2. Sudanese Arabic.
  3. Najdi and Hejazi Arabic, (mainly in mid-north and mid-east regions).
  4. Chadian Arabic in western region, (mainly spoken by Baggara and various Arabized African tribes).
  5. Nubian language in far north, (mainly spoken by Nubians of Mahas, Dongola and Halfa).
  6. Beja language knows as Bedawit in far east alongside Red sea, (mainly spoken by Beja of Hadandawa, Ababda and Bisharin).
  7. Before 2005, only Arabic was the official language.[8] In the 2005 constitution, Sudan's official languages became Arabic and English:[9]


    Sudanese Muslims

    97% of the population adheres to Islam, with the overwhelming majority being adherents of the Sunni branch and the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence (with very few exceptions of Shia Muslims).[10] The remainder of the population follows either animist and indigenous beliefs or Christianity, especially in Khartoum and in southern regions of the country bordering South Sudan.

    Christians in Sudan which are refugees or immigrants from the south belong to various churches including the Roman Catholic Church, small Melkite and Maronite communities in the north, as well as Anglicans followers in the Episcopal Church of Sudan and the recently formed Reformed Episcopal Church. There are significant but long-established groups of Coptic Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Christians in Khartoum and other northern cities.

    There are also Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox communities in Khartoum and eastern Sudan, largely made up of refugees and migrants from the past few decades. Other Christian groups with smaller followings in the country include the Africa Inland Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Sudan Church of Christ, the Sudan Interior Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Sudan Pentecostal Church, the Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church (in the North).

    Religious identity plays a role in the country's political divisions. Northern and western Muslims have dominated the country's political and economic system since independence. The NCP draws much of its support from Islamists, Salafis/Wahhabis and other conservative Arab Muslims in the north. The Umma Party has traditionally attracted Arab followers of the Ansar sect of Sufism as well as non-Arab Muslims from Darfur and Kordofan.

    The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) includes both Arab and non-Arab Muslims in the north and east, especially those in the Khatmia Sufi sect.

    CIA World Factbook demographic statistics

    The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated. Some of these statistics do not take into account the recent secession of South Sudan in July 2011 unless otherwise indicated, which would significantly reduce the population totals and affect other figures as well.


    35,482,233 (July 2014 est.)


    noun: Sudanese (singular and plural)
    adjective: Sudanese

    Age structure

    0–14 years: 0-14 years: 40.8% (male 7,356,059/female 7,131,497)
    15-24 years: 20.2% (male 3,704,700/female 3,476,847)
    25-54 years: 31.8% (male 5,465,816/female 5,800,619)
    55-64 years: 3.3% (male 737,831/female 652,428)
    65 years and over: 3.3% (male 633,083/female 523,353) (2014 est.)

    Sex ratio

    at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 1.24 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

    Life expectancy at birth

    total population: 63.32 years
    male: 61.27 years
    female: 65.46 years (2014 est.)


    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 71.9%
    male: 80.7%
    female: 63.2%
    note: pre-secession of South Sudan (2011 est.)


    1. ^ a b Copts migration
    2. ^ a b
    3. ^ The Darfur Conflict: Geography Or Institutions? Osman Suliman, Mohamed Osman Suliman, p.115
    4. ^ وزير خارجية السودان الاسبق حسين ابوصالح ل"الشرق" : التهديدات الامريكية للسودان كانت تصلنا في ورقة صغيرة دون ترويسة اوامضاء
    5. ^ Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, JSTOR (Organization) (1888). Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 17. p. 16. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
    6. ^ Broere, Kees. "Uitstel voor census Soedan". de Volkskrant, 15 April 2008, p. 5.
    7. ^ World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision
    8. ^ Leclerc, Jacques. , "Soudan"L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde
    9. ^ text of the 2005 constitution in English PDF (492 KB)
    10. ^ "Sudan Overview". UNDP Sudan. Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
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