GDP PER CAPITA$2,800 (2011 est.)
RELIGIONSSunni Muslim, small Christian minority
ALSO IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICAEthiopia
AT THE CENTER
Sudan has a complex history characterized by the repeated intersection of religion and politics. Islam spread over much of the country over the course of a millennium and played a central role in shaping the identity of the region’s inhabitants. Muhammad Ahmad (1844-1885), a religious and nationalist leader, established an Islamic state in 1885 that lasted until Anglo-Egyptian forces toppled it in 1899. Even before independence in 1956, Sudan was torn by civil strife. The two Sudanese civil wars (1955-1972 and 1983-2005) were fueled in part by religious conflicts between a largely Muslim north and a Christian and animist south. South Sudan officially declared its independence in July 2011 with the support of the international community and President Omar al-Bashir’s authoritarian government (1989-present) in Khartoum. However, ongoing disputes over resources along the border threaten to escalate into war. President al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes relating to the Darfur conflict, and his government effectively favors Islam over other religions.