Sudan is afflicted by civil wars which have been raging, on and off, for more than 40 years. When the colonial map-makers divided up Africa, they included in Sudan the predominantly Muslim people of the north including Nubians, who share much of their history and culture with Egyptians and Arabs, and the largely Christian and Animist Bantu people of the south, who have more in common with the rest of sub-Saharan Africa than with their northern neighbours.

After decades of civil war and a transitional period of self rule, South Sudan became independent on 9 July 2011.Conflicts still linger in the western region of Darfur, and in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile States, next to the border with Ethiopia and Eritrea. Since 1989, Sudan has been under the authoritarian rule of Omar Hassan Al-Bashir.

Sudan is as geographically diverse as it is culturally; in the north, the Nile cuts through the eastern edge of the Sahara: the Nubian desert, the sites of the ancient kingdoms of Kush and Meroe, and the land of the Seti. Here, agriculture drives the economy. Staple crops include ful fava beans, dates, tomato, and onion. The East and West are mountainous regions, and much of the rest of the country comprises savannahs typical of much of central sub-Saharan Africa.